Growing Healthy Gardens, Families, Habitats, Neighborhoods The Natureworks Way

Growing Healthy Gardens, Families, Habitats, Neighborhoods The Natureworks Way

We had a visit from some chickens last week! Diane and her creative staff were staging a photo shoot for our new line of organic fertilizer Healthy Grow and Diane brought in some of her flock. What started out as a simple high school project became a thriving organic chicken farm and fertilizer business for the owners of Healthy Grow. We LOVE this product! And Diane’s chickens had fun wandering around our grounds and the customers were thrilled by their visit.

Unbelievable! Sunday, June 4th we saw our first monarch of the season. It nectared on lantana and later we found ONE egg on our milkweed. I think it took the “express route” north to get here so early.  Hopefully we will see more eggs soon!

Despite the chilly weather, I was stunned to hear that we had our first monarch butterfly visit Natureworks on Sunday. Our newest employee Jared spotted it and Diane later found an egg on the milkweed. She immediately collected it and

Why is Diane smiling? All of the spicebushes we loaded into our van had freshly laid butterfly eggs on them! 

it is now growing inside the shop. Let the egg gathering begin! Last Friday, Diane and I were shopping for plants and she spotted a spicebush swallowtail butterfly actively laying eggs on a block of spicebush (Lindera) shrubs. We bought them all and have them for sale! The fennel in my garden now has eastern black swallowtail caterpillars growing on it and we have several growing in the shop to see too! 

We now have all kinds of valuable butterfly larval food plants for sale on our benches. Our common milkweed is bushy and full this year and we have many other species and varieties of Asclepias already in stock. We will help match the right type to your garden conditions.

This Saturday morning is one of the most valuable and important garden walks of the season. I will demonstrate how to pinch and cut back perennials.NOW is the time. The rain has made everything grow huge and you need to be brave and cut asters, mums, fall sunflowers, and other perennials hard to prevent them from flopping. (If they flop you will have to stake them.)

Look closely and you will see that the front half of this Phlox paniculata is cut in half. Why? Find out at my Saturday morning garden walk. Be there!

Pinch them instead! This walk will also explain how to cut back the front half of your perennials to DOUBLE the bloom time. This is an invaluable technique that transforms a regular garden to a long blooming garden of wonder and delight. This is all based on our bible The Well Tended Perennial Garden . If you grow a perennial garden and don’t have this book, pick up a copy after the walk.

Campanula persicifolia is one of the very best, longest lasting cut flowers that you can grow in your June garden. This is a plant I saw all over England on my trip last summer. 

This Thursday night we will film another episode of Facebook Live. This week’s theme is Growing and Arranging Armloads of Cut Flowers. I will pick many baskets full of flowers and foliage and then explain what they are, how to grow them, and how to combine them in a vase. People tell me they never pick their flowers. What??? I pick constantly, and you can’t tell because I pick a little bit from lots of plants. I have a sweet collection of vases of all shapes and sizes. Tune in, or better yet, stop by and be in the live audience. Type in your questions during the live event and we will answer them on the spot. This should be a fun episode. All of our previous Facebook Live events are easily found on the Natureworks Facebook Page.

‘Carmella’s Hearts’ heirloom tomatoes 
A Special Story about Seed Saving 

Two years ago, a friend of mine gave me some very special heirloom tomato seeds. They were brought to America by her uncle from Italy. He got them from a woman named Carmella. My friend and her uncle grew them and she saved the seeds and gave some to me to try because she knew my husband is Italian and loves to make his own sauce. I started them and voila! They grew! I planted them and gave some plants away, telling everyone I gave them to that they had to save the seeds. They turned out to be just as delicious as Paula had said- juicy, a rich flavor, lots of pulp… they made an exquisite sauce. So I saved the seeds myself. Early in April of this year, I brought them up from the cellar and started them. I was SO excited the day they sprouted. It was such a miracle to see the entire cycle of life come full circle. Besides my own plants, I gave the leftover seed to our favorite organic veggie grower and she has just informed us that they are ready and arriving this week. We named them ‘Carmela’s Hearts’. We have a very limited number of plants. Come in this weekend if you want to grow some for yourself.

You don’t need a castle to grow Thalictrum lucidum, the soft, airy, yellow flower in this picture. It pairs so well with blue Campanulas.  

This rainy weather makes me think so much about my trip to England last

‘Cinco de Mayo’ rose-
what a color!

year. Ever since then I have steadily been collecting many of the plants that I saw there for our CT gardens. This week we have Thalictrum lucidum in stock. This soft, airy, yellow Thalictrum (meadowrue) was in just about every garden I visited. Roses, Delphiniums, foxgloves, Campanulas, and so many more plants fill my heart with joy when I see them and remember those 10 days devoted entirely to visiting gardens.

Staking and caging your plants is the top job in the garden right now. All the rain has made so many plants stretch. Once the sun comes out, over they go. Don’t let that happen. Be prepared with our heavy duty cages of different

These heavy duty cages are made in America. We not only use them for tomatoes but also peonies, dahlias, and other tall perennials. Buy them once and you will have them forever. They fold easily for storage too. 

sizes, oak and bamboo stakes, and garden twine. It is so much easier to do PREVENTATIVE staking rather than trying to rescue a plant that has fallen over. Once the sun comes out, you will see lots of aphids appearing on your plants. They love the tender, lush, new growth that this weather pattern brings on. We have organic, safe sprays that you can use if you don’t have a working population of ladybugs, lacewings, and other beneficial insects in your yard. And we also sell these beneficial insects if you want start trying to achieve more of a balance going forward.

One final thought for the week: sometimes a garden isn’t only about flowers. Foliage can be just as exciting. Check out the new growth on the Pieris ‘Katsura’ above. It stopped Diane and I in our tracks last week when we were out shopping for the retail store. You would think that the pink, dangling clusters of flowers for 4-6 weeks starting in late March would be the main feature of this plant. But this new growth adds a second season of interest. Gardening is so fascinating. So many plants to explore and learn about. I will never be bored and I learn every single day. You can too. Stay tuned to our Instagram feed, our Natureworks YouTube channel, and our Facebook page. We are making tons of videos all the time and posting them. Last week we put up videos on calendulas, chopping down milkweed for late season fresh foliage, Organic Plant Magic, and our first monarch!

With all of the new shipments arriving this week, our benches and our seed racks will be completely restocked when you stop in for a visit. I look forward to seeing you…