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What’s in Bloom This Week

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Lerner Garden and Forest Pond:
Daphne ‘Carol Mackie’
Thymus ‘Pink Chinz’ — Wild Thyme
Dodecatheon clevelandii – Shooting Star
Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Fire Witch’ — Cheddar Pink
Paeonia rockii – Snow Lotus Tree Peony
Rodgersia pinnata ‘Chocolate Wings’ — Rodger’s Flower

Great Lawn:
Annuals: Snapdragon mix around fish, pansies and Johnny-Jump-Ups in Founders Grove, planters, and Great Lawn bed.
Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Albiflorus’ near entrance
Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ just beginning
Baptisias ‘Purple Smoke,’ ‘Blueberry Sundae,’ and ‘Cherries Jubilee’ just beginning
Viburnum prunifolium
Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Red Selection’
Lupines just beginning behind stone bench! ‘Gallery Pink’ and ‘Woodfield Hybrids’

Rose and Perennial Garden:
Amsonia ‘Blue Star’
Rosa spinosissima
Delphinium ‘Butterfly Blue Dwarf’
Cerastium tomentosum ‘Yo Yo’
Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ (but seems to have reverted to white!)
Papaver orientale ‘Royal Wedding’
Centaurea montana ‘Black Sprite’ (very cool cultivar!)
Syringas ‘Baildust’ and ‘Bailbelle’ are at peak
Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’
Rosa rugosas just starting to bloom
Allium ‘Purple Caila’
Spirea x vanhouttei ‘Renaissance’ is in full splendor

Norweb Entrance Garden:
Lupinus ‘Noble Maiden’
Rhododendron ‘Boule de Neige’
Chamaepericlymenum canadense

Woodland Garden:
Epimedium ‘Dancing Stars’
Benthamidia japonica ‘Madison’ and ‘Square Dance’
Polygonatum odoratum var.
Anemone sylvestris
Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Weihenstephan’ and ‘Valerie’s Song’
Geranium ‘Biokova,’ ‘Samobar’ and ‘Sue Crug’
Cypripedium Gisela
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens
Aquilegia ‘Origami White’
Astrantia major ‘Star of Beauty’
Iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby’

Haney Hillside:
Gillenia trifoliata – Bowman’s Root
Dicentra – Bleeding Heart
Amsonia hubrichtii – Blue Star Amsonia
Rhododendron atlanticum – Coast Azalea
Lupinus perennis – Wild Lupine
Iris versicolor – Northern Blue Flag Iris
Polygonatum biflorum – Small Solomon seal

Vayo Meditation Garden:
Iris gracilipes ‘Buko Form’
Iris gracilipes ‘Cobblewood Charm’
Ajuga reptans ‘Alfredda’ – Chocolate Chip Bugleweed
Enkianthus cernus forma rubens

Alfond Children’s Garden
Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’
Paeonia ostii – Tree Peony
Lamprocapnos spectabilis – Bleeding Heart
Chiastophyllum oppositifolium – Lamb’s Tail
Lewisia ‘Little Plum’- Cliff Maids

Giles Rhododendron Garden
Rhodies in that distant yet stunning Garden are still full of bloom!
Cultivars showing off include (many new since last week):
‘Anna H. Hall’
‘English Roseum’
‘Henry’s Red ‘ (amazing color!!!)
‘Hong Kong’
‘Lee’s Dark Purple’
‘Yaku White’

kiusianum ‘Alba’
‘Catawbiense Album’
‘Fastuosum Flore Pleno’
‘Purpureum Elegans’

Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’
Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Bevan’s Variety’
Veronica ‘Waterperry Blue’
Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Mariesii’

Education Center:
Iris versicolor
Sorbus decora

Entrance Walk:
Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’
Calycanthus floridus
Fothergilla gardenii ‘Mt. Airy’

– Rodney Eason
Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

What’s in Bloom This Week

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

SM Giles Rhododendron Garden

Haney Hillside:
Corydalis lutea ‘Fumewort’
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ , Siberian Bugloss
Actaea pachypoda ‘Misty Blue’, Doll’s eyes
Amsonia hubrichtii, Blue star amsonia

Vayo Meditation Garden:
Ajuga reptans ‘Alfredda’ , Chocolate chip bugleweed

Alfond Children’s Garden:
Ruellia humilis- wild petunia
Nepeta ‘Early Bird’ catmint
Euphorbia palustris ‘Walenberg’s Glorie’ swamp spurge
Iris cristata ‘Dick Redfield’ Dwarf Crested Iris
Rhododendrons ‘Lemon Dream’ and ‘Lem’s Form’

Norweb Entrance Garden:
Chamaepericlymenum canadense (Bunchberry)
Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ (Summer Snowflake)
Rhododendron ‘Boule de Neige’
Polygonatums (Solomon’s-seal)
Cypripedium Gisela (Lady’s Slipper)

Woodland Garden:
Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady’s Slipper)
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Large Yellow Lady’s Slipper)
Cypripedium Gisela (Lady’s Slipper)
Epimedium ‘Dancing Stars’ (Fairy Wings)
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’ & ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian Bugloss)
Polygonatum odoratum var. (Solomon’s-seal)
Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Weihenstephan’ & ‘Valerie’s Song’ (Solomon’s-seal)
Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ (Dead Nettle)
Geranium phaem ‘Samobor’ (Mourning Widow Cranesbill)
Fothergilla x intermedia ‘Blue Shadow’
Aquilegia ‘Origami White’ (Origami Series Columbine)
Chamaepericlymenum canadense (Bunchberry)
Tiarella ‘Candy Striper’ (Foamflower)

Cleaver Event Lawn:
Amsonia tabernaemontana ‘Montana’Paeoniia ostia
Baptisia x bicolor ‘Starlite’
Dictamnus albus
Paeonia ostii
Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’
Rheum palmatum var tanguticum ‘Red Selection’ – Hot-Cha-Cha!
Salvia x sylvestris ‘Rhapsody in Blue’

Kitchen Garden & Environs:
Euphorbia epithymoides
Rhododendron ‘Klondyke’
Rhododendron ‘Lavender Princess’
Rhododendron ssp yakushimanum Berg Form
Syringa ‘Pierre Jolie’

Giles Rhododendron Garden:
In near-peak bloom, 25+ cultivars blooming. Cultivars in bloom include:
‘Mardi Gras’
‘Party Pink’
‘Mary Kittel’
‘Boule De Neige’
‘Calsap’ (Dan’s personal fav)
‘Ingrid Mehlquist’
‘Purple Gem’
‘Purpureum Elegans’
‘Blue Peter’
‘Tow Head’
Hyacinthoides hispanica
Primula japonica

Education Center:
Iris cristata ‘Dick Redfield’
Geranium maculatum
Sorbus decora

Lerner Garden and Forest Pond:
Viburnum carleisii –Korean Spice Viburnum
Sorbus alnifolia –Mountain Ash
Hellebores –Lenten Rose
Daphne ‘Carol Mackie’
Thymus ‘Pink Chinz’—Wild Thyme
Dodecatheon clevelandii –Shooting Star

Rose and Perennial Garden:
Cotinus coggygria ‘Ancot’ and Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ have both just leafed out and are breathtaking
Rodgersia sambucifolia and Rodgersia ‘Die Schone’ are starting to flower across from Slater Forest Pond
Allium ‘Purple Caila’ is just starting
Syringa ‘Baildust’ and Syringa ‘Bailbelle’ are starting to flower behind the pergola
Geum rivals ‘Flames of Passion’ may be small, but is beautiful and definitely worth checking out, near the overlook!

Great Lawn:
Magnolia ‘Sunspire’ – gorgeous pale yellow blooms
Syringa x laciniata is just starting to flower
Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Red Selection’ is in full glory
Camassias (no tag)
Canadian Lily-of-the-Valley flowering in the Founder’s Grove

Entrance Walk:
Amsonia tabernaemontana
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’
Digitalis – “foxgloves”

Trowels at the ready!

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

CLASSIC PLANTASTIC! Plant Sale: June 13-14

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your trowels and get ready to plant. Please join Dan Robarts, Sharmon Provan, the dedicated cadre of Plant Sale volunteers and myself, Diane Walden, for a great plant weekend. We’ve assembled a diverse group of seeds, annuals, perennials, natives, and exotics sure to intrigue both plant geeks and avid beginners alike. We’ll answer as many questions as you can throw at us and will happily gallop about the gardens to show off its wonders and point out mature specimens of various plant sale offerings. Help us grow an even better garden for you and all CMBG visitors! Trowels at the ready!

After surviving the winter of 2015, doesn’t your garden deserve a Costa Rican Butterfly Vine?

Plantastic! Dalechampia dioscoreifolia – Costa Rican Butterfly or Bowtie Vine

Plantastic! Dalechampia dioscoreifolia – Costa Rican Butterfly or Bowtie Vine

Too Gaudy? Several types of Peonies will be on sale; Why not add this classic bloomer to your garden?

Classic - Coral Charm Peony – Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’

Classic Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ – Coral Charm Peony. Unfortunately, we’ve heard that this particular peony will not be making it in time for the sale this weekend. There will be many other peonies available!

Not Gaudy enough? Remember the big weird spiky plants in the Lunaform containers in the Kitchen Garden in 2013? We’ve got them – Solanum quitoense, aka Naranjillo or Lulo Fruit. (Hannaford stocks the fruit!) There is also it’s kissing cousin – Solanum pyracanthum, ‘Porcupine Tomato’

Solanum pyracanthum, 'Porcupine Tomato'

Solanum pyracanthum – Porcupine Tomato

Too mundane? Voilá! Argyreia nervosa – Wooly Morning Glory, aka Hawaiian Woodrose or Silver Elephant Creeper. Or opt for the drama of Breadseed Poppies – also easy to grow and they’ll happily reseed themselves.

 Argyreia nervosa – 'Wooly Morning Glory' aka 'Hawaiian Woodrose' aka 'Silver Elephant Creeper'

Argyreia nervosa – Wooly Morning Glory, aka Hawaiian Woodrose or Silver Elephant Creeper

Vegetable gardeners: We’ve got you covered both plantasically and classically.

Cucumis meluiferus – Kiwano Fruit, aka African Horned Melon aka Jelly Melon

Cucumis meluiferus – Kiwano Fruit, aka African Horned Melon or Jelly Melon

Cucumis dipsaceus - Wooly Bear Gourd aka Hedgehog Gourd

Cucumis dipsaceus – Wooly Bear Gourd, aka Hedgehog Gourd

You’ll also have a choice of several Tomatoes – Plant a few ‘Black Vernissage Tomatoes’ for your locavore table.

Black Vernissage Tomatoes

Black Vernissage Tomatoes

Floral arrangers take note: we’ll be offering great cut flower candidates. Try the annual Dianthus ‘Green Ball,’ pictured below.

Dianthus 'Green Ball'

Dianthus ‘Green Ball’

A great perennial to grow for BIG spectacular cuts is Aralia racemosa – American Spikenard. It boasts tiny white flowers on large arching stems which then ripen to form purplish fruits with long vase life.

Aralia racemosa – American Spikenard

Aralia racemosa – American Spikenard

Don’t forget the butterflies. There will be several types of Milkweed on hand; this one also makes a great cut.

Asclepias physocarpa aka Gomphocarpus physocarpa – Balloon Plant, aka Hairy Balls or Swan Plant

Asclepias physocarpa aka Gomphocarpus physocarpa – Balloon Plant, aka Hairy Balls or Swan Plant

We’ll also be offering CMBG collected seed packets for the first time:

  • CMBG Deepest Purple Morning Glory – Classic easy-to-grow, juicily-colored Morning Glory
  • Breadseed Poppy
  • Calendula Mix
  • ‘Spitfire’ Nasturtium
  • CMBG Culinary Mix – Dill with Red & Green Mustards

You get the picture! Now come on by and get the plants!
– Diane Walden, Staff Horticulturist

What’s in Bloom This Week

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Alfond Children’s Garden
Pyrus ‘Gourmet’
Euphorbia palustris ‘Walenberg’s Glorie’
Lamprocampanos spectabilis
Amsonia rigida
Fritillaria spp.

Great Lawn:
Tulips: ‘Angelique,’ ‘La Belle Époque,’ ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Blue Heron,’ ‘Golden Appeldoorn,’ and the variegated is about to start.
Narcissus ‘Actaea’
Seasonal pansies

Rose and Perennial Garden:
Tulips: ‘Synaeda Blue,’ plus a deep purple, red, and red and yellow, all three lacking labels
Fritillaria imperials ‘Maxima Lutea’
Euphorbia ‘First Blush’
Delphinum ‘Butterfly Blue’
Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasabu’
Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’
Aurinia saxatalis ‘Compacta’
Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Scarlet Storm’ flowering quince is starting to bloom on the right side of the pergola when looking from the great lawn. Beautiful red flowers
Euphorbia ‘First Blush’ Cushion Spurge yellow flowers look great with the yellow Fritillaria imperialis ‘Maxima Lutea’ behind it.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Rotfuchs’- Red Fox Katsura Tree -deep purple leaves

Lerner Garden of The Five Senses:
Helleborus –Lenten rose
Caltha palustris –Marsh Marigold
Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells
Darmera peltata –Umbrella plant
Glaucidium palmatum –Japanese Wood Poppy

Giles Rhododendron Garden:
Dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’
Dicentra exima ‘Alba’
Rhododendron ‘PJM’
Rhododendron ‘Hardy Giant’
Rhododendron ‘Solidarity’
Magnolia ‘Pink Royalty’
Rhododendron ‘Olga Mezitt’

Norweb Entrance Garden:
Erythronium ‘Pagoda’
Narcissus ‘Manly’ and “Lemon Drops’
Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’

Bosarge Family Education Center Gardens:
Carex pennsylvanica
Sanguinaria canadensis
Trillium cuneatum
Uvularia grandiflora
Trollius sp.
Cymophyllus fraserianus

Haney Hillside Garden:
Viburnam Iantanoides, Hobblebush
Pieris floribunda, Mountain Fetterbush
Magnolia, Yellow Lantern
Dicentra, Bleeding Heart
Mertensia Virginica, Virginia Bluebells

Cleaver Event Lawn:
Narcissus ‘Double Smiles’
Mix of Tulipa ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Passionale’, and ‘Synaeda Blue’
Narcissus ‘Kokopelli’
Uvularia grandiflora
Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ – Supergorgeous!
Pulmonaria ‘Silver Shimmers’

Kitchen Garden & Environs:
Mix of Tulipa ‘Cretaceous’ and ‘El Nino’
Euphorbia epithymoides
Aurinia saxatilis

What’s in Bloom This Week

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Haney Hillside
daffodils and magnolia

Alfond Children’s Garden:
Corylopsis pauciflora
Corylopsis ‘Longwood Chimes’
Tulipa humilis, Muscari latifolium, Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’, and Iris reticulata are all blooming together next to the greenhouse – beautiful combination!
Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’
Magnolia ‘Anticipation’
Jeffersonia diphylla
Brunnera (no label)
Erythronium albidum

Lerner Garden and Forest Pond:
Chinadoxa – Glory of the snow
Primula denticulata – Primrose
Helleborus – Lenten rose
Jeffersonia dubia – Twin Leaf
Dicentra cucullaria – Dutchmen’s Breeches

Giles Rhododendron Garden:
Galanthus nivalis ‘Fore Pleno’ (finishing up)
Many Narcissus including x incomp. ‘Faith’
Numberous Helleborus including:
orientalis ‘Pink Lady’
x hybridus ‘Winter Dreams Cassis Red’
x hybridus ‘Gold Finch’

‘Best Pink Doubles’
Muscari armeniacum
Omophalodes verna
Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’
Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cornell Pink’

Kitchen Garden:
Fritillaria meleagris
Asparagas and peas actively growing
Tulips budded

Cleaver Event Lawn:
Magnolia x loebneri
Rheum tanguticum
Purplish-black foliage of Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’
Pulmonaria ‘Silver Shimmers’
Heavily furred fronds of Osmunda claytonia

Rose and Perennial Garden:
Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rote Glocke’
Pulsatilla vulgaris (no cultivar, classic purple)
Narcissus ‘Delibes’
Muscari latifolium
Fritillaria michailovski

Great Lawn:
Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Red Selection’ (Ornamental Rhubarb)

What’s in Bloom This Week

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Entry Walk:
Witchhazels and heathers

Visitor Center West Portico:
Containers with Forsythia and pansies

Lerner Garden of the 5 Senses and Slater Forest Pond:
Eranthis hyemalis –Winter aconite
Chinadoxa –Glory of the snow
Primula denticulate –Primrose
Helleborus –Lenten rose

Rose and Perennial Garden:
Pulsatilla vulgaris
Sanguinaria canadensis
Chionodoxa luciliae – Glory of the Snow (heading towards Slater Forest Pond)
Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasabu’ – Crimson Fans Mukdenia (in front of pergola)
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pink Beauty’ (behind pergola)

Great Lawn Beds:
Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ – beautiful foliage
Hammamelis vernalis ‘Sandra’ (right against portico of VC) VERY fragrant!
Vaccinium angustifolium – Lowbush Blueberry (Founder’s Grove) – not flowering yet, but buds are subtle yet beautiful, a fat pink.

Alfond Children’s Garden:
Helleborus ‘Candy Love’, ‘Double Metallic Lady’, ‘Blue Metallic Lady’
Sanguinaria canadensis- Bloodroot (Pink Form)
Corylopsis pauciflora- Buttercup Winter Hazel
Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’- Fragrant Winter Hazel
Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’- Lungwort
Iris reticulata- Netted iris
Scilla siberica- Siberian Squill
Muscari spp.
Tulipia humilis- Red Crocus Tulip

Kitchen Garden:
5 different types of peas
three types of onions
King Richard Leeks sown
5 types of garlic up and growing strong including a favorite: Transylvania.

Cleaver Event Lawn:
Fuzzy buds of Magnolia x loebneri ‘Ballerina’ about to burst forth with creamy white petals.
Paeonia ostii foliage is unfurling; fortuitous sign of strength after this brutal winter.
My all-time favorite plant, Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum ‘Red Selection’ is virtually exploding from the earth. You can watch this plant grow! Gorgeous red leaves unfurl before your eyes.

Vayo Meditation Garden :
Mukdenia rossi “Karasabu” are just breaking ground.
Helleborus, Heronswood Double Dark Lenton Rose & Helleborus, Heronswood Pink.

Haney Hillside Garden:
Narcissus ‘W.P. Milner’ Trumpet Daffodil
Scilla siberica Siberian Squill.

It’s a great time to be a Plant Geek! Hellebore lovers come see our abundant collection of these blooming beauties… laced all throughout the gardens.

Starting Up

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Over the past couple of weeks, Sharmon Provan has been starting seeds and potting up small plants in the greenhouse so we will have an abundance of plants to add to the gardens in late May and early June. Sharmon uses a spreadsheet that lists all of the plants being added into the gardens this year in order to determine which seeds need to be started and when they should begin. Growing plants from seed allows us to grow a large variety of plants on our own at the fraction of the cost of buying in finished plants from nurseries. Currently, we have one heated greenhouse with hopes of adding heat to our second greenhouse this year. Even though these two greenhouses can only provide a fraction of the plants being added, starting plants from seed allows us to grow unusual vegetables and annuals that we may not be able to find as finished plants.
We also buy in some of our plants as small plants called plugs. Once these plants come in, Sharmon can pot these plugs into larger pots and grow on in the greenhouse. By the end of May, these plugs will grow into sizable plants, ready to planted right into the gardens.
When you visit us this summer, feel free to ask any of our horticulture team about the plants in the gardens and if we grew them right here in our greenhouses. As we grow as a garden in the coming years, we hope to add several more greenhouses in order to produce more of the plants right here, on site.
-Rodney Eason, director of horticulture and plant curator

Returning to the Gardens

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

The middle of December I had made my way along the Haney Hillside. I raked and hauled and did the last of my fall primping before heading back to the barn. I parked my cart and put way all my tools. I shut down my computer and cleaned up my space. With a few hugs and farewells, I left the Gardens for my winter break; knowing that spring was months away, I filled my mind with plans for my winter vacation.

Hanging up the gardening tools for the winter

Winter hit hard and I almost forgot what my world looked like without a covering of white. I shoveled and carried firewood. I played with the dogs and ventured into a new business. I cursed the cold and then relished it when my skates hit the pond and I lost myself in the wonder of a seemingly endless journey around the pond. I found some time for projects and did what I could around the comfort of the wood-stove.

February blew in and I found myself swirling with the arrival of seed catalogs. I rushed to the mailbox and like a child at Christmas, felt giddy with the excitement of what was between those colorful pages. I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled upon the couch. With catalogs on my lap, I soon drifted to another place where sunshine touched my face and the aroma of freshly tilled soil filled my nostrils.

Not long after the rush of catalogs, came my first arrival of seeds. I was ecstatic, like the arrival of the first child. With shaking fingers I opened the box. I hesitated, should I rush in, or savor the moment? Do I dump them all out at once, or take them one by one and stretch the pleasure out? I dumped. I was all but drooling as I spread the packets out on the dining room table. I lined them up. I smiled at the choices I had made. I picked them up, one at a time and read them and felt pride in what each one could become.

It was hard to handle the storms that came after that. I tried to focus and not get ahead of myself, but thoughts of planting, of growing, of the feel of fresh earth between my fingers haunted my every moment. I dug deeper into my projects around the house, but couldn’t stop my mind from wandering. Like a baby learning to color, I could not stay within the lines. My focus drifted in and out. It was wearing me down. I had to succumb. I started my first flats of seeds.

A bag of potting soil isn’t the same as a newly tilled garden, but it was as close as I could get at the end of February. It eased the pain of this garden junkie. It soothed my nerves and gave me the chance to focus on the last of winter. It helped to keep me in check until I found my way back to the Gardens.

It is the middle of March and I am back. The Haney Hillside is buried deep in winter still. I walked atop the snow, and ventured to the bottom and to the Meditation Garden. The sounds of spring were still quieted by the silence of winter. The stones appeared as souls in waiting. I stood and closed my eyes. I am back I said. Somewhere in the last of the winter wind, I heard it. Welcome, it said.

– Patty Robbins, Horticulturist

Heating Our Greenhouse At CMBG During The Winter

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Greenhouse March 2015
After the bitter cold New England winter of 2013-14, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens decided to turn off the heat in our greenhouse this winter. Well, sort of. We compared the cost of what we paid for fuel during the 2013-14 winter months to what we paid for annuals that were brought in from outside nurseries. Believe or not, even with buying close to 10,000 plants, plugs, and seeds, it was almost the same amount of money.
We have one Quonset hut greenhouse approximately 20 wide by 60 feet long heated by a propane-powered, forced-air, Modine heater. The frame is covered by two layers of clear plastic, which are inflated by a squirrel-cage blower. Last winter, we had the thermostat set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit in order to overwinter select tropicals and tender perennials as specimen and stock plants. On nights when we dipped to subzero temperatures, the steam plume just billowed out of the heater’s smoke stack, along with dollar bills. Keeping a greenhouse warm with a 50 degree delta between inside and outside temperatures was just too much for our utility budget to handle.
The Turducken
I have since spoken to a few nursery owners who are faced with similar dilemmas. Many are choosing to turn their greenhouses off during the winter, fire up the heaters in the spring, and then finish growing plants that are shipped in as plugs for late spring and summer sales. The question that I faced as we headed into this winter was: what about the one of a kind annuals that many wholesale plug suppliers are not producing? How would we keep these plants and build up their numbers for future display designs?
Heat inside of the Turducken
Ingenuity kicked in and an idea was born: our team used leftover greenhouse plastic to build a makeshift mini-greenhouse over a bench inside the existing greenhouse. To heat the small greenhouse, they bought two electric powered, oil-filled radiators. A wireless remote thermometer allowed our plant recorder to monitor the temperature from her desk. The horticulture team nicknamed the makeshift contraption “the Turducken” after the infamous Thanksgiving meat treat. Sure it received some laughs but on the nights when we went down to subzero temperatures, the Turducken stayed above freezing. So far, we have been able to overwinter some of our specimen banana plants along with other exotic annuals using this greenhouse-within-a-greenhouse method.
As our growing operation continues to expand, we will need to seek other creative ways to grow plants year-round in such a cold climate. The fuel we use should be sustainable, relatively inexpensive, and easily available. Electricity is of course one option but I am also beginning to explore external, wood-fired boilers. Along with using a main heat source, we need to pursue other creative ways of keeping our plants warm including heat curtains, insulated side walls, and radiant floors and benches. We are extremely interested in hearing what growers are doing and experimenting with in Maine and other parts of New England. Drop me an email so we can continue this conversation about creative and sustainable ways to keep our tender plants alive during the long and cold winter months.
You can reach me at reason@mainegardens.org.

-Rodney Eason, director of horticulture and plant curator

Dick Zieg is Retiring

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

dick zeig-DS6_0711
This week marks the end of an era at the Gardens. After 11 years and eight months of dedication and hard work, Dick Zieg is retiring. At his retirement celebration, I did not speak up with a funny story or memory about Dick for fear of an embarrassing display of emotion and tears. I know that Dick knows how I feel about him, but it is important that everyone else understand why he is so special, if they don’t already get it from simply knowing him.
Dick is the reason that I came to work at the Gardens. My first experience with Dick was as a volunteer bulb planter in the Rhododendron Garden, our only major display garden at the time, over ten years ago. Once the smaller bulbs were in the ground and the other few volunteers left, it was down to just three of us. Lacking in manpower, Dick brought out the mattock and we quickly got those larger bulbs in the ground working as a team. He joked about doing the work of ten men, but we all know, as I did then, it is true. Just look at what he has helped to create in his 11 years and eight months at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
By the next spring, I was lucky enough to be an official part of that team. It is impossible to list all of the things that I have learned from Dick, especially in those early years when I didn’t think I knew everything already. I was taught how to use a chainsaw, drive large machinery, fix whatever needed to be fixed, build whatever needed to be built, plant whatever needed to planted, and still got answers to my endless how and why questions. Unbeknownst to him, these tasks, which may have seemed small or mundane to him, empowered me. In my time here, Dick has been my boss, my coworker, my teacher, my office-mate, my friend, and my family. When I first arrived, I thought I had a good understanding and working knowledge of a strong work ethic, loyalty, and integrity, but I was wrong. Dick expects much of people, but most importantly, he always led, and continues to lead, by example. He is, however, the first to admit that patience may not be his virtue. “What, are you going to make a day of it?” is one of his most frequently used expressions. That, and “wonky.” You know something is not right if Dick says it’s wonky.
So if Dick is one of the main reasons that I came to the Gardens, and this is where I met my partner, with whom I extended my family, I truly owe a lot of my happiness to Dick. And, while I am happy that he is going to be able to take more time for himself and his own family, the Gardens without Dick here will always feel a bit wonky to me.

– Sharmon Provan, Plant Recorder and Horticulturist