March 2012 Cuttings

"Cuttings" is your source for garden updates and horticultural tips from the Reeves-Reed Arboretum's horticulture staff. Check back monthly to find out what's blooming at the Arboretum, get the inside scoop on upcoming events, and learn some timely tips you can put to use in your own garden.

In the Gardens – Spring Blooms and Woodland Trail Reopening!

As you may have noticed, this winter has been unusually warm, causing some of our spring-blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs to burst into flower a few weeks earlier than usual. Among the spring bloomers that have been drawing the most attention this season are our Witchhazel (Hamamelis) specimens. One of our most striking Witchhazels is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena,' a hybrid introduced in the 1970s by Belgium's famed Kalmthout Arboretum. 'Jelena' is truly spectacular when in bloom – before spring leaves emerge, the plant boasts hundreds of coppery-orange flowers adorned with curling, straplike petals. The overall effect is almost like a glowing flame in the landscape – amazing!

The curling, straplike flower petals of Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' glow like a flame in the landscape.

In other garden news, we're happy to announce that thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff and arborist crews, the Arboretum's Woodland Trails are now open to visitors once again! Last October's heavy snowstorm caused a great deal of tree damage in our woodlands, requiring us to temporarily close the trails while hanging limbs, fallen trees, and other hazards were removed. We're very glad to be able to welcome visitors to the trails once again, and are even planning some trail upgrades and improvements for 2012 – stay tuned for more information on our trail mapping and renovation plans!

Our Woodland Trails are open for business – come out and take a hike!

Early Spring Garden Tips – Starting Seed Indoors

March is the perfect time to start vegetable and annual flower seeds indoors in preparation for planting out in the garden later in the spring. Even if you don't have a greenhouse of your own, flower and vegetable seeds can be easily started in a sunny window. Save your cardboard egg cartons for use as miniature pots, and fill them with potting soil specifically formulated for seed-starting purposes. Plant your seeds as directed on the seed packet, water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, and watch as your babies grow! You may need to rotate your plants every few days to keep them growing upright, as they'll tend to lean toward the sunlight streaming through the window. For cool-season vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and cabbage, you can plant your seedlings out into the garden the first week of April. For warm-season veggies such as peppers and tomatoes, as well as for annual flowers such as zinnias, wait to plant out until after the danger of frost has passed (for northern New Jersey, mid-May is usually a safe bet). Here at Reeves-Reed Arboretum we're currently growing hundreds of tiny vegetable seedlings in preparation for our Tabletop Salad Garden workshop, to be held on Thursday, March 15 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. For more information on the workshop, click here!

Trays of vegetable seedlings growing in the Louise Muncie Roehm Greenhouse in preparation for our upcoming Tabletop Salad Garden workshop!

Volunteer Spotlight – Karl Lazar

Thanks to the efforts of volunteer carpenter Karl Lazar, the Arboretum's barn has never looked better. Throughout the winter, Karl has been working with us to design and install a new shelving and tool storage system in the barn, and the results are just fantastic. Thanks to Karl for his phenomenal work, and thanks to all our volunteers for their ongoing contributions!

Karl Lazar, volunteer carpenter extraordinaire, standing in front of the newly-organized barn.

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunity – Saturday, March 10, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Are you looking to lend a hand at Reeves-Reed Arboretum this spring? We're hosting volunteer work sessions the second Saturday of every month! Join us on Saturday, March 10 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm for a morning of outdoor garden work. For more information or to sign up, please contact Lisa Martin at or 908-273-8787 ext. 2222.