Walk and Talk Home Gardens – This Saturday, Wethersfield, CT

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Have you ever walked around with a friend or family member in their yard to check out their gardens and plants?  Next thing you know, you shared a tip, something valuable you didn’t know, or a funny story about your gardening and plant adventures!

This experience of walking and talking home gardens can be rather rewarding.

In an attempt to get this “gardening conversation” going – Cathy T is kicking off a Walk and Talk Home Gardens event, featured once a month at home gardens by volunteers.

Anyone may volunteer to host an hour – and the rule is – its all informal yet informative.

You do not need a “showcase or perfect” garden.  Any small plot is of value in today’s world, and everyone’s experience with gardening always offers something to learn.

The Urban Vegetable Garden

This Saturday, June 7th at 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm, the first “Walk and Talk Home Gardens” hour is scheduled at a garden in Wethersfield, CT.

We titled this one, “The Urban Vegetable Garden,” because the property is surrounded on each side by other homes and property lines, yet this homeowner, Louise, has not only a nice vegetable garden – she raises chickens and shares the eggs with her neighbors too.

Louise talking to brother in law and her Dad about the garden

Louise talking to brother in law and her Dad about the garden

When Louise told me she was going to get chickens, I thought on her small lot – what will the neighbors think?!

Her response was, she already asked them – and they were fine with it.  She built a very nice chicken wagon – you have to see it.

Her Chickens

Here’s a photo of her chickens when they were relatively new at her home.

Chickens in the Wagon

Chickens in the Chicken Wagon

Growing Her Own

Louise has an intolerance for corn syrup, a common ingredient in foods.  So she thought, I’m going to grown my own food. This was part of the reason she began her urban style vegetable garden.  Like 47 million Americans growing their own food, she wants her food to be safe for herself and her family.

Louise has a passion for organics and heirlooms.  She spends as much time as possible in her gardens. I have witnessed her expand her knowledge about vegetable growing – I feel like she fits the Master Gardener personality.

When I took the program myself, I met gardeners who loved to be “in the garden” 24 x 7.  This is Louise.  She also began sharing information with me I didn’t know myself. And she plans to share these tips on Saturday with our Walk and Talk group.

One day, I told her she better watch out – she reminds me of a Master Gardener so much that she will be squishing bugs between her fingertips soon. Her response, with a laugh, was, “I already do.”

The Magnolia Hunt

One year, a treasured and huge Magnolia tree in her front lawn got toppled over from a storm.  It was devastating to Louise because she adored the tree so much, and it was one of the reasons they bought their house.

The tree was so tall, its blooms could be seen from her bedroom window on the second floor of her house.

We searched out various sources, nurseries, and special places to find a replacement for her mature Magnolia.  It was an adventure one afternoon on a very hot sunny mid-summer day when we went to a private stock on a property.  She found her replacement and it was dug, balled and burlapped, and delivered to her home as a replacement.  To hear more about this adventure, join our walk and talk on Saturday.

A Hot Day when we Searched for a Magnolia Replacement

A Hot Day when we Searched for a Magnolia Replacement

It is Free to Attend and Registration is Not Required

We hope you will join us – registration is not required, it is free to attend, and we will even offer up some lemonade and some miscellaneous plants will be available for sale, or you can bring a plant to swap with another attendee if you wish.

Let’s get walking and talking.

Oh and by the way, Louise is my sister.  She is a professional soprano, teaches private music lessons, and more.  Maybe we will get a solo out of the day.

Address for Saturday:

23 Stillwold Drive
Wethersfield, CT 06109

Parking is on the street.  Look for Cathy T’s Sign in the front yard.

Written by Cathy Testa
http://www.cathytesta.com
ContainerCrazyCT.com
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Where can I find rare or unusual plants in Connecticut?

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The Entrance Sign

The Entrance Sign

One of my goals this year is to visit nurseries I usually don’t have the time to do, but I’m making time.  Last Friday, I picked up a tube leaf Ginkgo tree from Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT. I’ve always wanted a Ginkgo, and this one has unusual leaves where some are fused, so they look a bit rolled up.  Latin name is Ginkgo biloba ‘Tubiformis’ and it will be fun to see once the leaves begin to expand.

This nursery, located about an hour from my home town, has some of the more rare or unusual plants that you won’t find in traditional nurseries. Many plants are propagated by the nursery. So if you are a plant collector, or looking for unique varieties or cultivars, an hour’s drive makes the visit to Broken Arrow worth it.  Unique conifers, trees, and shrubs are available at their site and via their well organized mail-order website.

As I drove down the winding roads lined with old stone walls to their retail location, it reminded me of trips to another nursery, a wholesale one, called Sunny Border in Kensington, CT.  Like Sunny Border, this place, Broken Arrow, is tucked within a nicely woodland landscaped area in a private section, where you get the sense it may have been started right out of the home.  It is not on a main highway or roadway, and you would not really even know it was there unless someone told you.

Upon my arrival, I recognized their symbol of a broken arrow with an tree.  This is the place, I thought.  And I knew right away, I was going to enjoy my visit when I saw deciduous and evergreen trees dug into the soil where you could see how they were growing here, rather than lined up in a field.  However, they had plenty of plants lined up for sale too, with good signage detailing the important information about the plants.

Pinus densiflora 'Oculus Draconis'

Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis’

They have unusual conifers, such as this one called Dragon’s Eye.  It is a variegated form of Japanese Red Pine.  Latin name is Pinus densiflora ‘Oculus Draconis.” Yellow bands across the long needles give it a little something different to look at.  It would be stunning in a garden of perhaps bright yellows as a theme, and you just don’t commonly see these in typical landscapes.

A happy and helpful staff member

A happy and helpful staff member

Or how about this Whip Cord Western Arborvitae (Thuja plicata ‘Whipcord’).  Andrew Summers, one of the welcoming staff members, took the time to discuss this plant with me along with other unique plants on the premises.  His energy was inviting and he didn’t mind at all when I asked him to hold the plant for a quick photo for my blog.  This plant is interesting looking and would look great in a rock garden or in a container garden.  First thing that comes to mind is a big “face” pot, so the whipcord acts like hair!

We discussed how it must be so difficult to work at Broken Arrow because of the temptation to buy many of the plants available. One could go broke here, especially if you have a passion for the rare.  Andrew was quick to explain key features of several plants, which I truly appreciated.  It is not often you find two people “ooohing” over the shape of a leaf, but we both were – it is just one of those plant geek things I guess – or for plant enthusiasts.

One of the greenhouses on the Broken Arrow Site

One of the greenhouses on the Broken Arrow Site

As I continued through the nursery, I took a lot of photos for my research of plant materials – especially because this location is a bit far for me, I wanted to remember the plants I saw in person.

Sparkling Arrows

Sparkling Arrows

Take for example a form of an Alaskan Cedar with creamy white coloring with the green.  Darn, I thought. I just bought one of these last week, and I like this one better – because it is different.

Magnolias at Broken Arrow

Magnolias at Broken Arrow

There were some perennials, but not a huge amount (at least not yet).  This place is a destination for trees, shrubs, and conifers.  If you like Magnolias, they had at least nine different cultivars to pick from on the premises, and offer many more via their website and catalog.

There were many full sized weeping Japanese maple trees and some compact dwarf sizes.  For example, take a look at the yellow foliage of a Japanese Maple Tree shown below of a dwarf type.  The foliage greens up in summer on ‘Mikawa Yatsubusa’. The leaves are packed tightly on its branches, and it is just stunning in a container or perhaps in a Japanese garden.  It caught my eye immediately.

Many evergreen and deciduous shrubs, some really pretty Viburnums, Stewartias, Dogwoods, Witch Hazel, and more.  Many of the plants are just beginning to awaken to the spring air and sun so flowers were not out, but I can imagine how this place looks when a bit warmer out.

Many beautiful Japanese maple trees at Broken Arrow

Many beautiful Japanese maple trees at Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow is located 13 Broken Arrow Road in Hamden, Connecticut and is also listed in the new “Passport” being made available by CT’s Garden and Landscape Trail organization (see http://www.CTGardenTrail.com).  You can get your Passport book stamped as you visit sites, and when you reach 10 sites, you can enter to win a $10,000 dream landscape – so I made sure to remember to bring my Passport with me.  And by the way, Broken Arrow offers some really nice classes, and has a “thing for shade-loving perennials” per their catalog too.  I didn’t make it to their tree farm section at another location nearby, perhaps I will save that for a fall or winter trip.

Bee busy on a winterhazel

Bee busy on a winterhazel

Container Crazy Cathy T
860-977-9473
http://www.cathytesta.com
containercathy@gmail.com