- Author: Jenni Dodini
I hide when my husband comes in from working in the yard at the folks' house. It usually involves blood or bruises or swearing. This time it was about how he hates ivy, but this time, no blood was involved.
His parents put this ivy around the house about five hundred years ago. They genuinely loved the look, but being such an invasive plant, it has gotten WAY out of hand despite our attempts to get rid of it. Last summer, we worked hard at pulling it out. At one point, I thought we might have it under control, but not so. It has choked out other plants, climbed trees, woven itself into the shrubs, and clung to the house. When we pulled it away from the house, it seemed like we were pulling it out from under as well.
So, I thought I might be helpful and see if there is a better way to get rid of it for good. Searching the Internet yielded one result from KingCounty.gov in Washington state. Another for our state was Cal IPC (California Invasive Plant Council) where the status of Hedera spp. is high, meaning has severe impacts on how it spreads and establishes. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to sell it as an indoor plant.
Ivy, Hedera helix, is classified as a Class C noxious weed, and planting it is highly discouraged due to the damage being done to the environment. Four cultivars grow and spread aggressively creating a mat over anything in their path. The small rootlets exude a very sticky substance, and the vines can stick to anything. Then the rootlets grow into the surface. Tree bark is more prone to disease and rot, and structures are damaged. The vines form a mat with the rootlets, and when all over a tree, the mat can act like a sail in heavy winds and potentially blow a tree over! Also, on the ground, water will run under the ivy mat and erode the ground underneath. And if that was not enough, the mat is the perfect hiding place for rodents and snakes.
So, what did I find out about getting rid of it? The most effective way is to pull it out. Not the answer that I was looking for, but good to know that herbicides are not effective on established plants. Once it is out, the area needs to rest and wait to remove any new ivy growth before putting in new plants. Be sure to research your plant selection before planting, it might save you a lot of heartaches.
- Author: Elvira Bautista DeLeon
My husband and I had the opportunity to spend a week in Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan last March 31 to April 7 to visit our son David and his family who moved to New York in the summer of 2021 to start his doctoral degree last fall.
We landed at LaGuardia Airport at 8:25 p.m. on March 31 after a two-hour plane delay (yikes). Our son David picked us up and by the time we got to their apartment the grandkids were already asleep.
We woke up late Friday morning and the kids had already left for school. It was their last day before spring break. Lukas, almost six, is a Kindergartener and Amos, 9, is a Third Grader. We did not get to see the boys until late that afternoon. They put on a show for ‘'Lolo'' and ‘‘Lola'' in the evening and we had so much fun with them.
Our first day out was around 10 a.m. on April 1. Our daughter-in-law Koritha was our gracious tour guide and host. The first thing that hit me walking the sidewalk to catch the bus was the cold. The sun was up but it was cold; we wore layers, but it was still bitingly cold especially when the wind hits the face. My second impression walking the street was, "there's soooo many people here." Washington Heights is truly a culturally diverse community.
Our first stop was THE MET Cloisters located on Fort Tryon Park, a 10-minute bus ride from their apartment. THE MET Cloisters is a beautiful museum which houses a collection of medieval art and authentic French and Spanish monastic cloisters and a Romanesque chapel and apse (a projecting part of a building [such as a church] that is usually semi-circular and vaulted).
THE MET Cloisters on Fort Tryon Park, NY, NY
Mask mandates were for all visitors over the age of two inside the building even if you are vaccinated. Everyone was mindful of the health and safety protocols.
Fodors.com aptly describes THE MET Cloisters:
"Perched on a wooded hill in Fort Tryon Park, near Manhattan's northwestern tip, the Cloisters Museum and gardens houses part of the medieval collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is a scenic destination. Colonnaded walks connect authentic French and Spanish monastic cloisters, a French Romanesque chapel, a 12th-century chapter house, and a Romanesque apse. One room devoted to the 15th and 16th century Unicorn Tapestries, which date to 1500: a must-see masterpiece of medieval mythology. The tomb effigies are another highlight. Two of the three enclosed gardens shelter more than 250 species of plants like those grown during the Middle Ages, including flowers, herbs, and medicinals; the third is an ornamental garden."
It was amazing to see the medieval collections of monastic chapels and art pieces. I was even more excited to visit the gardens and to learn about the role gardening played in medieval monastery living. "Mom, you will surely love the gardens at the Cloisters," were my son's words to me before he left for the university earlier that morning.
The first garden we visited was my favorite: the Bonnefont Cloister Garden which overlooks the southern end of Fort Tyron Park and the Hudson River.
"The gardens of the Museum, evoke those that provided sustenance and spiritual refreshment within the medieval monastery. Designed as an integral feature of the Museum, the gardens have been a major attraction of The Cloisters since its opening in 1938, enhancing both the setting in which the Museum's collection of medieval art is displayed and the visitor's understanding of medieval life. The gardens are designed and maintained by a horticultural staff actively engaged in researching and developing the living collection."
The Bonnefont Cloister Garden/Herb Garden in the Summer
Picture courtesy of THE MET Cloister
A cloister is an open courtyard with covered walkways around the sides and a garden in the center. The cloister was the heart of every monastery; it connected the places where the monks or nuns conducted their daily routine.
The design of the Bonnefont Cloister Garden is like the standard layout of a cloister garden in a religious monastery: square with a well head in the center and four trees around it. This is the same pattern in the garden of the Cuxa Cloister. Each garden has been organized thematically in different plots. The plots each focus on plants from a different aspect of medieval life: vegetables (that would have been eaten), arts & crafts (for example, inks and dyes), brewing, housekeeping, medicine, and magic. Garden programming and tours explain the uses of each plant.
I saw two pear fruit trees espaliered like forks standing tall behind two opposite walls of the garden. One had bare branches while the other had budding branches already coming out. All the branches on the trees grow straight out, to either side, then straight up. Like the prongs on a fork. When these pear trees were young, and the branches were still soft, the gardeners trimmed off the ones in front and back and left only pairs of branches on opposite sides, until they grew into such beautiful trees. The two trees looked old; and when I inquired about their age, I was informed the trees are at least 81 years old!
There are four plots strategically located in the Bonnefont garden each planted with a quince tree in addition to the thematic plots in the gardens. Many of plant beds looked bare and dormant as seen from the pictures I took.
The Bonnefont cloister garden is always changing according to the museum's literature depending on the time of the year. The herb garden has its own character in each season. I am sure it is always fun to visit the gardens during late spring, summer and fall seasons.
Two espaliered pear trees growing at opposite sides of the Bonnefont Cloister Garden
Here are some of the collections of plants growing in the Bonnefont Cloister Garden (majority are not familiar to me at this time but I will be researching them later):
Plants in the Medicinal Bed:
Agrostemma githaho, Corn Cockle Alcea rosea, Hollyhock
Althaea officinalis, Marshmallow Ammi visnaga, Tooth-Pick-Weed
Aristolochia clematitis, Birthwort Asparagus officinalis, Asparagus
Calendula arvensis, Field Marigold Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold
Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove Ecballium elaterium, Squirting Cucumber
Ferula communis, Giant Fennel Mandragora officinarum, Mandrake
Papaver somniferum, Opium poppy Rheum officinale, Medicinal Rhubarb
Rose gallica, Apothecary Rose Salvia officinalis, Common Sage
Symphytum officinale, Comfrey Tanacetum parthenium, Feverfew
Thymus officinalis, Thyme Valeriana officinalis, Common Valerian
Plants in the Household Bed:
Artemisia abrotanum, Southernwood Artemisia absinthium, Absinthe Wormwood
Ballota nigra, Black Horehound Cytisus scoparium, Scotch Broom
Filippendula ulmaria, Meadowsweet Iris ‘Florentina' Orris, Fleur-de-Lis
Lychnis coronaria, Mullein Pink Lavandula angustifolia, English Lavender
Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm Mentha pulegium, Pennyroyal
Plants in the Bonnefont Cloister Herb Garden with Quince Trees:
Allium cepa, Shallot Allium porrum, Leek
Allium sativum, Garlic Allium schoenoprasum, Chives
Armoracia rusticana, Horseradish Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima, Wild Sea Beet
Borago officinalis, Borage Brassica nigra, Black Mustard
Brassica oleracea, Kale Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold
Centranthus ruber, Red Valerian Cichorium intybus, Chicory
Coriandrum sativum, Coriander Crambe maritima, Sea Kale
Eruca sativa, Rocket Arugula Eryngium maritimum, Sea Holly
Lactuca virosa, Wild Lettuce Levisticum officinale, Lovage
Lupinus luteus, European Lupine Myrrhis odorata, Sweet Cicely
Ocimum basilicum, Basil Petroselinum crispum, Neapolitan Parsley
Pisum sativum, Common Pea Rumex acetosa, Garden Sorrel
Silybum marianum, Milk Thistle Taraxacum officinale, Dandelion
Thymus serpyllum, Creeping Thyme Vicia faba ‘Martock,' Broad Bean
Plants in the Magic Bed:
Achillea millefolium, Common Yarrow Achillea ptarmica, Sneezewort
Adonis aestivalis, Pheasant's Eye Alchemilla vulgaris, Lady Mantle
Artemisia vulgaris, Mugwort Arum italicum, Italian Arum
Atropa belladonna, Belladonna Catananche caerulea, Cupid's Dart
Colchicum autumnale, Autumn Crocus Consolida regalis, Larkspur
Hypericum perforatum, St. John's Wort Papaver rhoeas, Corn Poppy
Plantago major, Common Plantain Sempervivum tectorum, Houseleek
Salvia glutinosa, Jupiter's Distaff Verbascum thapsus, Mullein
Plants in the Love and Fertility Bed:
Aquilegia vulgaris, Columbine Fragaria vesca, Wild Strawberry
Lilium candidum, Madonna Lily Hyacinthoides non-scripta, English Bluebell
Viola odorata, Sweet Violet Rosa alba ‘Semi-plena,' White Rose
Plants in the Arts and Crafts Bed:
Anthemis tinctoria, Golden Marguerite Carthamus tinctorius, Safflower
Chelidonium majus, Greater Celandine Crocus sativus (dormant), Saffron Crocus
Dipsacus sativus, Teasel Equisetum hyemale, Horsetail
Indigofera tinctoria, Indigo Iris germanica, Flag Fleur-de-Lis
Reseda luteola, Weld Onopordum acanthium, Cotton Thistle
Plants used in Medieval Brewing:
Humulus lupulus, Hops Tanacetum balsamita, Costmary Alecost
It is interesting to note that the many plants depicted in the art exhibits including the profusion of flowers in the Unicorn tapestries are brought to life in the gardens. Two hundred fifty kinds of plants are grown in the Bonnefont cloister garden, each of them used in the Middle Ages.
As an extension of the museum itself, the gardens are a living history for visitors to see, learn, and experience how and what people grew during the medieval times. And to know that these plants and flowers continue to be cultivated and planted in the 21st century and that some are growing in our gardens today is absolutely amazing!
Given another opportunity, I would like to revisit THE MET Cloisters again in the summer or early fall to experience the beauty of the gardens at their height of splendor. And add the New York Botanical Garden to the itinerary too. Just saying…
THE MET Cloisters website page: metmuseum.org
THE MET Cloisters Museum Guide
- Author: Lanie Keystone
It's summer—hooray!! Kids are out of school and on vacation—now what to do with them?! Garden—of course!
And, here's the perfect book to guide both you and the kids in your life through hours of play, discovery, growth and fun: Gardening for Kids Learn, Grow and Get Messy with Fun STEAM Projects.
The author, Brandy Stone has teamed up with illustrator, Katy Dockrill, to create a compelling adventure in gardening for kids ages 8-12 and their adult counterparts—parent, grandparent, teacher, aunt, uncle or friend—who are invited to help guide the projects and process.
By way of explanation, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math. Used as an integration tool in learning, the book sets out to view the gardening fun through these five lenses. But don't worry, Gardening for Kids presents irresistible adventures and is anything but pedantic and boring. The key to this book is structured fun and discovery. Stone opens the book with two forwards, one to the “grown up” participant where she maps out the journey asking the key question, “Why garden with kids”? In addition to providing fun, sun and exercise, she informs us how, through projects and experiments, the children will gain insights and knowledge into the many facets of STEAM. She advises how to enjoy the activities with the children and how to establish rules and safety measures. The kids' introduction is a wonderful invitation to discover.
The chapters are divided into: The How's and Whys of Gardening; Lets Grow; Gardening Experiments and Projects; Observing Your Environment; Starting Your Garden; and Harvesting and Enjoying Your Garden.
Each section is written in a breezy, intimate way with easy to follow ideas and projects. The fact that the book is enhanced with bright, original and inviting illustrations makes the reader and gardener want to jump right in and garden, experiment, create and learn. Both Brandy Stone and Katy Dockrill know and understand their audience well and have received many honors and awards for past books.
One of my favorite parts of Gardening for Kids comes at the end of the book. Stone has provided space for a garden journal, and one for experiment outcomes. And finally, there is a detailed and authoritative resource section—including books and websites for gardening zones, plant ID, bees, and on-line garden shopping sites among many others.
This is a book that respects kids and their capacity to wonder, create, experiment and learn.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, educator or any other significant person in a child's life, everyone will benefit from the excitement of doing, discovering and learning.
- Author: Maureen Clark
I frequently see different species of Mule's Ears while I'm on my hikes. Wyethia species plants are known as Mule's Ears. This genus is named after Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth, an early explorer that lived from 1802-1856. He was also known to help create the ice industry.
Mule's Ears grow from a deep taproot and basal clump of broad - narrow, tongue shaped, bright green leaves. The mule ears are large leaves that can be 16” long by 3” wide. Its sunflower like bloom is a large, bright yellow, 3” flower. With lots of solitary blooms occurring from mid spring through midsummer. Most plants grow up to 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. The Wyethia species prefers full sun – part sun, low water, sandy- loam - clay soil and good drainage. This plant attracts butterflies, bees, beneficial insects and is a host and larval plant for caterpillars. It goes dormant in the winter and survives in zones 5b-11. They are native from Northwest down to Baja, California. Recently, some of the plants have been reclassified in the Agnorhiza genus.
Wyethia angustifolia, The Narrow Leaf Mule Ear plant is also known as the California compass plant. The leaves are believed to point in a North to South direction. Native to the Washington, Oregon and California coasts. The narrow leaf mule ear grows in northern and central California, along the coast to the Sierras. It prefers to grow in meadows, stream banks, grasslands and dry open fields that are less than 6,000 feet elevation.
The Native American Ohlone tribe made a thick lather from its roots and applied to people's chest to help treat respiratory problems. The roots were also used to draw out blisters. The leaves were boiled and as an extract for fevers.
Keep an eye out for these sunflower “look alike” while you're out and about.
Agnorhiza bolanderi – Bolander's Mule's Ears
Agnorhiza elata – Hall's Mule's Ears
Agnorhiza invenusta – Colville's Mule's Ears
Agnorhiza ovata –Southern Mule's Ears
Agnorhiza reticulata – El Dorado Mule's Ears
Wyethia amplexicaulis – Northern Mule's Ears, Black Sunflower
Wyethia helianthiodes – Sunflower Mule's Ears
Wyethia x magna
- Author: Paula Pashby
On a recent trip to see my sister in Eugene, we had the opportunity to visit “The Urban Farm” that is located on the University of Oregon campus. The nearly two-acre garden is beautiful, quiet and serene, reflecting the love and constant attention given by the student caretakers. We took a slow stroll through wonderfully lush vegetable gardens, colorful flower beds alive with pollinators, groves of stoic old trees, and several quiet nooks for meditating.
The Urban Farm was created in 1976 under the University of Oregon's Department of Landscape Architecture Department to give students the opportunity to learn and grow their own food. The farm serves as “a model for alternative urban land use where people grow food, work together, take care of the land, and build community”.
For more information about this garden, and how to create something similar locally, contact:
Director, Urban Farm