IT’S RAINING AND I’M GLAD. Rain is just what you want when you’ve been planting perennials. It “settles” them, helps their roots make close contact with the soil.


Yesterday I returned from Upstate New York with a Honda Fit-ful of plants — really quite a haul. I dug and divided some of them myself, from the 20-acre property where I learned about gardening in Zone 5 deer country. The others were bought from a local couple, Tom and Ethel, who sell potted evening primrose starts for 50 cents apiece, iris tubers and columbine for $2, small spirea for $6, astilbe, ligularia, foxglove, and more. (If you want to know how to find them, I’ll tell you. Get off the Taconic at Rt. 199 in Red Hook. Make a right on 199 and go east a mile or so. When you see a sign for honey and eggs, make a left onto North Road. Tom and Ethel are about a mile down on the left.)


Here’s the inventory of what I brought back to Long Island for my “instant” cottage garden.

  • 1 zebra grass
  • 2 big window boxes full of threadleaf coreopsis
  • 3 lambs ear (these are mostly 1 gal. pots)
  • 4 catmint
  • 3 turks cap lilies (that just happened to be mixed in with something else)
  • 2 rudbeckia
  • 1 Montauk daisy that never thrived upstate for some reason
  • 1 epimedium, already sampled by my deer last night while still in its pot on the ground
  • 2 pulmonaria (spotted leaves, pink flowers)
  • 2 cimicifuga
  • 3 yellow spirea
  • 2 obedient plant – never tried those before
  • 8 evening primrose
  • 12 iris
  • 4 columbine
  • 4 ligularia
  • 7 astilbe
  • 1 foxglove
  • a baby viburnum
  • a kerria japonica bush in a 5-gal. pot

Total cost: about $60.


I got about half of them planted today. I hope they like the soil. I added generous handfuls of Plantone, an organic fertilizer, to each planting hole. (That’s my next-door neighbors’ house, above, and a rather sparse privet hedge.)


Seriously, I know there’s no such thing as an “instant” garden. It should be fabulous — in about three years.

I’ll post pictures periodically as the garden progresses, in a series I’ll call “How Does My Garden Grow.” Your guess is as good as mine as to whether it’ll be a triumph, a flop, or something in between.

In the backyard, below, I’m not doing much right now, except enjoying the daffodils and watching the ferns un-furl.


About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
This entry was posted in GARDENS & GARDENING, HAMPTONS, HUDSON VALLEY, LONG ISLAND and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Me-Haul

  1. Terry says:

    Obedient plant: “sharply-pointed widely-spaced teeth along the margins.” Does it hurt? Your neighbor has a great looking chimney.

  2. BrooklynGreene says:

    You’ve got more energy than a pack of teenagers! How do you do it?

    We just ripped out rhododendrons and a couple of other non-natives at our place in New England…actually, “the guy” (who does incredible work) took them out. We (in this instance, the husband) put in two paw-paws, a couple of oak-leaf hydrangeas, blueberries, a ton of bayberry and a couple of other natives (that I can’t remember because I kind of left it all up to the husband unit this time)–oh yes, serviceberry as well.

    You know what I’d suggest, check out the New England Wildflower Society this coming late summer/fall for lots of good asters, goldenrods, native columbine, and lobelias (along with asclepias tuberosa and a couple of other things) you’ll get as seeds. Oh, and there’s a native euphorbia that takes a couple of years to establish but is looks a bit like baby’s breath, flowers last forever and it’s deer-proof. You’ll never see it for sale as a potted plant because it has to be grown in place from seed.

    The NEWS will send a lot of seeds per pack. Sow the seeds in the fall so they have a chance to go through the winter. Sure, it’ll take a year or so to see flowers, but you’ll be able to plant your beds thickly and ring your property with natives. A lot of bang for 15 to 20 bucks in seeds!

    Happy Gardening!

  3. Adrienne says:

    Wonderful……you give me hope! Looking forward to seeing you on the North Fork.

  4. cara says:

    Good going, BG. I believe in the concept of using natives but I haven’t the patience for seeds. “Blessed is she who plants a tree, knowing she will never live to sit beneath its shade…” is all very well and good, but I want curb appeal NOW, if possible.

  5. Carol says:

    That’s quite a haul for $60 – you got yourself a bargain! Your garden sounds like it will be beautiful. It takes time to fill in, but keep posting pictures as it develops. I will look forward to seeing the progress.

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