Category Archives: Blog

Window Box Color All Year Round

It’s always a shame that just when your window box has reached their peak of fullness and color, autumn sneaks in and nips at the foliage and flowers, signaling it’s time to clean them out. Or is it? This season, try extending the life of your window boxes, so you can appreciate their beauty year-round, each time you glance out your winter windows.

To spruce up your boxes, start by removing what looks old and tired: the geranium leaves are beginning to yellow, the verbena is way past its prime, and the dianthus isn’t flowering anymore. But the ageratum seems to be perking up now that the heat of summer has passed, and the ivy and vinca are holding their own. You can fill in gaps with cool season flowers such as mums and pansies and probably get another three weeks of flowering out of those boxes.

When freezing temperatures arrive, it’s time for flowering brassicas, such as kale and cabbage, with their colorful, curious foliage. Plant them directly into the boxes and they will last all winter long through the harshest of weather. As you plant, tuck daffodil and tulip bulbs under the flowering kale to guarantee an early spring show. You can mix in cut sprigs of crabapples, viburnums, winterberry, or any other shrub or tree with clusters of colorful berries and strong branches. Just stick the branches into the soil in the boxes, and your only problem will be the birds and wildlife competing for the berries! Tangled grapevines and bittersweet, with its orange seed coats and red berries, quickly go from noxious weeds growing in the wild to precious commodities in autumn and winter window boxes.

Evergreen branches from spruce, balsam, and fir will retain their color throughout the winter months as long as the temperature is low. Stick their ends into the soil just before the soil freezes, arranging them en masse. For the holidays, string little white lights through the boughs and tie on weatherproof velvet bows. Discard the branches once the temperatures start to warm, but don’t worry, your window boxes won’t be bare for long. The tulip and daffodil bulbs you carefully tucked in for the winter will soon be coming to life, and the cycle will begin anew.

Reviving Your Lawn

As your lawn endures the trials of job this summer – drought, pestilence and disease – you must hold to the hope that there is a lush, green turf on the other side of this summer.  Has your spring turf been reduced to an arid, brown toasty color?  If not, you might want to submit your water bills for federal disaster relief.  Dry, scorching heat is the perfect scenario for crabgrass to flourish and bluegrass to perish.  What’s needed, of course, is a good, deep penetrating rain.

The large Japanese beetle population will mean a heavier than normal population of grubs.  Knowledge is of course your best defense.  Here are a couple of suggestions for reviving your lawn..

Feeding:  Your lawn’s nitrogen needs are at their highest in late summer.  Avoid fertilizing when temps are about 85 degrees.  Supplement this late summer feed (high in nitrogen) with a fall fertilizer that will concentrate on developing the root system.  This will build a turf more resistant to drought and pest damage.  This might be your most beneficial feeding.  You can supply a fall food right into November in most areas.

Pest Control:  In late summer and early fall the grub cycle begins as the larvae pupate into the common white lawn grub.  At this stage of their development, these grubs are the most vulnerable.  Treat infested areas with either a liquid dose or a granular treatment as either dylox, diazanon or oftanol.

Watering:  A good rule of thumb is to water in the early morning hours.  Try to provide at least 1 to 1.5 inches of water through rainfall or irrigation.  A deep watering once a week is more beneficial than a series of shallow watering.

Seeding:  To repair damage caused by drought,  pests and disease, plan on a fall seeding program.  Match the grass seed varieties to the conditions.  For example, if you have a rocky, sandy soil that doesn’t hold moisture well, use a drought resistant lawn mixture featuring turf-type tall fescues (TTTF).  Unlike ryegrass that spread by shallow rhizomes, TTTF have long individual tap roots.  They are tough, durable and make a long wearing attractive turf.  Heavy clay soils might do better with a bluegrass and ryegrass mixture.  Fall is an optimum time for seeding.  The warm weather speeds germination while the autumn night temps start to drop.  Remember to keep the seed moist until established.  That might require 2-3 mistings during our “Indian Summers”.  The attention you pay to your lawn now will pay big dividends in the fall, the following spring and for years to come.

August Garden Tips

For your Lawn

  • Water deep and infrequently during the summer months. One inch of water early in the day about once a week is adequate.
  • Help your lawn out by changing direction when mowing. Travel north to south on one mowing and east to west on the next cutting.
  • In late August, prepare the lawn areas for seeding tall fescue or bluegrass. Seed or fertilize lawns the last week of August.

For your Vegetable Garden

  • As parts of the vegetable garden come to an end, remove plants. Put them in your compost pile if not infested with insects or diseases. If disease, insects or nematodes have been a problem dispose of the plants to reduce the number of pests that survive the winter.
  • Japanese beetles are pests this time of year. Spray as needed, but removing by hand is more effective.

For your Flower Beds

  • Give houseplants a new lease on life. Repot them to give them more room for roots to grow and fresh potting soil.
  • Remove faded flowers on flowering perennials to encourage a second flowering. Cut back impatiens, begonias and salvia that have become too tall or top heavy. Cutting them back will make them bushy, with more blooms.
  • Perennial seeds of hollyhock, delphinium and stokesia can be sown now to produce plants for next spring.
  • If plants such as petunias have become leggy and their flower production has diminished, rejuvenate them by cutting off the branches, fertilizing, and watering them. It will encourage new growth and flowering.
  • Make sure hanging baskets have ample water; they will dry out rapidly in the summer heat.
  • Stake tall-growing flowers to prevent them from falling.
  • Monitor the water needs of container gardens daily. Move plants from hot surfaces to places that are shaded and cooler.

For your Trees & Shrubs

  • Give landscape plants a second, and last, feeding of fertilizer.
  • Have trees and bushes in need of pruning? Prune ‘bleeder’ trees like maple, dogwood, birch and elm, as well as the fruiting canes of raspberry and blackberry plants after harvest is over. Cut canes at ground level. Refrain from pruning spring-flowering shrubs now.
  • Don’t fertilize shrubs in August, September, October or November, it could cause new growth at a dangerous weather time.
  • Watch for damaging insects on evergreens. Scale, spider mites, leaf miner and leafhopper can be a problem.
  • Avoid spraying pesticides on very hot days or when plants are drought stressed.
  • Maintain a layer of mulch two to four inches around trees and shrubs and two inches around annuals and perennials. Keep mulch a few inches away from plant trunks or stems. Mulch keeps the soil cooler, conserves moisture, and reduces weeds.
  • Compost can be added as a top dressing around your shrubs and perennials. It will help hold moisture and will enhance the soil to help promote the long-term health of your plants.

Get Beautiful Garden Color Fast!

You’ve decided to add color to your garden. And you’d like to do it now. But where to begin?

A good first step in choosing a garden’s color palette is to establish mood and emotion. Do you envision it as a serene and peaceful haven, where you and your family can be rejuvenated and unwind? Or does a lively and energizing space for entertaining and outdoor activities have more appeal? Do your tastes lean to the traditional, or are you more attracted to modern, trendy environments? Whatever you see as your ideal garden space, give initial attention to how you want yourself and others to feel when they are in it. You can create a desired emotional response just with color! Hot hues – reds, oranges and yellows – are dramatic, stimulating and energizing, and lift the spirits on cloudy days. Cool tones – blues, aquas, greens and purples, as well as most pastels – are soothing and relaxing. Continue reading Get Beautiful Garden Color Fast!

Caring For Hanging Baskets

Vintage outdoor coffee table in cafe wooden terrace

Hanging baskets make a wonderful gift for Mom on Mother’s Day, or any occasion really! Container gardening is easier than you think, and hanging baskets make a lovely addition to any porch or patio. Whether you plant your own from the start, or simply purchase a ready-to-go basket, there are some simple guidelines you can follow to keep your hanging baskets blooming all spring and summer long. Continue reading Caring For Hanging Baskets

LAYERING BULBS IN CONTAINERS

As you transition your containers for fall our winter plantings, take the time to plant some spring blooming bulbs in there as well! They will be a welcome surprise come spring!

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To plant a container with different species of bulbs, plant the larger bulbs first, then cover them with soil and plant the smaller bulbs. Sprinkle in some BULBTONE as you go along. Fill the container with soil to just below the rim. You may add fall blooming plants at the top or winter foliage in the top portion for fall/winter interest, above the bulbs you’ve planted. Stop in to see all the wonderful varieties of bulbs we have in stock!

Starting Seeds Indoors

The arrival of March means that winter is finally coming to an end and Spring is just around the corner! However, temperatures may still be quite cold during the days and nights, and frost and snow still pose a threat to budding outdoor plants. While it’s not quite an ideal time to start planting your spring garden outside just yet, there are plenty of steps you can take to plan and get your plants off to a great start indoors while you await warmer, longer days that will promote beautiful blossoms outdoors. Starting fruit, vegetable, herb, and flower seeds indoors is easier than you think, and with a little knowledge and effort you can be well on your way to a beautiful Spring garden by the time it warms up outside!

Starting plants from seedlings is a rewarding, fun experience that ensures your plants’ future success outdoors. While many people choose to buy already established young plants to transplant to outdoor beds, growing your own from seeds indoors first can be more cost-effective, and you’ll reap the benefits of selecting from a larger variety of seed types, watching their progress each day, and providing just the right growing conditions that will make your young plants healthy and strong. March is the perfect time to start seeds indoors, as it can take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks before your young plants are ready to be transplanted to outdoor beds.

When selecting your seeds, carefully read the packet for instructions on planting conditions as well as length of germination, and how long before your plants will be ready to be brought outside. Also, be sure to pay attention to the date-stamp on the packet; you want to make sure the seeds you purchase are fresh and no more than nine months from the date of use. You can also choose to purchase organic seeds, heirloom or rare varieties, or locally sourced seeds… the possibilities are endless! But as attractive as the pictures on the packets may be, your first priority when selecting seeds should always be quality.

You can’t start seedlings indoors without one of the most important elements- soil! Starting your seeds with the right soil mixture makes a world of difference to their health and progress. You can buy specific mixes made for seedlings or germination, or look for potting soil with a good mixture of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, and organic matter that is light and fluffy in texture. If the soil is too heavy or dense, young seedlings will have a difficult time pushing through the soil. Fluffier soil also allows for more moisture absorption and better oxygen flow, resulting in plants with deeper, healthier root systems.

Now that you have your seeds and proper soil, the next step to planting seedlings indoors is determining the type of container you wish to use. Many great options are available at your local gardening supply stores, including trays with anywhere from 6 to 72 or more individual cells, larger plastic pots, or individual seed pots made from peat or other biodegradable substances. When selecting a container for your young sprouts, keep in mind how many plants you plan to start, as well as how deep their root systems will grow. If you select a container that is too small, your young plant will quickly outgrow its home before it’s ready to be transplanted properly, and this can cause poor blossom and fruit production later on. When sowing seeds in your containers, also remember that if too many seeds are started in each pot, it can be more difficult to separate the root systems later on during the transplanting period, causing shock and sometimes death to your plants. Peat pots are a great option to start seedlings in because when the time comes, they can be planting directly into your outdoor garden, eliminating the need to dig up your plant from its first container. There are many factors to keep in mind when selecting the proper container to start your seedlings in, but it is generally wise to select a container slightly larger than you think you would need to allow for more root growth and less shock during the transplanting period.

Now that you have all the materials gathered, it is time to start your seedlings! Follow these simple steps, and soon you’ll have young plants ready in time for warmer Spring weather.

How To Start Seedlings:

  • Fill your containers with the soil and water thoroughly until the soil mixture is wet, but not soaking.
  • Plant the seeds. Refer to your seed packet for specific depths and spacing. Many novice gardeners make the mistake of planting their seeds too deep in the soil, so you can err on the side of caution and plant them a little bit less than the recommended depth. You can always carefully add more potting soil around the seedlings later if need be.
  • Provide warmth for your seedlings- they thrive in moist, warm soil! Many garden centers or supply stores sell heating mats just for this purpose, but there are other alternatives methods you can use to keep your seedlings warm. Try placing your containers on top of a refrigerator, near a warm oven, or a space by a fireplace or other heat source; you can even place a regular heating pad (set to a low temperature to avoid burning) beneath your containers for a short time period each day.
  • Warmth is essential, as is incubation. Many cell trays come with a plastic lid to help enclose the plants and retain moisture, creating a greenhouse effect. If you’re using separate containers, you can create a simple incubator using a large plastic bag, or plastic wrap propped up around the containers.
  • Provide water to your sprouts every few days. Use a gentle, wide-set mist from a spray bottle (filled with lukewarm or slightly warm water so as not to shock the plants), or you can set the container’s bottom in a shallow dish of water so the roots receive moisture immediately and tender new growth is not dislodged or disturbed. Be careful not to over-water your little plants though, as this can cause rotting or disease. Wait for the top soil to dry out just slightly, then gently water until damp but not soaking.
  • Now comes the most difficult part- being patient! You may see your seeds begin to sprout within just a few days, or it might take up to 3 weeks for some plant varieties to germinate; again, refer to your seed packet information for specific times. Patience is key- do not overwater or otherwise “bother” your young plants too much, but provide enough moisture, warmth, and a little sunlight once the seedlings are established. Be careful with being overeager in exposing the seedlings to sunlight though- too much can dehydrate the tender young sprouts.
  • After your seedlings have grown and are happy and healthy with a second set of leaves emerging, you can begin using a water-soluble fertilizer to promote stronger root development and more top growth. A general fertilizer product like a 15-15-15 mix will do, or you can find types suited for younger plants. It is best to dilute the mixture to a quarter or a third strength for young seedlings, gradually increasing the strength as they grow and establish stronger roots.

Growing your own seeds indoors might seem like a challenging task if you’ve never attempted it before, but it really isn’t all that difficult. Once you have the proper supplies, all it takes is a little planning and effort. Before you know it, your seedlings will be growing strong and fast indoors, and by the time the temperatures outdoors are warmer and the days are longer, you’ll be ready to transplant your plants into their permanent outdoor homes in your garden beds. March is the perfect time to get a head start on your spring garden. Starting your garden from the ground up (literally!) is one of the most fun, rewarding, and educational experiences anyone can have. Happy planting!

Houseplants as an Indoor Nature Connection

The mere presence of a lone Peace Lily tucked in the corner of the living room is nice. But, with a bit more thought and effort regarding placement, arrangement and interaction with houseplants, benefits similar to those received from being outdoors in nature can be achieved. Of course, this is all based on having more plants than one….lone…Peace Lily.  If a home is to truly be a plant boosted sanctuary, plants should be placed throughout the home. No worries – there are houseplants suited or adaptable to every level of light and a bit of research or experimentation will likely show there is really no need to be limited to one sunny windowsill. Continue reading Houseplants as an Indoor Nature Connection

It’s all in the Form, for Gorgeous Container Combinations!

Upright (thriller, vertical) plants add vertical interest and a sense of height to planting arrangements, making them more lively and dynamic.

Mounding (filler, anchor) plants are used to create stability in planting arrangements. They bring a sense of balance to even the boldest combinations.

Trailing (spiller, spreading) plants are the final “accessory” in planting arrangements. They fill in gaps, soften edges and tie all the elements together for a truly finished look.