Commack Train Layout

This is an impressive example of a privately owned large scale outdoor garden railroad. It contains horticultural and architectural elements. Adjacent to the railroad is a Koi pond and waterfall. There are also Bonsai plantings throughout the garden. All of this is inside someone’s backyard in Cormack! The attention to detail was unlike anything i’ve ever seen before.

Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Opened in 1932, Bellingrath Gardens is located in Theodore, Alabama. When first opened, Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath wanted to keep the gardens as a free activity– so there was no charge to get in. There was an overwhelming response to the gardens, so in 1934 the gardens were opened year round. Today the gardens are still ever so popular, acting as a host to weddings, birthdays and special events.


Plants that discourage deer

Here in the northeast, there has recently been an overwhelming number of deer in spots. The victim of the mass quantity of deers is people’s gardens. Since there is a sparse food source for the deer due to overpopulation, they have to turn to alternative methods. Since a starving deer will eat almost anything, there is no designated “deer resistant” plant. However, deer can be picky eaters. Some favorite plants of deers include arborvitae, rhododendron, hosta, tulips and yews. So be weary of planting those if you have a deer issue. Here is a list of plants that deer find inedible:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Catmint
  • Clump Bamboo
  • Daffodil
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce
  • Fern
  • Fountain Grass
  • Ornamental Onion
  • Yucca

While there is deer repellant that is sold in stores, it can be pricey and has to be reapplied many times. This constant reapplication can lead to the repellant getting into ground water. If your deer debacle is minimal (about 1 to 3 deer), home remedies can be useful. You can collect human hair (either from a barbershop, salon, or your own house) and place a few handfuls in mesh bags and hang them in trees 2 to 3 feet off the ground.You can also hang heavily scented soap like Irish Spring in a bag from a tree.

If your problem is severe, the only remedy may be installing a fence. Keep in mind that starving deer can jump a 6-foot fence- you will have to get creative. Either install an 8-foot fence, a 6-foot fence angled out at 45 degrees, or two fences at least 3 feet tall and about 4 feet apart. Deer won’t be able to leap over both sets of fences.

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

You can also read more here, in our other article on what plants deers will not eat. 

Compost Pile

How to start your own Compost Pile

You may ask, Why is composting good? Well there are many reasons. Here are some to name a few:

  • It saves water by helping the soil retain moisture and reduce runoff.
  • It reduces the need for commercial soil fertilizers, which contain chemicals that are not healthy in mass quantities for the environment.
  • Helps protects plants from drought and freezes.

You can read more here about the benefits of composting as written by The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The bigger question you may be asking now is, Why don’t I have a composting pile in my yard? Here is a helpful guide on how to start your own composting pile for your garden and yard.

To start, you will need a few things.

  • Carbon rich “brown” materials, like fall leaves, straw, dead flowers, and newspaper.
  • Nitrogen-rich “green” materials, like lawn clippings, vegetable peelings and fruit rinds (NO meat scraps), or animal manure*.
  • One or two shovels of garden soil.
  • A site that is at least 3 feet long by 3 feet wide.

*Manure, even though brown in color, is full of nitrogen. However, do not use manure from carnivores such as cats or dogs.

Here’s how you start!

  1. Start by putting down a layer that is several inches think of coarse dry “brown” stuff in the area where you wish your pile to be.
  2. Top that with several inches of “green” stuff.
  3. Add a thin layer of soil.
  4. Add a layer of “brown” stuff.
  5. Moisten the three layers.
  6. Repeat.

You want to layer your pile until it is roughly 3 feet tall. A good rule to go by is a ratio of three parts “brown” to one part “green.” Don’t be alarmed however, it will take a little while before your pile gets that high. Every couple of weeks, use a garden for or shovel to turn the pile, moving around the compost and releasing gases. Move the material from the center out. It is important to keep your pile moist, but not wet. If you keep up with turning and keeping it moist, you will have earth worms in a few weeks and it will begin to turn into a black, crumbly, and sweet smelling fertilizer.

Keep in mind that you do not need a compost bin, to make a compost. Just a pile in your yard works. Some gardeners make a box to keep it in, to insure a neat pile. But that is totally optional!

Thank you Organic Gardening for the original information. You can read more here.

Brentwood Rotary Club Bed

The Triangle shaped plot of land located at Candlewood and Commack Road in Brentwood is where the Brentwood Rotary Club planted their flowers. It is a small bed, with sunflowers, allysum, and zinnias. Unfortunately, this was the only picture we were able to capture with the sun receding so quickly. However, the flowers were beautiful and tended to nicely. 

Abrew Street and Brook Avenue Garden

One of the stops on the Project Bloom tour was located at the corner of Abrew Street and Brook Avenue in Bay Shore. The flowers that were planted here were hostas, zinnias, strawflowers and marigolds. All the flowers were bright and looked like they were tended to accordingly. The flowers were planted between the Hostas, so when they were in full bloom they looked as if they were coming from the Hostas themselves! 



Pronto of Long Island Blooms

Pronto of Long Island is a charitable organization in Brentwood. When we first arrived we thought there was not much to look at except for a little bed along the street. When we took a closer look, we saw that along the wall of the building was another garden. Tall zinnias and sunflowers along the whole side of the building really brightened up that space. So cheerful!


Northeast Elementary Beds

One of the schools that received plants from Project Bloom, was Northeast Elementary School in Brentwood. They received marigolds, and zinnias. There was a lot of weeds, but it was still nice to see. It’s always refreshing when a school implements a gardening program into after school activities. It gives kids something fun to do while being outside. 



West Islip Beautification Society Beds at West Islip Marina

West Islip Beautification Society planted flowers from project bloom. Their bed is located at Reflection Park at West Islip Marina (past Our Lady of Consolation), located next to the playground. They received portulaca, and marigolds. They have great beds with daylilies and hostas, and also had impressive geranium planters. The geraniums grown inside the planters were red, white and blue- how patriotic! 





All American Auto Project Bloom

All American Auto Bed

All American Auto in West Islip has beautified their front area with strawflowers and zinnias. Directly under the business sign, was large pink strawflowers and bright marigolds. There was also large Hostas, that were in full bloom with tall purple flowers. The bright flowers looked so nice against the green of the bushes and the grass. 

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane

Bayshore Lions Club Project Bloom

Bay Shore Lion’s Club Lighthouse bed

Located at Lighthouse Island on Fifth Avenue, in Bay Shore is Bay Shore’s Lions Club’s bed. They have nice daisies and Russian sage. There is a lot of allysum, some zinnias, strawflowers, and cosmos. All of their flowers looked very healthy, and made the lighthouse look spectacular. There was a plethora of daisies, that looked like waves of yellow under the lighthouse. 

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane


East Islip Yacht Sales Project Bloom

East Islip Yacht Sales Beds

East Islip Yacht Sales had a small planter box by the flagpole in between Park and Ocean in Bay Shore. There was also another bed at Seaborn Marina on Ocean Ave, just north of the Bay Shore ferries, underneath the sign. The flowers really stand out at the marina under the sign amongst all the greenery.

Photo Credit: Joanna Kane


East Islip Community Watch Bed

East Islip Community Watch received flowers from Project Bloom for the growing season. Some flowers that were planted in this bed are tall strawflowers, foxglove, deep purple coleus, alyssum, beautiful swiss chard, and ageratum. The Swiss Chard was very impressive. There was so much lush greenery in this bed, it was astounding. They showcased the flowers from us very well. 

Islip High School KIC Club Project Bloom

Islip High School KIC Club Beds

Islip High School’s KIC (Keep Islip Clean) Club planted flowers inside the school’s courtyard, and also outside the front of the school. In the courtyard, the students planted some basil, zinnias, and foxglove. In the front of the school was some Giant Red Celosia. The high school’s KIC Club did such a wonderful job, that it made it onto the “Top Garden’s Tour” that Project Bloom had for it’s members in August. Well done Islip High School KIC Club!

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane

Northeast Neighborhood Watch Project Bloom

Northeast Neighborhood Watch Gardens

One bed that we visited was by the Northeast Neighborhood Watch. They had such a large area, and did a great job using it to their advantage. Although some of the plants were not ours, they had some fantastic sunflowers, and some fun whimsical touches. The Northeast Neighborhood Watch did such a wonderful job, that they were included on the Project Bloom “Top Garden’s Tour” in August.

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane


Cherokee Street School Garden Club Project Bloom

Cherokee Street School Garden Club Bed

Cherokee Street School Garden Club planted flowers in their front courtyard at the school with a large bed in the middle. They grew marigolds, and had a single coleus plant sitting in the shade. It’s such a great thing to see when schools have a garden club implemented into after school activities. It gives the kids something fun to do while being outside.

The Common Ground Project Bloom

The Common Ground Garden

The Common Grounds in Sayville planted strawflowers, allysum, and marigolds. But these beautiful beds were mostly perennial flowers, not grown in our greenhouse. All the flowers were tall and vibrant and gave The Common Grounds such a tranquil feeling. Their pink strawflowers grew strong and tall, they were so pretty to look at. The pink color almost seemed fake.

Oakdale Improvement Blooms

Oakdale Improvement Bed

Along Montauk Highway, the Oakdale Improvement team planted a beautiful bed. Located underneath the sign for Norman DeMott Park, across from the Oakdale train station, the group planted Project Bloom’s flowers. The team planted bright portulaca, mixing them in with white alyssum. The color contrast was great, having small pops of color amongst all the greenery.

Central Islip Civic Council Project Bloom

Central Islip Civic Council Gardens

Central Islip Civic Council was one of the groups that received flowers and plants from Project Bloom. They had maintained an organic farm with a large flower bed. They grew a large bush of starlight zinnias and had beautiful coneflowers. The swiss chard was very impressive. This garden was beautiful and interesting enough to make it onto the “Top Garden Tour” that Project Bloom members took in August.

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane

East Islip Community Cleanup Project Bloom

East Islip Community Cleanup Bed

One of the groups that received plants from Project Bloom, was the East Islip Community Cleanup. They planted their flowers beneath the town entrance sign, across from the East Islip Public Library. They received strawflowers and portulaca. The strawflowers grew so nicely! They were tall, and had a deep red color. East Islip Community Watch did so well with their bed that they were included on the “Top Garden Tour” in August.

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane

North Great River Civic Association Project Bloom

North Great River Civic Association Beds

The beds that were planted by the North Great River Civic Association were very impressive. They planted at two separate locations, and both were equally beautiful. The first bed was a small shade garden that was well kept. It was planted with coleus and alyssum. The second bed was large and full of our marigolds, sunflowers, cosmos and allysum. When we went on our garden tour, these well-maintained beds were most definitely on the list. All members of Project Bloom were very pleased with the North Great River Civic Association. Well done!

Photo Credits: Joanna Kane

Islip Beach Project Bloom

Planters at Islip Beach

The planters at Islip Town Beach were full of bright flowers and made the boardwalk look cheerful. Their large potted plants overflowed with an abundance of Allysum, ageratum, and Marigolds. There was also shrubs planted by the restaurant. All of these photos were taken at night after having dinner at the Sunset restaurant at the beach (would highly recommend!) 

Project Bloom History

History of Project Bloom

Project Bloom was created in 1992 with the cooperation of Keep Islip Clean and the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Project Bloom has been used as a creative outlet for gardeners to give back to the community. The volunteers who give their time to Project Bloom, help grow flowers that get spread throughout the community. Currently there are about 16 volunteers. This year, volunteers planted roughly 6,000 plants and flowers throughout the local area. All of which were grown in the greenhouse at Brookwood Hall. IMG_4244IMG_4243Project Bloom gives a sense of unity amongst the volunteers.  Groups of all ages work with Project Bloom in the beautification of Islip Hamlet.

The Project Bloom Process

marge.jpgThe general plan is basically the same for each year that we have Project Bloom. The process starts in January and the season ends in May. In either July or August we tour the garden beds. In December we bring in cuttings of geraniums to start plants for the next spring. This is an overview of the process.


Plan out seeds for the year and place the seed order online.

Make sure the greenhouse is sound. All the glass is intact, the heater is working, etc.

Ask the town to order supplies.

200 sets of 6 cell packs, 300 flats with holes, 50 clear lids, and 12 bales of potting soil, 500 4″ pots, disposable gloves (2 boxes of 100), 2000 marker sticks, and 5 sharpies.

Make sure that we have a working hose and spray head. Also hand soap and paper towels.

Take cuttings of geraniums and other annuals.

Dip cuttings in water, then rooting hormone, then place in hole in wet sand or soil, and pack in.


Clean greenhouse, and put a plastic tablecloth or tarp beneath the soil area.

Separate 6 packs and fill with moistened mix. Put in flats with holes in the bottom.

Plant seeds according to packet instructions.

Label with sticks and sharpies. Keep text near top of sticks. Include varieties on tags.

Keep track of flats planted, germination dates, and other results on spreadsheet. Maintain weekly updates.

Water flats and keep covered with clear tops until they germinate.

Thin to one seedling per cell when large enough to handle.

Keep fresh transplants out of direct sun.

Water well on Tuesday, Thursday and stop by to check on Sat or Sun.

Spray Dawn on ants (sprayer bottle of water, with 1T of Dawn.)

March and April

Keep planting seeds until about the 3rd week of March, when all seeds should be in.

Keep thinning to one plant per cell. Make sure all 6 packs have labels.

Pinch tall plants after 3rd set of leaves to encourage bushy strong plants.

Fertilize after 2nd set of leaves, and once every 2 weeks. Use about 1/2 strength.

Put large annuals or perennials into 4″ pots to encourage root growth.

Keep sun lovers on top racks. Turn lower rack flats to promote even growth.

Test to see if geraniums have roots and plant in 4″ pots.

Take inventory and plan for giveaway, get estimates of donated perennials.

Mid April: Contact KIC with plant counts for forms.

Water well on Tuesday, Thursday and by stop to check on Sat or Sun.

Clean up and maintain outside area.

Plant any cuttings in water with roots.


Bring in unwanted perennials from home gardens: Daylilies, Hostas, Siberian Iris, etc.

Split perennials and wrap in newsprint. Stack in rolled bundles outside and keep moist.

Get sheets back from KIC and separate all plants into groups for orders.

Provide volunteers with some “thank you” plants for their gardens.

Create and print detailed planting instruction sheets to give to people who pick up orders.

Plant annuals around greenhouse beds.

Maintain beds around greenhouse.


Get together to celebrate our project and visit a member’s garden.

Maintain beds around greenhouse

July or August

Meet to take a tour of our gardens throughout the community.

Map a road trip from one spot to the next and caravan to view our efforts.

Maintain beds around greenhouse


Bring in geranium cuttings to root for next season.

Daffodil Bulbs from White Flower Farms

Daffodil Bulbs from White Flower Farms

We received Daffodil bulb donations from White Flower Farms for the Keep Islip Clean group named Project Bloom. White Flower Farms is a Torrington Connecticut nursery, that offers a wide variety of annuals, perennials, shrubs, bulbs, and houseplants shipped throughout the United States. We received a bag of 100 bulbs, (that seemed like 200 when we planted them!) All the bulbs were planted along the fence.

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway in Ireland is one of the natural wonders in the Northern Ireland. It was created by volcanic activity, and when basalt intruded the volcanic plateau. The basalt pillars that came up from the ground are all hexagon shaped and the highest reaches 39 feet. There are identical pillar sites across the sea, from the same lava field. There is a legend that surrounds the basalt plateau. The mythology is that it was put up so two giants could cross the ocean to fight. The legend also says that the basalt was meant to be a bridge but one giant was scared so he broke the middle.

What to do in December

What to do in December

December is upon us, that means plants have become dormant and grass has stopped growing. But there is always garden work that can be done! Here are some tips of what to do in the month of December for your garden.

1. In  the beginning of the month, you should incorporate lime and compost into your vegetable beds. By adding nutrients to the soil now, by the time spring rolls around you will have a rich soil ideal for spring planting.

2. Within the second week of the month you should move your house plants together in one area inside your house. It is ideal to run a humidifier near your plants and keep them away from radiators and heating vents.

3. By the third week of the month you should cover strawberries with floating row covers, to prevent frost and cold air to build up on the fruit.

4. Once the fourth week of the month rolls around, you should begin to bring inside lilies (don’t worry they should bloom by Easter!)

5. For the last week of the month restock bird feeders and remember to provide clean water for birds because they need to find food in the winter as well.

Throughout the month of December, it is important to check your Christmas tree for watering daily (if you always have a live tree). Be sure to keep it at least three feet away from radiators or any heat source and to always turn off the lights before going to sleep. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) fire departments respond to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. When decorating the tree, make sure there is no broken, worn, or loose bulbs on a string of lights. After the holiday season is over, get rid of your tree when it begins to drop needles. Dried-out trees are just as much of a fire hazard than you think. Never keep it in a garage or placed outside against the home. For more information on Christmas tree safety, you can visit our page here.

What to do in November

November is here, which means changing colors, raking, and Thanksgiving. But before turkey time comes around, here are some chores that should be done in preparation for the coming winter months.

1. For December blooms, place Christmas cactus in the dark at 55-60 degrees for 14 hours each night, and in bright light for 10 hours daily.

2. Deadhead flowering houseplants and trim brown foliage.

3. Harvest Brussels sprouts.

4. Continue to plant bulbs as long as the ground isn’t frozen.

5. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

6. Resist the urge to apply new mulch; it’s still too early. The ground must be frozen.

Don’t forget that it is illegal to apply fertilizer from November 1st to April 1st in Suffolk County, and from November 15th to April 1st in Nassau County. As the ground starts to freeze, it becomes harder for water to absorb into the soil. When it rains, the excess nitrogen from the fertilizer runs off and gets in to the public drinking water supply, endangering the public health.

What to do in October

It is October, time for the cold weather, last minute garden cleanup, and celebrating Halloween.

1.Time to do final lawn repairs and seeding before it’s officially too late. For next June’s harvest, plant unpeeled organic garlic cloves pointy end up in the garden. For holiday blooms start those paperwhites now! Place the bulbs pointy end up in a shallow container of gravel. Add water to reach bulb bottoms.

2. Time to plant rhubarb (it is perennial). Also prepare a bed for peas and spinach so you can sow seeds in the early spring. When the vines die back, you can even harvest winter squash!

3. Cover your ponds with netting, to keep out pesky falling leaves. Also clear out vegetable beds, till soil and incorporate compost, manure and lime into the soil as well. Apply potassium around the base of roses to increase resistance against winter, but DO NOT apply nitrogen. Cut back long whips to protect from wind damage.

4. Now is the time to start smothering the grass, so you can prepare new beds. Get cardboard or thick layers of newspaper to cover the ground and mulch over to keep in place. Cut down bee balm, blanket flower, bearded iris, columbines and day lilies also.

5. Time to clean those terra cotta pots and store them inside (if left outdoors in the winter, they will surely crack). Do not panick if the inner needles on evergreens turn brown. It is normal for the older needles to do that before shedding. Also buy some candy at the grocery store, and hand it out to little superheros and princesses on Halloween!

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here. 

What to do in September

It’s September, school is starting back up again and fall weather is coming quickly. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on schedule for the month of September in your garden.

1. Now is the time to reseed and/or renovate the lawn. Also now is the time to celebrate Labor Day! Sow your lettuce, cabbage, arugula, collards, kale, radishes, spinach, kohlrabi, Asian greens, mustard greens, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts for the fall harvest. You can also plant ferns in shady garden beds and borders.

2.Test your soil and add lime if needed to correct the pH, it will work on the soil all winter long. If your tomato plants are still producing blossoms, remove them. We want the plant to focus solely on ripening the existing fruit. Do not prune your spring-flowering shrubs now or they will not bloom next year.

3. Time to harvest grapes! You can also stop deadheading roses, so the hips will form. You can either make tea with them (only if they are chemical free) or leave them on as an accent to the plant. You can also plant witch hazel, red-twig dogwood, deciduous holly and beauty berry for winter interest. Bring in those tender pond plants and keep them moist by a sunny window.

4. It is the official beginning of fall! You can use last summers crops that are left to make soup (go crazy!) Pot up those rosemary, chive and parsley plants from the garden and bring ’em indoors near a sunny window.

5. Rake your soil well and get rid of fallen leaves and plant debris. We don’t want disease to overwinter in the soil, where it will attack again next year. Wait until your pumpkins are a rich orange color before harvesting. Leave several inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Helpful Hint:

  • Crickets coming into the house? Just vacuum them up and discard the bag.
Top Garden Tour Project Bloom

Project Bloom’s Top Gardens Tour

In August of 2014 the team of Project Bloom got together and caravaned around Islip Hamlet to look at some of the best garden beds we had seen all season. These beds are maintained by KIC volunteers, and were planted with the flowers grown by us earlier in the year.

The first stop on the tour was to the Welcome sign to East Islip, near the library. Here, the East Islip Community Cleanup planted our plants and beautified beneath the town sign. See more pictures here!

IMG_4952Next, we headed north to Central Islip, to visit the North Great River Civic Association. This group had two beds, both of which were equally impressive and gorgeous. A small shady bed off Connetquot Avenue, and a large impressive triangle at the North end of Connetquot Ave. See more pictures here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next bed that Project Bloom visited was planted by the Central Islip Civic Council. They had maintained an organic farm, and had large and vivid bushels of flowers.All of the flowers planted by the Central Islip Civic Council came out very nice. They were very enjoyable to see fully grown. See more pictures here!

The next stop for the caravan, was to see the bed planted by the northeast Neighborhood watch. They had planted a huge bed, that was very nice. See more pictures here!

IMG_5045The next garden we looked at was from the Islip High School KIC (Keep Islip Clean) Club. They had planted some of our flowers in front of the school and also within the school courtyard. See more pictures here!

The final stop on the caravan tour was to see the East Islip Community Watch bed. Their bed was small, but had a lot in it. They had strawflowers, foxglove, big coleus plants, allysum and ageratum. See more pictures here!

Photo Credit: Joanna Kane

What to do in August

It’s August already! Almost time for kids to go back to school, have a last away summer vacation and enjoy the last bit of summer heat. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on your garden schedule for the month of August!

1. No matter how tempting it may be to let your zucchinis grow to a larger size, they are more tender and taste better if you pick them while they are small. It is officially safe to relocate evergreens now through October, just make sure you dig up as much of the roots as you can.

2. If your cabbage heads begin to split, bring them inside immediately or they will surely become inedible. You should also be monitoring the moisture levels of potted plants daily, because they lose moisture more quickly than garden plants. You should also clean up the fallen fruit around the bases of trees to prevent pest infestations.

3. When beets get 2 inches wide, it is time to harvest them. You can also saute and eat the leaves too (this is not true for all vegetables though; tomato foliage is toxic– stay away from those). You can also transplant spring-flowering bulbs that need to be relocated. It is now the time to take cuttings from inpatients, geraniums and wax begonias, and root them indoors for a new generation of free plants next year.

4. You can collect seeds from daylilies, Cleomes, rose campions and other plants that produce pods. Store in a paper envelope in the fridge, away from fruit until spring. You can also replace faded annuals with pansies. They’ll bloom through fall and again for next spring!

5. It is now the time to move your potted tropicals and houseplants into a shady spot for a couple of days before bringing them indoors until next spring. Dig up and divide daylilies as well after they have stopped blooming.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here. 

What to do in July

Happy July! With an unpredictable month ahead of us, it is time to get down to buisness in the garden. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay on your garden schedule for the month of July!

1. To make sure your potato and tomato plants are protected against late blight, spray with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil (copper if you are growing organic) and reapply weekly. For top notch grass, set mower blades to 3 inches and keep them sharpened to lessen the chance of lawn disease. It is also time to celebrate the Fourth of July! Go America!

2. If you have a pond, add bunches of eelgrass per square foot of the surface water to keep algae under control. It is a good idea to set automatic sprinklers manually to make sure that your lawn gets 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week (adjusting for rainfall), Soak deeply in the early morning. When the skins of melons turn yellow, and stems loosen the hold onto the fruit–pick them!

3. Most vegetables planted in the garden need once inch of water per week, while their potted friends dry out much quicker (so check them daily). When the zucchini fruit reaches 5-6 inches long pick it, or the plant will stop producing. For a fall crop it is now the time to sow seeds of lettuce, radish, spinach cabbage, broccoli and cabbage directly into the garden.

4.   Hooray! You can still plant shrubs and trees! Container grown are usually the best (although expensive). If you buy balled or burlapped make sure that the roots are fresh. To prevent powdery mildew , space plants to allow air circulation and avoid wetting leaves, water early in the day. Now is the time to also plant peas again for the fall harvest.

5. Make sure that your tress you newly planted get 1 1/2 inches of water per week, and also water established trees if two weeks have passed without rain. To lure slugs from your garden, place a wooden board inside the garden and overturn it in the morning scraping them off into a pail filled with soapy water.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

Helpful Tips:

  • Cut flowers will stay fresher longer if you pick them in the morning, but if you’re going to dry them, pick them late in the day.
  • Living on Long Island it is good to know that if you’re near the beach, spray tree leaves with antidessicant to protect against salt and wind damage.
  • Smokers aware! Cigarettes can transmit tobacco mosaic virus to your plants. Don’t smoke in the garden, and wash hands after smoking before handling plants!
Pop Art Zinnia

Early June 2014

Many flowers are blooming in our garden right now. Some of the beautiful plants include Hymenocallis Lilies, Lavender, Pop Art Zinnias, Double and Single Shasta Daisies, Asiatic Lilies, A bed of Hostas, Closed Lilies, Everlasting Sweet Pea, Threadleaf Coreopsis, Stewartia Tree (Pseudo Camellia), Spurge, Clematis Jackmanii, Sweet William, Peas and Carnations (dianthus.) The color on the Everlasting Sweet Peas is so cute! The pink is so bright and catches the eye. 


What to do in June

It’s June, a month full of graduations, proms, the start of summer vacation, and father’s day. June is also a busy month for the garden. Here are some helpful tips, that you can follow for your garden!

1. In the first week, snake hoses through perennial and vegetable gardens to have a direct water source for the roots. You should also spray plants  susceptible to mildew with one tablespoon of baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.

2. Time to remove wilted yellow leaves from bearded iris plants to help prevent iris borer infestations, and also stay on top of weeds. It is much easier to pull them after rainfall.

3. To increase tomato production, remove suckers, the small stems that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems. Don’t forget to harvest lettuce before it bolts and turns bitter!

4. You should keep an eye out for Japanese beetles, pick them off in the morning or late evening when they are at their slowest. Drop them into soapy water. Also pinch back vining houseplants. Harvest your herbs in the morning, just after the dew has dried for the best flavor.

Helpful tip: Throughout the month you should keep an eye on mowing the lawn.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

May 2014 Blooms

May 2014 Blooms

Early and Mid May in the backyard. Some of the flowers include Our Spring Bed, Bleeding Hearts, Dwarf Hostas, White Lunaria (Silver Dollar Plant) with Epimedium, Basket of Gold, Epimedium Bloom, Sedums, Moss Path with Irish and Scotch Moss and Bridal Wreath Spirea, Cherokee Princess (Dogwood), Hostas with Pulmonaria, Raspberry Epimedium, Creeping Phlox, Thundercloud Plum, Holland Tulips and Phlox, Viburnum, Thyme Path with Grape Hyacinths and Lavender, Standard Lilac, Wind Flower Anemone, Hellebore a Lenten Rose, Spice Bush Viburnum Carlesii, Dwarf Iris, Dianthus with Peanuts in the Vegetable Garden, Lavender and Jingle Shells, Gold Bar Miscantus Grass, Ruby Tears Weeping Cranberry Tree and Silvestri Anemone.

2014 December Season

2014 Project Bloom Greenhouse Season

“Project Bloom is a volunteer greenhouse program run through Keep Islip Clean and the Islip Parks Department. We operate out of a greenhouse on the property of Brookwood Hall in East Islip, formerly the Knapp Estate, which was built in the late 1920s. We start seeds in February and in mid-May, we distribute nearly 6000 free plants to 35 groups around town for planting. Enjoy these photos from our 2014 season!”


May 16, 2014

Its mid-May here on Long Island, there are many flowers in bloom in our garden at the moment. They include Sensation lilacs, Primrose lilacs, Giant White lilacs, Josee lilacs, Standard lilacs, Betty Boo, Solomon’s Seal, Lily of Valley, Leatherleaf Viburnum and Sweet Woodruff. All of the lilac smells so wonderful, and the colors are extremely beautiful!  



What to do in May

May is here! Time for Memorial Day parties, the start of summer, Mother’s Day and more gardening! Here are some tips to help you keep on your garden schedule for the month.

1. Within the first week of May, apply mulch to your beds and borders. Also give cool-season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and cabbage a helping of fertilizer and also mulch (if you haven’t already).

2. It’s the second week of May, time to sow the summer-blooming biennials and perennials into the garden. It is also time to plant sweet corn! You may also want to prune the gray tips from the branches of juniper.

3. In the third week of May, mound soil over the lowest leaves of your potato plants when they reach 8 inches tall (They will produce mire when their stems are buried). You also want to transplant your herb seedlings outside. However there is no need to fertilize.

4. The fourth week of May is upon us, time to fertilize those tulip bulbs, and remove the yellow foliage. Celebrate Memorial Day with your family and friends! Plant seedlings of cucumber and squash around a support, now you can also sow seeds directly into the ground!

5. In the last week of May, place peppers, melons, eggplant and tomatoes into prepared beds. Add compost to planting holes, then mulch. You can also prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after they have finished blooming.

For an easier way to pull your weeds, wait until after it rains or saturate the area first– the weeds will come right out of a wet ground.

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.


April 2014

April 2014

Its time for the flowers to start blooming! Here in our garden, we have many flowers coming up including: Crocus, Snowdrops (Galanthus), Spring Bed, Citrus Swizzle Forsythia, Checkered Frittilaria, Spirea, White Hyacinth, Peony, Eastern Redbud, Purple and White Lunaria, Asparagus, Vinca Vine, Andromeda, Red Oxalis, Yucca, Prickly Pear Cactus, Way too much Foxglove, Banana Tree, Meyer Lemon, Pineapple and Pear Tree.




Disney Epcot Flower Show 2014

The Epcot Flower show never fails to impress me. All the vibrant colors and showcases– just magnificent. The showcase has many things surrounding the flowers, from viewing the topiaries built with hundreds of flowers, to having food and drink inspired by the flowers as well. It is something I will without a doubt go back to.

April 2014

What to do in April

It’s officially Spring! Its April– warm weather, gardening, and happy days are upon us. It’s been a while since last spring but here are a few tips that will get you back into the ‘Spring Grind’.

1. In the first week, pinch off the tips of leggy seedlings that are growing inside to make them grow stockier.

2. The second week of April means you can finally plant blackberries, strawberries and raspberries! You can also plant your potato and sweet potatoes.

3. Deadhead rhododendrons immediately after flowering, and prune azaleas after they bloom. Unfortunately it is also tax day on the 15th, but it is also the last day for frost! Rejoice!

4. If you haven’t already, pull out those weeds before they overtake your garden! Celebrate Earth Day! Scratch one half cup of Epsom salt into the soil around the roses to boost flower production, and fullness.

5. Resist the temptation to remove foliage from spring bulb plants before it turns brown. The bulbs are busy storing food that will be needed to bloom next year. And finally start mowing the lawn when the grass is 3 inches tall, but don’t fertilize until Memorial Day!

Thank you Jessica Damiano for the information. You can read more here.

Vanderbilt Museum

We visited the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport some time ago. The dioramas inside of the garden was interesting. The gardens were also equally beautiful and lovely to look at. I especially loved the amazing shell museum. I bet a lot of people don’t know about this place, and think it’s just the planetarium. I love the overlook that looks out onto the water- breathtaking. 

Florida Keys

When we visited the Florida Keys, it was like being in a tropical paradise. Kathy swam with dolphins on Islamorada, we stayed on San Marco and Key West. I loved the pelicans, and all the exotic plant life. All the tropical warm weather plants were large and fabulous. We also saw loads of butterflies, in many varieties at a garden in Key West.

Old Westbury

The Gardens at Old Westbury are stunning. It is like stepping back in time, or being transported into the garden of a wealthy nobleman. The ponds and pathways are designed with elegance. The walled gardens and statuary are wonderful and the house is amazing too. Everyone on Long Island should visit the Gardens at Old Westbury.


Maine is a beautiful part of the country. The lakes and coastline were beautiful, it looked surreal, like a painting at some places. We stayed in Arcadia National Park, and ate lobster every night, and blueberries for breakfast and dessert every day. Arcadia National Park is so beautiful, all of the coastlines were beautiful, and the mountain peaks were amazing to stand on and look down. 


Around Ireland

When Bob and I visited Ireland, it was an unforgettable trip. Everything was super lush and beautiful in early September. We started our tour south of Dublin, then turned north to Northern Ireland and the Devil’s causeway, then over to Kylemore Abbey, and south to Galway and then onto Bantry Bay. We crossed along the south before flying back out of Dublin 9 days later. The people were warm and kind, the food was delicious (especially the cheese!) and the gardens and scenery was wonderful. Wish I could go back…


When the house on the Powerscourt property was rebuilt in the decade after 1731, the grounds were also rebuilt and remodeled. The desire was to create a wider landscape, and boy was that accomplished! There are hundreds of trees and flowers. There are many gardens within the property, including an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, A Tower Valley and even a Pet Cemetery! We came here straight from the airport when we landed in Dublin. There’s a cute cafe on the grounds for lunch.

Muckross House

In 1861 Queen Victoria was to visit the Muckross House, so in preparation for the joyous event extensive gardening began in the 1850’s. Later, the family continued this gardening tradition. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape. Everything was so pristine, I love how lush all the grounds were.