Scott is co-owner & co-director of Hortus Conclusus, a Botanical Garden & Arboretum, in the Hudson Valley. Too busy to writes books he focuses instead on a large collection of hardy, unusual edibles, and rare ornamental plantings not commonly seen.
HORTUS CONCLUSUS MISSION STATEMENT: 2017
My partner and I began the process of creating a botanical garden at our home in Stone Ridge New York seventeen years ago by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials, and unusual edible plants. Soon after this we became interested in a wider range of plant species and began to design our property as a large organized space for people to walk through. In order to protect all of our plantings we ran deer fencing around 3 acres, and began the process of recording what we planted over the past decade with a detailed species list. We developed plant tags which contain all the basic information on each tree or shrub. These were modeled on the tag system used by the Arnold Arboretum. The ultimate goal of all this work was that one day our garden would be used as an educational resource.
To support this goal we started a small garden and landscaping business that specializes in edible hardy landscape plants and garden design for New York's mid-Hudson Valley. In addition to designing gardens we also began to maintain gardens for residential and commercial properties.
Because of the limitations of local nursery plant materials available to us we started to propagate some of the rare edible and decorative plants from our extensive collection for our clients and to sell during our open garden events.
We are currently working on expanding the plant diversity of three separate gardens on our eleven-acre property: The Field Garden, The Property Garden, and the South Garden.
The Field Garden contains our oldest rare fruit tree collection and includes mature productive fruit trees: American Persimmon varietals, Paw Paws trees, European Quince cultivars, Medlar, Sea buckthorn, and a grape arbor. In addition to the edible plantings in this area we also constructed a Pitcher Plant bog; a bed of hardy legume plants from around the world; a sage bed with an extensive collection of tropical and cold hardy Salvia species; a bed of rare Arum cultivars; and our first Southwestern American Cactus collection.
The Property Garden is the first garden we created. This garden surrounds our home and is framed by the native forest trees of upstate New York. This is a part- shade environment that contains an extensive selection of perennial wild flowers. Several years ago we began to expand this area of our garden to include a selection of several important decorative shrubs and trees. With this in mind we established a large collection of Asian and American hydrangeas (over 20 and growing), a Calycanthus cultivar collection, and a Stewartia tree collection.
Our third and newest garden is the South Garden. It is named in honor of the great American plantsman Thomas Jefferson and is dedicated to the work of Plant explorers. This area is about one acre and more land is being cleared for future garden expansion. This area is six years old and is focused on cold hardy
edible plants and decorative trees and shrubs. As a privacy barrier separating our outer garden fence from the street we established an extensive collection of Viburnum shrubs (over 30 and growing) and Magnolia cultivars (15 and growing) that runs along the inside of our garden fence.
In each of the last three years we have traveled to a different region of the American southwest in order to collect seed and plant material. This has allowed us expand our collection of southwestern Cactus and native shrub collection in the South Garden. In addition to this bed we also built an alpine Sempervivum cultivar scree; a domed kiwi gazebo; the collection of cold-hardy nut trees; a collection of Gooseberry cultivars; along with most of our edible seasonal vegetable crops.
In the 2013 season we finished the construction of our twenty by forty-five foot greenhouse in the South Garden area. The greenhouse moderates our zone six winter conditions and allows us to grow non-hardy or marginally-hardy plantings such as Asian persimmon trees; Tea camilla, and Pineapple guava. The green- house also extends the growing season of our families vegetable beds from February to November.
Perhaps most importantly from an arboretum perspective the South Garden is on a southwest facing slope and offers the greatest amount of sunlight on our property and is an ideal environment for growing fruit trees. For this reason we designated this area as a Plant Exporter Garden focusing on several important plant explorers and are attempting to gather every edible plant form the regions we cover.
The first Plant Explorer Garden that we constructed in the South Garden is dedicated to Americas first botanical collector John Bartrum. This area is our native tree collection with a focus on Americas great fruiting plants: Wild beach plums; Wild plum tree species; Blueberry cultivars; as well as the beautiful native flowing trees.
In the South Garden, the second plant explorer garden features our Chinese Collection devoted to the great plant explorers of Asia: Robert Fortune, Ernest Henry Wilson, George Forest, Reginald Farrer, and Frank Kingdom Ward. This area of our garden is still growing and contains as many Edible Chinese plants as we can find. We planted a selection common fruit trees like Manchurian apricot, Peach, Asian Quince, and Nanking cherry. We also planted many rare hardy edible plants like Trifoliate orange, Toona tree, Szechwan Pepper, Blue Bean tree, Tibetan chocolate berry, Goji berry, and Myoga ginger. The Chinese collection also features some of the most beautiful Asian flowering trees collected by noted plant explorers such as the Dove tree, Paper bark maples, and the Seven-son flower tree.
Future plans for the South Garden include starting the cold-hardy California tree collection dedicated to the California plant collector Lester Rowntree; finishing a large stone bench and gazebo area; and completing a small pond for our lotus collection.
Edible Landscaping (general overview)
Unusual & Hardy Trees
Berries & Vines
Bog Container Planting
Native Trees & Shrubs
Hardy Cactus & Succulents for the zone 6 region
Hudson Valley - New York City