Tips and tricks for growing great roses as seen on KDKA’s PTL

June 3rd, 2015

Roses have a reputation for being hard to grow, but make them happy and they will thrive.

Roses have a reputation for being hard to grow, but make them happy and they will thrive.

Roses are really pretty easy to grow if you make them happy. First thing is to find the right place for them. Most like full sun, but they will limp along with less than nominal light. My garden doesn’t have full sun, so I plant them where they get as much as possible and also choose varieties that don’t mind a little shade like ‘Zephirine Drouhin.’That’s the thornless climber I brought on the show. Decades ago I saw it in a Park Seed catalog and fell in love with the plant. Sometimes those early crushes capture us for a lifetime. I’m compelled to grow the rose in my garden. I planted a second one this spring, but baby rabbits have done a number on the plant. Hot Pepper Wax will prevent any further damage.
Flower Carpet roses are tough and beautiful. Knock Out roses are pretty easy to grow too. One of the most popular roses this year is Anna’s Promise, named for a character from Downton Abbey.

Roses should be planted in good soil amended with compost and fed monthly with Rosetone, an easy to find, inexpensive, organic granular fertilizer.

Chewing insects like Japanese beetles can be easily controlled with an organic product called Capt. Jack’s Dead Bug Brew from Bonide. Most good garden centers will carry it. It can’t harm us, our pets, good bugs or the environment.

The most problematic disease is called black spot and it’s easily prevented using a homemade remedy called the Cornell Mixture. Take one gallon of water and mix in a tablespoon of baking soda, tablespoon of horticultural oil (available at garden centers) and a drop of unscented dish soap. Put the mixture in a sprayer and treat the plant every couple weeks if the weather is wet, cold and or humid.

Serenade is a commercially available organic fungicide which also works great.

Find the right rose for you to love, it will return the affection time and time again in the form of flowers and fragrance.

All the plants on the show came from Hahn Nursery.

Stop and smell the roses might be a cliche, but it’s more relevant today than ever.

Rare heirloom Italian tomato plant giveaway Saturday with Doug

May 13th, 2015

These are what Grandma Aiello's tomatoes look like at harvest. You can grow this rare heirloom if you come pick up a plant at Old Economy Village.

These are what Grandma Aiello’s tomatoes look like at harvest. You can grow this rare heirloom if you come pick up a plant at Old Economy Village.

For months, Dean Sylvester, horticulturist at Old Economy Village, has been growing ‘Grandma Aiello’s’ tomato plants. I’ll be giving them away this Saturday, May 16th, 2015 at Old Economy.

The rare seeds come from J.L. Hudson Seedsman, here’s the description from the catalog- “Medium-sized pink-red heart-shaped fruit with tender skin, juicy and delicious. This rare variety was brought from Calabria Italy by Maria Mazzie Aiello in 1929, and has been grown and saved by her family for three generations. Sent to us by Maria’s granddaughter Nicala Aiello. Large indeterminate plants, give support.”

I’m presenting “Secrets from the Gardens of Italy, How to Make Them Work in Your Garden”, at 10 a.m. during the Old Economy Garden Mart and Spring Garden Workshop. The event is fun, informative and the gardens at Old Economy are spectacular. Best of all, the Garden Mart and Workshop benefit one of our area’s historic treasures. People travel from all over the world to see this preserved village used by the Harmonists.

There plants will be given away on a first come, first serve basis and are exclusive to this event.

Hope to see you there.

Growing Edible is Small Spaces as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

May 13th, 2015

Tiny Tumbler tomato is a winner in a hanging basket.

Tiny Tumbler tomato is a winner in a hanging basket.

It’s all about the little things, right?

Every gardener knows that fresh produce from the backyard is the best there is. You don’t need tons of space to grow something edible either.

There are lots of ways to get that garden freshness in small spaces.

Tiny Tumbler tomato is grown in a hanging basket. Give it plenty of water and some fertilizer over the summer and you might be the first one on the block to pick tomatoes.

Lots of nurseries offer pre-planted herb boxes. They are packed with everything great for the kitchen. You could even buy some herbs an pot them up yourself. Keep the container right by the kitchen to add to your favorite dishes.

Hulu Berries are a white strawberry that tastes like pineapple in a container. Easy to grow and tasty.

Strawberries can even be grown in something called grow bags.

There are lots of smaller blueberries bred for containers too.
All the plants featured on the show came from Hahn Nursery in Ross.

Doug at May Market Friday and Saturday 12-3pm

May 6th, 2015

May Market is a Pittsburgh tradition, there's something for every gardener.

May Market is a Pittsburgh tradition, there’s something for every gardener.

I’ll be appearing at May Market from 12 noon until 3 p.m. Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th, 2015. May Market is held at Phipps Conservatory and Botanic Gardens and is a place to get just about anything you could possibly want for the garden.
I’ll be in the tent near the outdoor garden answering garden questions and signing books.
May Market is an important tradition in Pittsburgh and one thing you must have when you go there are the strawberries dipped in fondant from Rockledge Garden Club.
Here are all the details on vendors and events, I can’t wait!

Secrets to the best plants for mom as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

May 6th, 2015

'Love's Magic' has the perfect name for a Mother's Day gift.

‘Love’s Magic’ has the perfect name for a Mother’s Day gift.

Mother’s Day usually kicks off the planting season for crops affected by frost, but this year it’s a little early.
My mom always said wait until Memorial Day to plant and mom’s never wrong!
I scouted Hahn Nursery for plants that return each season with special names which can mean something special for your mother.
'Custard Candy' is a great daylily and mom loves both, right?

‘Custard Candy’ is a great daylily and mom loves both, right?

Here’s a list of plants that will have mom remembering you every time they bloom
Love’s Magic rose
Itoh Peony Kieko (translates to adored)
Miss Ruby butterfly bush
Immortality iris
Bleeding Heart
Peach Flambe Heuchera
Custard Candy daylily
Fine Wine Weigiela (mom deserves a glass)

Of course when you give mom plants, the gift should also include a day of planting too.
Give mom something that she will treasure for many years.

Take a trip of a lifetime to Paris with Doug (and get lost in the city with him too)

April 29th, 2015

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It's quite a climb, but worth it for the view.

I shot this picture from the top of Notre Dame. It’s quite a climb, but worth it for the view.

I can’t wait to show you Paris. This is the first trip that I’ve helped build myself, and I did that since I’ve been there before.
I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world. One big bonus, is the fight is direct! It makes the journey so much easier.
You’ll eat dinner at the Eiffel Tower, tour Notre Dame Cathedral, see Monet’s garden, Versailles, the secret gardens of Paris and more.
On Friday come with me as we get lost in Paris. It’s one of the best ways to see the city and don’t worry, we’ll find our way back to the hotel. That’s also a day to kick back if you’d prefer. Sit at a street side cafe and people watch or check out the little shops near our hotel.
Here are all the details, sign up soon, like all my other trips, it’s going to sell out. I will only take a maximum of 32 people, that way we get to know each other. I’ve made many good friends as we’ve enjoyed traveling together.
This is the easiest way to travel as my friends from Collette provide us a local guide who cares for us through the whole trip.

This is the itinerary-

Spotlight on Paris

Day 1: Monday, August 10, 2015 Overnight Flight
Set out for captivating Paris. Come to know this city famous for its world-renowned art, food and fashion. Its rich history will astound you while its style dazzles.
Day 2: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 Paris, France
Arrive in the “City of Light.” Take this day to meander two of Paris’ most well-known gardens. First, visit Luxembourg Gardens, spanning 60 acres, which was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, and inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Next, you will visit the Jardin des Plantes, a 17th-century royal garden complete with a natural-history museum, greenhouses, alpine garden, iris garden, rose garden, remarkable trees, and a menagerie. (B)
Day 3: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 Paris, France – Tour Begins
Today you travel to Bois Richeux. Feel like you have stepped back in time when exploring the medieval gardens, established more than 2000 years ago. After this visit, you travel to another of France’s famous gardens in Giverny. The tranquil gardens here combine flora and water elements, and also inspired Monet’s greatest works when he lived in Giverny for more than 40 years. Tonight, enjoy breathtaking views of the city during a dinner featuring delicious French cuisine at the Eiffel Tower. Following dinner, get a different perspective on the city during a Seine River cruise. As you glide along, admire Paris’ glittering skyline. (B, D)
Day 4: Thursday, August 13, 2015 Paris
Come to know the dramatic highlights of Paris – the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde and the magnificent Place Vendome are just some of the amazing landmarks you will see while on a locally-guided tour. Your day continues with a guided tour at the famous Louvre. Dine this evening at one of Paris’ fine restaurants. (B, D)
Day 5: Friday, August 14, 2015 Paris
The entire day is yours to enjoy the city in your own way. You may choose to get a new perspective and leave the city to explore the surrounding countryside. Your tour manager will be on hand with suggestions on exciting ways to spend your free time. (B)
Day 6: Saturday, August 15, 2015 Paris – Reims – Épernay – Paris
Today our journey takes us to Champagne country. Make a stop in ancient Reims to visit its towering centerpiece, the Notre-Dame de Reims. This UNESCO World Heritage site was once the place where French kings were crowned. Discover Reims’ pedestrian streets lined with art galleries and cafés during an included walking tour. Next, travel a short distance to the village of Épernay. Set on the banks of the river Marne, it is home to the world’s leading champagne makers. Stroll down the most famous street in Épernay, the Avenue de Champagne, before making a visit to one of the cellars dug here between the 4th – 15th centuries. Here we see the traditional equipment and enjoy a guided tour and a tasting of the notable champagne varieties. (B)
Day 7: Sunday, August 16, 2015 Paris
During your free afternoon, enjoy an interesting visit to the incomparable Palace of Versailles. The palace and gardens of Versailles reflect the extravagant tastes of King Louis XIV, the “Sun King.” On this excursion travel by coach to Versailles, where your local guide will recount the history of the palace and lead you through the various rooms of the State Apartments. Of particular interest are the Queen’s bedchamber and the famous Hall of Mirrors. You then have leisure time to explore the incredible gardens, some of the most famous in the world, which took over 40 years to complete. Celebrate the end of a fabulous trip with a special dinner at the Paradis Latin*, Paris’ oldest cabaret theatre. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner complete with wine, champagne and a delightful cabaret show. (B, D)
Day 8: Monday, August 17, 2015 Paris – Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today. Head home with many wonderful memories of your Parisian adventure. (B)

Keukenhof is an amazing display of seven million bulbs as seen on Pittsburgh Today Live

April 29th, 2015

blog bulb fields
After close to an hour on the road, our tour bus filled with myself and 26 other travelers arrived and the legendary Keukenhof Gardens. It was a good sign when our guide suggested to the bus driver to take a little spin around the bulb fields. As the intoxicating aroma of hyacinths filled the cabin we were awed by the rainbow of colors which stretched for miles. There were millions of bulbs covering flat fields, it was a unique and stunning sight.
We had a feeling the bulb display here in Holland was going to be spectacular, but never could have imagined the grandeur we were about to see.
Once inside, the gardens were beyond belief. I’ve been lucky enough to see some the greatest landscapes in the world, and Keukenhof is second to none.
blog selfie ny
Working my way along the edge of a small stream on the outskirts of the display trying to get just the right angle on those amazing bulb fields, I ran into Michelle Nawaz of New York City. She was working on taking the perfect selfie, using a tapestry of bulbs as her background. She hadn’t seen much of the garden yet, but when she turned to look at the huge display behind her she said, “it’s beautiful, the colors are breathtaking.”
Turning back to Kuekenhof, the afternoon light danced around the flowers, sometimes filtered through the blooms of spring blooming trees, other times forming long shadows which changed as the the clouds drifted through, pushed along by a soft breeze.
The garden is overwhelming as each bed offers another magical combination. Deep orange fringe tulips are set off by dark blue grape hyacinths and tiny white flowers make the perfect background for small purple fritillaria blooms.
blog framed tulips
While standing on a little bridge, a French couple walked hand in hand examining bright yellow daffodils. As they walked up to me, I showed them the photo I’d just made of them. For a second there was an uncomfortable moment, not knowing why I handed them the camera, thinking I wanted them to take a picture of me. “It’s you,” I said, and when they looked at the screen, both smiled, then laughed and said, “merci.”
There were unimaginably long beds, hundreds of yards long with repeating patterns of three of four different bulbs in full bloom and other beds containing varieties which waited patiently to become the stars of the garden.
blog holding hands
One small, brilliant yellow daffodil bravely stood among a huge bed of blue hyacinths. I wondered if it was a survivor from last year’s show. Keukenhof is only open for eight short weeks, opening in March and closing in May. The rest of the time is spent preparing the nearly 80 acres for the next show.
Inside a building draped with white cloth are a multitude of bulbs and plants in full bloom. New introductions of tulips and just about anything else you can imagine are showcased. The colors are spellbinding and the fragrances of lilacs and others are sweet relief from a long winter.
blog selfe garden
There’s a cool place called the Selfie garden. All you have to do is take a picture in one of the many oblong mirrors. Old people (like me) are confused and forced to ask the young exactly how to take the right photo. The youngsters were struggling themselves, but figured it out quicker than the oldsters and were more than happy to fill them in for the proper technique.

As the sun slowly slipped lower, the flower combinations became even more beautiful. Walking back to the bus, I turned back to see three or four drifts of tulips backlit and framed with a flowering crabapple.
After taking the photo, I put the camera down. Standing there looking at the scene all I could do was smile. It was one of those moments when you want to pinch yourself, “is this really happening,” I though to myself.
I can check Keukenhof off the garden bucket list, but hope to return again to spend a couple days exploring this special place instead of a couple hours.
The bus ride back to the cruise ship was spent in the afterglow of an experience I’ll never forget.

Free gardening/cooking demo with The Organic Gardeners this Sunday

April 23rd, 2015

Join The Organic Gardeners Sunday for a free gardening/cooking demonstration.

Join The Organic Gardeners Sunday for a free gardening/cooking demonstration.

I’ll be joined by my awesome radio partner Jessica Walliser this Sunday, April 26, 2015 for a free gardening/cooking demonstration at three Giant Eagle Market District Stores.
In celebration of Earth Day we’ll be talking about how to have a sustainable, organic garden.
Then we’re cooking a wonderful spring lamb dish with local ingredients.
We’ve got lots of free seeds to giveaway courtesy of Hahn Nursery.

We’ll be at the-

Bethel Park Giant Eagle Market District at 9:30 a.m.
New Waterworks store in Fox Chapel at 12 noon
Pine GEMD at 2:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Gardening with kids is wonderful! As seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

April 22nd, 2015

Gardening with children is so much fun. Meadow Santucci, 3, visited my garden recently, picked these yellow carrots and made quick work of them.

Gardening with children is so much fun. Meadow Santucci, 3, visited my garden recently, picked these yellow carrots and made quick work of them.

There’s nothing better than introducing another generation to the joys of gardening.
On this week’s show I show and easy and fun way to get kids into gardening.
We planted a container with ornamental edibles.
The first step is to choose the container. Bigger is better as it doesn’t need watered as much.
Fill it with a good planting mix from a garden center and moisten it before planting.
I chose violas and pansies as the edible flowers along with a beautiful lettuce called ‘Red Sails.’
The kids (big and small) had fun figuring out which plants should go where and our final product looked great.
Hopefully it will inspire the kids and get them interested in what gardening has to offer.

Don’t throw those Easter lilies away. How to make Easter plants last for years as seen on PTL

April 9th, 2015

Easter lilies will thrive outdoors for decades.

Easter lilies will thrive outdoors for decades.

Lilies are just one of the plants used as traditional Easter gifts. Hydrangeas, daffodils and other spring bulbs also fit the category. But there’s no reason to toss them after the holiday, all these plants will be happy in the garden and return season after season.
The hydrangeas need the most thought when planting. It’s bred as an indoor plant, but I’m going to try and put it in the garden. It can’t go outside until May and is probably best grown in a container sited with morning sun and afternoon shade.
For the lilies, I wait until the blooms have finished and put them out in the garden around Mother’s Day. They will bloom again next year, but not at Easter. They flower at mid-summer and make great cut flowers.
The bulbs are easier to plant, when choosing the site be sure to find a place that will dry out in the summer. Even though fall is the best time to plant bulbs, these plants should go in the ground as soon as they are done blooming.