Thursday, January 6, 2011

"There is a privac y
about it which no other season gives you .....
In spring, summer and fall
people sort of have an open season on each other;
only in the winter, in the country,
can you have longer,
quiet stretches when you can savor
belonging to yourself."

- Ruth Stout

2011 Perennial of the Year: Amsonia hubrichtii

This year the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) named Amsonia hubrichtii the Perennial Plant of the Year.

This plant meets their criteria for a great garden plant:
  • low maintenance;
  • easily propagated;
  • thrives in a range of climates; and
  • looks good for a few seasons.
Pronounced am-SO-nee-ah hew-BRIK-tee-eye, Amsonia is native to North America. It is naturally resistant to insect damage and disease. Deer dislike the milky sap in its stems, which makes it deer tolerant.

Commonly Known
In 1942 Leslie Hubricht found this species growing wild in its native habitat (well-drained creek banks and bottomlands) in Arkansas. Amsonia hubrichtii is also known as: Arkansas Blue Star, Arkansas amsonia, thread-leaf blue star, narrow-leaf blue star, and Hubricht's blue star.

In spring Amsonia starts the show with bright green, finely textured foliage that is light and billowy. From late spring to early summer, clusters of small, powdery-blue star-shaped blooms crown her foliage attracting butterflies. Some say her greatest season is autumn as Amsonia's foliage transforms into bright golden-yellow. Her finale is showy seed heads. Unless you want to keep the seed heads, cutting back the stems after flowering by about 6” will help stems stay upright and keep her lovely mound shape.

When planted in full sun to partial shade, Amsonia will grow in an almost-shrub-like dense mound up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Remember to plant the right plant in the right location. With too much shade, the mound won't flower and stems will lay down.

Location, Location, Location
Ideally suited to a sunny spot in your garden with good drainage. Amsonia looks great as a specimen plant and when planted in groups and borders. She contrasts well with medium to large perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses. For the most striking contrast, plant her near purple foliage.

“First year, they sleep; second year, creep; third year leap.”

This low-maintenance, versatile North American native is a hardy perennial growing in Zones 4 through 9. As with most perennials, Amsonia will really come into her own in her third year.

Curious about Past Perennial Plant of the Year winners:

Photo Credit: by and (c)2006 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)


by Renee Brannigan

"Winter, a lingering season,
is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey,
and enjoy every idle hour. "
- John Boswell

Experiencing Gardening Withdrawal?

Try out a Gardening Club, especially...

If you have ever asked for gardening tools for your birthday...or mulch... or compost...

If you schedule your vacation around your vegetable harvest...

If you prefer to buy plants rather than shoes...

If you have ever stepped into your gardens to check on things, then realize it's noon...

We have a few great garden clubs, plant societies and conservation groups in the area. It's a great way to connect with others who understand your love of gardening.

Some groups will welcome you to a meeting or activity so you can try it on for size before deciding to join.

Here are a few. If you know of more, or have better info, please comment at the end of the article. ((Thanks!))

Scituate's Gentian Garden Club, Inc. was organized in March 1935. Members tend a garden near the gazebo and planters in the village. Some of their members are involved with elementary school programs and programs for senior citizens, grow vegetables for local food closets, teach flower arranging. Meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at the North Scituate Community House at 7 pm, except during summer recess of July and August. In December and February, meetings are the 1st Tuesday and 2nd Tuesday of the month, respectively. Dues are $20. Contact Mimi Cooke at 934-1899 or email for more info.

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island's native plants and their habitats. you value Rhode Island's unique environment and want to protect our native plants and their habitats, then please consider becoming a member of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society. We rely on our members' support to continue our many plant conservation and education initiatives. Print and mail this form with your payment to RIWPS, P.O. Box 414, Exeter, RI 02822. We accept payment by check or Visa/MasterCard. We can also take your membership request over the phone; contact us at (401) 789-7497.

Or just volunteer as you are able:

The Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) - In Providence County, farmers care about the quality of our water and soil resources. The Conservation District provides assistance to them through the Farm, Forest and Open Space Program, assistance with the Land Link Program, and through our partners at the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Volunteers are needed to serve as Associate Directors on our Board or to assist with projects. Please call the office for more information at (401) 949-1480.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Winter, a lingering season,
is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey,
and enjoy every idle hour. "

- John Boswell

Have you Wondered "What is Woodbridge?"

Woodbridge is a soil classification from dense glacial til. This soil was deposited on smooth top slopes or upper side slopes when the last and greatest glacier receded from Rhode Island 18,000 years ago.

Woodbridge Greenhouse is indeed on a hill not far from the highest point in Rhode Island (Jerimoth Hill) which boasts just over 900 feet.

Take An Off-Season Tour of Woodbridge Greenhouses.

As tiny as it is, our small yellow office cottage was once occupied by a family. The window boxes are planted as soon as the weather cooperates. Often in Debbie's favorite shades of burgundy and lime green.

Step inside and try to imagine living there. Inside you'll see where Tysh McGrail, talented and energetic landscape designer puts her visions to paper. Then you can step through to the greenhouse where Debbie's fig tree resides. As you exit the back of the greenhouse, look for our inviting water fountain vessel with a great nepeta (catmint) in the background.

While you are visiting, be sure to visit our display garden to the left of our office cottage. Enter through the arbor. Protected by a picket fence is a wonderful selection of perennials, including my favorite peony. The intriguing stepping stones in the garden were made by a local artist. Can you find all three? Look for the horses, fish and dragonflies.

In season, Woodbridge's four greenhouses and nursery yard are home to many native and zone appropriate a

nnuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, herbs and vegetable plants including heirloom

tomatoes. I am always struck by the amazing combinations of color and texture in their container gardens.

We hope you will always find

something interesting at Woodbridge Greenhouses. If you can't find what you are looking for, please ask. We may be able to order just what you are looking for.

Looking forward to seeing you at Woodbridge in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Renee Brannigan

The Promise of Spring

is yours to Give

while supporting a local business!

Woodbridge Greenhouses Gift Cards

Woodbridge Greenhouse Gift Card

Woodbridge Gift Cards available anytime 24/7.

Buy them at our website or call 647-0630.
A perfect gift for birthdays, the coming holidays, and anyday.

"How can those who do not garden,

who have no lot in the great fraternity

of those who watch the changing year

as it affects the earth and its growth,

how can they keep warm their hearts in winter?"

- Francis King