LongHouse Reserve Chief Horticulturist Holger Winenga Shares Spring Garden Tips During Quarantine Time


Holger Winenga is the Chief Horticulturist at Jack Larsen’s beautiful LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, a 16 acre sculpture garden that has grown close to his heart. Besides growing a vast and expanding collection of plants, Holger’s role also includes conducting organized garden walks around LongHouse where he gives his tips on how to grow one’s own garden. Coming from a long line of horticulturists, Winenga moved to the U.S. from Germany to work in landscape design, renovations. He is one of the most well-known horticulturists on the East End so KDHamptons asked Holger to share some key springtime gardening tip,s as well as how to practice safety in the garden during quarantine.

I have been visiting the incredible LongHouse Reserve gardens for many years. Hopefully they will be able to open again this summer to the public when restrictions are lifted.
Holger shares, “Planting time for annuals and tender vegetables is usually around Memorial day. But you can start planting perennials any time the ground is not frozen. Did your perennials come by mail-order from a warmer region and are leafed out more than ants in your garden? Then it is advised to hold them in a frost-free but cool area until there is no more frost anticipated outside. There are many vegetables, like radishes, carrots, kales, arugula and mesclun salad mix, that can be sown directly outside as early as March. Tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers can be sown now in pots or trays on a window sill to get a head start. Right now is also the best time for the transplanting and division of perennials.”
Holger adds, “We have had a LOT of rain this spring, try not to use your watering systems, unless it starts to get extremely dry. The plants will thank you in the summer, because right now their roots are stretching down into the soil to reach water and nutrients. By watering too early, you only encourage a shallow root system. Of course newly planted additions to your garden will need some extra hand-watering. These new additions are also the most vulnerable to voles.”

Holger’s tips to consider during the coronavirus quarantine time.

  • If you share tools, wipe them off with disinfectant after each use and keep distance from all other gardeners. And make it a habit to not ever touch your face! Hand sanitizer should be in your toolbox if you touch any surfaces that might have been shared with others, like door handles and such.
  • I am glad to see that local garden-centers are still open with the following restrictions: You need to call in your order and staff will put orders together to pick up outside without any near physical contact.
  • Although totally unchartered territory in combination with covid19, especially at this point I urge to avoid contracting any tick-borne diseases. I highly recommend this year to regularly apply organic tick spray.  Cedar-oil based products appear to be the best choice. Check yourself after each garden visit and use repellent avidly before you go outside.
  • Most important is to take a moment to enjoy the garden. Last year’s plantings emerged more vigorous and mature. Perhaps a tree’s sudden vigor, that was planted 5 years ago, or little surprises of voluntary seedlings of your favorite treasures that you might pass unnoticed, unless you absorb this moment in time.