Summer/Fall Client

We have just secured a summer and fall job on Lyons Lane. Our client has a home in Montana. They will be away six months. We will be providing summer watering and maintenance and general upkeep. And in the fall we will help with trimming, moving some plants and working on this great property, so that when our client returns they will find it in great shape. It’s our pleasure…….

The Garden Contessa  

“Jack-in-the-Pulpit” – How To Grow

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a unique plant with an interesting growth habit. The structure that most people call the jack-in-the-pulpit flower is actually a tall stalk, or spadix, inside a hooded cup, or spathe. The true flowers are the tiny, green or yellow-tinged dots that line the spadix. The entire structure is surrounded by large, three-lobed leaves that often hide the spathe from view. In late summer or fall, the spathe falls off and the flowers give way to decorative wands of bright red berries. About Jack-in-the-Pulpits Jack-in-the-pulpit wildflower is native to the lower 48 states and parts of Canada. Native Americans harvested the roots for food, but they contain calcium oxalate crystals that cause blisters and painful irritations when eaten raw. To safely prepare the roots, first peel them and cut them into small pieces, then roast them at a low temperature for at least an hour. Growing jack-in-the-pulpit is easy in the right location. They grow wild in woodland environments and prefer a shady spot with moist or wet, slightly acid soil that is rich in organic matter. These plants tolerate poorly-drained soil and make great additions to rain or bog gardens. Use Jack-in-the-pulpit in shade gardens or to naturalize the edges of woodland areas. Hostas and ferns make excellent companion plants. How to Grow Jack-in-the-Pulpit There is not much involved with growing Jack-in-the-pulpit plants. Plant container-grown Jack-in-the-pulpit plants in spring or plant corms 6 inches deep in fall. Plant seeds freshly harvested from ripe berries in spring. Plants grown from seeds have only one leaf the first year and it takes them three or more years to come to flower. Caring for Jack-in-the-pulpit Wildflower As easy as growing Jack-in-the-pulpit flower is, so is its care as well. The plant’s survival depends on a moist, organically rich soil. Work a generous amount of compost in to the soil before planting and fertilize annually with additional compost. Use organic mulch such as bark, pine needles, or cocoa bean shells, and replace it every spring. Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are seldom bothered by insects or diseases, but are very attractive to slugs. Hand picking, traps and slug baits are the easiest ways to deal with these pests. Place hiding places, such as boards and upturned flower pots, in the garden as traps and check them early in the morning. Drop the slugs in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. Read the label on slug baits carefully and choose one that won’t harm children pets and wildlife. Knowing how to grow Jack-in-the-pulpit in the garden is a great way to enjoy the plant’s unique appearance throughout the season.

The Garden Contessa

Woodland Phlox

Woodland phlox, Phlox divaricata, is an eastern North American native increasingly offered as an ornamental to use in cultivated gardens for its attractive bluish flowers. This herbaceous perennial in the phlox family (Polemoniaceae) can be found growing in dappled shade in open woods, partially shaded meadows. This plant, also sometimes is referred to by other common names including blue phlox, Louisiana phlox, wild blue phlox.  It  is hardy in zones 3 to 8.

If you would like to see a live specimen there is a small crop on Valley Drive on the right side near the parking lot. It is nestled on a small bank right near two Hydrangeas ( not yet blooming) among some rock boulders.  Very whimsical with very lush green foliage. We are definitely going to find some to plant. It fancies some shade and a mossy habitat.  It’s purple color is brilliant. If you are out strolling you can’t miss it  ENJOY!!

A Tribute

A tribute to my Father today who served in the navy in Sicily during World War II. I was a war baby. I think of the very young men serving our country then – none of them knowing what tomorrow might bring. Even now we feel these similar thoughts……on this Memorial Day.

The Garden Museum – Today’s Update


Watch “Beth Chatto” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.ctom/113409764?ref=em-share

Gardener’s Portrait: Beth Chatto
Another short film from our archives to enjoy this weekend: in 2015, the Garden Museum commissioned Ben Dickey to produce this portrait of Beth Chatto, a record of the fascinating life of Britain’s most influential plantswomen for our archives. The late Chatto’s dedication, knowledge and achievements are nothing short of inspiring, and a reminder of the power of plants and gardening

Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

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Stone Patio/Paver Clean- Up

How do you clean weeds and unwanted growth (such as dandelions) from in between your stones/pavers.

Prepare a solution of :

1 gallon of white vinegar

2 tbsps Dawn Detergent

1 cup of salt

Mix very well in a bucket. Our advice is to use a plastic water bottle to pour it between the stones. Be generous. Apply on a very sunny and dry day. Preferably with no rain arriving the next day. You may need to apply twice, but it definitely does the trick. And it’s safe. Even helps with unwanted mossy and slippery areas. It’s easy and quick.

The Garden Contessa


Reviving/Creating Weed Free Beds

Our current gardening project required some work in our clients “garden beds.”  This client likes leaving the late Fall leaves in their beds. They like to encourage a habitat for bugs, crawling creatures, larvae and in general, providing a blanket for these species. It’s a great idea actually if you can deal with looking at very full leafy beds all winter. But in the spring with all the wind and rain your yard and your beds start producing WEEDS. Impossible to get at them under all the winter “cover.”  So they hired me to clean up the yard and the beds.

So here’s my recipe for weed free beds:

Collect black and white newspaper. Quite a lot actually.  Purchase ordinary topsoil, about $3.00 per bag.  Then rake and weed your beds. Now place the newspaper down, a couple pieces thick. Then cover the newspaper with a generous amount of topsoil. One inch thick if you have enough. Press down with your garden goulashes. Wait two weeks. Magically the carbon in the newspaper combined with the deep dark and organic rich topsoil will give you new beds/ with no weeds, and no new weeds for a very long time. And when you go to plant or dig it’s magic. You will discover that there are no new weeds at all, and your newspaper has disappeared. 

Questions?  Please do-call us. It’s plain and it’s very simple. It just works. And you have used no harmful weed killer.  It’s economical and eco/friendly.   

Happy Weed Killing!!!!

Penny,  The Garden Contessa