Garden Wisdom

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.."  -Alfred Austin



About Me

Jeff, Gardener in Chief

Contrary to popular opinion, some people in the Hamptons enjoy getting their hands dirty. I'm a self-taught gardener in East Hampton, NY that enjoys sharing my gardening experiences and inspiration with others. Hope you enjoy my blog and galleries.

Read more about me and my garden here.


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Baby, It's Cold Outside

When I woke up this morning it was only 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside (that's before you factor in the wind chill).  Fresh out of our warm beds, the pups and I bundled up and braved the cold for a quick morning walk. On our way back, I noticed how frozen the Rhododendrons looked. Their leaves were drooping and curled up like extra long spinach ziti.  

I remembered reading that broad-leafed evergreen leaves curl up in freezing weather to conserve moisture. Rhododendrons are like living thermometers. Just below 40 degrees, the leaves start to droop but are still flat. At freezing, the leaves begin to curl and when the temps drop below 20 degrees, the leaves squeeze together as tight as they can. That's what I witnessed this morning. 

Although an interesting horticultural phenomenon, this outdoor temp indicator isn't necessarily the most useful tool (unless your TV, radio, internet or weather app stops working). But if a winter storm knocks your power out, let your Rhododendron provide you with the morning forecast.  Droopy leaves call for a nice warm coat. Add gloves and a hat when the leaves start to curl.  And when the leaves look like long green ziti, take off your outerwear and remain inside where it's warm.

Tightly curled leaves say the temps outside are 20 degrees or below


Could Have Been Worse

As we end 2013,  I have to say my Hampton's garden didn't perform that spectacularly this past year.  Quite a few plants didn't survive the winter; others became afflicted with disease or bugs just as they leafed out.  The voles and bunnies ate away at some of the healthier specimens.  The Nikko Blue hydrangeas pushed out limited blooms. Only the crab-grass came back stronger than ever.

But as I edit my garden photos from last year,  I noticed that it wasn't all bad.  Almost every week from early spring to late fall, I was able to find at least one plant that caught my camera's eye.  I guess you could say that this year's garden performance was not a symphony but more of a collection of colorful solos.

The winter is just arriving so way to early to predict what will survive and flourish next season. In preparation for next year, I've already edited out weak performers, replaced the deceased, weeded, pruned, and fertilized, hoping to tune up this garden for a great symphonic production in 2014.  

Wishing everyone a new year of garden enjoyment.

'The Last Melon' daylily in August

New outdoor cushions for the patio this year

 My first performing clematis vine, clematis x 'Jackmanii Superba'


The Acanthus has finally established itself


A rambling rose mingles with a patch of spiderwort


Kousa dogwood looked pretty good after tree surgery the previous fall


A pink, summer-blooming azalea


Spring Snowflakes open the season


East Hampton House & Garden Tour

A November landscape from a previous holiday tour

Lots of people ask me about the best garden tours in my area.  Most of them are obviously in summer when the gardens are in their prime, but one house and garden tour is annually the weekend after Thanksgiving.  To be honest, the interiors are the primary focus of this tour, but you do get to view some nice surrounding landscapes.  And while the gardens are in their early dormancy, many provide some wonderful vistas.  In summer one can study the plantings, but this time of year one can truly study the bones of a garden.

The 2013 East Hampton House & Garden "holiday" tour is this Saturday, November 30th from 1:00 pm- 4:30 pm.  There will five homes of various architectural and interior styles on the Saturday tour, each revealing a unique coastal lifestyle.  There is also a cocktail party on Friday evening before the tour at a grand home in the Georgica section of East Hampton Village.  All proceeds from the cocktail party and tour go to the East Hampton Historical Society.  (By the way, the EHHS throws some great fundraisers at some fabulous houses. Check out this post on the Woody House by clicking here.)

To buy tickets to tour and/or cocktail party, you can go to the Clinton Academy at 151 Main Street, East Hampton on Friday the 29th or Saturday the 30th between 10:00 am and 3:30 pm.  For more information go to 

I'll share any fantastic gardening ideas that I discover from this year's tour next week.

A tree with as much history as the house on tour

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