Monthly Archives: January 2017

Glorifying Garden Gloves

Many gardeners believe garden gloves are easy to do without. Those of us who love gardening enjoy the feel of soil running through our fingers, and we don’t mind the line of dirt under our fingernails. We prefer to not have anything impede the dexterity needed to sow small seeds or pinch a plant, and we like the textures of the plants we cultivate. We would rather spend our budgeted gardening dollars on the latest herbaceous sensation rather than unnecessary gloves, and, frankly, nobody likes sweaty hands.

Why Gloves Matter

Despite the prejudice against covering our hands, gloves are the single most important piece of garden clothing that a person should own. In addition to the fact that they come in every color and pattern under the sun, making them an attractive and matching accessory to your garden wardrobe, garden gloves provide many benefits, such as…

  • Improving your grip on tools, minimizing accidental drops that can damage expensive tools.
  • Keeping hands warm in cold weather so we can garden in comfort even in early spring or late fall.
  • Keeping hands dry in wet weather to prevent skin irritation and problems that could limit our gardening.
  • Preventing contact with animal waste that may carry bacteria, mites or other pests that could harbor diseases.
  • Helping avert calluses and blisters that can make even simple gardening tasks painful and unpleasant.
  • Protecting hands from cuts, splinters and thorn pricks from aggressive plants so we aren’t limited in our gardening choices.
  • Preventing contact with poisonous plant oils that cause rashes and allergic dermatitis.
  • Keeping nails clean and help prevent nail breakage so our hands can be as beautiful as our garden.
  • Protecting from soil borne fungal and bacterial infections that could be spread around the garden easily.

With so many great reasons to use garden gloves, which ones should you choose?

Selecting Gloves

Gardening gloves come in an almost limitless array of colors, styles and patterns. Features may include…

  • Different types of fabric or weave densities that affect air circulation to keep hands cool and comfortable
  • Anti-slip grips or rubber palms and fingers for excellent traction in all types of gardening conditions
  • Broad, wide cuffs for an easy fit or snug, form-fitting cuffs for a secure fit that won’t let in any dirt or debris
  • Different sizes and proportions to suit men, women and children

With so many gloves on the market there’s a style available for every garden chore, season, weather condition, hand size and preference. Check out our selection today. We are happy to help you choose a pair or two that work best for you and your gardening needs.

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King of the Cold: Ornamental Cabbage & Kale

Looking to add interest to the fall and winter landscape? This year, plant ornamental cabbage and kale for bold textures and vibrant colors.

About Ornamental Cabbage & Kale

Unlike most other annuals and perennials, these two hardy plants improve in appearance after a frost or two, which bring out more intense and brilliant colors in their foliage – perfect as an autumn accent or centerpiece plant. Identified by a number of names including floral kale, decorative kale, ornamental-leaved kale, flowering kale and flowering cabbage, ornamental cabbage and kale are classified as Brassica oleracca (Acephala group). Offering unlimited use in the landscape, these plants have large rosettes of gray-green foliage richly variegated with cream, white, pink, rose, red and purple. Kale leaves are frilly edged and sometimes deeply lobed.

While typical ornamental kale and cabbage varieties are easy to find, you can also try more unusual options, including dwarf varieties as well as upright, taller hybrids that can even be used in cut arrangements.

Using These Attractive Plants

Popular in borders, grouped in planting drifts, or planted in containers for the deck or patio, ornamental cabbage and kale typically grows to 12-18” high and wide, depending on the cultivar. Plant these specimens at least 12” apart in an area with full sun that has moist, well-drained soil. Organically rich soil with proper compost or fertilization is best to provide adequate nutrition for these lush plants. Although they are able to withstand light frosts and snowfalls, ornamental cabbage and kale will typically not survive hard freezes and are best treated as showy annuals.

The best foliage color will occur if ornamental cabbage and kale is planted in early fall as temperatures are cooling, or you can sow seeds 6-10 weeks before the first anticipated frost date – just be sure the seeds have sun exposure in order to germinate properly. These plants are usually attractive in the garden until Thanksgiving or slightly later, or in mild climates they may even last until spring temperatures begin to rise. Hint – when the plants smell like cooked cabbage, it is time to pull them out!

While these plants are superficially similar to the familiar cabbage and kale vegetables popular in salads and other edible uses, it is important to note that ornamental varieties are cultivated for color and shape rather than taste. Keep them out of the kitchen and in the garden instead, and you won’t be sorry!

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Plant a Tree This Fall

There are so many reasons to add a new tree to your landscape this fall that it’s hard to find a reason not to.

Just think about it, trees will…

  • Beautify the Environment
    Trees add texture and color to the landscape. They soften the harsh lines of buildings and driveways, while their foliage and blooms add seasonal color changes and variety.
  • Stabilize Soil
    Tree roots prevent soil from blowing or washing away, minimizing erosion and providing protection for the surrounding landscape.
  • Provide Wildlife Habitat
    Trees provide shelter and food for birds and numerous small animals, including squirrels, raccoons, insects and more.
  • Make Food
    Many trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds, sap and berries for human consumption. Wildlife will also rely on the food provided by trees.
  • Create Oxygen
    Through photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other poisons from our air and release pure oxygen for us to breathe. One tree can produce enough oxygen for 10 humans for one year!
  • Filter the Air
    Trees act as giant filters trapping dust and pollution particles with their leaves and bark until the rain washes the particles away.
  • Cool the Air
    Air will remain several degrees cooler in the shade of a tree canopy. This is accomplished by not only by blocking the sun’s rays but also through transpiration. Tree leave transpire, or release moisture, which cools the surrounding air. A large tree can release as much as 400 gallons of moisture from its leaves daily.
  • Reduce Utility Bills
    Deciduous trees planted on the south and southwest sides of a home will shade the structure during hot summer months and reduce air conditioning or other cooling needs. In the winter, with the leaves fallen, the sun is able to warm the structure, reducing heating bills.
  • Reduce Noise Pollution
    Strategically planted, trees can dramatically reduce the volume of unwanted noise from loud neighbors, nearby businesses or car traffic.
  • Hide undesirable views
    Purposefully sited, trees can camouflage unattractive views and create privacy, providing a natural sanctuary in your yard.

In our area, fall is just about the best time of year to purchase and plant a tree. The soil is warm, air temperature is cool and morning and evening dew increase available moisture to nurture a new tree. Stop in and see our extensive collection, and we can assist you in choosing the tree that is perfect for your landscape and lifestyle needs.

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Autumn: Why Plant Now?

Although many gardeners plant trees and shrubs in the spring, knowledgeable gardeners plant in the fall to take advantage of all this fabulous season has to offer. But why is fall planting better than spring planting?

  • Stress Reduction
    Transplanting causes stress as plants are removed from containers, balls or established locations and changed to new locations. Planting in the fall, when a plant is entering dormancy and is generally hardier and sturdier, reduces this stress so the plant can thrive.
  • Establishing Strong Roots
    Fall planting “establishes” trees and shrubs by encouraging root growth. Because the soil is still warm, the roots continue to develop until freezing, though the upper parts of the plant are already dormant. When transplanting in the spring, the developed roots are active and delicate tips or rootlets, as well as buds and new leaves, are more easily damaged.
  • Weather Resiliency
    Trees and shrubs planted in the fall are better able to withstand the rigors of the next summer’s heat and dry conditions because they have much longer to develop healthy roots systems and become thoroughly established. This is especially critical in dry climates or areas prone to drought or irregular rainfall.
  • Faster Maturity
    The “head-start” of fall planting results in a larger plant in less time, helping create a mature landscape without waiting for smaller plants to catch up. This can be especially critical when replacing dead or damaged plants in a mature landscape to avoid a gap or uneven look.
  • Water Conservation
    Planting in the fall saves watering time and promotes conservation by eliminating daily watering. Cooler temperatures with the addition of both morning and evening dew contribute greatly to soil moisture availability in fall without as much supplemental watering.
  • Color Confirmation
    Fall is the best time to see a plant’s autumnal color. Planting in the fall eliminates the surprise of the wrong color or unexpected shades that may not coordinate with nearby plants. By planting in autumn, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing and planting, and you will be able to match better with your existing landscape.
  • Saving Money
    Last but definitely not least, buying your beautiful trees and shrubs in autumn can save big money. We discount prices on trees and shrubs to create room for holiday season materials and pass the savings on to you. Selection may be more limited later in fall, however, so don’t wait too long to take advantage of great savings.

Autumn can be the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, whether you are adding to your landscape, replacing plants or starting a whole new look. If you plant in autumn, you’ll be amazed at how lovely your landscape will look next spring.

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Deterring Deer

Deer may be beautiful and elegant, but they aren’t always welcome in the garden. Even just a few visiting deer can tear up a landscape, eat an entire crop, destroy a carefully cultivated bed and cause other havoc, such as creating a traffic hazard, damaging bird feeders or leaving behind unwanted “gifts” on sidewalks and pathways. But how can you keep deer out of your yard and away from your garden and landscape?

Popular Deer Deterrent Techniques

People try all sorts of home-grown methods to keep deer from destroying their landscape and gardens. Some of the more common tactics include…

  • 8 ft. fencing, including wire or electric fences
  • Big, loud dogs on guard in the yard
  • Deer repellents such as commercial chemicals
  • Predator urine or other anti-deer scents
  • Motion detectors connected to lights or sprinklers

All of these methods work but are limited in their effectiveness. Fencing is costly and unsightly. Repellents and urine wash away. Sprinklers or lighted areas can be easily avoided. So what can you do to keep deer away permanently?

Deer are creatures of habit and they are easily scared. Anything you can do to mix up their habits or make them think there is danger nearby might be enough to make them go elsewhere in search of food. But deer aren’t foolish and if they realize the danger isn’t real, they will return. Therefore, you must rotate any scare tactics you try and reapply repellents frequently. This can be a lot of work to keep your garden safe, but you can make your garden do the work for you.

Plants Deer Won’t Like

While deer in large herds with insufficient food will eat almost any garden vegetation, particularly in harsh winters, you can opt for plants that aren’t popular with deer to minimize deer damage. At the same time, avoid planting favorite deer plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, yews, roses, Japanese maples, winged euonymous, hemlocks and arborvitae, as well as any edible garden produce.

So what can you plant in your landscape to discourage deer? There are many attractive plants deer will avoid, including…

Trees

  • Chinese Paper Birch
  • Colorado Blue Spruce
  • Dragon Lady Holly
  • Douglas Fir
  • Japanese Cedar
  • San Jose Holly
  • Serviceberry
  • Scotch Pine

Shrubs & Climbers

  • Barberry
  • Bearberry
  • Blueberry Elder
  • Boxwood
  • Caryopteris
  • Common Buckhorn
  • Creeping Wintergreen
  • European Privet
  • Japanese Andromeda
  • Japanese Plum Yew
  • Leucothoe
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Russian Olive

Try using these less deer-friendly plants to create a dense border around your yard and garden area, and deer will be less inclined to work their way toward the tastier plants. When combined with other deterrent techniques, it is possible to have a stunning landscape without being stunned by deer damage.

 

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Bulbs: Increasing Your Yield

When you visit our garden center, you’ll find an incredible variety of autumn “bulbs.” Although they may look strange at this time of year, these “ugly ducklings” will become beautiful swans in your spring garden. It’s hard to imagine how these odd lumps can grow underground and become so gorgeous, but if you plant them now you will enjoy an incredible floral display next spring and summer.

How Bulbs Grow and Multiply

Did you know many bulbs will increase in quantity over time? Most gardeners simply divide their bulbs after a few years and move them to other parts of the garden or give extras away to friends. Dividing your yield is easy when you identify what type of bulb you are dealing with.

There are five distinct types of “bulbs” and although not all of these are available in the fall and some are not winter hardy, it is important to mention them to be able to understand their differences.

BULB TYPE

EXAMPLES

DESCRIPTION

HOW TO DIVIDE (after digging up)

Rhizome

Begonia, Calla, Canna, Ginger, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Tuberose

 

 

Grows horizontally from the pointed ends. As this bulb matures, it branches and develops other pointed growing ends. Roots grow from the bottom. Cut the rhizome into sections and ensure each piece has at least one pointed growing tip.
Tuber Anemone, Caladium, Cyclamen, Potato, Tuberous Begonia Buds and roots form anywhere on the surface. Tuber continues to enlarge with more eyes and roots. No basal plate or growing point. Cut the tuber into sections with at least one growing bud and root on each section
Tuberous Roots

Clivia, Dahlia, Daylily, Liatris, Sweet Potato

 

 

Actually a swollen root, new tuberous roots grow in a cluster from the base of the plant’s old stem or central crown. Divide the root cluster so each division includes roots and one or more growth buds from the stem base.
True Bulb Allium, Hyacinth, Lily, Daffodils, Snowdrops, Tulips Roundish shape with a pointed tip, covered with scales, and has flattened base plate where roots form. May have a papery outer skin. Forms little bulbs, “offsets” at base. Separate small offsets and plant individually.
Corm

Crocosmia, Crocus, Freesia, Gladiolus

 

Similar in shape to true bulb however there are no scales. Covered by a “tunic” of fibers. A corm decomposes each year; a new corm develops on top with smaller corms (cormels) on the sides or along the base plate. Separate new corms from smaller corms and plant individually.

Using Your Divided Bulbs

Once you’ve successfully divided your bulbs and bulb-like flowers, what do you do with your extra bulbs? There are many great options…

  • Transplant them into different parts of your yard to create a uniform, coordinated landscape with similar plants.
  • Give them away to neighbors, family members, friends, coworkers or anyone who would like to add new flowers to their yard.
  • Donate them to churches, schools, parks, senior centers or other places where extra flowers for landscaping will be appreciated.

As your bulbs continue to multiply, you will enjoy having more and more to choose from to create your ideal colorful, fantastic floral landscape.

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Versatile Euonymus

What are your garden’s trouble spots? Do you need an evergreen hedge? A tall anchor plant at the back of a deep garden bed? How about an interesting groundcover? Perhaps your garden needs a medium-sized transition plant. Try a euonymus! This versatile plant does it all, and whatever your landscape needs, this family of plants probably includes your solution. Some are deciduous while others are evergreen, but all are easy to grow and adapt well to a variety of environments.

About Euonymus

With more than 175 varieties of Euonymus available, there is sure to be one to meet your landscaping needs and climate conditions. Evergreen types tend to prefer somewhat sheltered locations, while deciduous euonymus will thrive in full or part sun. Watering should be regular, with more frequent watering (1-2 times per week) in very dry conditions. Well-drained soil is best to prevent root-rot and while richer soil is ideal, euonymus can adapt to nearly any soil type. Pruning can help keep these shrubs compact and neat, and if left unchecked they may outgrow spaces and variegated leaves could revert to plain colors.

Euonymus Varieties in Autumn

In the fall, the burning bright colors of a deciduous euonymus are unmistakable and add rich autumn foliage to the landscape. The strawberry bush (E. americanus) burns bright yellow with scarlet red fruits with orange seeds. The spindle tree, (E. europaeus) has more red in its fall color and the berries are pink or red with white seeds. Probably one of the best known is the Winged Euonymus (E. alatus), often used as a deciduous screen, with unique “winged” twigs and bright red fall color. Choose from a number of different varieties with unique colors and varying mature heights.

The many members of E. japonicus provide solutions for evergreen hedges, edging plants and intermediate-sized shrubs. They range from 1-12′ tall. Some are green, while others have variegated yellow or silver leaf edges. Popular ‘Green Spire’ grows to 7′ tall but at only 1-2′ wide, it creates a narrow and easily maintained taller hedge ideal for screens and privacy. ‘Silver Princess’ grows only 3′ high and wide creates a beautiful silver-tinged border or is a great option for terraces or small bed areas.

For groundcovers, check out the prostrate varieties of E. fortunei such as ‘Coloratus’ (Purple-Leaf Winter Creeper) which turns dark purple in the fall or ‘Wolong Ghost’ with dark green leaves with white veins. There is even a dwarf groundcover, E. fortunei ‘Minimus’ which grows less than 6″ high!

Remember, many of these euonymus varieties add autumn beauty to your garden, so this is an excellent time to see them at their peak and choose which of these unique and stunning plants should be part of your landscape.

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Redbud Revelry

Gardeners love the Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis). Native to North America, these hardy, slow-growing, small trees richly deserve their places front and center in the landscape. They flower very early in the spring (as early as April), provide beautiful fall color, remain reasonably small, are low maintenance and create quite a display when planted in groupings or as a single specimen. They even grow well in parking lots, sidewalk strips and in containers, making them ultimately versatile for all types of landscaping plans. What else could you ask for?

New and Exciting Redbud Varieties

As if the classic eastern redbud wasn’t beautiful enough, there are always new varieties that give these stunning trees even more charm and character. Which one will be the centerpiece of your landscape?

Recent introductions include ‘Lavender Twist’, which grows in an elegant weeping form, and the compact ‘Ace of Hearts’, which excels in a small garden or container as a blooming, dome-shaped, focal point. ‘Alba’ flowers in pure white and ‘Appalachian Red’ blooms with deep burgundy pink flowers. The leaves of ‘Hearts of Gold’ open red in the spring and slowly change to gold.

‘Rising Sun’ redbud, another new introduction, stops most people in their tracks. In spring, before leaves appear, lavender-pink pea-like flowers cover the trunk and branches. The show really starts when the leaves open and the heart-shaped, deep-apricot colored leaves transition through orange, yellow and gold to lime-green with all colors showing at the same time. In fall, the tree shimmers in shades of gold. Amazing!

Growing Your Redbud

No matter which type of redbud you choose, you’ll want to take good care of it to be sure it reaches its full beauty. First, be sure to plant your redbud in an area where it can stretch to its full size and show off the unique branching growth habit. You will also want to choose a position where the redbud won’t be crowded or overshadowed by other plants. These trees prefer at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day, so full or partial sun positioning is best. These are hardy trees and grow well in most soil types, but adding organic material to the soil and mulching around the tree is always a wise idea to protect and nurture it.

Whether planted as a specimen, en masse, or in a container, we’re sure you’ll agree these little trees deserve consideration for a special place in your garden.

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Entrance Way Evergreens

Cool and classic or chic and contemporary, no matter what your style, you’ll always be proud of an entrance flanked with beautiful containers highlighting just-right evergreens. In this case, “evergreen” doesn’t necessarily mean a conifer, either – many other shrubs remain green in the winter and can be beautiful showpieces welcoming guests to your home.

Planting Your Container

Entrance way evergreens are generally planted in containers and frame a doorway, walkway or arch. If you truly want your evergreens to take center stage, opt for more understated, neutral containers, but select shapes that match the architecture of your home. You can opt for a boldly colored container, but take care that the container’s decorations won’t overwhelm your evergreens.

You will want to use high quality potting soil for the container to provide adequate nutrition for your evergreens to thrive. Also pay careful attention to the moisture levels, watering the plants appropriately – containers often need more frequent watering than plants in your landscape. You can rotate the containers regularly to help the plants get even sun exposure, and regular fertilizing will help keep them healthy.

If you’re not sure how to plant a container, try this simple formula: “Use a thriller, filler and spiller.” Thriller refers to the tallest or showiest plant, the one that immediately catches the eye. The fillers are the plants surrounding the thriller that add more structure and bulk to the arrangement, filling in empty spaces. The spillers are plants to grow over, and soften, the edge of the container, giving it a more natural, organic look.

Here’s a listing of “thriller” plants to consider for your door decor. We can make recommendations of dwarf cultivars of many of these plants. Dwarfs will take longer to out-grow their container. Happy potting!

  • Shade
  • Azalea*
  • Boxwood
  • Camellia*
  • Evergreen Viburnum*
  • Japanese Andromeda*
  • Heavenly Bamboo*
  • Mountain Laurel*
  • Sun
  • Arborvitae
  • False Cypress
  • Juniper
  • Heavenly Bamboo*
  • Holly
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Yews
  • Yucca*


* These plants flower!

Accents for Your Entrance Evergreens

In addition to welcoming your visitors with a beautiful entrance, it’s easy to entertain them and show your style when you accessorize your evergreens. Festively dress your plants to coordinate with seasons or holidays. Fun and creative options include…

  • Spring: Small bunnies, silk spring blooms such as daffodils, pastel Easter eggs
  • Summer: Patriotic flags or ribbons for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July
  • Fall: Scarecrows, pumpkins, Indian corn, Halloween decorations
  • Winter: Holly sprigs, tiny twinkling lights, beaded garlands, snowflake ornaments

You can also personalize your entrance evergreens for birthdays, anniversaries or to showcase your favorite teams, colleges, hobbies and more. All are easy to do, fun, and affordable, and make your entrance truly eye-catching.

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Choosing a Japanese Maple

We’re certain you’ve heard it numerous times: fall is the best time to buy your Japanese maple. Have you come into the garden center to pick one? Did the varieties overwhelm you? Let us make it easier for you by explaining Japanese maple differences. Then, when you come in, you’ll know exactly what you want.

The species Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, moderately grows to a 20′ by 20′ multi-trunked tree. The leaves have 5-9 finely cut lobes giving them a more delicate look than other maples. Red spring leaves turn to green in the summer and blaze with yellow, orange and red in the fall. All do best with protection from drying winds and hot overhead afternoon sun. During their centuries of use in gardens around the world, gardeners have discovered and propagated those selections with unusual growth habits and bark patterns, as well as leaf color and shape. With hundreds of Japanese maple varieties available at garden centers, we feel a little simplification is in order.

  • Leaf Shape
    The variation Dissectum or Laceleaf Japanese Maple has leaves are deeply cut and finely lobed giving a lace cutout look. These varieties generally grow best in shady locations as the leaves easily burn or scorch. The leaves of non-Dissectum varieties are much less lacy. They resemble the leaves of native maples but are smaller and more deeply cut.
  • Leaf Color
    The leaf color of different Japanese maples also varies. Many have red spring growth changing to green in the summer. However, some retain the red through the growing season. Some varieties have variegated leaves with white, cream, gold or pink. Variegated leaves burn easily in the sun but can revert to all green in too much shade. Green leaves tolerate more sun than red. Autumn is when Japanese maples really put on a show with a riot of blazing colors.
  • Tree Form
    Non-Dissectum varieties grow more quickly into upright forms. Some varieties remain less than 10′ tall but others can grow to 25′ tall by 20′ wide. Laceleaf maples slowly develop a weeping form approximately 8-10′ tall and 8-12′ wide. However, ‘Seiryu’ is an exception, growing into an upright form.

Laceleaf (Dissectum)

Non-Dissectum

Location

More shade

Less shade

Size

Smaller

10-25′ tall depending upon variety

Tree Form

Weeping

Upright

Leaf Shape

Lacy, fine cut

Lobed

Leaf Color

Red, green

Red, green, variegated

Now that you have identified a suitable planting location and the type of Japanese maple you prefer, come see us and let our friendly staff show you the varieties that meet your requirements. Autumn colors are blazing now so this is a great time to make your selection.

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