Thursday, March 10, 2011

Passionate for Perennials Plant Swap

Introducing...Sunnyside's Passionate for Perennials Plant Swap! We are so excited about this new event for 2011. The plant swap will take place on Saturday May 14th from 10am to 3pm. It should be a lot of fun. For those that don't know, a perennial swap is when you dig up your overgrown perennials and divide them. You then take the extra plants that you no longer want and trade them for something new. It's a great way to meet fellow gardeners and save some money on your garden. Details about our event can be found on our website.

No need to rsvp for the event but if you plan on coming, but if you email me vwith what you are bringing, I will periodically post a list of available plants on this blog.

We would also like to thank Sue Beebe from Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Master Gardeners who will be on hand to answer questions and provide free soil testing. So don't forget to bring a small sample from your yard.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fun New Flowers: Uvularia

Introducing our newest series: Fun New Flowers. Here we will introduce plants and flowers that have caught our eye whether it was on our travels or in a magazine.

So without further ado...Uvularia:

Uvularia in Yorkshire England
I first spotted these beauties in the garden of a manor house in Yorkshire, England. I'd never seen anything like them so of course I wanted them. Luckily uvularia should be hardy in Zone 4 and we'll be carrying them this spring. These Spring-blooming flowers like their soil moist and take part-shade light conditions.

Flower Vacation: Edinburgh

Okay, so technically Edinburgh wasn't a vacation. I lived there for 7 years. But I still think Edinburgh is an amazing vacation for the flower lover in all of us. A wet and cool climate combined with a stunning backdrop of Medieval and Victorian granite buildings creates a gray palette in which color really pops. Hence the abundant usage of Non-stop Begonias as bedding plants. Here in upstate NY, Non-Stops are only used in containers or hanging baskets but I'm itching to try out a bed. Maybe this year.

The Brits really take their flowers seriously and Scotland is no exception. The major cities really make an effort to beautify their gardens and once outside the cities, Mother Nature takes over and a more wild, natural look presides. It really is the best of both worlds. You can see more of my photos from Edinburgh on Flickr.

Faves of 2010: Sparkle & Bonfire Begonias

Hands down, my absolute favorite flower of 2010 were the Sparkle Begonias and the Bonfire Begonias. These two types are virtually indistinguishable except for slight differences in flower and leaf shape. I first fell for these hanging basket back in April 2010 when I spotted them in Greenhouse 12. I became obsessed. I looooooved them. I took the 3 biggest specimens I could find and tagged them "SOLD" and attached threatening labels addressed to my Dad as to what would happen if he sold them. (In my Dad's eyes, plants tagged "SOLD" for his family members are free game. He and sometimes my Mom will sell them right from under you. My begonias were safe this year. However, my Kimberly ferns, yellow glazed pots and Christmas Kissing Balls were not. They all found good homes with our customers.)

Back to the begonias. I managed to secure 3 hanging baskets, even though I did not yet have a house to hang them at. (Our house sale did not finalize until August.) So in the meantime, I took care of them and boy did these babies last! They can take anything! They were great hanging off the North-facing porch at my parent's house and then we I finally moved into my house, I hung them off a South-facing porch where they also flourished in the hot, August sun and heat.

Begonias hanging on a
North-facing porch

They took full shade and then full sun. They're amazing! They are the perfect plant. They got so big that they broke a couple of extension cords. They were fine with little water. I don't think they wilted once. (And I am not the world's best waterer. I often get busy and forget.) They would work just as well as container plants on a sunny patio or as a statement plant next to your front door. I'm in love and I will definitely be getting these again this year.

Stupid snow

So over the last 2 days, it's snowed almost 18 inches here at Sunnyside. I now hate snow. The snow is now my enemy. It's starting to make me want to cry. I am sick of shoveling out the greenhouses and then going home to shovel out my driveway. I am tired of constantly slipping off the ladder when we're trying to keep the greenhouse garage from collapsing.

I am fed up with Carlos, Sunnyside's "Mouser". So far, he has yet to catch a mouse and instead spends his day sleeping on a bench and then pooping underneath the benches. Greenhouse 2 now smells like poop. We are seriously considering changing his name to certain bad words. 

Sir Stinks-a-lot, aka Carlos: Silent but Deadly

The snow needs to go.

So in rebellion against this "Snowpacalypse" and looking forward to Spring, I am starting 2 new categories of posts. In the first we'll be looking at our favorite plants from last year (Faves of 2010), to let you know which worked well for us. And in the second, we'll share with you some great vacation spots (Flower Vacations) we've been where the flowers have caught our eye. (It's one of the hazards of working at Sunnyside-whenever you go on vacation, you drive around looking for flowers, garden centers, pretty yards, etc.) If you have your own plant or vacation suggestions, let us know and we'll try to feature a post on these too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When life gives you lemons...

You make lemonade, as the old saying goes. But what happens when life gives you a lot of lemons? We're getting lots of spring plants in right now but I thought for this post I might focus on a few of our own individual projects.

For the past two years we've been nurturing a couple of lemon trees and a key lime tree in the greenhouse. We weren't sure how well they were going to do in the upstate NY climate but I'm happy to say that we now have lemons!

There have been mini-tragedies along the way. (Last year we accidentally froze one of the plants-but thankfully it came back after we cut it way back). But other than that it has been relatively painless. We put the trees outside during the summer (after the threat of frost has passed) and then drag them back in for winter.

We have two types of lemons: Meyer and Ponderosa. (The top image shows the Meyer lemons and the bottom one is the Ponderosa tree.) Meyer lemons are famous for their sweet taste while Ponderosa lemons are known for their gigantic size. I'm talking bigger than a softball. Everybody that comes in thinks they're grapefruit.

So far we've made lots of lemonade and used them in dishes like baked fish and roasted chicken. The lemonade made out of the Meyers had a really sweet, unusual flavor. I still have 5 Meyers left so this weekend I'm thinking I'll make a lemon tart or maybe this amazing lemon crepe cake I saw in the most recent Martha Stewart Living magazine. (The recipe isn't available online yet but the link shows you a picture.) I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Playing in Dirt

Each year when Sunnyside re-opens their doors for Easter, we begin to hear the same question from many of our customers: What do you do all winter? The answer to this question is simple: we plant. We have 18 greenhouses that will eventually be filled door-to-door with plants.

And to start off planting, we need to fill pots with potting soil. Thankfully the days where we had to do it all by hand are gone. We've had what I call a "dirt machine" for over a decade now. It dumps potting soil into pots on a conveyor belt. It's pretty cool. The only downside is with all the dirt flying around, you get dirty. Really really dirty.

But it doesn't compare to our new toy: the Rapid Transplanter. We've only had the transplater for a few days but it's so awesome. I don't know how we ever did without it. Transplanting is a long and (sometimes) tedious process. When doing it by hand, you have to poke the little plants out of the plug trays and then stick them into the flats.

On a good day, one person can transplant up to 200 flats (that's about 7200 plants). Our new machine can do 200 flats in about 2 hours. It's amazing! Here's what it looks like:
The plugs are on the left and the flats they are going to be planted into are on the right. It can plant four flats at once.

The little white things have poked a hole and now the plugs are being dropped into them.

And then you send the transplanted flats through the automatic watering machine.

It's really an amazing machine. Just don't get your hand caught in it!