August 22, 2008

Arboretum Adds Coleus Garden to Tour


The Frelinghuysen Arboretum has expanded its cellphone tour service.

The Morris Township facility has added a self-guided tour of its coleus plantings.

Patrons can dial a number to hear Ray Rogers talk about almost 20 coleus cultivars growing in the Scherer Garden. Rogers is the author of "Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens."

"I love coleus because of their colors," said Rogers, a North Brunswick resident. "You have practically every color available but blue."

The other thing Rogers likes about the plant is that it can be grown in almost any environment.

"People don't realize that it grows anywhere, in dark shade and direct sun. They are easy and very forgiving. They love the summer."

The coleus tour will be available through Sept. 12. The collection will be divided from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 13 in a class on propagation at the arboretum's Haggerty Education Center. $10 members, $15 non-members. The arboretum is at 53 East Hanover Ave.

To sign up for the propagation class or for information, call 973- 326-7603 or visit


The Teaneck Creek Conservancy is looking to weed out the bad and nurture the good.

The conservancy's tract, like many park and garden areas around the nation, is being overrun by non-native invasive plant species that threaten a wide range of native vegetation.

"The problem with non-native invasive plants like those found in the conservancy is that they overwhelm," said Jonne McCarron, executive director of the TCC. "They are opportunistic and easily outcompete a whole range of native plants for water, sunlight and nutrients in the soil. The health of any ecosystem can be measured by the diversity and the balance found within it."

In an effort to combat this "growing" problem, the group is looking for people to help clear out the invasives.

"Volunteers are critical in our efforts to remove and manage the invasives, because it takes constant diligence lots of people in the park throughout the growing season. Areas that are cleared of one species early in the season are easily overrun by a second and equally damaging species several weeks later, McCarron said.

"It is a task that requires patience and persistence. In a small, grass-roots organization like ours, our only hope is the largest labor force we can tap our volunteers."

One of those persistent volunteers is Shelly Frattarola.

"I just returned from the TCC, where five volunteers worked in the Labyrinth area. We were targeting mile-a-minute and porcelain berry vines. It is a labor of love for me; however, the task at hand is enormous, and we need many more hands in order to win the battle," she said.

The 31-year Teaneck resident and coordinator of the volunteer efforts says progress is being made.

"We are already seeing improvement in the water and soil and the return of wildlife to the park. And best of all, we are seeing more people walking and enjoying the trails," she said. "It is important that we eradicate the invasive species and help bring the 46-acre wetland park back to its natural state."

To join the fight against invasive plants, contact Frattarola at 201-836-9295 or [email protected], or Jules Orkin at 201-385- 7468 or [email protected]

The conservancy is near East Oakdene Avenue and Teaneck Road, close to Route 95. See for more information.


COMPOSTINGS: The New Jersey Botanical Garden's final summer concert will be held 7 p.m. Friday. The acoustic rock band 3M Band will perform. It is recommended that patrons bring a lawn chair. Concert moves to the Carriage House in bad weather. The garden is at Morris Road, Ringwood. $3 donation requested. Information: 973-962- 7527 or ... The Bergen County Audubon Society will clean bird feeders, nest boxes and accessories from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Wild Birds Unlimited, 189 Route 17 south, Paramus. $3 per item, with all proceeds going to the Audubon Society. Information: 201-599-0099 or


Need help?

Volunteers at the Rutgers University Master Gardener Helpline can assist you with your questions.

* Bergen County: 201-336-6783 and 201-336-6784. 9:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday.

* Passaic County: 973-305-5743. 9:30 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

* Morris County: 973-285-8300. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Friday.


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