Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Forgotten Radish

Master Gardener Sue Schneck recently went out to her garden for beets and noticed some unfamiliar leaves.  Lo and behold, she pulled this huge radish!  Sue said, "It actually tasted good!"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Timely Garden Tips for Autumn by Master Gardener Bonnie Olliver

Photo courtesy of

  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs when the soil is consistently cool.
  • Harvest tender vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) when frost threatens, and protect cold-tolerant crops with row covers on cold nights.
  • Harvest winter squash and store in a cool place.
  • Dig and store tender bulbs such as dahlias, gladiolas and calla lilies.
  • Continue to water newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials with a thorough soaking once a week if rainfall isn’t one inch/week.
  • Take cuttings of some favorite annuals such as impatiens, coleus and geraniums for growing indoors.
  • Get houseplants ready to bring indoors by “cleaning them up” and checking for insects.
  • Remove and compost spent plants from annual and vegetable gardens.
  • Rake fallen leaves and bag some for use in the compost pile during the winter and spring.
  • Plant garlic now for harvest in the summer.
  • Prune dead, dying, damaged or diseased branches from trees and shrubs anytime.
  • Clean garden tools, winterize the lawn mower, empty the hoses.
  • Be prepared to feed the birds as the weather gets colder.
  • Save seeds of species (not hybrid) varieties of flowers and vegetables which were your favorites.
  • Prune roses “lightly” to prevent the canes from being whipped around by winter winds. Save major pruning until spring. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bucks County Master Gardeners' Holiday Evergreen "Kissing Ball" Workshop

Sample kissing ball, approximately 12" diameter
Photograph © Jennie Thoma

Let the Master Gardener experts at Penn State Extension help you design and create a traditional "kissing ball” as an extraordinary holiday decoration for your home!  
Kissing balls date to the Middle Ages when evergreen branches, a symbol of the sun’s return, were wrapped into ball-shapes and hung in doorways and hallways during winter solstice.  Passing underneath was thought to bring peace, love and good fortune. Centuries later, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert renewed the tradition of using evergreens as decoration inside the home during the holidays and kissing balls returned with the addition of flowers, herbs and ribbons.  Since a kiss was not a standard greeting in Victorian England, kissing balls offered a wonderfully-scented excuse!

In this two-hour workshop, Bucks County Master Gardeners provide you with all the help you need to make your own 12" modern version of the kissing ball using aromatic evergreens, holly, berries, cones and accent ribbon.  The greenery should last several weeks in your home.

The workshop fee of $25.00 covers expert instruction, all materials and light refreshments.  You must supply your own gloves and garden pruners.
Class size is limited and spaces fill quickly – register early to avoid disappointment. 

Reservation deadline November 13th -- by phone only: 215-345-3283
VISA/MC and personal checks accepted.

Workshop information:
Saturday, December 7, 2013 10:00am – 12:00pm

Penn State Extension Bucks County
Neshaminy Manor Center - Health Building Auditorium
1282 Almshouse Road
Doylestown, PA 18039
Map to location:

Penn State encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Penn State Extension Bucks County at 215-345-3283 in advance of your participation or visit.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EarthPlanter is the Latest Addition to our Demo Garden

This week, Master Gardener Jeanne Mantell created a beautiful container garden near the office doors with a donated EarthPlanter that Scott Guiser secured at a trade show. 

The EarthPlanter is a commercial-grade planter, typically used on college campuses, in shopping centers and at hotels. It's made from extremely durable molded plastic and can go weeks between watering cycles due to its wick watering system. You can read more about the EarthPlanter at the company's website:

Kathleen created an educational brochure to accompany the planter, which aincludes the Demo Garden's first "QR Code. The QR Code allows a direct download of Penn State educational information to anyone with a "smart" phone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Attack of the Tomato Hornworm!

© 2013 Nina Pultorak
(Click to enlarge - Escape to exit)

© 2013 Nina Pultorak
(Click to enlarge - Escape to exit)


Master Gardener Nina Pultorak saw a few large Tomato Hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata) in her vegetable garden last week and was kind enough to take these wonderful photographs for us.  Thank you, Nina!

You can read all about this juicy little pest -- and what it looks like in its moth stage -- in these nice publications from Cornell University and Purdue University:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July's Horticulture Hotline Report

Photo courtesy

We've have had a boring few weeks, all mold and fungus, but now it’s getting interesting! 

The intense heat and the deluges are stressing out our plants!  Someone's neighbor just put in a pool and her 3 arborvitae are getting backwashed – between the chlorine and the flooding, these trees are in trouble!

We’ve also got leaf scorch combined with cedar apple rust on a crabapple tree.

We’ve got bugs:  Japanese Beetles, a grapevine beetle that smelled like wine (but Bonnie just thought it stunk - it was dead, afterall).

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is becoming a problem.  People are reporting it eating their fruit and squash.  There are some kindhearted folks who think that if a bug is found in the house, it should be carried outside and released. I say: it's toast!

Mosquitoes – need I say more?  West Nile Virus has been found in Lower Bucks, be careful!  And gnats are a “gnuisance."  There are yellow sticky traps that can be hung outside and replaced as they get covered, but I’m not sure if that will be enough to make a noticeable difference.

That’s what’s heating up the Horticulture Hotline this month!

-- Bucks County Master Gardener Debbie Bennett-Vidaure

Friday, July 19, 2013

Timely Tips for the Summer Garden

Photo ©

·       Roses: Clean up and discard diseased leaves that fall from rose bushes.
·       Vegetables: Monitor for frequent picking to promote more production.  Remove over-ripe produce to the compost pile.
·       Container Gardening: Water-holding polymers added to potting soil before planting a  container will reduce the need for frequent watering.
·       Prune evergreens, if needed, by the end of July so new growth has time to “harden off” before the first frost.
·       Empty standing water to prevent mosquito larvae from developing.

·       Remove weeds before they produce seeds.
·       Bagworms are commonly found on juniper, cedar and arbor vitae. Remove “bags” by hand picking.
·       Many vegetables can be started from seed in August: lettuce,  green beans,  carrots, beets and spinach, to name a few.
·       Stop pinching mums by mid-July. Fertilize lightly with water soluble fertilizer every two weeks.
·       Water landscape plantings deeply and well; one inch a week is recommended.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June's Horticulture Hotline Report

Photo courtesy
The Horticulture Hotline is a free public service provided by Penn State Extension that helps Bucks County homeowners by providing research-based information and answers for their home gardening questions and concerns.  Staffed by Penn State Master Gardeners, the Hotline is open April 1st - October 1st, Monday through Friday, 9:00am - 12:00pm.  Call the Hotline at 215-345-3283.

Here's the Hotline's June report by Master Gardener Debbie Bennett-Vidaure, one of our Horticulture Hotline specialists:
☼ Rose Rosette Virus is rearing its oh-so-ugly head.  Look for the reddish color and witch’s broom growth pattern.  Regretfully, removal and disposal of the affected rose is the best practice.

☼ Pine Sawflies are swarming in trees in their larval stage.  This publication from Cornell addresses all species, has great photos and treatment options:  This PSU publication is specific to the European Pine Sawfly:  The Woody Ornamentals Pest Management booklet lists treatment options on page 53 (page 55 of the PDF document):

☼ This is the second rainiest June for the Philadelphia area according to local meteorologists.  Fruit trees are suffering accordingly.  Fire blight risk is rated "severe" right now by the Penn State Fruit Times Disease Newsletter. Information about Fire Blight is found on page 93 (page 103 of the PDF document) of the Penn State Tree Fruit Production Guide, a great resource for all things apple, etc:   

☼ Groundhogs (or Woodchucks) are tormenting not just me, it seems, but others as well! Here’s the Penn State publication on the critter and a nice list of Groundhog-resistant plants:

☼ I had a call about Cottony Camellia Scale, aka Cottony Taxus Scale, which pesters not only camellias but also yews, hollies, beautyberry, hydrangeas, and euonymus.

☼ We’ve had a few tick questions as well – and for your information,  Penn State doesn’t test ticks for Lyme disease:

That’s what’s heating up the Horticulture Hotline this month!
-- Bucks County Master Gardener Debbie Bennett-Vidaure

Photo © Seattle Municipal Archives

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thank You!

Bucks County Master Gardener Bonnie Olliver recently received this lovely thank you card and photo from the Trowel and Plow Club at Unami Middle School.  (Click to enlarge.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring 2013 - Timely Gardening Tips

  • Most of Bucks County is frost free by May 15th.  Delay planting cold sensitive crops such as tomato, peppers and eggplants until then.
  • Beans, cucumbers and other vine crop seeds may be planted in mid-May.
  • Spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia and azaleas may be pruned and shaped immediately after blooming. Thin out oldest branches and remove dead or broken branches.
  • Check for sawflies on pines and spray with an appropriate insecticide.
  • Allow the foliage on spring blooming bulbs to grow naturally without braiding or tying them up. The leaves provide “energy” for the flowering mechanism which is developing for next spring’s blooms. Cur off any spent flowers which are swollen and forming seeds.
  • If daffodils didn’t bloom well this year, they may be overcrowded. After the foliage dies, dig them up, divide the bulbs and replant immediately. “Mother Nature” can care for them better than we can!
  • Tender, summer blooming bulbs such as dahlias, gladiolas and tuberous begonias may be planted now.
  • Monitor for bagworms which can be sprayed with Bt when they are small. Larger “bags” can be hand picked to remove them.
  • Cut the lawn at a mower height of 2 ½ inches to encourage stronger turf growth which discourages weed growth. Leave the nitrogen-containing  grass clippings on the lawn. Fertilize for the first time in mid-May.
  • Continue spraying fruit trees according to the spray schedule, but do not spray while they are blooming.
  • Some houseplants can be moved outside for the summer, taking care to “harden them off” before placing them in full sun if they are sun loving.  Pot-bound plants can be repotted, generally in a container one inch larger in diameter. 
  • Get ready to enjoy strawberries in June. Locate pick-your-own patches for sweet, fresh berries!
  • Roses can be fertilized with a granular, balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or its equivalent.
  • Chrysanthemums may be pinched back one or two times before July to make a fuller plant with more flowers. 
  • Garden beds may be mulched with no more than 2-3 inches of mulch, keeping it away from plant stems and woody tissue.
Submitted by Bucks County Master Gardener Bonnie Olliver

Monday, April 1, 2013

Plant Sale Flyer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Arrives in the Demo Garden

The demo gardens are coming back to life! We're looking forward to another wonderful season here at Penn State Extension Bucks County. Thank you, Master Gardeners, for your beautiful and inspirational work!

©Kathleen Connally
©Kathleen Connally

©Kathleen Connally

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Great Backyard Bird Count by Sandy Stickel

© Sandy Stickel

On President’s weekend, I participated in the
Great Backyard Bird Count for the first time. I’ve intended to get involved in past years, but somehow always missed the actual days to participate. It was easy and fun for someone like me who always has a feeder out and can spend hours watching the various species come in for a bite. You merely pick a day or more during the designated timeframe (Feb. 14-17, 2014), print out a list of birds expected to be seen in your area from the website, and watch and count for 15 minutes or more. Then you report what you saw, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology along with the Audubon Society compiles all the info to use in keeping track of bird populations and in many other bird studies. You can count from the warmth of your home, or go on a walk in your favorite park or woods – whatever strikes your fancy. I’ll definitely watch again!
Submitted by Bucks County Master Gardener Sandy Stickel

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sue's Witch Hazel

© Susan Schneck

Sue Schneck sent us a photo this week of her lovely Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) "Arnold's Promise" now blooming in her Yardley garden. Sue says, "It's profuse and bright and the tree loses it's leaves so the flowers really stand out. Some of the red flowering ones hold onto the old leaves and obscure the flowers."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When I Am Among the Trees

When I Am Among the Trees
 By Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
Especially the willows and the honey locust,
Equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
They give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
In which I have goodness, and discernment,
And never hurry through the world
But walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me, the trees stir in their leaves
And call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
With light, and to shine."

Submitted by Master Gardener Gail Donegan