Summer Solutions at Sag Harbor Garden Center

Phil Bucking, owner of the Sag Harbor Garden Center. Michael Heller photo
Phil Bucking, owner of the Sag Harbor Garden Center. Michael Heller photo

By Rachel Bosworth

Despite less-than-stellar warm weather temperatures, spring has sprung and summer is on the way. With the break in rain — at least for now — those with a green thumb are gathering their garden gloves and tools to replant summertime annuals and bring favorite perennials back to life. As the time to plant new seedlings is near, Phil and Diane Bucking of the Sag Harbor Garden Center, which is housed in the historic Sag Harbor railroad branch freight building, are readying their store for the summer season.

When it comes to prepping your garden as the hotter months near, the first step is to weed your garden beds the Buckings say. Then, it’s time to work on the soil. “Amend and improve the soil,” says Ms. Bucking. “We recommend using organic Bumper Crop® Soil Builder for all of your in-ground gardening. Our customers really like the products both for in-ground and container gardening.”

The natural blend of manure and nutrient-rich content like shellfish compost, earthworm castings, and peat improves root function and the quality of the soil for vegetables, flowerbeds, rose gardens, and other plantings. “[The] brand is sold only at independent garden centers,” Ms. Bucking shares. “This year we have expanded our Bumper Crop® choices and are selling a wide variety of [their] organic fertilizers for trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables.”

East End favorites like asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and herbs and can be planted early on for a summer harvest, while newer plantings of perennials need a little more time before making their way into the dirt. “Wait until the soil is warm before planting tender seedlings,” Ms. Bucking shares, as May 16 was the last frost date. Feeding and watering throughout the summer is of course an important step in a plant’s health and longevity for both annual and perennial plants.

This summer the Sag Harbor Garden Center is adding a new line of organic herbs and vegetables from a USDA Certified Organic grower from the North Fork, along with the naturally grown herbs they have been offering their customers over the years. As the trend for organic diets continues upward, the new pots will give individuals a fresh take on what is becoming a mainstay in farming. A varied selection of vegetables and herbs change weekly at the garden center depending on the season.

Of customer plant favorites, Ms. Bucking says the colorful PJM Rhododendron is among the top choices. “[They are] a favorite evergreen shrub because it tolerates some shade, the deer seem to leave it alone, and it has beautiful spring flowers,” she says. “Native plants and ornamental grasses are also very popular. And, of course, succulents have become increasingly popular.”

The Buckings have had a long time favorite of their own as well — the flower carpet rose. “We planted them in front of our store 20 years ago and rarely do anything except trim and feed them,” says Ms. Bucking of the disease resistant roses that bloom from spring until winter. “Last winter we actually had new blooms in December!”

In addition to plants, herbs, and vegetables, the Sag Harbor Garden Center, aptly located on Spring Street, offers balled plants grown on Long Island, native plant material, annuals, ground covers, and larger edible plants like fruit trees. Garden tools, gloves, bird food and feeders, and other various outdoor needs are stocked through the seasons. With summer around the corner, it’s time for new gardeners and experienced growers to get the trowels out and start planting.

The Sag Harbor Garden Center is located at 11 Spring Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call (631) 725-3345 or visit