Tag Archives: gardening

It’s a Perfect Time to Garden

Gardeners are optimists! Just think, they put a tiny seed in the ground and expect it to grow.

Gardeners are patient! That tiny seed might take a week or more before it sends up a reassuring green sprout and then a couple of months before is produces a crop or flower.

So, in these trying times perhaps thinking about gardening is a good idea. Now’s the time to plan.

When it warms up and the nurseries reopen, it will be time to purchase annuals. I love my perennials, but I always fill in the garden with colorful annuals. Check out the heights and color before you buy.

I love to do container gardening. I move the containers around all summer to cover up bare spots between flowering perennials. That means I always have color! This is a good time to look at the pots you have, discarding the damaged ones, cleaning the others so you are ready to fill them when it gets warmer. If you need some helpful hints, Check out Cornell Cooperative Extension’s factsheet. The Nassau County and Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension sites offer a wealth of information for Long Island gardeners.

Do you want to get the kids involved? While we are stuck inside, help them paint rocks to use to decorate the garden. Start easy-to-grow seeds inside: Lettuce or basil germinate quickly. You can even use recycled containers like egg cartons and yogurt containers (a good introduction to Earth Day which we will celebrate in April).

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If you need something to boost your mood, try visiting some online gardens like the New York Botanical Garden and take a walk on the first day of spring  or take the time lapse walk along the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The very peaceful “A Day at the Garden” offers a look behind the scenes at the Portland (Oregon) Japanese Garden. You can also see the Strolling Pond Garden  and several other special places.

Researching these garden sites and finding each with the notation that the Gardens are currently closed to the public, is a reminder that we are all in this together. But enjoy the information we have online! And think like a gardener: be patient, be optimistic.

-Posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers

April is  National Poetry Month and May has a host of garden events, such as National Wildflower Week (May 2-9) or Garden Meditation Day on May 3.  So, what could be better than combining the two.

The New York Botanical Garden is doing just that.  From April 30 through June 13, the exhibit is Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers.  According to an article in the New York Times, “Emily Dickinson once called herself a ‘Lunatic on Bulbs’, referring to her passion for daffodils, hyacinth and other spring perennials”.  Although no trace of her original plantings survive, the Garden staff used its imagination to recreate Dickinson’s garden using plants that would have been popular in Massachusetts at the time.

The article from the Times describes the exhibit better than I can.   You can also find out more information on the New York Botanical Garden website.  (Of course, the Syosset Public Library does have museum passes to the Garden.  So take advantage of it.)

If you are interested in reading her poetry or finding out more about Emily Dickinson, you can browse our collection or use our databases.  Feel free to ask a librarian for assistance.

I’m planning on seeing the exhibit.  I hope you will as well.

-posted by Ed G., Reference Librarian

Happy Gardening!

The sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air! There is much talk about the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day and so I feel virtuous as I get my hands into the garden soil. I can just about smell the flowers and taste the herbs and veggies that will fill the garden in a few months!

If you are thinking along those lines and need some help with your garden there are many good websites to check. The wonderful New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offer a range of helpful gardening ideas for the novice and advanced gardener. You can even ask an expert at the NYBG  any gardening question.  Do you want to plant a garden to attract wildlife? Or are you more interested in the color scheme for your garden? Check these great horticultural sources for help.

Cornell Cooperative Extension has a wealth of information on its website. But not everything is available online! You still must bring a soil sample to Eisenhower Park if you want it tested; check the other services available there. I know there will be pest problems at some point but right now I am optimistic and more interested in the annuals that the staff has evaluated and found promising for Long Island.

When you need more inspiration or a break from the garden chores, our area has some wonderful places to visit. In addition to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx (don’t forget the library has a pass you can borrow to visit that wonderful place!) and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, there are several worthwhile places on Long Island. Try Old Westbury Gardens (the library also has a pass), Planting Fields Arboretum, Bayard Cutting Arboretum,  Bailey Arboretum, and Clark Botanic Garden.

I have not yet mastered gardening in the dark (my kids threatened once to get me a miner’s hat with a light!) so at night I can content myself with reading a good book set in a garden. May I suggest some books by Ann Ripley (maybe Death at the Spring Plant Sale), Janis Harrison (Reap a Wicked Harvest is a possibility), Anthony Eglin’s English Garden mysteries or Rosemary Harris’ Dirty Business series?  Susan Wittig Albert ‘s character China Bayles is an herbalist. You could check out Mark Mills’ Savage Garden or The Garden Plot by J.S. Borthwick.

But now the warm sun beckons me outdoors. I must get my fingers into the dirt!  If you notice I am wearing bright red nail polish you can be sure I have been happily outside planting seed, dividing and transplanting plants, or even pulling a weed or two.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

New display: A Celebration of Poetry and Springtime

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
–   Percy Bysshe Shelley

The snow has melted and the pansies turn their faces toward the sun. It’s time to put on the gardening gloves and cope with a blister or two. Visit the new first floor display for tips on how to achieve the garden of your dreams.  If you’re not a gardener, there are novels available that evoke the beauty of gardens without the mess.  While you’re there help celebrate National Poetry Month-chose a novel with poet protagonist, a novel set in prose, or one of the many wonderful poetry books from the collection.

May I suggest one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver?

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Thank you to Beth Kephart, author of Undercover, for introducing Mary Oliver to me.  If you have a young adult looking for a beautiful book I highly recommend Undercover-a beautiful poetic book.

-posted by Susan, Readers’ Services

Gardening in the Fall

It is that sad time of year for me.  The mums are colorful, the Autumn Joy sedem creates a graceful background  and the red, yellow, and bronze leaves are beautiful.  But the annuals in the garden should all be pulled out and put into the compost pile.

The autumn garden just does not have the variety of color and textures of spring and summer!

But rather than bemoan the deficiencies of my garden, I will focus on the future.  First, I will rake those leaves! Besides getting good exercise, I will be able to enrich my garden soil by adding the raked leaves to the compost pile. The library has some useful books on composting, Easy Composting by Jeff Ball and The Rodale Book of Composting edited by Martin and Gershuny.  If you need a primer on beginning your own compost pile, try the EPA website.

And I will plan the garden of 2010.  There were areas of my garden that lacked color and variety; I will get out my notes and plant what I can now…and then plan for spring plantings.

Spring blooming bulbs can be planted as long as the soil is not frozen.  I will put in some more crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs.  Did you know there was a tulip craze when they were first introduced from Turkey?  In the  17th century the demand  for  new tulip varieties drove up prices and even common people wanted to participate in the ever rising profits; eventually, the price crashed – shades of our economic turmoil!

I love the all the tulip colors and the various shapes.  I do not love the squirrels who feast on the bulbs in the winter, so I’ve been placing squares of window screen over the bulbs to keep the squirrels from digging up the tulips.  The squirrels do not like daffodils so those are a good choice.  I know my garden will never look quite like the wonderful gardens at Keukenhof which inspire me:


Increase your knowledge and love of tulips with Anna Pavord’s The Tulip.  New York Botanical Garden has some timely tips for protecting your bulbs  and Cornell’s Department of Horticulture provides reference information for planting bulbs in our area.

Right outside my kitchen window there is a gap in planting.  I thought I’d planned so there would always be something in bloom.  I mixed annuals and perennials in a variety of colors.  But now there’s nothing!  The yellow lantana I planted in the front is still growing and blooming, I will need more of that next year. In the coming cold and dreary days I can dream as I look through books about gardening.  I enjoy Irene Virag’s Gardening on Long Island and Better Homes and Gardens’ Choosing Plant Combinations.  Cornell’s site has a comprehensive guide to flowers that can be searched by either scientific or common names.

HelleboresI read and I look and I learn something new all the time! I had never grown Hellebores before I saw them in London in full bloom in February – now they are one of my early season favorites and now is the time to plant  them.  I think I can find a spot for just one more……

– posted by Brenda, Reference librarian