Thinking of getting some Spring Flowering Bulbs for your Garden?

The Hudson Valley Garden Association has a great choice of bulbs & you can support a local Not-For-Profit Organization.

A win-win for Hudson Valley Gardeners! Click here to take a look at their selection.

Allium aflatunense Gladiator

Shiny, green leaves of a drought-tolerant ornamental grass at the xeriscape garden at Ulster Community College in Stone Ridge NY

Ornamental grass in the ‘River’ bed at the xeriscape garden

Master Gardener’s Plant Sale to Benefit Xeriscape Garden

The Masters Gardener program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) will be hosting a Plant Sale and free workshop

  • Saturday, September 20th
  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • At their Xeriscape Garden located on the SUNY Ulster campus on 491 Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge
  • Rain or shine
  • Cash, check or credit cards accepted
  • The sale will offer an array of plants from the xeriscape garden itself plus plants grown in the Master Gardener’s own gardens!
  • A free workshop “Photographing your Garden” will take place at the same location at 10:00 am

Please contact Master Gardener Coordinator, Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or for more information.

Please call the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.

Click on the calendar  for more events and programs and follow CCEUC Facebook

Drought-tolerant monarda (red flowers) and ornamental grasses

Drought-tolerant monarda (red flowers) and ornamental grasses





The Master Gardeners of Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension created this garden at Ulster Community College in Stone Ridge. Donations were provided by several local businesses.Distant view of Ulster Community College garden, showing lawn, trees and flower beds

The garden is near the main entrance to the campus.

Wooden pergola with four posts, with a yellow trumpet vine growing up each post, covered in green foliage and yellow flowers

At the entrance to the garden there is a hand-built pergola covered in yellow trumpet vine campsis radicans

Close up of three clusters of yellow trumpet vine flowers and green leaves

The garden consists of 11 island beds. Each bed has a theme such as Viburnum Bed, Nursery Bed, Herb Bed… Garden bench made from concrete uprights with a bluestone slab on top Pink evening primrose flowers and green foliage

The ‘Bench Bed’ includes a bluestone and concrete bench surrounded by sun-loving pink primroses Oenothera speciosa. Chokeberry tree, sedum, ornametnal grasses in a garden with ornamental 'river bed' made from pebbles

One of my favorites was the ‘River Bed’ which included a ‘river’ of pebbles. This dainty tree is a Chokeberry. It is native to NY, has white blossom in the spring and small fruit in the fall. The bright green sedum in front of the tree grows well on dry gravel.

white datura flowers

This Datura is an annual in the Hudson Valley climate (USDA zone 5) the flowers are about 4″ long. Pale purple Echinops flowers with bees and other insects

The garden was teeming with pollinating insects, especially on this Globe Thistle Echinops

Prickly pear cactus with yellow flower

Many plants in the ‘River Bed’ were drought-tolerant species suitable for a xeriscape (minimal-water) garden, such as this Prickly Pear cactus Genus Opuntia in bloom. The fleshy pads are modified stems.

low growing euphorbia with grey leaves, growing next to pebbles

Grey Euphorbia Euphorbia myrsinites forms mats of slightly swirling stems, perfect for the ‘river’ themed bed.

Another of my favorites was the ‘Compost Bed’ I admired the way the compost bins were hidden – here’s the front, a planting of Spirea shrubs, silver-leaved Lambs Ears and beautiful grass Miscanthus Sinensis. spirea shrubs, lambs ears plants and ornamental grasses in a garden

And here’s the back of the bed. Plant pots, three compost bins and a tool box – all very neat and tidy unlike my garden. three garden compost bins, plant pots and tool  box in a garden

The ‘Mouse Bed’ (I couldn’t figure out the reason for this name!) included a tall rudbeckia and purple coneflowers Echinacea species.

yellow rudbeckia flowers

purple coneflowers and lambs ear plants

The ‘Milkweed Bed’ included Common or Swamp Milkweed which is food for the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. The flowers smell like jasmine.

Common/swamp milkweed flower

. yellow achillea flowers

Yellow Achilea in the ‘Milkweed bed’.

The ‘Butterfly Bed’ includes plants such as purple coneflowers that are attractive to skippers and other butterflies.

skipper butterfly on purple coneflowers (echinacea species)


Gaillardia 'Goblin' yellow and red flowers

A butterfly favorite, Gaillardia ‘Goblin’ in the ‘Butterfly Bed’. This garden is functional as well as beautiful, because it

  • Enables people to see hardy, drought-tolerant plants
  • Includes plants and trees that are native to NY or cultivars of native plants
  • Provides wildlife habitat, especially for insects and hummingbirds
  • Reduces the use of water and fossil fuels (lawn mowing)
  • Creates a space for people to unwind and enjoy nature

A lady lying on a bench which is part of a pergola, with yellow trumpet vine growing on it.

Relax and enjoy the moment in the shade of the pergola…

Do you have a favorite ‘public’ garden? Add a comment and share your thoughts.

The second week in July is New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

  • Events
  • Identifying Invasive species
  • Education
  • Advice
  • Resources and contacts

Click here for more information

Green foliage of a Barberry Shrub in summer showing detail of leaves and bright 'apple' green color of foliage

Barberry Shrub, a garden escapee, grows in woodland areas



A single white bell-shaped flower with yellow and purple stripes inside. The edges of the petals are ruffled. From the Southern Catalpa tree.

Southern Catalpa tree flower

In mid-June the Catalpa trees are in bloom and the lemon-vanilla fragrance is so pleasant on a hot day. Picture of a pinnacle of Southern Catalpa tree flowers which are white with pink stripes inside.

The flowers of the the Southern Catalpa  have stripes inside – landing strips for pollinating insects.

Many pinnacles of white flowers on a Southern Catalpa tree.

It is a common tree in the Hudson Valley, I often see them growing by the side of the road and in people’s gardens.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree covered in white flowers.

Southern Catalpa tree in bloom

The tree grows to about 60′ high.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree with massive drooping branches that almost touch the ground.

Mature tree with large branches

The branches on a mature tree are very thick (2′ or so wide) and curve, sometimes almost touching the ground.

A heart-shaped leaf from a Southern Catalpa tree.

Heat-shaped leaves

The leaves are large, up to 12″ long. A friend explained how these thick leathery leaves are difficult to rake in the fall.

Green and brown seed pods on a Southern Catalpa tree

Seed pods

Here are the green seed pods in July. The brown pods are from the previous year. The seed pods are about 15′ long.

Seed pods in winter

The seed pods remain on the trees during the winter

Many long brown seed pods hanging from the branches of the Southern Catalpa tree in winter, NY.

Seed pods hanging from the branches in winter

The Catalpa tree is also known as the ‘Cigar Tree’

Two seeds in the snow, fallen from a Southern Catalpa tree, winter in NY.

Seeds in the snow

Each seed pod is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds with fibrous ‘wings’ for dispersal by wind.

Two American Robins on the bare branches of trees in winter, NY

American Robins eating seeds

By winter, most of the seeds have disappeared, but some are still around and provide food for wildlife.

Whilst looking online for information about this tree, I discovered it is the host for the Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Brown colored Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

According to online stories, the caterpillars make excellent bait for fish. Here’s a little more information about the caterpillar

I have not seen any caterpillars on the trees in my area (a result of pesticide use perhaps?)



Love this art, the patterns and the use of stones…

Originally posted on The Dancing Rest:

“LandArt – art in and with nature – has become an essential part of my work. Nature offers everything necessary for an aesthetic work of art, i.e. materials to create something, colours, light und a vast open canvas. Here I can live out my creative passion without limitation, enabling the movement of freedom and the pleasure of breathing deeply.

I express my love of landscape through the art of Photography. The impermanence of my work, however, is also a very appealing aspect of making Landart creations, as it is simply part of nature.

My installations blend seamlessly into the landscape and often it looks as if they had been there forever. The right frequency is important to me. Harmony and authenticity. My artistic work has something to do with stillness. Peace with nature, with the weather, the stones, the light and the ocean. Peace with myself. And if I can…

View original 27 more words

Here’s a great opportunity to learn about preserving and canning food…

Monthly Workshops beginning  July 1st – Kingston, NY

  • Canning food in your home is a safe and rewarding process that is fast becoming popular again! Learn how to preserve the season’s bounty from the experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s (CCEUC) Nutrition Program beginning in July!
  • Learn research based methods of food preservation as well as the full range of products that can be safely preserved using boiling water bath, pressure canning, dehydrating and freezing methods of food preservation.
  • These workshops will be held at The Old Dutch Church located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston, NY.
  • The fee is $25 per person / per workshop, or you can take all five for $100 and save $25. Participants may bring their pressure gauge in to be tested for a fee of $2. You get to take home a jar of what we preserve in class!
  •  Each workshop includes detailed instructions, resources for safe and reliable recipes, and hands-on experience led by CCEUC’s Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald.
  • These workshops fill up quickly. Pre-register early to secure your seat!

Click here for a printable registration form and complete workshop descriptions. Sorry, no refunds. If you cannot attend you may send someone in your place. For more information call CCEUC Nutrition Educator and Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald at 845-340-3990 x 326.

Workshop Series Schedule All workshops are from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 1 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Seasonal Jam

Tuesday, August 5 Dehydrating as Food Preservation Method: Fruit and Vegetable Leathers & other treats

Tuesday, September 2 Fermented and Quick Pickles to Love and to Preserve: Pickles

Tuesday, October 7 Pressure Canning to preserve all your Low Acid Foods: Tomatoes

Tuesday, November 4 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Orange, Cranberry Chutney

This series is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s Nutrition Education Program. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events, visit the online calendar and follow on Facebook and Twitter. CCEUC provides equal program and employment opportunities. Please contact the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.      

Japanese Knotweed shoots in April.

Japanese Knotweed shoots in the spring

Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica is growing well in the Hudson Valley. Too well – it’s everywhere, including people’s gardens. It forms large stands, preventing all other plants from growing and eliminating habitat for wildlife.

Japanese Knotweed shoots.

Spring shoots

If it’s growing on your property, remove it as soon as possible before it becomes a  large clump which is much harder deal with.

Japanese knotweed stems.

The semi-woody stem is hollow


  • A herbaceous perennial that can grow over 5′ tall with stems 2″ wide.
  • Hollow stems look a little like bamboo.
  • In spring the shoots are a reddish color
  • The green stems have enlarged leaf nodes and may have red spots
  • The green leaves are alternate, 6″ long, 3-4″ wide and broadly ovate
  • In August, the flowers are greenish-white panicles in the axils of the leaves
  • In the fall the foliage dies back, leaving the dead woody stems standing
Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in April.

Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in late spring


Barbara Bravo an experienced Hudson Valley gardener, Garden Coach and Master Gardener, recommends these steps for removing the plant.

  • Mowing or cutting to ground. To be effective, continue all season.
  • Use heavy black plastic sheets to smother plants
  • For large stands, the best method is to cut stems off at about 3′ high just below a stem node – use a squirt bottle and fill the hollow stem up ¼ of the way with 25 % Glyphosate (Use Rodeo if in a wetland or near water). Follow all instructions on the product label exactly to avoid contamination and over-use of chemicals.
  • In all cases, dispose of cut stems properly – the plant can resprout from stem or root pieces that are left on the ground.
  • Do not put the plant on a compost heap because it is possible to spread the plant when applying compost
  • Put the plant in a sealed bag in your trash can for garbage removal.
  • Complete removal may take several years, inspect the area often for regrowth and continue the removal process if needed.
  • Alternately, hire a professional Invasive Plant Removal company
Japanese Knotweed flowers in August.

Japanese Knotweed flowers in August

Japanese Knotweed dried flowers in November.

In the fall the foliage and flowers die back

Japanese Knotweed stem in October

Woody stem in the fall

How does this plant spread?

  • This plant has a horizontal, underground plant stem (rhizome) that produces a shoot and root system for a new plant. This rhizome can grow under surfaces such as concrete, bricks etc. until it finds a space to start a new plant.
  • It is also spread by seed
Japanese Knotweed sprouting in November.

New plants sprouting from rhizomes. These new plants are growing in October!

How did this plant arrive in the Hudson Valley?

Japanese Knotweed is native to Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan and was brought to America in the late 1800s as a garden plant. It now grows wild because it can grow in a variety of soils, in sun or part shade and thrives in this climate.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October

Japanese Knotweed in October. Hudson

Foliage has died back, leaving the dead stems.

Preventing the spread of Japanese Knotweed

In her excellent lecture about invasive plants in the Hudson Valley, Barbara Bravo explained “Gardeners are the first line of defense against invasive plants, if you see a plant that is thriving and you do not recognize it, do some research to identify the plant. If necessary, remove it”

Need some help with this plant?

Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension Office

Contact Barbara Bravo at Enter the Garden

For help identifying a plant, post a picture on the Plant Identification Facebook page


Yellow and red Tulip flower.

Tulip flower – a sure sign of spring

Liz has lived in the Hudson Valley for 26 years – her father gave her first camera at 17 and he inspired her to go and explore!

Her favorite time to take pictures is when the seasons are changing.

Story Farm fields in the spring mist NY.

Story Farm

Story Farm is located in Catskill and has been farmed by the Story family since 1896.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the spring NY.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds of the Beattie Powers House

The Beattie Powers Place is an 1837 Greek Revival Mansion in Catskill which hosts a program of live performances of classical music.

Pink and white Magnolia flower in the spring NY.

Magnolia – a tree that grows well in the Hudson Valley

Montgomery Place NY in the spring.

Avenue of trees at Montgomery Place

Montgomery Place is located in Annandale-on-Hudson and was built in 1805. It is one of many historic houses in the Hudson River valley which are now open to the public.

Orange Arunculus flowers.

Orange Ranunculus flowers



During Liz’s free time away from work and family, she will drive around and explore the sights of the Catskills, the Hudson River valley and surrounding areas.

Leaf in creek NY.

Mape leaf in creek

The beauty of the seasons inspires her work and sense of wonder and joy!… “I’ll get back in the car and explore-on!”

Pink Sweet Pea flowers.

Sweet Peas at Farmers Market

Liz will point out what she sees through her perspective to her friends who have always lived around here. “They tell me they never looked at this area that way before”.

Orange Poppy flower.

Orange Poppy – a deer resistant perennial

Liz plans to visit the grounds of Vassar College in May.

“It’s just beautiful with a stream running through it. Dutchess (County) is further along season-wise than Ulster County because it’s lower down the mountain. The change in altitude makes a big difference.”

Daffodil gift.

Daffodils self-sow in our area, and the wildlife does not eat the bulbs or plant

Liz’s photographs may be seen and purchased at the Dancing Tulip Floral Boutique in Saugerties New York.


Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

The Sugar Shack

From a distance I could smell the maple syrup in the air and see the clouds of steam in the sky. This was the second ‘weekend open house’ for the Platte Creek Maple Farm, owned by Chris Genson and Pete Lavalle.


Platte Creek Maple Farm is a member of the New York State Maple Producers Association

During the open house visitors were invited to observe the syrup production process and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes with dark syrup. The process is fascinating and because of the limited harvest period (six to eight weeks), it requires long hours, dedication and hard physical work. Pete patiently explained the steps …

Maple syrup collection tap.

For a healthy tree with a 12-17″ diameter trunk, one spile (tap) is used. For an 18″ diameter trunk, no more than two spiles

Spiles (taps) are inserted into holes in the maple tree trunk.  The sap is clear and runny like water and it flows into a tubing system or bucket.

collecting maple syrup in metal bucket.

Metal sap bucket attached to trunk, the lid keeps rain and insects out

External temperature variations enable the sap to be harvested. When the temperature is above freezing, pressure inside the tree forces the sap out of the spile. When the temperature drops below freezing, internal pressure drops, suction develops and the roots take up water which replenishes the sap.  These fluctuating temperatures last about eight weeks during February and March.

maple syrup collection buckets and gravity tubing.

About 1,200 trees are tapped on the Lavalle Family farm

When the trees form buds the harvesting is over because the sap develops an unpleasant ‘buddy’ taste.   Red or Black Maple trees can be used, but the Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content, best flavor and longest season.

maple syrup collection using gravity tubing.

Gravity tubing collects between 10 and 20 gallons of sap per tree

A system of gravity tubing is in place. Gravity draws the sap down the tubes towards a stainless steel collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

maple syrup collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

You can see the blue vacuum pump atop the collection tank

The blue vacuum pump above the stainless steel collection tank increases the quantity and speed of syrup extraction. When there is about 1,000 gallons of sap in the tank, the evaporation process starts.

Firewood at Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

Firewood is harvested at the farm

Wood is used to heat the Evaporator which boils the maple tree sap.

sugar shack sign.

This style of sign is classic Hudson Valley

Inside the Sugar Shack…

reverse-osmosis machine.

Reverse-Osmosis machine

Behind these doors, a reverse-osmosis process forces the sap at high pressure through a membrane and removes some of the water. A pre-heater warms the sap before it goes into the evaporator.

Wood burning sap evaporator.

It’s nice and warm inside the sugar shack!

The evaporator boils the sap, removes water and concentrates the solids (primarily sugar). Sap is about 2% sugar –  syrup must contain 66% to 67% sugar on the Brix scale (a measure of the sugar content of an aqueous solution)

Adding firewood to the sap evap

Pete Lavalle adding firewood to maintain temperature

The correct boiling temperature for the sap varies by day according to the barometric pressure.  When I visited the optimum  boiling temperature was 218.5 degrees F.

Bucket of maple syrup.

This bucket will be filled with syrup from the evaporator.

maple syrup production equipment.

Maple syrup production equipment.

The sugar content of the sap determines how many gallons of syrup can be produced from it. For example, if the sap has 2% sugar it would take 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

maple syrup Finisher.

Maple syrup finisher

The bucket of syrup is poured into the finisher.

maple syrup filter.

Maple syrup filter

The syrup is filtered.

maple syrup grading samples.

Maple syrup grading samples

These color standards are used to grade the syrup – the darker the syrup, the more intense the flavor.

holding tank for maple syrup.

Pre-bottling holding tank

Syrup is stored in bulk and then bottled in glass or plastic  containers.

bottle of pure maple syrup.

Pure Maple Syrup is considered an organic product and is rich in amino acids and minerals

This bottle contains Grade A Dark Amber syrup.  Dark Amber has the strongest flavor – a sweet caramel-maple flavor. It is great on pancakes or french toast and is the preferred syrup for making baked goods. Delicious!

Plattekill Creek, Platte Creek Maple Farm in S

Lovely clear water from the snow melt

The Plattekill Creek runs through the farm. It was named by the first European settlers who were from the Netherlands. ‘Plattekill’ translates as ‘flat creek bed’ in the Middle Dutch language.

Platte Creek Maple Syrup sign.

When the harvesting season is over the taps and tubes are removed, cleaned and stored for the following year.

Platte Creek Maple Farm

808 Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties New York

Tel: 845 853 4240


on Facebook


  • Would you like to try some Platte Creek Maple Farm syrup? Adams Fairacre Farms or other local stores carry a great selection.
  • If you are in New York during February/March, check out the Maple Weekend events. There are about 150 producers who host open weekends







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