Tag Archive | "flowers"

For the Love of Roses

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web roses

By Emily J. Weitz

“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…” 

~Antoine de St. Exupery, The Little Prince

As the little prince knew too well, to love a rose takes effort, patience, and thought. Even when they have a wild look about them, with their thorns and brambles all tangled across a gate, roses require a great deal of care.

Rick Bogusch, who manages the grounds at Bridge Gardens, has nurtured the rose garden since he started there six years ago. Every winter, he tucks them in to beds of mulch 12 to 18 inches deep, and every spring, he prunes them delicately and watches them come back to life.

The Southampton Rose Society will present a lecture by Mr. Bogusch at Bridge Gardens on Saturday, September 13, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Many of the most striking specimens in the garden, Mr. Bogusch said, will still be in bloom.

The rose garden was installed by the property’s previous owners, Jim and Harry Kilpatrick, and Mr. Bogusch spent his first year at Bridge Gardens learning about the unique demands of these flowers. They were selected for the hardiness and their ability to endure the long winters, but still they need to be attended to. Last winter, which was particularly cold and long, Mr. Bogusch brought one of the rose plants inside and nursed it through the roughest patches, and now it has sprung back.

“Roses are very demanding,” said Mr. Bogusch. “They demand a lot of attention and resources and consistency of care. Time, energy, man hours, money: You really have to be willing to put that into them.”

Along with mulching and pruning, roses need to receive about 2 inches of water every week. Mr. Bogusch also fertilizes them regularly throughout the season to keep them vigorous.

Perhaps it is the effort that they require that makes roses so precious. Throughout history, they have been used in ceremonies and by royalty to mark special occasions. They are prized for their aesthetic value and their pungent fragrance. Mr. Bogusch says the rose garden, even though it is just one of several impressive gardens at Bridge Gardens, is a major draw for people.

“It’s a big attraction,” said Mr. Bogusch, “because everybody loves roses. When people find out there’s a rose garden here, they want to see it.”

The garden itself is round, with brick pathways throughout that separate the beds. The beds are organized by color, so that the rose garden resembles a giant color wheel. One bed spills with red roses. A path separates it from a pink bed, a yellow bed, and so on. There are eight beds in all.

Walking through the rose garden, one is taken not only by the aesthetic beauty, but the pungency of the air.

“Some of the roses in our garden are very fragrant,” said Mr. Bogusch. For example, there’s a white hybrid rose that blooms in the classic form called Pope John Paul II.

“That’s one of the most fragrant roses of all time,” he said.

Mr. Bogusch just planted Pope John Paul II this past spring, and already it is growing vigorously. Another plant, which is original to the garden, is called About Face.

“It’s large and strong and old,” said Mr. Bogusch. “And it’s so beautiful that you do an about-face when you walk by it.”

“You start to see blooms in late May, and June is the first peak,” said Mr. Bogusch. “Then there’s another peak in September.”

This year the roses have bloomed continually, which Mr. Bogusch attributes a temperate summer when the thermometer didn’t climb into the 90s.

“Our garden,” he explained, “has brick, and can get very hot and humid, which roses don’t like.”

Because of the relatively cool summer, this year’s stroll through the rose garden should be particularly rewarding.

To register for the lecture and tour, go to the Rose Society web site at southamptonrose.org or call (631) 740-4732. Bridge Gardens is located at 36 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton.

Garden Center Prepares for Easter Animals

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Garden Center adjusted

By Claire Walla


When Phil Bucking started his gardening store 17 years ago, he didn’t just bring flowers and foliage to the village.

For as long as the Sag Harbor Garden Center has been around, it has consistently hosted an annual petting zoo to cap off the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Easter Bonnet Parade, bringing rabbits, pigs, ducks, chicks and even llamas to the area so that bonnet-laden villagers and their children could enjoy Easter weekend festivities after their midday trek up Main Street.

“We clear away everything,” Bucking said as he stood on the porch of the old train depot — now the hub of his business — and swept his arm across the front portion of his yard space. Come Saturday, where now there are wooden shelves filled with potted plants, colorful spring buds and rows of terra cotta lawn ornaments, there will be a bevy of farm animals (brought to the East End by a group from the Cornell Cooperative).

“It’s a bit of a hassle,” Bucking said of the routine round of heavy lifting preceding the event. “But,” he added with a grin, “we do it.”

The bonnet parade begins in front of BookHampton at 1 p.m. and concludes a quick 15 minutes later at the garden center, where farm animals will be grazing, grilled hot dogs will be sold for charity and — of course — the Easter Bunny himself will show up for a photo op. In prior years, Bucking said the Girl Scouts were responsible for dishing up the frankfurters; this year, that service will be provided by a group of elementary school students who plan to contribute all profits to the village’s effort to restore the windmill at Long Wharf.

The idea for the Easter Bonnet Parade-and-petting zoo was generated by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce in 1996. According to Bucking, a chamber board member, the events were established in an effort to stretch the Easter holiday back to include Saturday. (There is also an annual Easter Egg Hunt at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, sponsored by the Sag Harbor Lion’s Club.)

Extending the weekend is especially important for a holiday like Easter, Bucking added, because most village businesses recognize the holiday and close-up shop on Sunday. While Bucking said he didn’t think hosting the petting zoo had a particularly strong impact on the garden center’s weekend sales — “most people are here just for fun” — he did say that the event itself has been helpful for the economy of the village as a whole.

“It kicks-off spring for everybody,” Bucking exclaimed.

Well, in theory.

This year happens to be a special case. The mild winter and early onset of warm weather brought spring conditions a few weeks early. This has already proven to be helpful for the garden business, Bucking said, as people are planting and pruning much earlier this year. Bucking added that the weather may prove to be good for business for the duration of 2012, as he predicts there may be an excess of weeds and bugs — both pesky problems that can be cured by products Bucking sells at the Sag Harbor Garden Center.

In addition to business benefits, Bucking continued to say that this year’s weather is a good sign for the Easter Parade and Petting Zoo.

“Last year was the first rain-out,” Bucking said. “And the year before that it was cut short — again because of the weather.”

So, from the looks of it, it’ll be sunny skies for parade-goers this weekend, which means sunny skies for Sag Harbor’s business community.

Plants, Animals Signify The Winter that Wasn’t

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purple-crocus

By Claire Walla


Is that? It can’t be… a purple crocus? In the middle of winter?!

Yes, it’s barely March, and June, it seems, is already bustin’ out all over.

According to Dee Yardley, Sag Harbor Village Superintendent of Public Works, the lack of snow and ice means the village is already shifting gears.

Rather than bringing out the snow plow, village crews are clipping branches and clearing leaves and debris from village roadways. And as far as he can tell, the weather still looks good at least through next week.

“We’re going to be ahead of schedule big time,” he noted.

The horticultural world is seeing a similar change of pace.

“I’ve been gardening all year long!” said Bridgehampton resident Paige Patterson, an avid gardener and garden consultant at Marder’s Nursery. “My garlic is up, so is my hellebore, and the daffodils are already six inches [tall],” she explained. Patterson went on to say she has two flowering trees in her yard, including a flowering Japanese apricot, which is already in bloom. “I have the most spectacular pink trees!”

Still, she added, “The most impressive thing is that my rose bush has new leaves on it… that’s crazy.”

She said rose bushes typically don’t sprout leaves until well into March, and hers had foliage in February.

According to Patterson, mild weather patterns will lead to a “gorgeous” spring — that is, if a cold snap doesn’t get in the way.

If a freak cold spell hits the East End while plants are starting to bud, Patterson said the blooms will get killed off. While most species of flower will regenerate and work toward re-blooming later in the season, she said the situation is not so sunny for hydrangeas.

The white, soft-serve-ice-cream-shaped Hydrangea Paniculata, will be able to weather the storm, but “Most hydrangeas only have one set of buds,” she explained, like the Nikko Blues that pepper the East End in the summer months.

“They set their flower buds in early August,” Patterson began. “The problem we first had was that [Tropical Storm Irene] defoliated everything. The salt air got on everything and all the leaves browned. So, most of the 2012 buds actually opened in 2011. The ones that didn’t are opening now.”

Because these flowers do not regenerate growth as readily as other flowers, Patterson said any freezing cold weather at this point could potentially kill-off the blue Nikko Hydrangeas for the season.

As for the climate we’ll be privy to in the spring, that much remains to be seen. What Patterson, and others, are already predicting with some degree of certainty, however, concerns another aspect of gardening: pests.

“I think we’re going to have a really bad bug year,” Patterson added. “I’m really stressed about that.”

According to Geoffrey Nimmer of East End Garden Design, the relatively warm weather combined with the lack of moisture we’ve experienced this year combine to create a recipe not only for more bugs, but for fungi.

“Fungi that lives in the ground and affects roses and some flowering trees are usually kept at least somewhat in check by a good hard freeze,” Nimmer wrote in an email. “I think it will be particularly hard on turf, both because of the fungus issue and because there will be more grubs closer to the roots of lawns earlier in the season.”

According to the circle of life, Nimmer continued, grubs mean moles and moles very often bring voles. And neither vermin happen to be good for vegetation.

And unfortunately, as many of us know, certain warm-weather pests are not restricted to the gardening arena.

Former East Hampton Town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny, who lives in Noyac, said this year’s weather conditions could have created a big year for everyone’s favorite summertime arachnid: the tick.

“Just last Wednesday I got an adult female deer tick on me,” Penny said. “That’s the earliest I’ve ever seen them in winter.”

In the vein of springtime annoyances, Sag Harbor resident Lester Ware said he’s already started taking allergy medicine, a spring-time routine he began this year mid-February.

“It’s as early as I’ve ever taken it,” he exclaimed, saying he usually begins taking meds late-March.

According to Dr. Richard Nass — an ear, nose and throat doctor with offices in Amagansett — these early sneezes may not have a direct correlation to pollen count, at least not yet. He said biometric pressure changes that occur when the seasons shift initially cause nose and throat membranes to get agitated.

However, he added, this may just be the beginnings of more successive sneezes.

“In the long term, it’s been a wet season, so the root systems of plants have done very well,” he continued. So, in that sense, “we would expect it to be a bad allergy season.”

For his part, Penny has seen a lot of seasons come and go, and this one, he noted, is very odd indeed.

“This is the most unusual winter I’ve experienced in 76 years,” said Penny, referencing influential paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson who coined a theory he referred to as “sweepstakes,” which deals with random moments in evolution.

As Penny explained it, “Things come and go according to the season, but there’s always the chance that something unusual will happen to change the whole direction of evolution and nature.”

This year, reproductive rates are already up, Penny added, and with such warm weather fostering many throughout the winter, he said many species might grow even more.

“One group that’s going to really go sky high is the turkeys, they’re all over the place.” Penny continued. “And because the numbers are so high to begin with, when they get a little extra food from [more] vegetation and insects they’ll go hog wild.”

He predicted that the East End could be in the midst of a so-called “sweepstakes.”

Although, he said, cold weather would throw a wrench in the spokes. And, you never know, it could very well snow in June.

Fending Off the Deer

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Biz White Tail

By Claire Walla

They may be nice to look at, but for some they’re there to eat.

So the story goes here on the East End, where periwinkle hydrangeas, fuschia rhododendrons, clusters of violet flocks and bold stalks of multi-colored lilies are devoured each year by the bane of many a gardeners’ existence: deer. Until a few years ago, this contingent of disgruntled agrarians included Dafna Priel and Leslie Gelb. Only, instead of letting deer destruction get them down, they came up with a solution. They called it: Whitetail Solutions.

The East End company — managed by both Priel and Gelb — uses a home brew of organic materials to combat the onslaught of those pesky four-legged creatures with an unfortunate appetite for beautiful things.

“We may not be the only game in town, but we’re the best game in town,” Gelb said.

Whitetail Solutions offers seasonal packages for local homeowners. With a one-time summer payment, Gelb said homeowners can expect their yards to be taken care of for the entirety of the summer, with anti-deer spray applied to all the flowers and foliage at least every other week.

“We know what we’re doing and we know it works,” she added.

Part of the company’s appeal, Gelb said, is that its owners have experienced the trouble with deer first hand.

“We’ve seen just about every scenario out there,” she explained.

Gelb and Priel started the company in earnest about three years ago all because the completely unpredictable eating habits of these woodland creatures had become increasingly frustrating for the two avid gardeners.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” she continued. “The hydrangeas at one home would be fine, but the hydrangeas at the house next door would be devoured.”

It’s a story with which hundreds of East Enders have been all too familiar, especially this year, which Gelb referred to as “a code red situation.”

She said she’s seen frustrated homeowners who have used various blends of relative deer-combatting potions made with everything from tea bags and Irish Spring soap to human hair and coyote urine. She’s also seen frustration from landscapers who have used chemical solutions that quickly wash off plants, emit intolerable smells or leave white residue on behind.

Early on, Gelb and Priel were once equally bogged down by efforts to deter the deer.

“We just tried everything, and things would work for a little while or they wouldn’t work at all,” she began. “Or else they were just so disgusting and vile!” She said one of the “stinky ones” is Bobbex—a concoction of fish oil and putrid smelling meat meal.

“Our products don’t smell awful at all, they don’t leave a white film [allowing flowers to keep their vibrant colors] and they’re rain resistant,” Gelb explained. After experimenting with a number of over-the-counter solutions and run-of-the-mill elixirs, Gelb said she and Priel finally found a mix that seemed to work without any of the pitfalls that plagued the solutions they had used in the past.

Gelb stated that she and Priel knew they had a winning mixture when friends of theirs who worked for the Long House Reserve began using it. Without going into details, Gelb said their secret ingredient is an odorless liquid with an extremely bitter taste.

White Tail Solutions currently serves about 40 clients and five landscaping firms, which use the company to deer-proof their building sites. She said their patrons have been impressed with their work. Not only do their organic sprays keep the deer away, but they’ve been known to help restore life to some plants left for dead in the wake of hungry whitetails, she said.

“Some plants aren’t that fortunate, [especially] if they’ve been picked at year to year,” she said. “But, if we catch it in time, they grow back, and we love that!”

Gelb is hesitant to offer exact pricing because “every yard is different,” but she said White Tail Solutions does offer free assessments. Plus, she added, whatever the grand total, “it’s a lot cheaper than putting up a fence.”