Locust Grove, on Rt. 9 in Poughkeepsie, NY, is one of the best maintained historic sites in the Hudson Valley. Along with the Italianate style mansion, designed and built for inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, there are acres of park land, a 1/4 acre heritage vegetable garden, and multiple historic flower borders and collections.
But the site is no mere museum, stuck in a stuffy past. There are certainly lessons to be learned, but the gardens are as vibrant and abundant, and as personal, as any well-tended home garden. Locust Grove was called “home” by 5 different families, after all.
Director of Horticulture, Tim Steinhoff, and horticulturist Susan MacAvery clearly love their work at Locust Grove and I could have listened to them all day. I highly recommend joining them for the Sunset Sensations, talked about on page 33. They shared an amazing amount of knowledge.
You can watch the whole video or tour the transcript and photos, in the following pages. Just click on the links starting at the bottom of this page.
As a bonus, below are a handful of the top take-aways from my talk with Tim Steinoff and Susan MacAvery, at Locust Grove. With 19 acres and only the 2 of them and a core of hard working volunteers, lower maintenance is crucial. Who among us doesn’t look for the same thing?
Click to Page 2, if you’d rather view the slide show…
Time Savers and Smart Ideas from Locust Grove
❦ Look for uncommon varieties of common plants. For example: the Japanese Imperial morning glories grow equally as well as ‘Heavenly Blue’ , but are more interesting to look at. Nasturtiums that hold their flowers above the foliage give a better bang for the buck than the bargain packets. (Pages 10 & 12)
❦ Try something new or something that you didn’t know would grow in our area, like artichokes or celeriac. You might just be pleasantly surprised. (Pages 18 & 19)
❦ Pinching out some of the delphiniums buds will make the flowers that are left larger, but the plants will need stalking. Leaving them unpinched lets the plants control the size of the flowers and usually means you won’t have the extra effort of staking them. (Page 14)
❦ A fall planting of the Delta series of pansies will over-winter, with some protection from row covers. (Page 14)
Plant your peonies in a cluster and you can stake them all together, instead of individually. (Page 25)
❦ Using layers of newspaper underneath your mulch will virtually prevent weeds from growing. If you’ve only tried this on new beds, see how they use it on existing plantings. (Page 31)
❦ Mulching with leaves has proven to be neater and even much more pervious than straw. (Page 29)
❦ A quasi A-frame trellis for tomatoes not only gives them more sun exposure and air circulation, you can pick from both sides of the frame. And it collapses for easy storage. Ask at Locust Grove for a photo of the plans. (Page 27)