Kristin Schleiter, Author at Plant Talk

Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Kristin Schleiter

Why Stop Now?

Posted inHorticulture onNovember 12 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking top notch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Schizachyrium scoparium bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Most of our gardens evolve through the seasons, and I look forward to seeing the next wave of loveliness all spring and summer. It may be November, but we are just coming in to one of my favorite times. Most people think of perennials for their lovely flowers, but many perennials have more to offer—beautiful fall color!

Even as the trees and shrubs are glowing with their fall display, perennials in the garden add their own distinct light. The broad leaves of Penstemon digitalis sing in scarlet and ruby. Graceful, feathery Amsonia hubrichtii ripples with the wind, showing off golden and burnt orange hues. Many of the garden geraniums, most notably Geranium wlassovianum, are simply amazing with their Jacob’s coat of orange, gold, scarlet, and purple. Even hosta—those the deer haven’t eaten, anyway—bring touches of lemon or gold into a shady spot.

Read More

Deadhead Now! (Or Don’t)

Posted inHorticulture onSeptember 2 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking top notch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Verbena bonariensis
Verbena bonariensis

Deadheading or removing spent flowers is an important task in the late summer garden. Simply follow the stem under a spent flower down to the larger stem it branches off from and clip it off. Deadheading has several benefits, the most obvious being that it can make your garden look neater. Removing the spent flowers can also push side buds to break, yielding a thicker and lusher plant. Removing the spent flowers and thus the potential seed from the plant can make many plants continue to bloom in an effort to create seed and to propagate themselves. Of course, the extra benefit of removing seed is that you are also removing all the work you would have to do weeding out unwanted seedlings!

Some perennials that can be very heavy seeders are garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), hosta, columbine, many of the different decorative onions (Allium) and black-eyed Susan (there are lots of different Rudbeckia and most are heavy seeders if the conditions are right). Sometimes, as with the Rudbeckia, there is a trade off. You can remove the seeds to be sure of less work or you can leave them and enjoy the goldfinches that will sit on the seed heads and have a lovely lunch. Many seedheads can also look lovely into the winter, providing architecture in your garden long after the blossoms have faded. Of course, letting plants seed on their own can be a wonderful way to increase the size of your garden without spending any money!

Read More

Poppymallow’s Charm

Posted inHorticulture onJune 26 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking top notch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Callirhoe bushii Bush's poppymallowAs spring has turned to summer, so my attention has turned to the Native Plant Garden meadow. It changes daily now, with new plants offering their voices to the swelling chorus. One of my very favorites is Bush’s poppymallow, Callirhoe bushii. Set among fine grasses, golden tickseed, and brilliant white wild quinine, its white-eyed magenta cups demand attention.

Happy in average or dry soil, Bush’s poppymallow loves a sunny site and will flower throughout the summer and sporadically into the early fall. In our meadow, its loosely sprawling stems pop up through its neighbors, creating lovely and spontaneous living bouquets. It has seeded itself around gently, but editing is easy if you wish. All Callirhoe have taproots which makes them very drought tolerant, but also very difficult to move once established.

Read More

Fox Tails Flourish Along the Seasonal Walk

Posted inHorticulture onMay 23 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking top notch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Himalayan fox tail lily
Himalayan fox tail lily
(Eremerus himalaicus)

One of my favorite plants on our new Seasonal Walk so far is the Himalayan fox tail lily, Eremerus himalaicus. Re-designed by renowned designer Piet Oudolf and planted late last fall, it has been a thrill to watch the garden unfold. After a very cold winter filled with lots of nail-biting, the plants have emerged healthy, happy, and simply glorious. As all the best gardens do, this one changes magically from week to week. The leading characters now are our native columbine Aquilegia canadensis (complete with hummingbirds darting around enjoying the red and yellow flowers) and the magical Himalayan fox tail lily. Elegant spires of white star-shaped flowers dance gracefully down the length of the double border. They are four feet tall this year, but hold the promise of more height in years to come as they settle in.

Fox tail lilies are easy to plant. Their tubers look much like a sea star with a whole mess of legs wearing a dunce cap. Dig a hole wide enough to spread out their roots but not too deep—their noses should be just a few inches underground. They don’t enjoy wet soil and love the sun.

The Seasonal Walk is only just beginning to seduce with its tapestry of plants. I love the fox tail lilies now, but I’m sure there is something else that will start blooming next month that will steal my fickle heart.

Daffodil Dreamscape

Posted inHorticulture onApril 25 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking topnotch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


DaffodilsIt’s daffodil time! That dreamy, delicious time of year when even the greyest day is made brilliant by masses of cheerful blooms.

I’m often asked which is my favorite daffodil. It’s like asking me which of my children I love the most! I adore the slightly green, buttery yellow trumpet ‘Pistachio’ who is so handsome next to lavender pansies. But then ‘Surfside’ just blooms so enthusiastically with her swept back white petals and her frilled cup that fades to cream. How could I not pick her? And of course ‘St. Keverne’ is marvelous too. His rich golden yellow blossoms stand tall and strong and he perennializes so fabulously!

If you have a garden, really any kind of a garden except for a very wet site, and you don’t have any daffodils in it, plant some this fall! Simply plant them 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall with the root end down. If you aren’t sure which is the root end, plant them on their side and they will find their way! When choosing a variety, look for those that are described as being good perennializers. Daffodils will perform their best in full sun in well-drained soil, but they are very forgiving. We have swathes of daffodils planted in lawns here which make such marvelous spring scenes, but you have to be sure to leave their foliage up for at least 6 weeks before you mow.

Daffodils at the NYBG

Of course, the very best way to choose what to plant in the fall is to come see them in person this spring. Our grounds are now a living catalog, so come find your favorites!

‘Pink Peignoir’ Awakens the Azalea Garden

Posted inHorticulture onApril 11 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking topnotch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Pink Peignoir'At very long last, spring has well and truly come to the Azalea Garden. I can tell because the Korean rhododendron, Rhododendron mucronulatum, is decorating the ridge at the top of the garden near the overlook with its delicious candy colors. My favorite is the earliest-to-bloom ‘Pink Peignoir’ in a shade of cotton candy pink that sings against our often drizzly grey skies and is cheerily visible from a long distance.

Korean rhododendron make marvelous garden plants. They prefer an acid soil (which is what most soil in the tri-state area is naturally) and at least a half a day of good light. They are hardy down to a chilly zone 4. They are deciduous and lose their leaves with a late and lasting foliage show of simmering orange, gold, and scarlet.

Read More

Snowdrops Sing of Spring

Posted inHorticulture onMarch 14 2014, by Kristin Schleiter

Kristin Schleiter is the NYBG’s Associate Vice President of Outdoor Gardens and Senior Curator. She oversees the wonderful gardening team that keeps our flowering gardens looking topnotch, curates the herbaceous gardens and collections, and manages the curator of woody plants. She lives and gardens in Fairfield, CT.


Galanthus elwesii

Every February, I can be found on my knees in the Garden poking and prodding and looking for signs that my beloved snowdrops are coming up to signal the beginning of spring. Pushing aside the snow, I see small green noses forcing their way up for a whiff of warm air. Even a single sunny day can bring forth elegant white blossoms which have a lovely honey scent. The spring’s earliest snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii, are blooming now in the Perennial and Azalea Gardens. Their glaucous blue foliage and large flowers create a much nicer drift of white.

Read More