February 27th through March 3rd is National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

The logo for the National Invasive Species Awareness Week. A design where the letters NISAW are made out of pictures of plants, insects and birds

Last weekend I walked the one mile trail at the Saugerties Lighthouse and was upset to see the masses of Oriental Bittersweet (vine), Phragmites (reed), Purple Loosestrife (plant) and Eurasian Water Chestnut (aquatic plant).

I feel overwhelmed by the insidious destruction of our natural environment and can only remain positive by saying to myself “Well I’m creating a healthy ecosystem in my garden and I’m choosing native plants now”.

Early identification and eradication of invasives is key, it’s easier to remove a seedling than a mature plant. Familiarize yourself with the appearance of the most common invasive plants, especially in the seedling stage, then you can remove them promptly.

For timely notification of new invasive species/occurrences in NY join the mailing list of Lower Hudson Prism  There’s plenty of information online about how to ID and remove invasive plants or contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension with any questions.

Looking for professional help, contact Poison Ivy Patrol, they have a holistic approach and don’t use toxic chemicals.

Let’s share this information so individuals can take action on their own land.

Drifts of 1000s of Eurasion Water Chestnut seed heads.

Huge drifts of Eurasian Water Chestnut seed heads are washed up on the shores of the Hudson River (above)

piles of seedheads of the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian Water Chestnut

These seed heads have sharp points (very painful to step on) and are known locally as ‘Cow Heads’ (above)

Phragmites stems and seed heads

Phragmites is a perennial grass that grows about 15′ tall. These are the dry seed heads in the winter (above)

Phragmites stems form a thicket

The thicket of Phragmites stems is dense and prevents other plants from growing, reducing biodiversity (above)

Invasive Oriental Bittersweet stems growing up a tree trunk

Invasive Oriental Bittersweet stems growing up a tree trunk (above)

Mature trees eventually fall due to the weight of the Oriental Bittersweet stems in the canopy of the tree

Mature trees eventually fall due to the weight of the Oriental Bittersweet stems in the canopy of the tree (above)

Oriental Bittersweet in the tree canopy

Oriental Bittersweet in the tree canopy (above)





Learn about Rain Gardens at SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge on Saturday July 16th from 10 – 11 AM. This class is free, walkins welcome.

Rain gardens provide the following benefits:

  • Water is filtered naturally
  • Reduces water run off, lessening the risk of flooding & drainage issues
  • Increases the amount of ground water going back into the soil
  • Increased use of native plants contributing to a healthy ecosystem and wildlife habitat
  • A beautiful environment that makes people happy

FMI: Contact Master Gardener Coordinator, Dona Crawford, at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or email dm282@cornell.edu.

Monarda and Joe Pye weed in a rain garden.

Monarda and Joe Pye weed in a rain garden.



a photo of a shrub rose with green leaves, a brown stem and small white rose flowers, this is an invasive plant in the Hudson Valley NY

Multiflora rose, one of several invasive plants in the Hudson Valley

Stop the Spread: Help us “Bust” Invasive Plants!

 Kingston, NY – Please help us “bust” the cycle of invasive plant invaders!  Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) will be holding two short recruitment events for the Blockbuster Citizen-Science Program on June 13 from 12:30-1:00pm and 5:30-6:00pm at our office, 232 Plaza Road in Kingston.  You will learn how you can help CCEUC and the NYS DEC to survey for the presence of invasive plants in the Hudson Valley this summer.  Please RSVP to Dona at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 ordm282@cornell.edu.

Training for the survey will begin in early July, several dates and locations will be offered.  After the training you will pick a 5 km x 5 km block in your area and survey it for invasive plants.  You will select the species that you feel comfortable identifying, so you do not have to be a plant expert to participate. As a Blockbuster Volunteer you will be part of a region-wide team of volunteers who will help us find and identify key invasive species and find areas that are free of invaders. Data collected will help scientists and natural resource managers direct their efforts most effectively. This program is part of the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management’s (PRISM) efforts to stop the spread of invasive species in the lower Hudson Valley.

To become a volunteer, or if you are interested but cannot attend the recruitment events on June 13, contact Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or dm282@cornell.edu.

For information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events go to http://ulster.cce.cornell.edu/.  Stay connected to CCEUC-friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County provides equal program and employment opportunities.  Please contact the program office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.

At this time of year, turtles may attempt to cross roads

Please be on the look out for these slow-moving animals as they cross roads to reach the area where they lay their eggs. If it is safe to do so, some people park their cars and then carry the turtle across the road (in the direction the turtle is heading). Local folks suggest keeping a small shovel or spade in the car which they use to move turtles. Never hold or drag a turtle by the tail as this may injure it. If you find an injured turtle, here is a list of New York DEP wildlife rehabilitators who handle turtles. (Note: Only licensed rehabilitators are permitted to work with wildlife).

a photo of a small wild turtle with a dark brown shell walking through leaves and grass in early summer in the Hudson Valley NY

A turtle heading across a road


This outdoor furniture is constructed from 100% recycled materials, the garden benches, chairs and plant stands are made from an assemblage of vintage wood, tree roots and found or discarded objects. The ‘carpenter’ Dave, carefully and patiently builds each piece by hand.

Garden Chairs

Take a look at this garden seat, you’ll see some old tools incorporated into the design.

garden seat made from recycled wood, rusty chain with tools such as trowels incorporated into the design

Garden seat made from recycled wood and chain.

Dave has been making this yard furniture for about six years and is self-taught. He got started when his girlfriend asked him to build her something and he produced a small bench. From there he went on to create sheds, fences, gazebos and sculpture.

Garden furniture, a chair made from scrap wood with a curved back

Beautiful chair with curved back


Garden chair made from reclaimed wood with a back of interwoven branches and sticks.

Garden chair – a puzzle of re-purposed wood.

This chair is one of my favorites (below) because it seems to be blown and buffeted to the right by the wind.

artisan-made garden chair with the appearance of being blown to one side by the wind

A windswept chair

The furniture may look delicate but it is resilient enough for outdoors. As Dave says “Everything I make is solid, you can sit on the chairs.” While out foraging for material, Dave sometimes gathers all the ‘found pieces’ together and assembles the furniture on the spot, then brings it back to the store.

Large garden chair with a high back made from branches, the seat is made from re-purposed wood

This large garden chair is a sheltered nook – the back forms a decorative screen and it has a small open ‘roof’.

Plant Stands and Planters

This garden planter has several shelves for potted plants (below). The looped tree root is a great place to hang a wind chime, a sign or whatever else suits your garden. The up-recycled green and white glass plate provides visual balance.

A rustic garden shelf for the backyard or garden. It has several shelves for plant pots or ornaments. Made from recycled wood, vine and tree roots

Plant stand made from tree roots and vine

This is stand out piece, beautiful as is. Or use it as a display area for potted plants, bird houses, ceramics or small sculptural objects (below)

Add some vintage style to your garden with this plant stand / shelf

This plant shelf would look great against a brick wall.

Picture this plant stand with a potted fern in a shady spot on the deck. Or in full sun with a ceramic container of colorful, trailing plants such as nasturtiums – gorgeous!

A wooden plant holder suitable for a potted plant, for outdoor use, by backdoor on on a deck. Constructed from driftwood and scrap wood.

The perfect piece for the back door area or patio.

A table with a tabletop of discarded glass, framed by various pieces of worn wood (below).

Country-style table made from up-cycled items. The top is a piece of discarded glass, the frame and legs are constructed from driftwood.

Sturdy table for the porch.

Garden Benches

The back of this bench is a reclaimed window screen. (below).

A piece of hand-made outdoor furniture made from up-cycled wood and a mesh window screen.

There are traces of red paint on the seat.

Twisted, intertwined tree roots form the back of this garden seat (below). Dave searches for materials locally and recycles everything he sees. He uses grapevine, apple vine and yard sale ‘treasures’. Dave especially enjoys using roots because of the curvy shapes and because they sometimes twine around interesting objects such as old bricks (manufactured centuries ago by the Hudson River brick industry).

Old wood and tree roots are reused to create a county-style chair for the patio

Chair made from up-cycled wood and tree roots.

This is one of Dave’s first pieces, he calls it the ‘Tiny Tim’ bench. It does have that old Dickensian feel to it (below).

small wooden, decorative bench, constructed from reclaimed wood which has been varnished.

Small bench (about 3′ long) constructed from reclaimed wood with a varnished finish.

Garden Sculpture

Here’s a decorative windmill (below). I can image it as a centerpiece in a flower bed full of unruly wild flowers.

A decorative, wimisical, garden windmill, created by NY folk artist in the Hudson Valley, NY

Windmill with re-purposed, old broom.

Poised and focused! Ice hockey is a popular sport locally because there is an ice arena in town. Dave donates furniture to local fundraisers to benefit local schools and churches.

A small, humorous sculpture of a child ice hockey player made from reclaimed wood, the figure is holding a real hockey stick.

MVP – Saugerties Youth Ice Hockey!

The ‘Bird Sanctuary’ – a three dimensional collage of driftwood from the banks of the Hudson River (below).

A sculpture designed for wild birds, includes a reclaimed bird house

Dave tells me he’s seen birds popping in and out of the bird house.

The bird sanctuary includes an upcycled bird house complete with miniature deck and hand rails.

Reclaimed bird house with miniature deck and hand-rails.

Reclaimed bird house, painted the traditional red of a Hudson Valley barn.

Dave selected this piece of driftwood because it resembles an eagle. Golden Eagles are a common sight because they feed on fish and there are many large bodies of water in the area, including the Hudson River, of course.

A piece of driftwood that resembles a bird for prey such as an eagle.

Eagles, ospreys, hawks and vultures are often seen in the Hudson Valley.

Dave explained it takes many hours to place each piece in exactly the right spot.

Sculpture made from driftwood

Intricate pattern of driftwood

This rustic garden furniture reflects Dave’s love of history and his appreciation of art. Each piece has a story behind it. This is authentic, hand crafted, Hudson Valley folk furniture.

small, decorative garden fence, hand-made from driftwood.




National Park Week

April 16 through April 24 is National Park Week. Visit National Parks in the Hudson Valley for free!

Click here for details about the National Parks in New York.


Learning in the Garden Series

Here’s the first class in this series:  Learn how to successfully divide perennials and ornamental grass at the Perennial Division Workshop and go home with a few great new plants for your very own garden!

  • Saturday, May 21, 2016, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM  at Ulster Community College, Stone Ridge, New York.

Click here for more details about the other classes, directions and contact info.

While you’re there, take a look at the beautiful xeriscape garden at the Stone Ridge campus.



fall decorations from a farm

Fall Colors in the Hudson Valley

Traditionally, farm produce such as pumpkins, squash, hay bales and corn stalks are used to decorate houses and gardens.

There are still many small, family farms in the Hudson Valley that supply this produce at farm stands, local stores or farmers markets.

Fall decor - pumpkins and corn

Pumpkins and corn from Boice’s Farm in the Hudson Valley

One such farm is Boice’s Farm which is located in Saugerties. Their farm stand is on Kings Highway and they have a great selection of seasonal fruit, vegetables and flowers.



They also have decorative pots and ornaments for the house and garden. All the flowers are very well-tended and look great even this late in the season.

millet grass

The farm house at Boice's Farm

The farm house at Boice’s Farm

They have a field of sunflowers next to the farm house and they sell the cut blooms.

A field of sunflowers

Sunflower field at Boice’s Farm

A sunflower in bloom

Late summer beauty

A dried sunflower full of seeds

A dried sunflower full of seeds is a great decorative item. Or hang it up outside for the birds to enjoy

Sue, the Manager of Boice’s Farm Stand explained that their farm started in 1947. In the beginning, they had problems obtaining the seedling plants for the farm so they built a greenhouse and started growing their own. This expanded into growing cut flowers. They also provide chrysanthemums for the Saugerties ‘Mum Festival’ and make Kissing Balls for the holidays.

Sweet corn growing in a corn field

You can’t beat local corn – so fresh and sweet!

There are about seven bee hives in the fields and Sue confirmed that there is an improvement in  the pollination of the pumpkin and squash due to the bee hives. “Bees have been around forever so why not keep them around?”.

Decorative fall items from a farm - chrysanthemums, squash and cabbage

A classic combo – chrysanthemums, squash, pumpkins and decorative cabbage

Boice’s Farm stand is open weekdays and weekends.

Buy local and support our family farms!

Decorative pumpkin, sweetcorn and chrysanthemum flowers

Corn, pumpkin and “Mums”

Hydrangea flowers, green squash piled up on a hay bale

Hydrangea flowers and green squash piled up on a hay bale

A baby Box Turtle

Baby Box Turtle. Picture by Catskill Native Nursery

This item is from the Facebook page of The Catskill Native Nursery, a nursery that specializes in trees, shrubs and pants that are native to New York and the US.

“While out on his morning dog walk, Francis noticed this baby box turtle enjoying the damp woods. A box turtle may live as long as a hundred years, all within a few acres. They are on the menu of various creatures, but their leading cause of death is habit destruction and encountering vehicles such as ATV’s, 4×4 off-road driving, cars and lawn mowers. If you want to help box turtle populations you should encourage their habitat that consists of moist soil (swamps, marsh, moist grasslands or damp forest depressions) and open meadows where they like to breed. Instead of trying to turn our forest floors into tidy parks by tossing down grass seed and removing all downed branches we should encourage the growth of ferns, sedges, partridge berry, wintergreen and low growing shrubs like mountain laurel, huckleberry and blueberry. Meadows are always better than “golf courses”, if you are a part of nature’s web. Box turtles are omnivores and eat insects, mushrooms, berries, and grubs. One of their favorite treats is the fruit of mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum). This is an easy to grow, deer resistant, self-spreading plant we encourage people to cultivate in their larger shade gardens and woodland understory.”

“Please don’t move box turtles unless you are saving them from danger. They do not want to be a pet. They are designed to be free-range little tanks fueling up on fungi, berries and bugs – and for making more baby box turtles. If we respect their wild spirit and their habitat they will continue to share our world, and future generations of humans can enjoy discovering them on their walks in the woods.”

Learn more about the Catskill Native Nursery here.


Marbled Purple Stripe garlic. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm is located in New York and is a regular at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival selling organic garlic, maple syrup and (new this year) blue potatoes.


Spanish Roja garlic by Grand Gorge Garlic at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival last year

Fred, an expert grower at the farm generously took the time to tell me about the farm. “I’ve always loved garlic and growing plants. In 2005 I inherited an abandoned plot of garlic in a field adjacent to my cabin. Because the garlic had been untended, it had a head (umbel) full of seeds (bulbils) so I planted the bulbils, sewing the seeds the way nature intended.”


Fred on the farm, you can see the entire garlic plant in this picture.

“This led to the discovery that allowing the scapes (flower buds) to grow and develop into umbels (seed heads) has some benefits – the dried garlic has better longevity, stays dormant longer and does not sprout internally. It does not go soft, has plenty of oil and a better flavor. So this is how we harvest our garlic at the farm – with the stem, leaves and umbels uncut.”

Garlic farmer with turban varietal garlic at Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Fred with a turban varietal at the farm. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic & Maple Farm.

Fred explained that healthy soil is vital for a successful harvest “Our method is a two-year rotation. In the first year, the planting bed is prepared. Aged manure (about three years old) is spread over the surface. Soil testing will dictate whether nutrients should be added (sea minerals, lime or magnesium).”

Rocambole garlic bubils enclosed in umbel.

Rocambole bubils enclosed in umbels. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

“In the second year, buckwheat is grown as a cover crop and weeds are allowed to grow. These plants provide food for pollinating insects. A local herbalist harvests the wild plants because after many years of organic farming, the soil is so pure. We are a certified organic farm and have passed inspections by NOFA.” (NOFA is the North East Organic Farming Association)

“In the 3rd week of September, the cover crops are chopped up and the soil is tilled. Garlic is planted about mid-October, then the soil is covered with a 6 inch layer of straw mulch.”

The garlic is harvested in July the following year. We grow about 50,000 bulbs including rare varieties. The bulbs are dried in a home-made drying shed which is open at both ends to allow a breeze to flow through.”

Sign about garlic

A sign at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

How to grow garlic in your backyard – Fred shared these tips

  1. Take a test of the soil. Your local Cornell Cooperative Extension can help with this
  1. Add nutrients/amendments to the soil per the results of the soil test.
  1. Plant the garlic cloves or bulbils in mid to late October (for the Hudson Valley region)
  1. plant the garlic cloves or bulbils pointy end up. Plant in rows with the cloves 2-3 ” deep, 6″ to 8″ apart.
  1. The following year, when the garlic has started to grow, don’t cut the scapes, let the umbels form
  1. When the top 4 leaves are 50% brown it’s time to harvest. This usually coincides with the hottest days of the summer in July.
  1. Dry (cure) the garlic with the stem, leaves attached and umbels attached.
  1. Don’t break the bulb up until just before eating or planting.
  1. Bulbils can be used as seed for subsequent crops or eaten on salad/stirred into sauces/on sandwiches.

Fred is proud to say “This year we are harvesting organic blue potatoes and they will be available at the Garlic Festival. (The USDA has found up to 35 different chemicals on non-organic potatoes). Our potatoes are heavy and nutrient-dense. Partner them with our garlic for the best garlic-mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted – off the charts!”

basket of garlic

Grand Gorge Garlic at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in 2014

Fred is proud to say that “2015 is a banner year for Grand Gorge Garlic.”

I think we are very fortunate to have successful organic farms in New York, let’s support them at the Garlic Festival!

Asiatic garlic

Asiatic garlic. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple

A wooden bear sculpture with a chalk-board sign for maple syrup

I sampled the syrup and it is unbelievably good – not too sweet with an intense flavor!

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