Pinelands Nursery and Supply as part of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. They're a wholesale nursery who's doors are closed to the public except for the occasional gardening club and horticulture related events.
While on the tour though I was thrilled to learn that the owner's son is starting up a branch for smaller orders meant for the general public. It's called Pinelands Direct and I can happily say I'll be ordering from them in the future. Their website could use a little work and they don't have as big a selection as the main Pinelands Nursery, but they are selling some hard to find plants such as Seaside Goldenrod, along with more typical native plant nursery plants.
Regardless of which nursery you're buying from, though, you'll be getting plants grown from local seed stock native to New Jersey, PA, NY, DE, and generally a 250 mile radios around their nursery. Some native plant gardeners and conservationists find that important. Personally I don't, I'm not that picky but it is nice growing something that tends to be better adapted for the local area.
Speaking from experience, I buy from a lot of online nurseries and sometimes when I order from a nursery based in Florida the plants don't always survive the winters. So growing from local genotypes has its benefits. When you do find success though it's sometimes fun to mix and match genotypes to extend the bloom or encourage fall color at different times of year. The Black Eyed Susans grown at the Mt. Cuba Center in DE bloom right alongside Symphyotrichum laeve 'Bluebird' (click more photos), whereas back at my house in NJ, they've finished flowering long before most asters have even flowered. However I do happen to have two genotypes of New England Aster. The local one found here in NJ blooms a solid month after the one I ordered from a Massachusetts nursery. Their bloom is so far off that one is setting seed while the other is flowering.
After the tour, there was a native plant sale. We didn't get full reign over the place like we did at the New Moon Nursery but I got my Seaside Goldenrod (and 8 other plants) so I was happy. The quality can't be beat for the price we paid. The plants are in a 4 inch square pot (I believe it's a quart) and they all had thick solid stems, they were very huge and overall healthy for the price paid. Some of the plants I got were a little root bound but frankly I get that from every nursery that sells anything larger than a plug size, and it's a simply fix too, just cut off the offending roots and loosen up the sides so I don't fault them for that. I'm very happy with the plants I got! (And added a link to their site on the side bar.)
He talked a little about why he's not more open to selling to the public. The benefit of wholesale is how automated he can be. They collect seeds by the millions and germinate them all at once. He gets huge orders of plants. The minimum order is $1,000, and it's not uncommon for people or order plants 1,000,000 at a time. Taking the phone call for that order takes up about the same amount of time as it does for someone only ordering just 10 so it's REALLY not worth his time.
It was great seeing his son stepping up to the plate and running the retail side of things though. I wish his selection was as good as his the wholesale... actually I'm not sure why it isn't, (maybe those are the only plants they keep in stock year round?) whatever the case, I think they're the only nursery that really sells Seaside Goldenrod over the internet.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The flowers are pollinated by carrion flies and beetles. The petals even resemble dead flesh a bit. Even with two plants flowering, I've read pollination can still be an issue. Those that grow them in containers swear by hand pollination which I might do to start. There was a tip posted somewhere saying to hang chicken skin among the branches... though that's just going to attract the neighborhood cats and other hoodlums to the yard.
Another thing worth noting is that wildlife love the fruit even more that you do and often big bites are taken out of them before they're ripe. That's an issue I'll figure out how to tackle when that road comes. For now though I can simply enjoy the flowers... that smell of rotting fish.
Monday, May 11, 2015
The best patch I have is in a pit I dug and filled completely with sand. Everything I put in here is immediately shocked and stressed out looking, until they get enough of their roots pressed down into the layer of clay below. It's otherwise been a huge success of a garden. Pictured above and below is one that is growing along the edge of my meadow garden. The plants are hard to focus on as most of the foliage is grass-like down below with a single flowering stem standing erect on top.
Assuming the ~96 Wild Hyacinth I planted all flower next year I should be in for a spectacular floral display. My only complaint with them so far is the individual flowers are short lived, so the smaller flowering stalks are almost finished flowering for the year already.
When Native Plant Gardeners decide to add Golden Alexander to their landscape, they're often disappointed to see a lack of Black Swallowtails. Perhaps Monarchs boldly laying dozens of eggs all over Milkweed and their easy to spot black and white caterpillars spoil them. A couple of things are going on here.
Firstly, Black Swallowtails are native to North America, so much so that they're sometimes referred to as the American Swallowtail. Golden Alexander was their primary host plant among a few other members of the carrot family, but when western settlers brought with them delicious Parsley, Dill, and yet more members of the carrot family, suddenly the American Swallowtail had a lot more hosts to choose from. Parsley and Dill in particular were bread for their pungent odor and flavor, and likely possess more of the chemicals in the plant Black Swallowtails use to make themselves bitter tasting. Not only do the caterpillars mimic bird shit in the first few instars, but they want to taste like it too! This is likely why Parsley and Dill tend to be heavily favored as host plants.
Monarchs are down right poisonous to consume, and they want to go out of their way to show themselves off. Causing a mother bird to throw up the contents of her crop is one less meal her baby birds will get. It's a swift lesson and birds quickly learn not to bother with black and white caterpillars.
Golden Alexander has other pest problems such as Aphids. Parsley gets aphids too but not the same kind. These aphids are better about attracting Ants, which are more than happy to consume butterfly eggs, as well as young instars caterpillars. The plant itself also excretes extra floral nectar on its leaves which ants will "nectar scrape" for food, to further get ants crawling all over the plant. Golden Alexander is also a more open, airy plant, which wasps have an easier time exploring to hunt. Some types of parsley are dense with leaves.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
While walking the paths at Mt. Cuba I came across a little ant skirmish. This is odd because I rarely see ants there at all. I've been tempted a few times to ask if I could setup bait stations to see what would come out, and I'm sure the leaf litter there might yield interesting results.