The Monarchs Are Here!

I like purple coneflowers well enough for their long-lasting blooms and hardy nature, but I especially love that Monarch butterflies love them. We've had quite a few Monarch visiting for the last weeks.

Susan was able to snap this picture today, just before a wedding.

Monarch Butterfly on Purple Coneflower

Signs of Spring 2012


The northern perimeter of the parish field is a safe place for some of the early spring bulbs to greet the warmer weather.


rosemary arp in the winter sunshine

Rosemary arp suvives (and thrives) outdoors protected from the worst winds by the corners of buildings and overhanging shrubs.


Witch Hazel blooms in late winter
I think VanGogh would have enjoyed painting the Witch Hazel against the bright blue sky.

















The seals are sunning themselves on the sandbars at Sandy Hook. I don't have pictures (yet).

Lent and Spring

One of our trivia questions about Lent from last year's 10 questions, taught us that the original meaning of "Lent" was "Spring" - a time for new growth, beginning again.

Happily, the bulbs which were buried under feet of snow since Christmas, have heeded the call to Spring and are rising for the occasion.

Spring Crocus 
Spring Iris 

Really Tall Cosmos!


The second crop of cosmos is growing and blooming! These are the seedlings from the self-sown seed scattered by the wind from the early summer bloomers.

Some of the oldest plants are the tallest cosmos I've ever seen. While the traditional white, pink and lavender cosmos tend to get weak and spindly when they get tall, this yellow variety seems really strong.

Here's pictures for scale: the first shows the tallest cosmos behind the standard sized soccer goals, the second with my faithful Vizsla "Hope" alongside.




Rain and Blooms

Guess you can't have one without the other.

Saint Fiacre is hardly visible with the daylilies growing up around him. That's red Penstemon in front of him and a Foxglove from the Youth Group's plant sale alongside. 

  Saint Fiacre, Patron Saint of Gardeners with daylillies, foxglove and penstemon.

The first of the California poppies returning from last season have started to open. There will be hundreds of these dotting the edges of the parish field and the parking islands. Notice its delicate, lace-like leaves. We've also planted many of the Red poppies and it will interesting to see if they bloom as readily as their yellow California cousins.

California poppies in early bloomthe 


More of the white Rosa rugosa. It's about to bloom in hundreds of flowers and its aroma is wonderful. Be sure to walk over to this bush and enjoy its fragrance. "Rugosa" means wrinkled; the leaves are not smooth like many roses, but have a slightly wrinkled appearance. This group of roses tolerate sea salt spray and sandy soils. 

Rosa rugosa shrub rose

Lupine and Home Run roses. The lupine which have become established are growing larger and larger each year. Newly scattered seed also seems to have a particularly high germination rate here. The fan shaped lupine leaves are easy to identify, even in young seedlings.

Home Run Roses and Lupine

The lavender had a hard winter, I think in the very last frost, but it's beginning to send up new growth. There is quite a bit of it tucked here and there, including some new plants along the western wall of the gymatorium in between the Ink Berry shrubs. A nice stand is growing just in front of the church as well.

Early blooming lavender

Most of the clematis seem to be doing very well. Some of the healthiest are sprawling up the fencing around the air conditioners next to the church and the fence along the tennis club. These are paired with a pale pink rose, which will hopefully bloom along with the clematis. There's a photo from a few years ago when both plants were very young. Some of the plants seem to have their eyes on the new fencing around the dumpster and recycling bin!

Clematis among the rose bush

Clematis and Roses bloom together

One Five Spot

Five Spot plant

OK, I have to look this up. I call it the Satellite Plant and it looks like it's happy so far.


  That's all for now. Susan has sent me many great shots of our many roses, but I can't identify which is which until I match the photos with the plants....on a sunny day.

Moms, don't forget to plant your seeds from Mother's Day and send us a photo of what grows!

Does it Rain More on Tuesdays?

Maybe it just seems like it because there's no gardening today, that's for sure. In the meantime, here is some of what's blooming:

The bearded iris which have enough sun are doing well, but there are some which are in too much shade. They'll have to be moved. As the evergreen trees grow taller and fuller, some areas which used to enjoy sun get little of it now. In fact, the sprinkler system on the parish field is now directly under some of the branches of trees which have increased in girth.

Blue bearded iris

Climbing red roses and Nepeta are doing well. Does someone plan this stuff? This rose bush had suffered black spot badly, and had reached gangly proportions, so we treated it and cut it back severely. That may be Obedience plant to the left (or weeds!).

Red roses and Nepeta Complementary colors

Climbing Iceberg Rose

White Climbing Iceberg Rose at Holy Cross Rumson 

It's taken a few years for the Iceberg roses to get off to a decent start, and several young plants must have been a delicious treat for the deer and the bunnies, but finally a mature rose from one of the plants which are slowly climbing their way to heaven.

Saint Anthony Finds a New Home

St Anthony of Padua at Main Event Doors to New Gymatorium at Holy Cross School Rumson NJ

For quite some time now, Saint Anthony had been lodged on the top step into a no longer used doorway to the former nun's chapel, now a Pre-K. At the beginning of the school year, a suggestion was made to move him out of obscurity into a more important location on the campus. Since there was staining and damage to the infant Jesus from rain water run-off from the roof, the idea was that we would clean the statue and then move it. Homemade attempts at removing the stains were unsuccessful and the matter was forgotten. 

A few weeks ago, we decided to move the statue and worry about cleaning it later and this was accomplished. Now St. Anthony graces the main event entry doors to the gymatorium. Here are some pictures of his new location. We'll surely add some additional plantings, especially some evergreens so that there is foliage year round. Perhaps we can decorate the statue to commemorate his feast day which is June 13th.

Thanks to Roger Trendowski, our business manager for organizing the project and to Jose, Eduardo and Francisco for their hard work digging the foundation and carefully moving the heavy marble statue and pedestal.

Statue of St. Anthony of Padua with the Infant Jesus

CYO Flower and Plant Sale at Holy Cross

Every year it seems the professionalism of the display and the marketing techniques of the CYO and Mr. Feerst gets better. This year in addition to portable tent shelters, they pressed an unused chair rack into service as a hanging planter display, had several CYO members on hand to help carry plants to cars, and had a display of empty pots and planters for sale. The main entrance to the gymatorium resembled a garden center.

The assortment of plants was varied and very healthy. One of the new varieties of petunias is on sale, but it's even interesting just to look at, "Pretty Much Picasso" Petunias


 Seedlings and plants are sprouting all over the campus; after the coming storms, we'll try to post an update of photos.

Spring Brings Blooms and New Growth

Spring daffodils blooming under Holy Cross Church Sign on Rumson Road  The regeneration and new growth we see in nature during Springtime mirror our spiritual reinvigoration after the Triduum and joyful Easter. Gardeners know this only too well. 

Many of the new plantings on the campus are returning and showing signs of growth. Last year we planted many Nepeta seedlings and it looks like most of them survived the winter and are already starting to grow. The blanket flowers have established themselves well and there are many cosmos already germinating having reseeded from last year. Lupine seems to do quite well in certain areas along with the coreopsis which was transplanted from a parish celebration many years ago. The roses are really beginning to come alive and hopefully we can keep them from black spot this year; we've selected disease resistant varieties, but you never know. 

The California poppies have reseeded themselves successfully and most of the hosta look like they have multiplied and are just about to unfurl their leaves. Last year we managed to keep most of the deer away and there wasn't too much damage from slugs. The iris in the sunny locations have multiplied and look healthy, though there are some in shade which haven't fared as well. It appears we will have a bumper crop of daylillies.

We have wildflower seeds of several varieties which we will try this year, selecting those which reseed freely and need relatively little care. 

Most of the foundation plantings are in pretty good shape; our two leaning evergreen trees will soon be staked. Some of the newly planted evergreen trees by the mulched area behind the school alongside the parish field haven't fared too well and will be replaced, and we are grateful to the Sea Bright Lawn and Tennis Club for their help in transplanting some mature trees along the fence line.

There hadn't been any water available on the Rumson Road side of the school, so planting there was always a risky enterprise.  The repair of the plumbing enabled us to begin some interesting plants. Beginning with the generous donation of the Kindergarten Garden and continuing with the planting of some wildflowers and bulbs, we started to show some tender loving care to the plantings on that side of the school. Thank you to members of the Fair Haven Garden Club for helping to plant some of the many hundreds of bulbs now blooming on Rumson Road.

Spring Bloom Bulletin

It's so rewarding to see the beginnings of the fruits you planted last of the most exciting things about Spring.

What survived in the garden, what looks like it's thrived, what's new.

At the end of the season last year, we planted many, many bulbs all over the campus. Most of them were supposed to be "deer resistant" and despite the presence of numerous empty holes appearing over the course of the winter, many if not most of the bulbs seem to be coming up. There should be a decent display of daffodils along the front of school on Rumson Road, as well as along the parish field.

Blanket flowers, nepeta, sedum, dianthus and iris are already sprouting and most if not all of the roses, many of which are heirloom varieties, survived the turbulent winter weather and are covered with tiny leaf buds. 

It's too soon to tell if our annual re-seeders will make a comeback, but we'll  be watching for cosmos, balsam and petunias.


IMG_1644 IMG_1641 IMG_1648 IMG_1643     IMG_1656
A few of the hundreds of daffodils along Rumson Road 

Sandwicenses PBJ, anyone?

OK, I couldn't resist --- Latin, history AND plants!


From Dave's Garden,one of my favorite sites, comes this tid-bit of information on sandwich:


The epithets sandwicensis and sandwicense are used for several native Hawaiian plants, including Argyroxiphium sandwicense, Erythrina sandwicensis, Myoporum sandwicense, and Rhus sandwicensis, along with several others species. So what do sandwiches and the South Pacific have in common?

They are both named for John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. History has it that in 1762, the earl spent 24 hours at a gaming table without any other food, and the sandwich was born (or at least named).

As the the British first lord of the Admiralty, he reformed the British naval administration, which enabled England to rule the seas for the next hundred years. When James Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778, he named the islands in Montagu's honor. The islands were later renamed, but the plants and popular pairing of bread and fillings live on, bearing his name.


photo credit

Gardeners are Realists Each Fall and Optimists Each Spring


Julia Child rose. 

Any of you who have seen the screensavers on our sacristy computer know what an excellent photographer Susan is. We thought it would be a fun idea to post some of her pictures, especially those which show the beauty of our gardens at Holy Cross.

A few principles have gone into the selection of the plants at Holy Cross in recent years: annuals should have good color interest and reseed liberally; perennials which can be established from seed, or planted from small seedlings are desireable; disease resistance and ease of care figure importantly as well.

Most of our roses, for instance, are heritage roses, with the exception of the "Knock Out" series which are planted in front of the rectory. Heritage or Antique roses typically have a rich fragrance since they date back to the days before some of the modern varieties which were bred for their blooms lost their fragrance. Most of the hosta were started from small plants purchased at the end of the seasons for $ 1 each. The blanket flowers, coneflowers, coreopsis, California poppies and petunias were all started from seed. Much from little, little which multiplies.

This year we branched out and began plantings in front of the school on Rumson Road, first with some easy sowing annuals and later this season with the planting of many daffodil and allium bulbs which should make a good showing next spring.

Check out the garden album on the right sidebar of the blog.