By joenesgarden, 2 years and 6 months ago

Celebrate Autumn Gardening in East Haddam

This is one October weekend when locals don't have far to drive to find great garden bargains or an intriguing garden. That's right East Haddam residents … all can be found within town boundaries.

For garden-related bargains it's tough to beat one of the tag sales run by Ballek's Garden Center. If you missed their summer tag sale you missed out on some great plant deals. But don't fret, you have a second chance this Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, 2011. Ballek's staff start filling the tag sale area early Saturday morning and continue adding goodies – plants, shrubs, trees, ornamentation, pots, and other garden stuff – throughout the weekend. The photos here show Ballek's before their last October sale. You'll have to visit to see what's waiting for you this year. Get directions to Ballek's here, and if you miss the tag sale you still have the chance for 20% off deals on most perennials and all shrubs, trees, outdoor planters and outdoor furniture, and up to 50% off some other items.



Head to Staehly Farms with kids in tow to stock up on Staehly-grown apples, winter squash and other vegetables, choose pumpkins, gourds and Autumn decorations, grab a few gorgeous mums, and find end-of-season bargain perennials. Staehly's has a large supply of Jack-o-lantern ready pumpkins just waiting for a home and plenty of unusual, even bizarre, shaped large gourds for the more adventurous Jack-o-lantern carvers. The kids will get into the Halloween spirit after a walk through Staehly's special Halloween maze. Pick up a gallon of cider, choose fresh CT-made pies and cheese, and try one of Staehly's jarred condiments. A visit to Staehly's (directions here)  is the perfect Autumn family outing. My granddaughter calls Staehly's Gail's House … Gail and Chris really know how to welcome kids.



Gardeners and garden lovers looking for inspiration and, maybe, some ideas on how to use their newly found plant bargains have a rare opportunity on Sunday, October 9, 2011. From noon until 4pm, East Haddam gardener and garden writer Lee May opens his Asian-inspired, herb, sedum, and ornament gardens to visitors. You'll have to pay $5 for the privilege, but collected fees do good, they support educational programs offered by The Connecticut Horticultural Society (CHS). In addition to the many wonderful educational meetings CHS offers to members and the public, CHS ran multiple tours of private gardens this year. Lee's garden happens to be the last of the season. Visit CHS Garden Tours for more information on the tour. Maybe I'll see you there. If you can't make it to the tour you might get some peeks at the garden at Lee May's Gardening Life.

A beautiful weekend is forecast so get out and enjoy the local offerings.

Garden thoughtfully,


By joenesgarden, 2 years and 6 months ago

A bad combination-A Gardening Oops

Garden bloggers love to share pleasing photos of beds or containers they've created or seen and wax poetic on the attributes of this plant or that. Gardens are supposed to be beautiful … well, duh … so why wouldn't bloggers flock to their computers to post their best, most spectacular photos and plant wisdom?

But, in real life, gardens are not always beautiful. Sometimes things just don't work. A plant is in the wrong place, the season is too wet or too dry for a plant to thrive, or plant-eating creatures/plant-attacking pathogens take over.

To deal with these real-life gardening issues there's GOOPs Day. GOOPs is the acronym I created for Gardening Oops. I've declared the first day of each month GOOPs Day … the day I share one of the gardening blunders I've made in my 30+ years of tending Connecticut gardens and the day I offer you the chance to do the same.

I come to my October 2011 GOOPs after missing, thanks to hurricane/tropical storm Irene's power outage, the chance to post a September 2011 GOOPs. Irene's life and land damage was enough of a regional and local mess that I need not go there. So, back at it this month, I present a plant combination from one of my gardens that caused me wonder what I was thinking!

I love coleus. I grow them in pots on windowsills during cold months. I start new coleus from seeds each spring. I grow them in outdoor containers and use their seemingly endless foliage and color variations for interest when garden flowers are taking a rest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I'm always on the outlook for new coleus and this spring 'Saturn' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) caught my eye. When I purchased Saturn the yellow-green mid-leaf color was more pronounced than that depicted on the plant tag. But it was early, Saturn had been growing in a greenhouse in partial shade so, I reasoned, its darker red coloration more similar to the plant tag had not had a chance to fill in as it might have if grown in full sun.

I brought Saturn home to plant along the outer edge of a morning-sun bed dominated by two hydrangea, a variegated lace cap and a classic blue Endless Summer. The bed also contains ivy ground cover punctuated by what ever dark-reddish heuchera decides to survive. I thought Saturn's dark-red-tinged-with-a bit-of-yellow-green foliage might complement the heuchera and ivy without distracting from the hydrangea.

Well, plants don't always turn out to look like the lovely photo on the plant tag.

My Saturn's foliage never developed more burgundy. It continued on its mostly yellow-green leaved path. It never bushed out in response to pinching back, as other coleus do.


It grew lankier than I expected and, at the same time, the lace cap hydrangea grew more bushy and wider.


The blue-green-edged-in-white variegation of the hydrangea foliage and the yellow-green-edged-in-burgundy variegation of the coleus foliage became a visual cacophony that makes me cringe!


The best thing I can say about this combination is that it's provided me with GOOPs fodder.

I still like Saturn … it still has a chance in my gardens. I've taken Saturn cuttings to see how its foliage acts when grown in pots with indoor light but, if it survives the winter without coming down with aphids, I'll find a more complementary spot for Saturn to thrive.

Now it's your turn to share a gardening faux pas. Leave your GOOPs in a comment below or share a comment and a link back to your own GOOPs Day blog post. Here's hoping my GOOPs prevent similar GOOPs in your gardens.

Garden thoughtfully …

By joenesgarden, 2 years and 6 months ago

Eat CT

Common autumn outings  in Connecticut include going apple picking and wandering through a pumpkin patch for the perfect Halloween decorations. Breathing in the sweet ripe-fruit aroma that wafts from apple-heavy trees is one autumn joy that should be on everyone's bucket list and …  how can you not smile while watching a child's delight when they find their pumpkin.

It's easy to locate the Connecticut farms nearest your home or those specializing in the type of product or produce you seek. Just go to and type your zip code and how far you want to travel, or the  product or specific farm you're looking for. You can even search the in season link for specific vegetables, fruits, dairy and egg products, herbs, meat, seafood or fish, specialty foods and other state-grown products like nursery plants, fiber products, livestock, handicrafts, liquor and energy. It's a pretty impressive list for such a small state.

Looking for those cute little white pumpkins? Click on Baby Poo Pumpkins and up pops a map of CT filled with markers linking to the farms selling Baby Poos.

Want a specific type of apple for pies, sauce or just plain eating? You can search these too, then follow each farms link to learn more.

But if you want a behind-the-scene look at the people who produce the produce, check out the book Connecticut Farmer & Feast: Harvesting Local Bounty. Author and chef Emily Brooks visited more than 40 of Connecticut's farms and talked to the farmers running them. In the book, she shares her experiences and the recipes she developed using products from each farm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Readers can peruse the book's Middlesex County chapter to learn about beef and dairy products at Deerfield Farm, the ongoing events and produce (including pick-your-own) of Lyman Orchards, the history behind the greenhouses, fruits and vegetables and Christmas trees available at Staehly Farms, and how Starlight Gardens came to be the late-life career and love of its owners.

Individual chapters highlight farms in each of Connecticut's other counties – Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, New Haven, New London, Tolland, and Windham.

Each story is unique, intriguing and brings to light the diverse backgrounds of just a few of Connecticut's farmers … a group that certainly deserves our respect and support.

So before frost bites Connecticut's apples and diminishes outdoor production of locally-grown produce, take some time to get to know a local farmer and eat a bit of CT.

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