Watering an Orchid with Ice Cubes

Look at all the new growth!

I have never had good luck with orchids and other indoor plants. Turns out I have been too caring, too loving and too nurturing and that has been detrimental to their health. Less is more! With my newest orchid, the instructions that came with it said to water it with ice cubes. I thought they were crazy, but since it had an unlikely survival rate I figured what could be the harm? So once a week I put three ice cubes on top of the growing medium, under the leaves. I ended up with little white bugs in the medium and all my flowers fell off! What did I do wrong?! I scoured the internet looking for help. The most common advice was to let the orchid dry out. If you can see its roots, let them go gray, and then you can start watering it again.

Fertilizer Ice CubesSeveral weeks later, I try the ice cubes again, but now less often, maybe once every two weeks. It is working! I’m getting new growth! New flowers! I’m great at this! Then it says in the instructions to fertilize after the orchid is done blooming. Hmmm, I’m doing such a good job, it hasn’t stopped blooming yet! When I look at the fertilizer directions, it tells me how much to use, and to fertilize each time I water it. They give me a very small fertilizer to water ratio and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all the extra. How long will it keep? I only have one orchid.

So I take a water bottle out of my recycling bin and wash it out. I mix up a water bottle full of orchid fertilizer and then pour it into an inexpensive ice cube tray. I figure I can freeze these forever and I won’t have to worry about overfeeding my orchid. Since the ice melts slowly through the medium it can be absorbed better by the roots. Orchids don’t like to sit in water and this has been super successful for my orchid. I am getting so many flowers and buds for new stems! I’m thinking about getting another!

UPDATE: 10.17.12 My orchid is blooming amazingly!!! Check it out!

MADD Garden of Hope: Two Year Anniversary

On October 16th, 2010 the MADD Garden of Hope was dedicated at Eisenhower Park. The object of the design is to expose to people the horrors of driving under the influence and to provide hope.
When MADD Long Island asked Goldberg and Rodler to design another garden for them, we jumped at the chance (the MADD Garden of Awareness at SUNY Farmingdale was completed a few years ago and was designed and installed by Goldberg & Rodler).
The Kiwanis Club of East Meadow installed our planting and lighting design as a part of their “President’s Project.” Nassau County Legislator Norma Gonsalves was instrumental in getting the project funded and accomplished in a timely manner and the Nassau County Parks Department’s masons did a wonderful job on our paving design.
Sculptor Michael Alfano finally has a permanent home for his piece, “Stand Up, Speak Out,” which expresses the emotions he felt after losing a loved one to a drunk driver 20 years ago. If one person walks away vowing never to drive under the influence again, we have made a difference.

Just A Few More Things About Fall

As the weather turns chilly you might think it’s time to give up on the garden. Not so! There are many things left to do before bunkering down for the winter. Plants, furniture and utilities need special care.

Protect your broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendron, cherry laurel, andromeda and others. Some anti-desiccant/anti-transpirant applications can be made by yourself, liquid kelp is a popular homeowner’s application, though one feature of our Plant Healthcare Program is an anti-transpirant application in the late fall. This application helps lock in moisture for the winter and decreases the likelihood of wind and frost damage.

Another idea to consider for your landscape is a deep root fertilization for your trees, which can be applied in the fall or even in the spring. This fertilization gives your trees the help they need to get through the winter and come out swinging when the temperatures warm up.

Plants aren’t the only item in your landscape to protect. Winter can do a number on your outdoor furniture. Secure it in a safe place, such as a garage or shed, or have a professional shrink wrap it for you. Even your boat can be shrink wrapped.

Remember to have a professional blow out irrigation and pool lines to prevent damage from water freezing and thawing in the lines throughout the season. Drain and cover any fountains. Talk to a professional for pond care and winterization if you have animals in the pond. Hungry birds and raccoons can make a meal out of unsuspecting koi and goldfish when the weather turns nasty.

Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs!

I got a great question today about bulbs: “What is a bulb’s life span? How many years before I have to replant?”

Red Tulips & Mixed DaffodilsIt depends on the type of bulb. Daffodils should multiply and come back every year, tulips you might get a few years out of but they will never be as nice as the first year. Bulb growers cut the flowers off and ship the bulbs the next year with all that extra energy stored inside. Daffodils are the only critter resistant bulb, so if you have a ton of squirrels or deer, stick with them or plant your tulips under chicken wire so they can’t dig them up.

I’m crazy about bulbs, they’re one of my favorite plants because I like to make arrangements with them all over my house. I add something to my yard every year! There are so many different varieties out there. Make sure you plant them at the right depth and water thoroughly after. A nice deep fertilization after they’re done blooming can help them store up energy for the next season.

Tulips, Pansies, DaffodilsAs far as designs go, I love to mix and match and plant big masses. Use light and dark combinations of tulips to play off each other, such as light and dark pink. Daffodils come in so many colors, sizes and bloom periods now you can have a garden of just daffodils for months! Fragrant daffodils make great cut flowers.

Snowdrops bloom quite possibly when snow is still on the ground. Crocus come up next and let us know spring is here. Hyacinths show up around Easter & Passover. After that comes the riot of color from daffodils and tulips, then alliums to usher in the summer. The giant globe shape of some of the alliums make a statement in a bed of liriope or other groundcover. They also make for great cut flowers and you can let them dry out and have an arrangement all year.

Hyacinth & Early, Mini Daffodils (Tete a Tete)

Bulbs don’t need to be divided like perennials do for rejuvenation, but some bulbs will dig themselves deeper or into an awkward position which can inhibit growth and/or blooming. I turned over a bed of wood scilla (by happy accident when I was putting in new perennials and shrubs) that had been planted at least 15 years ago and it revived them and they’re blooming great now.

The key to a show stopping bulb display is massing. If there weren’t enough one year, add more for the next season. You can never have too many bulbs! They are probably the most cost efficient plant you can put in your garden, especially if you get a naturalizing variety which will multiply and bloom for many years.

Feel free to ask me any questions and get those bulbs in before the ground freezes!

 

Zucker Hillside Hospital: Commercial Landscape Overhaul

Robert Rodler started working at Hillside Hospital before Goldberg & Rodler even existed with J. J. Levison. Levison handed it over to Goldberg & Rodler in the early sixties and we did a ton of work there. Then we did bits and pieces here and there, sprays, tree work, etc. until 2009. The new facilities manager wanted the campus renovated and he contacted us. Maintenance had been getting progressively worse, to the point where the campus was covered in poison ivy, the original design was almost impossible to discern. You can still see the cherry trees, dogwoods and sycamores on the campus that we planted back in the 60’s but they were in desperate need of pruning. Limbs wider than a person’s leg were dropping dangerously to the ground. The baseball field, apple orchard and formal rose garden had been razed for additional parking as the facility grew. Increased paving was causing massive drainage issues. People would park anywhere they could find a spot, including on the grass, off the road in the woods, there were no curbs or barriers to prevent it. It was unrecognizable and a perfect example of how maintenance issues can affect more than the landscape. Employees and family member’s of patients were extremely unhappy. There was no place to eat or take a break, no place for people to sit, the gazebo was unsafely enclosed by overgrown plants, and one building was hidden behind overgrown yews.

Our first job was the poison ivy removal and pruning and removing hazards in the trees. People had been dumping garbage in the woods so our next task was to clean that up. We redesigned several areas, focusing on the core and most visible parts of the campus first. We fixed the drainage issues so they no longer had to pile sandbags in front of the doors (it isn’t recommended by health professionals to block hospital doors, in case of emergencies) or deal with a mosquito farm in a swampy lawn area. Many overgrown plantings needed pruning for security reasons, who wants to eat lunch completely enclosed on all sides so you can’t see who is approaching? We added curbs and boulders to the areas people were driving and parking in that were unpaved. We made elegant gravel shapes and used water tolerant plantings in areas where runoff collected.

We sited a lot of trees as part of the Million Trees Project in NYC’s boroughs. We redesigned outdoor recreation areas for the patients. We transplanted and relocated plants for the construction happening on the campus. We even installed fountains in the lobby with interior plants. Right now we’re working on designs for patients’ roof gardens and a parking lot to add more parking. It’s in Queens, there’s never any parking!