Family Gardening Program – Week Two

There is a lot to do in the garden this time of year.

Today 80  young gardeners worked on: starting a new flower bed, mulching the broccoli so it doesn’t bolt,  sowing beans, weeding and water. When each group finished their working bee, we relaxed under the trees with a glass of ice, cold basil lemonade made from herbs growing in our garden.

The basil lemonade was a hit. One camper said the flavor was “distinctive,” another camper thought it tasted “like the garden” and most campers enjoyed it and asked for second and thirds.

Here is the Recipe:

One packed cup  of basil leaves washed well. Put leaves into the blender with a cup of water and puree on high. Once done, put this mixture through a strainer and into a large pticher of lemonade. Add the basil mix little by little until you reach the flavor you enjoy. It is that easy and very refreshing.


We could use some help with the dirt pile near the parking lot. The goal is to level it off so we can plant flowers. It was hard work for the kids. Anyone willing to help, please do. Your efforts are very much appreciated.


If anyone is dividing plants, please think of us. We are creating a pollinator friendly garden.  The new bed is in full sun and we hope to  grow yarrow, coneflower, Liatris, evening primrose, phlox, and asters. If you have any of these plants and can share, they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you to all my generous gardening friends.


At noon today adult gardeners made a concrete bird bath from a leaf.

Gna LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the bird bath. Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Gina LeClair lead this project and started by making a sand dome on a sheet of plywood. This forms the  basin of the bird bath.
Plastic was spread over the dome and a hosta leaf was put face down on top.

Then you being to add the concrete on top of the host leaf.

Then you  adda moth textured concrete – not the kind with aggregate – on top of the hosta leaf.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered.

Keep going until the leaf is completely covered. And then let it dry for at least 48 hours.

These baths look charming in a garden and attract butterflies and insect-eating birds.   I will take a photo of the finished project next week.

Hope to see you in the garden.  And thank you for contributing to the success of the garden.

Natalie, Master Gardener and Moreau Community Garden’s Garden  Coach


Amazing Day at Shelving Rock Falls

We wanted to do a photo hike but we didn’t want to be far from home, it couldn’t be too strenuous, and we wanted to see wildlife. So we went to Shelving Rock Falls and we weren’t disappointed.

This is the time of year when snapping turtles lay eggs and we found this one crossing into a pond.turtle

I must have had turtles on my mind when I downloaded my images because I swear it looks like a turtle’s head in the rocks in the falls. Do you see it?shelvingrock

The walk was good. We headed down to the lake at one point and sat on the boulders soaking in the beauty of Lake George. We heard an owl in the distance and waved at a few boaters out enjoying the quiet waters.

When our hike was just about done, we spotted these swallowtail butterflies. There were many around — in the air and on the roadway — but a group of three to five would flit about and then land together. They didn’t seem to mind our picture taking one bit.trio

It was a fine day in the woods with a friend. Thanks G.


Moreau Gardeners Met Today

We had a garden meeting today and talked about good and bad insects. In the next few days look for information on these insects on the bulletin board hanging on the recreation building near the garden.

In the garden we have discovered aphids, flea beetles, and cabbageworms. Right now Imported Cabbageworms (Pieris rapae) are present and creating small irregular holes on the leaves of cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. These holes are larger than the holes flea beetles make.

Cabbageworms are the caterpillar stage of the cabbage butterfly, which is a white butterfly with black spots. You may have noticed them in the garden. The butterfly deposits off-white bullet-shape eggs on the underside of a leaf and in a matter of days, the green larvae appear. Check your plants thoroughly. The eggs are small.

Once the larvae are present their appetites are enormous. They eat both leaves and will chew into the head. They will continue to grow – and eat for the next two to three weeks and then they will form a cocoon and when the butterfly emerges and the cycle begins again.

We, of course, want to stop the cycle and the damage. To do so use an organic product containing Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Bt works on all insects that ingest – chew or suck on – the plant.

For images and more information look at the Cornell website:


One of the gardeners told me that the garden had wireworms last season. If your plot had them, now is the time to bait the plot. Here’s what you do. Take a potato and cut it in half. Bury it a few inches into the soil and mark its location. Come back the following day and see if you have wireworms in the bait potato. If so, discard the infested half potato in the trash and rebait. Repeat as needed.

For images:


For learning purposes, there is a large plastic container in the window box beneath the bulletin board. If you find an insect you don’t know in your garden or notice a damaged leaf, put a sample in the container and I will identify it and post the findings on the bulletin board.

We also talked about what gardeners need to know about watering. You can find information on this on a recent post.

The gardeners will meet again on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

I hope to see you then, Natalie

Things to Do in the Garden

I already been out in the garden weeding and it is a lovely morning. It is cool with a light breeze and there is the promise of a warm sunny afternoon.

I’ve got a little more planting to do this morning.

There’s the bed of sunflowers to draw beneficial insects that will help the Community Garden that I want to put in. I’m thinking the variety ‘Chianti” would be gorgeous in all its burgundy goodness. I hope I can find the seed. I know Burpee carries it. This is the photo from Burpee’s website.Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 10.33.26 AM Nice, isn’t it?

Also growing some small pumpkins to give to the children gardeners at the end of the season would be nice. I have the giant pumpkin growing but to be able to distribute little ones would be fun.

Will I see you in the garden today?

I hope so, Natalie

P.S. To My Gardening Angel – Thank you for dropping off a packet of Chianti Sunflower seeds. I loved finding your gift on my front porch when I came home for lunch. 🙂

Day Trips to Beautiful Gardens

Gardens in the Berkshire area and Columbia County are on tour this weekend.

Gardens in the Berkshire area and Columbia County are on tour this weekend.

June 1st and 2nd are marked on my calendar as the first of the Open Day Garden Tours that qualify as day trips from our region.

The Columbia County Tour

There are four gardens on the tour. They are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $5., which can be paid at the garden. Children under 12 enter free.

Arcadia, the garden of Ronald Wagner and Timothy Van Dam.
On the Open Days website they wrote “Our early Greek Revival-style farmhouse is set in a pastoral landscape. An avenue of sweet gum trees lining the formal drive, is planted in forced perspective to visually extend the approach to the house. The gently rolling hillside is punctuated by a magnificent grove of black locust trees, a developing grove of metasequoia trees, and a wildflower meadow rises to the north. The informal plantings include the lilac walk and rhododendron and hydrangea beds. A large pond is the focus of surrounding naturalistic plantings giving to views of the wetland beyond. Symmetrical twin terraces feature an arbor-covered stone dining table on the south and perennial border on the north.”

Directions: From Taconic State Parkway, take Hudson/Route 82 exit. Drive northwest on Route 82, past Taconic Diner with neon Indian. About 1 mile from Taconic Parkway, turn left onto Livingston Road. Go 1 mile up a winding hill to Taghkanic Road on left. Turn left and go to second house on right, #733.

Another Garden on the tour belongs to Kevin Lee Jacobs, the creator of the popular house and garden website, A Garden for the House ( “The gardens he designed for his Victorian house are testament to the power of transformation. In 2003, he boldly removed a former owner’s asphalt parking lot, and turned the space into a large, formal, and very fragrant rose garden. The roses are framed with 320 boxwoods (which he grew mostly from cuttings) and 190 yews. On a hill which was too steep to mow, he designed an easy-to-climb Serpentine Garden, which winds around beds of heirloom bulbs in spring, and flowering perennials in summer. A scruffy, overgrown patch became The Woodland Garden—a shady retreat with a gurgling fish pond and planted with ferns, hostas, primula japonica, and astilbes. Also on the property is a kitchen garden, a formal herb garden, and yes—even a secret garden,” reads the description. I’m especially looking forward to viewing the kitchen garden, the herb garden and secret garden.

Directions: From Claverack and points south, take Route 9H north. Take the Valatie exit. Turn left onto Route 9 north. Continue 0.6 mile to Main Street. Turn left onto Lake Street (the first left) and then an immediate left into the driveway. The house is a big white Victorian with green shutters.

There are two other gardens on Saturday’s tour including the gardens of Peter Bevacqua and Stephen King.
“Step through the gate of this garden and you’ll find yourself in a magical, private world. This two-acre garden, located in the hamlet of Claverack, feels much larger because of its division into many garden spaces—spaces designed with a careful eye to color and especially texture. One area unfolds upon the next with its own sense of individuality. Among the features are the sun garden (surrounded by architectural yew hedges), fern garden, evening garden, the greenhouse borders, and many unusual trees and shrubs. The garden continues to evolve. What was once a small orchard is becoming a conifer garden. A boxwood cloud hedge, inspired by the work of Jacques Wirtz, replaces an old rose border. Also, the owners are developing a border consisting of only shrubs and small trees. This garden has been featured in the New York Times, New York Spaces magazine, Berkshire Living magazine, and the recently published Gardens of the Hudson Valley (Monacelli Press),” the website states.

The next day, two beautiful gardens in Berkshire area are on tour. To see more and get directions go to: Open Days Program at

I can’t think of a better way to spend some time this weekend. Bring your camera and a notepad for jotting down names of plants and plant combinations as you are certain to be inspired.

Gardening questions?

I added a gardening questions page to my blog you might like to check out.

My background: I’m a master gardener who loved the program so much I went back to college and earned a plant science degree from SUNY Cobleskill in ornamental horticultural. I’ve written about gardens for more than 15 years and was a garden columnist for 12. If you have a gardening question, leave a question in the comments box below and I will do my best to answer you.

I hope to do this for the growing season and as we start the new community garden.  I’m also hoping to start an insect collection online. I put together an insect collection with real insects for the master gardeners more than a decade ago.  My plan now is to do the collection online with images, identifications, and what – if anything – a gardener needs to know about the insect.

Have you been noticing the butterflies? Last week I spotted another great one: the giant swallowtail pictured below.

Happy gardening.

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail on the lilac bushes.

What a great day in the garden. Had a couple of visitors stop by. First, was a toad. I never had a toad in the garden before and I am happy to see him. I believe they eat slugs.

The other visitor was the third type of butterfly to feed on the lilacs this week and it was a beauty — a Black Swallowtail.

Since reading that this year is going to be a spectacular one for spotting butterflies, I decided that all my annuals should draw butterflies. Today I planted flats of zinnias, cosmos, snapdragons and ageratum.

I’m tired, in need of a shower…but so happy.