Tag Archives: annuals

Back to the Garden!

empty greenhouseNow that the plant sale is over (and a great success), it’s time to return my attention to the Botanical Gardens. The plant sale is a lot of work, although it’s a lot of fun too, and it’s gratifying to see the greenhouse EMPTY! Many thanks to the students who helped me out the past two weekends.

I am really happy to be back outside in the Garden, even to pull weeds. The main garden, where the stage is, looks good. This part of the Garden is the area most often reserved for special events. The College of Nursing will be holding their Commencement ceremony here.  A retirement party for the Dean of Pharmacy, Joan Lausier (celebrating 50 years at URI!), will be held in the Garden in June. A few weddings are already scheduled, and of course garden tours are always going on.

peonyMay is a busy time for garden chores. There are peonies to stake, already flopping with last night’s heavy rain. Annuals are ready to be tucked into the perennial beds for extra color. Plants for the All-America Selections Display Gardens are getting impatient in the greenhouse and will be planted out this week ( hopefully!) Dahlias need to planted, Montauk Daisies cut back, and of course, the never ending task of weeding.

all-america  selections logoSpeaking of chores, our summer garden crew is all new. Welcome, Louis and Feather. And good bye to Mike (Bartlett Tree Service), Giles (Central Nurseries), and Emily (Tower Hill Botanic Garden). You will be missed! Ryan (Arnold Arboretum) and Kyle (adventure), hope to see you in the fall. Let Summer Begin!

lavender and roses in June


October Garden

white anemone flower

What’s left in the October garden? The weather has been so mild that many plants are still lingering in the slanted autumn light. Japanese Anemones look beautiful in the main garden. The white ones, ‘Honorine Jobert’ stand up proudly and make themselves seen. The pink ones, ‘Queen Charlotte’,  lie down as soon as they bloom, tangling themselves among the skeletons of the Sedums and Rudbeckias, tempting me to rip them out despite the beautiful pearly pink color and abundant flowers. Speaking of Sedums, they seemed to go by quickly in the wet grey week we had, along with my favorite aster, the bright ‘Alma Potschke’ in the main garden. The Actaea along the Kinney wall is still standing, the seed pods as eye-catching as the fuzzy white flowers.

actaea near stone wall

Annuals are still alive and well here on Kingston Hill, although the temperature really dropped the first week of October. Teri of Hidden Field Farm in Wakefield reported a killing frost the night of October 6, but we’ve been lucky. Or maybe not lucky — it feels a little like limbo. Do I pull out the tomatoes in the All-America Selections garden, which are still flowering and fruiting but look ugly and half dead? (I did.) What about the ‘Holy Mole’ peppers, and the Celosia ‘Fresh Look Gold’ ? (I left both –the peppers look healthy and productive, and the Celosia looks….interesting.) A hard frost is definitive, leaving no questions about what should be done.


Other bright spots of color: the Calendula near the front of the Kathy Mallon Outreach Center, the Dahlias of course, the Callicarpa with stunning bright purple berries near the fire lane. The Nepeta in the main garden, an occasional Rudbeckia. And the Rose Garden is full of pink, red, white, and yellow roses…  A wedding there on October 9th caught a beautiful perfect blue sky day among the late roses.


 The weather forecast is not for cold but for rain, which might spare the annuals but be the end of the perennial flowers. Of course it’s inevitable that they will all be gone soon, but what a gorgeous “Indian Summer” it’s been.

sedum autumn joy


plants for sale

plant sale greenhouseI face the Plant Sale Season with a mixture of anticipation and dread:

First, anticipation:  I dream big about the possibilities of the growing season. I might find that perfect plant for my home garden (but where would I put it? I couldn’t wedge another plant in with a shoe horn!)  I could buy that perfect plant for someone else who would love it.  It’s great to see all the enthusiasm for gardening… everyone is a potential gardener in May!

Next, dread: The amount of work and the logistics of holding a plant sale. Will people show up? Will we raise money for the Botanical Gardens? Will we have the plants people want? Do we have enough change, enough signs, enough advertising, enough help?

Regardless of all the above, the Botanical Gardens will be holding it’s 2nd Annual Plant Sale this Saturday May 14th. The Greenhouse will be open from 8 AM to 2 PM and we will be here offering annuals, perennials,  vegetables and more. Trees and shrubs from the Gardens and the Horticulture Program at URI will also be available. Screened compost can be purchased at this time as well. The greenhouse elves are busy bagging the compost right now!

compost bag

All proceeds from our sales go to the upkeep of the Botanical Gardens and Horridge Conservatory, free and open to the public year-round. That way, you can get a plant you love and donate to a good cause at the same time. While you’re here, take a walk around the gardens and maybe see how that special tree you just bought actually looks in the landscape. The Azaleas are blooming, the Dicentra in the shade garden is  at it’s peak, and the sweet fragrance of Viburnum carlesii  / Koreanspice Viburnum is around every corner.



Find directions to the Greenhouse on the calendar page of our website, cels.uri.edu/uribg. (Click on the May 14th plant sale.)  See you Saturday!


halesia carolina

The Garden in Autumn

anemone and sedums

Anmeone japonica 'Queen Charlotte' resting on sedums.

Thoughts of the garden in the fall could be really gloomy. Spring is so hopeful, and summer is glorious. Fall leads to…winter. No garden there. So, to stay cheerful, I’m going to talk about the great fall flowers blooming now at the Botanical Garden.

First is one of my favorites,  Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Hylotelephium).  It’s interesting all year, with green flower heads that look vaguely like broccoli in the summer, but right now it really shines. The pinkish flowers turn a darker purplish- red at this time, eventually to deep maroon and then brown. I leave it into the winter to catch frost and snow, for something to look at in the quiet November landscape.

Next: Fall Blooming Anemones. They don’t look  golden and fall- like, they look like spring all over again. The white  ‘Honorine Joubert’ and the pink ‘Queen Charlotte’ are both blooming now in the sunny border. In some spots, the tops were eaten off by deer earlier, but there are still flowers on the 3-4 foot tall stems.

Agastache ‘Heatwave’ has been a real eye-catcher since it was planted three years ago. These huge (3 ft wide  x 4 ft tall) plants in the mint family have long stems of pink flowers in the middle of summer. Hummingbirds and bees adore them. Slowly the petals fall off but the pink calyxes remain, darkening as the days go on. At this time of year they still look good and are a bright spot in the garden.

Toad Lily, Tricyrtis formosana, is a great fall-flowering shade plant. (It’s not a lily and toads don’t eat it!)They are inconspicuous most of the year, but at their best right now. Small ( two-inch) flowers with white to pink petals with purple spots range along the curved stems of the 24-inch plants. These were also tasted by deer earlier and are flowering nevertheless.

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is another fall  perennial that most people know. They come in shades of pink and purple and rarely white, with yellow centers. Many cultivars have been developed from this easy to grow plant, which is found in the wild throughout New England. My current favorite is ‘Alma Potschke’ , a beautiful warm rose pink that blooms for weeks in September. It’s just about done but I had to include it, it’s been such a pleasure to see in the garden.

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is blooming now in the sunny border, with clusters of bright white, fluffy looking 1/2 inch  flowers. It’s an eastern US native and grows very well here with a little shade. Snakeroot is  not much to look at the rest of the year but plays it’s part  at the end of the season.

There are plenty of annuals still around…the zinnias, petunias, and sunflowers still blooming away even as they begin to look a little tattered. Some late summer perennials hang on with a few flowers here and there until frost — Gaura, Rudbeckia, and Phlox come to mind. The location of the plant makes a difference too. The Actaea in the sun has long since gone to seed, but the Actaea at the shady end of the Kinney Wall still  has flowers. OK, I’ve cheered myself up. Color and life  in the garden go on,  and will  for a little while longer.

aster alma potschke

Aster 'Alma Potschke'