Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus tommasinianus

Crocus tommasinianus is otherwise known as snow Crocus as it is one of the first crocuses to bloom during Winter. Originally found in the hillsides of Hungary, the small dainty purple crocus sticks its head up before the last snow storm to fall in March comes. It usually blooms in late Winter to early Spring and plants grow to 4” tall.

In our case, two Nor-easters have occurred while the Crocus have emerged from the ground. They are the first signs of spring along with the winter aconite and the Adonis amurensis (Adonis/Pheasant’s-eye) and can be found in the Wild Garden and alongside the path to the Wild Garden.

The specific epithet name is in honor of Muzo Guiseppe Spirito de Tommasini (1974-1879) a botanist from Trieste.

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Tech Apps in the Garden

Winter is on its way out and now is the time to start thinking of spring clean up projects. Although there is still a chance of frost in March, one can start to clear away detritus but keep leaf litter as a protection for spring bulbs and other tender ephemerals that are emerging.

There are a few apps that I have been looking into for gardening:, which is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a valuable app that allows you to map your property and add in water and land features and trees and shrubs. Yardmap also includes a guide to native plants, making excellent choices available for attracting pollinators and birds. is a garden supply company that has a tool to help plan a vegetable garden by entering in measurements for the garden shape and size and output of production of what you want to grow.

Iscape is another app that is a great visual tool to use if you want to see what your property could look like while adding in trees, shrubs and perennials. One needs to upload a photo and then can make visual changes to the property using the app.

Better Homes and Gardens has great planning plans that are free online, but the app could be developed a little bit more to include important information such as Zones and other information.

One downside to some of these apps is that they don't use botanical nomenclature which is important since it enables the gardener to communicate with nurseries and other gardeners in a more effective way by narrowing down specific plants and trees to find an exact plant that one is looking for.

In any way, these apps do not take the place of good old fashioned pen and paper and the use of websites like MOBOT and RHS for nomenclature. 

Happy hunting and here's to Spring!



Hugelkultur at Queens Botanical Garden

I had the opportunity to work on a Hugelkultur project at the Queens Botanical Garden this past season.

Hugelkultur is a German word for a process of Permaculture where one uses organic matter including: tree branches, tree limbs, soil and grass clippings,  to build a huge bed. Instead of putting the debris in the compost bin and/or in lawn and leaf bags to be picked up by Sanitation, it gets incorporated into the land and made into a mound. The bed can then be planted on and plants and/or crops are then encouraged to grow in the mound.

The project included building a mound of tree branches, tree limbs and stumps and other discarded organic matter from the grounds to build up a mound. The mound was then tamped down by hand and by using a vehicle to drive over it, it ultimately the pile sunk down considerably over the course of seven weeks. The before and after pictures show the beginning of the project in October and the end of the project in the end of November.

I was introduced to this project which was created by Denise Negrillo, an Urban Farmer and Gardener who works in the New York Metropolitan area. It really is a great way to use Permaculture to reduce waste and get a garden to grow in an otherwise useless area or an underutilized area of land.


Finished Hugelkultur until Spring time!

Finished Hugelkultur until Spring time!






Tips for growing Egyptian Papyrus


Egyptian papyrus is native to Africa, found commonly along the Nile where it grows at the water's edge.  It reaches a height of 6 to 10 feet, although the dwarfed cultivar "Perkamentus Compact" grows to only 2 to 3 feet in height.

When planting the Egyptian papyrus choose a shallow pool of water containing about 2 inches of water.  Egyptian Papyrus prefers rich, loamy soil at neutral or slightly acid pH.  It will grow nicely in sandy soil or clay as well, provided there is abundant moisture.  In addition to adequate moisture, make sure it has partial shade.  Fertilize with formula designated for pond plants from time to time.  Watch your papyrus grow!  The plant is naturally fast growing and forms large clumps over time.