Archives for the month of: June, 2014

A single white bell-shaped flower with yellow and purple stripes inside. The edges of the petals are ruffled. From the Southern Catalpa tree.

Southern Catalpa tree flower

In mid-June the Catalpa trees are in bloom and the lemon-vanilla fragrance is so pleasant on a hot day. Picture of a pinnacle of Southern Catalpa tree flowers which are white with pink stripes inside.

The flowers of the the Southern Catalpa  have stripes inside – landing strips for pollinating insects.

Many pinnacles of white flowers on a Southern Catalpa tree.

It is a common tree in the Hudson Valley, I often see them growing by the side of the road and in people’s gardens.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree covered in white flowers.

Southern Catalpa tree in bloom

The tree grows to about 60′ high.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree with massive drooping branches that almost touch the ground.

Mature tree with large branches

The branches on a mature tree are very thick (2′ or so wide) and curve, sometimes almost touching the ground.

A heart-shaped leaf from a Southern Catalpa tree.

Heat-shaped leaves

The leaves are large, up to 12″ long. A friend explained how these thick leathery leaves are difficult to rake in the fall.

Green and brown seed pods on a Southern Catalpa tree

Seed pods

Here are the green seed pods in July. The brown pods are from the previous year. The seed pods are about 15′ long.

Seed pods in winter

The seed pods remain on the trees during the winter

Many long brown seed pods hanging from the branches of the Southern Catalpa tree in winter, NY.

Seed pods hanging from the branches in winter

The Catalpa tree is also known as the ‘Cigar Tree’

Two seeds in the snow, fallen from a Southern Catalpa tree, winter in NY.

Seeds in the snow

Each seed pod is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds with fibrous ‘wings’ for dispersal by wind.

Two American Robins on the bare branches of trees in winter, NY

American Robins eating seeds

By winter, most of the seeds have disappeared, but some are still around and provide food for wildlife.

Whilst looking online for information about this tree, I discovered it is the host for the Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Brown colored Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

According to online stories, the caterpillars make excellent bait for fish. Here’s a little more information about the caterpillar

I have not seen any caterpillars on the trees in my area (a result of pesticide use perhaps?)


Love this art, the patterns and the use of stones…

Here’s a great opportunity to learn about preserving and canning food…

Monthly Workshops beginning  July 1st – Kingston, NY

  • Canning food in your home is a safe and rewarding process that is fast becoming popular again! Learn how to preserve the season’s bounty from the experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s (CCEUC) Nutrition Program beginning in July!
  • Learn research based methods of food preservation as well as the full range of products that can be safely preserved using boiling water bath, pressure canning, dehydrating and freezing methods of food preservation.
  • These workshops will be held at The Old Dutch Church located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston, NY.
  • The fee is $25 per person / per workshop, or you can take all five for $100 and save $25. Participants may bring their pressure gauge in to be tested for a fee of $2. You get to take home a jar of what we preserve in class!
  •  Each workshop includes detailed instructions, resources for safe and reliable recipes, and hands-on experience led by CCEUC’s Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald.
  • These workshops fill up quickly. Pre-register early to secure your seat!

Click here for a printable registration form and complete workshop descriptions. Sorry, no refunds. If you cannot attend you may send someone in your place. For more information call CCEUC Nutrition Educator and Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald at 845-340-3990 x 326.

Workshop Series Schedule All workshops are from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 1 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Seasonal Jam

Tuesday, August 5 Dehydrating as Food Preservation Method: Fruit and Vegetable Leathers & other treats

Tuesday, September 2 Fermented and Quick Pickles to Love and to Preserve: Pickles

Tuesday, October 7 Pressure Canning to preserve all your Low Acid Foods: Tomatoes

Tuesday, November 4 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Orange, Cranberry Chutney

This series is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s Nutrition Education Program. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events, visit the online calendar and follow on Facebook and Twitter. CCEUC provides equal program and employment opportunities. Please contact the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.      

Japanese Knotweed shoots in April.

Japanese Knotweed shoots in the spring

Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica is growing well in the Hudson Valley. Too well – it’s everywhere, including people’s gardens. It forms large stands, preventing all other plants from growing and eliminating habitat for wildlife.

Japanese Knotweed shoots.

Spring shoots

If it’s growing on your property, remove it as soon as possible before it becomes a  large clump which is much harder deal with.

Japanese knotweed stems.

The semi-woody stem is hollow


  • A herbaceous perennial that can grow over 5′ tall with stems 2″ wide.
  • Hollow stems look a little like bamboo.
  • In spring the shoots are a reddish color
  • The green stems have enlarged leaf nodes and may have red spots
  • The green leaves are alternate, 6″ long, 3-4″ wide and broadly ovate
  • In August, the flowers are greenish-white panicles in the axils of the leaves
  • In the fall the foliage dies back, leaving the dead woody stems standing
Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in April.

Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in late spring


Barbara Bravo an experienced Hudson Valley gardener, Garden Coach and Master Gardener, recommends these steps for removing the plant.

  • Mowing or cutting to ground. To be effective, continue all season.
  • Use heavy black plastic sheets to smother plants
  • For large stands, the best method is to cut stems off at about 3′ high just below a stem node – use a squirt bottle and fill the hollow stem up ¼ of the way with 25 % Glyphosate (Use Rodeo if in a wetland or near water). Follow all instructions on the product label exactly to avoid contamination and over-use of chemicals.
  • In all cases, dispose of cut stems properly – the plant can resprout from stem or root pieces that are left on the ground.
  • Do not put the plant on a compost heap because it is possible to spread the plant when applying compost
  • Put the plant in a sealed bag in your trash can for garbage removal.
  • Complete removal may take several years, inspect the area often for regrowth and continue the removal process if needed.
  • Alternately, hire a professional Invasive Plant Removal company
Japanese Knotweed flowers in August.

Japanese Knotweed flowers in August

Japanese Knotweed dried flowers in November.

In the fall the foliage and flowers die back

Japanese Knotweed stem in October

Woody stem in the fall

How does this plant spread?

  • This plant has a horizontal, underground plant stem (rhizome) that produces a shoot and root system for a new plant. This rhizome can grow under surfaces such as concrete, bricks etc. until it finds a space to start a new plant.
  • It is also spread by seed
Japanese Knotweed sprouting in November.

New plants sprouting from rhizomes. These new plants are growing in October!

How did this plant arrive in the Hudson Valley?

Japanese Knotweed is native to Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan and was brought to America in the late 1800s as a garden plant. It now grows wild because it can grow in a variety of soils, in sun or part shade and thrives in this climate.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October

Japanese Knotweed in October. Hudson

Foliage has died back, leaving the dead stems.

Preventing the spread of Japanese Knotweed

In her excellent lecture about invasive plants in the Hudson Valley, Barbara Bravo explained “Gardeners are the first line of defense against invasive plants, if you see a plant that is thriving and you do not recognize it, do some research to identify the plant. If necessary, remove it”

Need some help with this plant?

Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension Office

Contact Barbara Bravo at Enter the Garden

For help identifying a plant, post a picture on the Plant Identification Facebook page

Foragers of wild plants can find recipes for eating Japanese Knotweed here

For professional plant removal, contact Poison Ivy Patrol, this business uses non-chemical removal methods

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