At The Forefront Of Gardening

Monarch butterflies
Monarch butterflies

Bill Erdmann, a man who loves plants and has a talent for sharing his knowledge, was the speaker a recent meeting of the Locust Valley Garden Club. He brought along an assortment grown at Hidden Ridge plants to demonstrate the latest in the “Thrill, Fill and Spill” of container gardening.

“It might be a quote from Martha Stewart,” he said, adding, “Every plant has a story.”

For instance, the Caladium that is sold as a shade plant, he saw at Disneyland in a display of 10,000, growing in full sun. “Don’t plant them too early, it takes time for them to come out of their dormancy,” he counseled. And, as bulbs, they are drought tolerant.

Bill Erdmann surrounded by “Thrill” plants that set the color, mood and design of a container garden. (Photo by Jane Doctors)
Bill Erdmann surrounded by “Thrill” plants that set the color, mood and design of a container garden.
(Photo by Jane Doctors)

His talk was peppered with details of horticulture today. “It’s a worldwide business,” he said. That morning, a tray of 72 tiny plants, created by tissue culture arrived via FedEx. It is the way to quickly grow a specimen that is fully mature. Now tiny Bounce Impatiens arrive in plastic bags via air mail from Africa where they were developed. Their backstory is that two years ago, a virus blighted the Impatiens on Long Island. Horticulturalists solved the problem by creating a virus resistant plant, the Bounce. It has a lot to offer. It grows as a full bush with free-standing flowers that come in five colors.

Each plant Erdmann held up was a new variety of an old favorite. He most likes the new plants from Mexico and told attendees that the Monarch butterflies that come to Long Island are from the Yucatan. They come up the coast “to my sister’s house in Florida,” and then on to Long Island. They come from a different area than the ones that fly up the middle of the country. He encouraged gardeners to grow tropical Milk Weed on which they lay their small yellow eggs that turn into catepillars, then butterflies. He said to match it with the Cuphea, a plant hummingbirds love more than the feeders. Together they create an interactive garden. As he finished talking members crowded around him buying plants in a joyous frenzy—at great prices.


The next meeting of the Locust Valley Garden Club is Wednesday, July 13, in the Bailey Arboretum manor house. Hal Mahoney will talk on miniature tray landscapes of trees, soil, water and rocks. The cost of the program and luncheon is $10. New members are welcome. For information, call membership chair Gerry McKey at 516-671-8987.

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