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NJ rose experts to prune, offer growing advice March 18 at Colonial Park 

Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden showcases 3,000 roses of 325 varieties. Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden to host volunteers with expertise in growing roses

It will be worth a drive to Franklin Township on March 18 when teams of expert rose growers from across New Jersey will help with pruning at the Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden at Colonial Park.


Volunteers from the Jersey Shore Rose Society and the Penn-Jersey Rose Society will join the staff of Colonial Park Gardens from 8 a.m. to noon for the annual spring pruning for the garden's more than 3,000 roses.


Visitors are welcome to stop in to observe and learn correct rose pruning techniques while having their rose questions answered by expert rosarians who also can share rose growing tips, techniques and other related information. While donations are appreciated, access to the gardens and the rose pruning event is free of charge. The gardens will have just opened for the season, and the suggested donation is $3 for adults and $1 for seniors and children.


The one-acre Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden represents 325 rose varieties, including popular modern hybrids and various classes of old garden roses. The garden was named in honor of Rudolf W. van der Goot, who designed and led the garden's development as Somerset County Park Commission's first horticulturist. Only roses that thrive in central New Jersey are kept in the garden's rose collections, and all rose types are clearly labeled. The rose garden presents a kaleidoscope of color, form and fragrance from late spring through fall.


Enjoyment as well as public education are goals of this garden, and a visit offers an exceptional opportunity to learn about the many available varieties that will thrive in this part of the state. Visitors can see the color, size, form, and quality of various rose varieties and choose those most suited to their home gardens.


The rose garden, honored with the 2015 World Federation of Rose Societies' Garden of Excellence Award, is located at 156 Mettlers Road (parking lots A and F) in the East Millstone section of Franklin Township. It is part of Colonial Park's more extensive arboretum, which includes the Fragrance & Sensory Garden, the Ornamental Grass Collection, the Perennial Garden and the Shrub Collection. Call (732) 873-2459, Ext. 21 or visit for additional information.


Bonnie Plants wants third graders to grow free giant cabbage plants 

For nearly 20 years, Bonnie Plants has been supplying free cabbages for kids to grow at home.

Vegetable gardening teaches kids where food comes from, encourages them to eat their veggies and gets them outdoors, engaging with nature.

Since 1996, Bonnie Plants has been helping to get kids started in the garden with its national Third Grade Cabbage Program. In the free program, Bonnie's O.S. Cross cabbage seedlings are delivered to any third-grade classroom in the country's 48 contiguous states.

The O.S. in the name stands for "oversized," and the prospect of growing a super-size cabbage makes the program not only educational, but engaging and fun for kids.  Cabbages were the first successful crop sold by Bonnie in 1918, so a cabbage was a natural choice when Bonnie Plants began cultivating young growers in schools 19 years ago.

Each spring, Bonnie Plants trucks 2-inch cabbage seedlings to every participating third-grade classroom. Teaches distribute the plants, with instructions provided by Bonnie, for students to take home and grow.

Third-grade teachers can register for the cabbage program now to participate for the 2017 growing season. Register at Lessons from the cabbage program can be incorporated into a variety of subjects, including science, mathematics and writing.

At the end of the growing season, teachers select a class winner, based on the size, appearance and maturity of the young grower's cabbage. School submissions are then entered in a statewide scholarship drawing. The 48 state winners are randomly selected by each state’s director of agriculture, and Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 savings bond for education to the winning student in each state.

Since the program began, more than 14 million kids have participated. The largest cabbage grown to date weighed in at 75 pounds. For a variety of gardening tips and more information on Bonnie Plants, visit

Cabbage-growing tips

Here are tips from Bonnie Plants for anyone who would like to grow colossal cabbage:

Keep things sunny: Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible.

Make room: Bonnie O.S. cabbages need at least 3 feet on each side to spread out. If you don’t have that much space, use a large container.

Amend the soil: Work in some compost when planting; cabbages thrive in nutrient-rich soil.

Feed them well: Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong.

Water well: Cabbage needs at least one inch of rainfall each week. If it doesn’t rain, use a watering can or garden hose to gently water your plant at soil level.

Tend to trouble: Keep weeds out of the cabbage patch – they compete for the food and water your cabbage needs. Be on the lookout for brown or white moths – these come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. If you see any, get rid of them right away. Cold weather can damage your cabbage. If the weather drops below 32 degrees, cover your cabbage with a bucket or cloth.

Reap your reward: In 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a huge head of cabbage you can be proud of.





Things to do in Westfield: Make a seasonal pumpkin flower arrangement 

Pumpkins plus flowers equal centerpieces for petite to expansive tables.The Flower Shop will show how to arrange flowers in pumpkins


In November, when that uncut Halloween pumpkin on the porch is still going strong, you realize just how much of an investment piece the season's favorite orange gourd can be. Uncut, pumpkins kept outside under fall's cooler conditions can last two months or more.


On Nov. 17, instructors at The Flower Shop, 1120 South Ave. West in Westfield will show how to get even more mileage out of your pumpkin by turning one into the base of a seasonal floral arrangement.


From 7 to 9 p.m. this Thursday, learn to make your own floral arrangement in a pumpkin. The $35 workshop fee covers instruction and materials.


Class size may be limited, so call (908) 233-5413 for more information and to reserve your spot. The Flower Shop, a florist and gift boutique, also will make pumpkin arrangements and other holiday centerpieces for those who would  rather not get crafty in the days before the holiday feast.


Once cut, a pumpkin's lifespan is shortened. So while the workshop-designed pumpkin arrangements can't be guaranteed to last until the holiday, participants will take away skills to create other pumpkin arrangements of various sizes.


Imagine mini pumpkins with flowers as place holders at each setting around the holiday table. Keep a painted pumpkin outdoors until just before Thanksgiving, and it can be hollowed out for a centerpiece that's whimsical or artsy.


The Flower Shop held a similar pumpkin workshop last year at a Westfield senior housing complex. Participants created lovely fresh arrangements that can be seen on The Flower Shop's Facebook page. The Flower Shop's arrangements, named after local streets and local people, can be seen online at


The Flower Shop's holiday-related events begin this Sunday, Nov. 13, with a holiday open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Get to know the owners, enjoy refreshments, shop local and learn more about upcoming workshops.




Scotch Plains holiday event: Decorate a wreath or kissing ball 


Scotch Plains Garden Club to host wreath workshop


Scotch Plains Garden Club will host a wreath and kissing ball decorating workshop Dec. 1 at Scotch Hills Country Club, at the intersection of Jerusalem Road and Plainfield Ave. in Scotch Plains.


Bring your own bare wreath or kissing ball (fresh or artificial) to decorate for a $26 materials and instruction fee.


Decorating materials will be provided, and refreshments will be served. Participants may bring special ornaments or other decorations that they would like to incorporate into their wreath. To ensure your spot, please call (908) 616-2315 or email today.


The workshop runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and participants will be guided in their decorating by Scotch Plains florist Lisa Mohn of Apple Blossom Flower Shop. 


Participants also will learn about Scotch Plains Garden Club membership and upcoming activities.




Veterans Day lunch to honor vets in Fanwood and Scotch Plains  

Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary invites veterans to lunch

The Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club will host a Veterans Day lunch to honor local veterans at its Nov. 9  meeting, and veterans in Fanwood and Scotch Plains are invited to attend.

The rotary will provide lunch free of charge to local veterans who must register to attend by Nov. 8 because of limited space. The luncheon will be at noon at the Stage House  Tavern, 366 Park Ave., Scotch Plains. 

Veterans who are rotary club members will be honored along with others as a demonstration of the club's deep gratitude to all men and women who served the United States Armed Forces. The event will pay tribute to those who served previously, those who continue to serve, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

To register, please contact Julie Murphy at (800) 258-9249, or email