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Growing Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the most popular vegetables choices for growing in the home garden. Not only is zucchini easy to grow, it is also tasty and nutritious, as well as versatile in a number of recipes. All summer squash, including zucchini, are rich in beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamins C and E and numerous healthful minerals. Zucchini can be eaten fresh, baked into bread, roasted, grilled, added to salads and so much more. So, grow zucchini, eat up and get healthy – we’ll supply the tips you need for successful growing and a bountiful harvest.

Planting

Sow zucchini seeds or seedlings about 2 weeks after the last frost date in full sun and well-drained, nutritious garden soil. It is best to plant zucchini in hills, three plants in each, to ensure warm soil and good drainage. Hills should be about 8 inches high and 12 inches in diameter. Set hills at least three feet apart, as these plants are dense and require plenty of room for good air circulation.

Care

Zucchini plants will thrive in regular garden soil. If your soil is poor then you may wish to fertilize or amend the soil with compost. Keep zucchini plants evenly watered throughout the season. Mulch the garden bed with salt hay to keep it free of weeds and to retain soil moisture. If growing zucchini horizontally, mulch will keep the fruit clean by preventing it from coming into contact with the soil.

Staking

Zucchini is a vine and may be grown vertically, with assistance, on vegetable netting or a fence, trellis or lattice. Plants and fruit are heavy, so be certain to secure the vine carefully as it grows and watch for any signs of breakage that could damage maturing vegetables.

Harvesting

Zucchini is best and has the best flavor if it is harvested when young and tender, about 6 inches long. Use pruning shears or a garden knife to cut zucchini from the vine. Never pull the fruit off, which can damage the vine as well as the vegetable.

Pests

A number of pests will like zucchini just as much as you do, but there are steps you can take to keep your zucchini patch pest-free.

  • Cucumber Beetle: These insects will skeletonize the zucchini leaves, resulting in lower yields and smaller vegetables. Plant resistant varieties and hand pick the beetles.
  • Squash Bugs: Yellow spotting on zucchini leaves that turn brown identifies squash bug damage. Eventually the leaves then turn black and crispy. Control this pest when plants are young. Look for eggs on the underside of zucchini leaves and crush them.
  • Squash Vine Borer: This pest first presents itself with wilting leaves. Upon inspection you will see orange ‘sawdust’ at the base of the plant. Use floating row covers if planting early or hold off on planting zucchini until after July 4th when the insect egg laying is completed.
  • Blossom End Rot: This disease appears as a dark, leathery patch on the blossom end of the zucchini. It is caused by either uneven soil moisture or a soil calcium deficiency. Do not allow soil to dry out between watering, and add calcium to the soil with dolomitic lime or gypsum to ensure proper nutrition.

Recipes

Try these delicious treats to make the most of your zucchini harvest!

Grilled Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/4 cup Italian-style salad dressing

Directions

  • Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch thick slices (peel first if desired). Toss in a bowl with Italian dressing.
  • Place on a hot grill about 4 to 5 minutes or until nice grill marks appear and the zucchini is slightly limp. Serve and enjoy.

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peeled, grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch bread pans.
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  • Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  • Stir in zucchini and nuts (if desired) until well combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 40-60 minutes or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.

Remove bread from pan, and cool completely.

Naturescaping With Regional Perennial Wildflowers

There’s no need to sacrifice beauty when designing or redesigning your yard or garden to be more nature-friendly. Naturescaping is an approach to garden and landscape design that will help save time, money and energy while providing an attractive and healthy habitat for wildlife and people. Readily available native wildflowers can add remarkable beauty to your environment, and since they are adapted to our climate and soils, they require little, if any, supplemental watering, fertilizing or care and are less susceptible to pests and disease. Native plants also attract a variety of native birds, butterflies, moths and bees essential for pollination. As an added bonus, native wildflowers are often less expensive to purchase, and you may even be able to get some varieties free by sharing with neighbors, botanical gardens, wildlife centers or extension services that are encouraging more native planting.

Choosing Native Flowers

There are many beautiful native flowers to choose from, but they won’t all thrive in every yard. When selecting, be certain to match the plant’s moisture requirements and exposure preferences to your site, taking into consideration growth patterns, available space and mature sizes. Also consider choosing flowers with different bloom times so your yard puts on a native show all season long, and tier different plant heights to create layers of natural color and beauty. Then plant, sit back, relax and enjoy!

Lighting Up Your Nighttime Garden

Do you work all day in an office, on the road or even in the garden, but never have the time to enjoy the beautiful plants you spend time nurturing? Evening gardens are meant to help us relax, encourage savoring a refreshing evening and wrap us in their brilliance, and one of the best ways to enhance your nighttime garden is with the right lighting to make it shine even in the darkness.

Natural Light in a Nighttime Garden

Extending the pleasure of your garden immensely, moonlight and star shine will illuminate flowers and foliage making the garden at night a different experience, almost surreal and magical. It can be especially enchanting when fireflies gently meander through the air, adding their ethereal glow to the landscape.

At nighttime, the garden develops hidden depths as the colors fade in the dusk. Red takes on a deep mysterious glow until it is lost into darkness when only the palest flowers begin to glimmer. Foliage casts shadows that soften the harsh corners of decks, sheds and structures. Scents are more apparent after a warm day as well as a calm, soothing feeling descends, and pesky biting insects retire as well – this is truly a wonderful time to enjoy your garden.

Artificial Light in the Night Garden

Enhancing the moonlight is a great way to create a spectacular night-time garden. Artificial light, besides serving a practical function, can add more interest to the evening garden, illuminating pathways and highlighting specific features.

Accent lighting creates a dramatic effect. Uplight trees, sculptures, pergolas, arbors, or large shrubs with recessed, understated lighting features to create a luminous glow. Create down-light from above to ‘moonlight’ paths or patios with either tall light fixtures or smaller pathway fixtures.

Add portable light with lanterns, torches and simple staked candles. This is great for barbeque areas, decks and entertainment areas, helping increase illumination for better visibility and evening energy. Candles are also nice because their flames flicker in the breeze and create shadows and reflections, but if it is too windy, be sure the flames are protected from vigorous breezes that will blow them out.

For the most dramatic nighttime lighting in your garden, consider specific features that will become showstoppers after dark. An elegant fire pit can be an evening gathering place and just the right spot for roasting marshmallows and chatting with friends. A waterfall or fountain can also be carefully lit to create an elegant, mystical mood with eye-catching sparkles as the light catches every splash.

To make the most of your garden lighting, position lights so they do not shine directly in your eyes as you move through the garden. If you are near a street, make sure your lighting won’t be canceled by streetlights, overwhelmed by passing traffic or distracting to drivers.

You don’t need to stop enjoying your garden when the sun goes down. With the right illumination – making the most of natural nighttime light and enhancing it with carefully chosen lighting – after dark can be when your garden really shines its brightest.

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Blossom End Rot

Nothing is more disheartening than grabbing a beautiful tomato only to find the entire bottom is soft, black and rotten. Blossom end rot (BER) affects tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and melons. Caused by insufficient calcium and uneven water during the rapid growth of the plant and its fruit, BER is easily avoidable with the proper precautions.

All vegetables need calcium for healthy development. When tomatoes, peppers, melons and eggplant can’t get enough, the tissues on the blossom end of the fruit break down. By testing your soil to determine its pH and calcium content, regularly watering and curbing fertilizer use, your susceptible veggies should be free of BER.

The best prevention occurs before planting. The soil pH determines the amount of calcium available to a plant. At lower pH levels, less calcium is available for the plant to absorb because it becomes chemically tied up in the soil. Most vegetables grow well in soils with a pH of 6.2-6.8. However, vegetables susceptible to BER require a pH of 6.5-6.8, where more calcium is available and it can be more easily absorbed, especially during rapid growth and fruiting periods. If the pH is lower than 6.5, the crop is likely to develop BER. This can also occur when the pH is correct, but the soil contains an insufficient amount of calcium.

Water fluctuations and excessive fertilizer also affect nutrient absorption. A plant requires water to absorb nutrients. If no water is present, no nutrients can be absorbed, and in addition to blossom end rot, plants may be small and weak as well as more susceptible to other pests, diseases and deficiencies.

Additionally, too much fertilizer can cause a plant to grow so quickly that the nutrient uptake cannot meet the demands of growth, leading to BER. In these cases, the plants grow so rapidly and develop produce so quickly that there isn’t time for the proper nutrient balance to be absorbed, including the right amount of calcium. Because of this accelerated growth and insufficient nutrition for the growth pace, plants will be more susceptible to blossom end rot.

Unfortunately, simply adding calcium to the soil will not stop BER this year, but it can help your soil become better conditioned for next year. However, we do carry several products to help with this year’s crop as well. Easy-to-use calcium sprays can save much of this year’s crop of tomatoes or other vulnerable produce. Come on in and our knowledgeable staff will help you find the best product for your situation, as well as for tips on how to improve your soil’s pH levels, calcium content, moisture retention and overall nutrition so blossom end rot is never a problem in your garden again.

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Magnificent Mountain Laurels

An undeniably beautiful shrub in any season, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) explodes into bloom in late spring to early summer. One of our nation’s greatest contributions to the botanical world, mountain laurels possesses beautiful, shiny, deep green foliage. They boast legendary clusters of star-like buds opening to delicate cup-shaped flowers with frilly edges. The flower buds emerge red, open pink or white and reveal purple dappled markings inside the flower, giving this shrub its nickname “calico bush.”

A native from Maine to Florida, these broadleaf evergreens intrigue but also sometimes frustrate the home gardener. With so many magnificent specimens growing wild in the eastern forests, why is it sometimes difficult to grow mountain laurel in the landscape?

Location

First, you will need to choose the right site. Mountain laurel will tolerate sun if there is adequate moisture and the root area is cool, but partial shade is preferable and shade will do if there is some morning sun available. Plant your mountain laurel where it has plenty of room to grow to maturity; it should not need to be pruned except to remove dead or damaged wood. Mountain laurels are slow-growing, reaching 4-8 feet over 10 years. This contributes to their irregular habit, creating an elegant specimen.

Planting

As a member of the heath family, which includes rhododendron, mountain laurel requires well-drained, rich, acidic soil. Replicate these conditions and your plant should thrive. Your soil pH should be 5.0-5.5, but if your pH is higher than 6.5 your mountain laurel may not survive and certainly will not thrive. Laurels seem to perform best in raised beds, heavily amended with sphagnum peat moss or finely ground pine bark. To plant, dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball. Set the plant at or above the depth as it was growing in its container or the size of the root ball. Do not plant it more deeply. Mix a handful of superphosphate to the amended planting soil, then backfill the hole and water thoroughly. Add a 3-inch layer of pine bark mulch to keep the roots cool in hot weather and to retain soil moisture. Check plant often throughout the season and water before soil dries out. Fertilize twice yearly with Holly-tone; once in the spring and half strength in the autumn to provide adequate nourishment.

Selections

There are many different mountain laurels to choose from, and the most popular varieties include…

  • Alpine Pink – Rich pink buds open to medium pink with a white throat.
  • Carousel – Starburst pattern inside the corolla. Good growth.
  • Hearts of Fire – Red buds open to a deep pink flower.
  • Nipmuck – Intense red buds open cream white to light pink while the back of the corolla is dark pink.
  • Olympic Fire – Large deep red buds open to pink flowers.
  • Pinwheel – Maroon flowers edged in white with a cinnamon-maroon band that almost fills the center of the corolla.
  • Snowdrift – Compact, mounded plant with pure white flowers.
  • Elf – White flowers on a dwarf plant.

* All plants subject to availability

Mountain laurels can be magnificent specimens to add to your landscape, try one today!

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Dealing with Powdery Mildew

One of the most common and easy to recognize plant diseases, powdery mildew, is caused by fungus spores that overwinter in garden debris and are spread by wind the following season. In late spring and early summer, the warmer days and high humidity provide perfect conditions for spore germination. The disease spreads over the surface of leaves of plants like Bee Balm, Lilac, Rose and Phlox. While the plant may look extremely unattractive, its overall health is not affected. Although we can’t change the conditions that favor powdery mildew, we can stop or slow its spread to keep your plants looking their best.

To control powdery mildew…

  • Place susceptible plants in locations where they receive early morning sun. This allows the dew to dry quickly from their leaves to inhibit the spread of mildew spores.
  • Increase the plants’ resistance by minimizing stress and providing adequate water, sun and soil requirements. This will help the plants naturally resist powdery mildew and other common diseases.
  • Give plants plenty of room for good air circulation. This helps leaves dry more quickly and lowers humidity so conditions are not as favorable for the mildew spores.
  • Water the soil not the leaves of susceptible plants. Use soaker hoses, drip systems or watering wands to get water just to the base of the plant and out to the drip line without watering the foliage.
  • Select mildew-resistant varieties of plants. These will vary in different areas and depend on your soil conditions and landscaping needs.
  • Prevent the disease from effecting susceptible plants by spraying with a fungicide like Bonide Fung-onyl, Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control or Safer Garden Fungicide every 7-14 days while conditions are favorable. Always read fungicide labels completely before applying and follow instructions carefully to prevent mishaps that could damage your plants.
  • Eliminate the breeding grounds for powdery mildew by cleaning up the garden and yard each fall, removing leaf litter, pruning branches and replacing old mulch. This will minimize the areas where spores can overwinter, reducing the chances of more mildew spreading in the spring.

Powdery mildew may not be pretty, but it can be pretty easy to control if the right steps are taken to protect your plants. Using multiple techniques will be the most effective way to reduce the spread of the mildew and keep it under control or completely eliminated so your plants always look their best.

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Landscaping the Pond

So, you’ve just installed a water garden and you’re wondering how to landscape around it without looking like the pond was a mistake or haphazard addition to your yard. A pond looks best if it appears to “belong” in your landscape. Whether your garden has a natural look or a formal style, the secret is to use plants that look right at home at the water’s edge and blend well with your existing landscape.

Getting Started

Lining the margins of the pond with small rocks disguises pond liner edges and gives an informal look to the water garden. A larger boulder actually overhanging the pond is an ideal spot for kids (or you!) to watch fish, frogs and dragonflies. Continue the theme in the surrounding landscape with some groupings of larger rocks, creating additional shelves or niches for an uneven, natural look.

Trees

In general, trees should not overhang the pond, as a water garden needs 5 to 6 hours of sun for aquatic plants to thrive and intrusive roots could damage the liner as trees grow. However, a small specimen tree will give your water garden scale and is a good starting point to the planting surround. Select smaller growing trees such as Japanese Maple, River Birch or low-growing flowering trees like Star Magnolia, Crepe Myrtle or Snowbell (Styrax). Position them slightly back from the pond’s edge in a suitable space for their own growth needs.

Shrubs

Shrubs give the landscape substance as well as flower and foliage interest at different times of the year. For winter color, select some evergreen shrubs like pines, spruces or junipers. A water garden located in the corner of your yard might have a backdrop of taller shrubs and smaller growing ones in the foreground. A more centrally-located water garden should have lower-growing shrubs all around so the pond can be viewed from all sides. Azaleas are a favorite for early spring color.

Perennials & Grasses

Perennials and ornamental grasses form the final layer of landscape. Select perennials that bloom at different times or with interesting foliage for color and texture all season long. Some favorites include Siberian iris, coneflower, rudbeckia and daylilies for sunny areas, with astilbe, hosta and ferns for more shaded locations. Plant perennials in large clumps or flowing drifts for the most impact.

Ornamental grasses are a spectacular addition to the water garden. Where a tall-growing grass is needed, use varieties of Miscanthus, Erianthus and Molinia. Graceful Fountain Grass is attractive planted in large groupings, while vibrantly-colored Japanese Blood Grass forms a dense low-growing mass for foreground plantings.

Finishing Touches

Be sure to create a place in your pond landscape where you can sit and enjoy your water garden – an overhanging rock or strategically placed garden bench can be ideal. Lighting, too, is important to bring your water garden to life at night. Create dramatic effects both by spotlights around the pond and submerged lighting if possible.

With thoughtful landscaping, your pond can be an integral, beautiful part of your landscape and a focal point for stunning landscaping design.

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Ladybugs: The Good Guys

Did you know that a ladybug can devour up to 50 aphids or more in a day? They also attack scale, mealybugs and leaf hopper, but not on your precious garden plants or seedlings. Invite ladybugs to your garden – they dine only on insects and won’t harm your plants in any way.

Ladybug or Lady Beetle?

The different names given to ladybugs are almost as numerous as the number of species. You may call them ladybugs (although they are not really bugs), lady beetles (they are technically beetles), lady birds or in Germany you would say “Marienkafer” (Mary’s beetles). In North America, there are more than 350 species of ladybugs, and more than 4,000 are found around the world. Most species can be identified by the pattern of spots on their elytra (flight wing covers).

Lady beetles are members of the beetle family Coccinellidae, which means “little sphere.” In their life cycle, a lady beetle will go through egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. Lady beetles’ favorite food is the notorious aphid. A female lady bug has huge appetite, eating from 75-100 aphids per day, while the male eats about 40 per day. Most lady beetles are predators, but a few are plant eaters, and can be crop pests.

Lady beetles have some surprisingly innovative ways of protecting themselves. First is their coloring. Most predators know that bright colorings mean that their victim would likely taste bad and may even sting them. Lady beetles also produce a pungent odor when threatened, or may just play dead. Lady beetle larvae is kind of alligator-looking, so not many predators will not mess with it. Lady beetles may live in shrubs, fields, trees and logs.

Releasing Ladybugs

If you want ladybugs or lady beetles in your and – and what gardener wouldn’t? – you can buy them to release in the most needed spots. Ladybugs should always be released after sundown since they only fly in the daytime. During the night, they will search the area for food and stay as long as there is food for them to eat. The more they eat, the more eggs they lay and the more insect-eating larvae you will have. It is best if the area has been recently watered.

Ladybugs tend to crawl up and toward light. Release them in small groups at the base of plants and shrubs or in the lower parts of trees that have aphids or other insects, and they will crawl up the entire plant as they feed, thoroughly eliminating unwanted pests. They may eventually move on and out of your garden or yard, but by the time they do their job is done and you have naturally eliminated many pests while helping ladybugs spread their beauty and helpfulness.

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Gardening With Children

By gardening with your children or grandchildren, you can give them an awareness and appreciation of nature and the world around them that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Even very young children enjoy helping with simple garden chores such as weeding, spreading mulch and harvesting. Older children love to have their own special garden to look after. This could be as small as several containers on the deck or as big as your whole yard, depending on their (and your) time, willingness and patience. To start out, you might give them a section of your garden to plant and look after.

First, be sure to teach your budding gardener the value of improving the soil with organic material before they begin planting. Explain how organic material improves the texture of the soil and adds some food for the plants as well.

Since improving the soil will make them more successful, they’ll be willing to garden again next spring. There are special kid-friendly tools available, just right for small hands to manipulate and since children love getting dirty, you’ll not be short of volunteers when the digging begins!

Next, help your child select a combination of plants that will make their garden interesting and exciting throughout the year. You can do this by considering all five senses:

  • Sight
    Many colorful blooming plants as well as plants with unusual flowers, oddly-shaped leaves or crazy seeds will appeal to a child’s imagination. Consider smiling pansy faces and nodding columbines in the spring and snapdragons to snap and silver coins from the money plant (Lunaria biennis) in summer. In the fall, blue balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflora) and the bright orange seed cases of Chinese lantern (Physalis franchettii) are fun options.
  • Touch
    Stroke the silky-soft, silver leaves of lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) – now you’ll know how it got its name. Or, feel the papery flowers of thrift (Armeria maritima) or strawflowers, the ferny foliage of yarrow or the succulent foliage of sedum. Even thorny plants such as raspberries or roses can engage a child’s sense of touch – carefully of course!
  • Taste
    Growing vegetables is always fun and rewarding for children. If you have the space, it’s always exciting to grow pumpkins for Halloween or weird and wonderful gourds. Other easy to grow vegetables include radishes, carrots, peas, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. And don’t forget fruits like strawberries, rhubarb and watermelon. At harvest time let your child host a ‘salad party’ to share their bounty with family and friends.
  • Smell
    There are many scented flowers to choose from, including perennial peonies and lilies, as well as annual sweet alyssum and heliotrope. Let kids select herbs with fragrant foliage too. Mint is always popular but be sure to allow room for it to spread. Choose varieties with interesting names like chocolate, apple or grapefruit to capture a young gardener’s imagination. Use the pineapple-flavored leaves of pineapple sage in iced tea and watch the hummingbirds gather around this herb’s bright red flowers!
  • Sound
    The whirring of hummingbird wings, the song of a bird, the rustling of foliage or flowers in a breeze – these are all sounds that you and your child can share in a garden. Take time out from your gardening chores every now and then to listen.

So, bring in your child and let us help you get started on that most special garden of all, a child’s garden.

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Growing and Storing Herbs

Growing herbs, whether inside or out, may be one of gardening’s most gratifying experiences. Because of their beauty and versatility, herbs may be grown amid vegetables, ornamentals or in a garden dedicated strictly to their kind. They may be nurtured in a sunny window box, strawberry pot, whiskey barrel or just about any container you choose. Situate your herbs for easy access: on the patio, deck, a sunny windowsill or in the kitchen garden. Herbs are relatively carefree and have a multitude of uses that include but are not limited to: culinary, aromatic, ornamental, medicinal and insect control.

Herb Growing Tips

Choose a full sun location, 4-6 hours per day is best. Herbs will grow in a shadier location, but plants will be weak and thin. Most herbs are not demanding of soil fertility. One thing that they will not tolerate, however, is wet or poorly drained soil, so be sure not to overwater your herbs.

Locate herbs in or near the kitchen for easy access when cooking. Be aware of the ultimate size, height and spread of the herbs that you plan to grow. If you take this into consideration you can assure room for the plants to reach their full potential. Position taller herbs to the back of the garden or container and shorter herbs to the front; this will allow for easier access and prevent shading.

Water pots before planting. Remove plants from their pots and loosen roots to stimulate new root growth. Place plants at the same soil depth that they were in the pot, or slightly higher to avoid rotting. Gently firm soil around each plant, water carefully and mulch if desired. Feed monthly with a mild, organic fertilizer such as Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 3-2-1.

Some herbs, such as mints, have a tendency to be invasive and may take over an entire herb garden or even spread into the lawn or other parts of the landscaping. Sink aggressive potted herbs directly into the garden to minimize this overgrowth. Pull up pots each spring to replenish their soil, then sink the containers back into the garden for another season.

Growing herbs indoors is also quite simple. Choose herbs that will not get too large to handle inside. The same soil requirements apply for both indoor and outdoor planting. Select a south or west window to situate your plants so they receive adequate sunlight. It may be beneficial or necessary to supplement with artificial lighting during the winter months. Provide humidity by grouping plants together and misting daily. Another option is placing potted herbs on a humidity tray. Fertilize monthly with Neptune’s Harvest to provide the best nutrition.

Harvesting

Fresh herb leaves are ready to be harvested as soon as there is enough foliage to maintain the plant. Try to harvest in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun becomes too hot, using a sharp knife or scissors to make each cut. It is a good idea to harvest only what you plan to use at time of cutting, as herbs do not store well in the refrigerator. With most herbs it is beneficial to harvest before the plants go to flower, as the taste is better at this stage of growth. Rinse with cold water and pat dry before using.

Drying

If you have excess herbs, you may want to dry them for future use. After gently rinsing the harvested herbs, drain them on absorbent towels, tie in bunches and dry thoroughly by hanging bunches up in the sun just until all water evaporates from the surface of the herbs. Remove plants from sun and hang in a clean, dark, dry location with good air circulation for 1-2 weeks until herbs are completely dry and brittle. If not dried completely the herbs will become moldy in storage. Remove leaves from the stem and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry, low light environment. Check container in a few days for condensation. If there is any moisture in the container you must start the drying process again, after checking carefully for any mold or mildew.

You can also dry herbs in a conventional or microwave oven. With a conventional oven, position clean herbs in a single layer on a shallow pan. Place baking pan in a 180°F oven for 2 to 4 hours. When using a microwave, place clean herbs in a single layer on a paper towel or plate. Cook herbs on high for 1 to 3 minutes, rotating the plate every 30 seconds or moving the leaves around on the plate until thoroughly dry. Store these herbs just as you would air-dried herbs.

Freezing

Freezing herbs is also easy to accomplish. Wash herbs and blanch them in boiling water for one minute. Cool herbs very quickly in ice water then drain. Package herbs in airtight plastic bags and store in the freezer.

Herbs can be delightfully easy to grow and they are an even more delightful addition to salads, sauces, pastas, teas and many other treats you can enjoy year-round.

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Long-Blooming Perennials for Summer

By choosing long-blooming perennial plants, you can capitalize on the best of both worlds – plants that come back from growing season to growing season, and those that bloom for an extended length of time. This also means you’ll have more time to appreciate the gardens you create!

Here is just a sampling of long-blooming perennial plants perfect for the sunny summer garden:

  • Achillea (Yarrow) is a very drought and heat resistant plant once established. The flower heads are long-lasting and many colors are available including yellow, gold, pink and pastels in apricot, lilac, salmon, cream and white. Plants grow from 8-36″ tall, depending on variety. The flat-topped flower heads grow up to several inches across, and make excellent cut and dried flowers. The fern-like, gray to gray-green foliage is somewhat aromatic and attractive even when the plant is not in bloom.
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed) is one of the easiest and most rewarding garden flowers. The thread leaf varieties are usually the longest blooming, typically from June through fall. The pale yellow, bright yellow or rosy-pink daisy flowers smother the slender stems and thread-like leaves. Plant height, from 15-24″, is variety dependent. A mid-summer shearing of the seed heads will keep these plants blooming for many more weeks.
  • Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is a sturdy, bold-textured favorite with dark foliage that grows to 2-3′ tall and wide. The flowers are large, daisy-like with unique standings of dark-rose purple and lighter in color. Birds and butterflies also love these flowers, adding even more beauty to your garden with their visits.
  • Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan) is an old-fashioned garden favorite. It is hardy, reliable, insect and disease-free and an exceptionally long-blooming plant – typically from July through fall. This medium-green, bold-foliaged plant grows to about 3′ tall and bears golden yellow, daisy-like flowers with dark brown centers. Both Echinacea and Rudbeckia flowers make excellent cut flowers and a wonderful place for butterflies to sit and eat.
  • Gallardia (Blanket Flower) is an American native plant which thrives in the hot sun and has beautiful yellow-orange flowers, marked with red. Height varies according to variety. Some favorites include “Baby Cole” which is a dwarf only 8″ high, “Goblin,” a 12-15” grower, and “Burgundy,” which reaches 18-24” and whose flowers are a gorgeous shade of burgundy red.
  • Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago) features intense blue flowers from mid-summer to September. Plumbago spreads quickly to form a neat groundcover and as an added bonus, leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall before dropping. This excellent perennial grows well in light shade also.
  • Veronica (Speedwell) has neat, attractive foliage and abundant flowers in densely packed spikes. Look for the cultivars ‘Goodness Grows’ and taller ‘Sunny Border Blue’ for a beautiful addition of blue to your summer garden, and pair it with red or white favorites for a patriotic theme.

Remember, this is just a brief glimpse of the long-blooming perennials available to choose from. Stop by to see our wide selection of perennials so we can help you determine which plants are best suited to your garden.

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Dealing With Drought

Because plants require moisture to grow and thrive, your garden will probably suffer during periods of low rainfall and intense heat. Insufficient soil moisture will result in smaller flowers and fruit, stunted plant growth, decreased root development and increased plant disease and insect damage. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to minimize the impact of drought on your garden.

Save Your Soil

Soil is like a sponge that holds and releases all the ingredients that your plants need to survive. Soils that drains quickly, such as sandy or rocky soil, will speed up and increase the effects of drought as water flows away from plant roots. The best way to correct this problem is to amend your soil with organic matter. Amending your soil adds to its moisture retaining ability, adds nutrients essential for plant health and increases soil aeration for ease of root growth. Good choices include:

  • compost
  • composted manure
  • composted or shredded leaf litter
  • mushroom soil
  • dried grass clippings
  • earthworm castings

First, amend soil immediately around plants, in landscaping beds and in the garden, but aim to amend all your soil and lawn eventually to improve its condition and drought-resistance.

Choose Drought-Tolerant Plants

Drought-tolerant plants are adapted to grow well in regions of low rainfall. These plants require minimal water to survive. When planting, try to group plants with the same water requirements together in an area best suited to their tolerance. Plants best adapted to dry conditions include:

  • locally native plants
  • plants with deep taproots
  • plants covered with hair
  • tiny leaved plants
  • succulents and cacti

Swapping out just a few water-hogging plants for more drought-tolerant options in your landscape can have a remarkable impact on saving water and still having a lush garden.

Use Drought-Friendly Watering Techniques

During a drought, you will need to water your garden, flowerbeds and lawn more thoughtfully to keep them well-watered but without waste or excess evaporation. The best way to water a garden is by drip irrigation or a soaker hose. Soaker hoses allow deep watering without runoff. Moisture goes directly into the soil where every precious drop can be absorbed by plant roots. With conventional overhead watering methods, about 35 percent of the water used is wasted due to evaporation. Time saving tip: Install a timing device with a moisture sensor to automatically turn your irrigation system on and off as required relative to any rainfall.

Sprinklers should be used primarily for lawns. Newly seeded or sodded areas must be watered daily during the summer months until established, then frequently through the first growing season. Rain gauges are good for checking the amount of rainfall or for sprinkler placement. Lawn Tip: Do not cut lawns shorter than 3” in the summer. This will shade the soil surface to allow the soil to remain cooler. Also, use a mulching mower to return moist clippings to the soil.

Containers and hanging baskets should be checked for watering every day. Watering wands are used for watering containers and hanging baskets, as they give a gentle spray without splashing the soil. Container Tip: When planting your pots and hanging baskets, incorporate moisture retaining polymers into the soil. When the soil starts to dry it will pull from this reserve.

Make Use of Mulch

After watering, you will want to conserve as much soil moisture as possible. Place at least 2-4 inches of mulch on the soil surface in the planting bed. Mulches help prevent soil moisture evaporation and reduce surface runoff, as well as minimizing weeds that would compete for any available moisture. Ideal mulches include:

  • wood chips
  • shredded bark
  • pine needles
  • grass clippings
  • decorative rocks
  • synthetic mulches

With some thoughtfulness about your plants’ watering needs and how to meet those needs, it’s easy to deal with drought conditions without sacrificing your plants.

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What to Do During a Drought

Dire warnings about drought conditions can worry even experienced gardeners, but there are easy ways to save water and save your trees, flowers, vegetable patches, herb gardens and decorative landscaping at the same time.

  • Spray Trees & Shrubs With an Anti-Transpirant
    If pruning, only remove dead material from trees and shrubs, anything more will encourage new growth. This takes energy that a drought-stressed plant cannot afford. Instead, spray leaves with an anti-transpirant or anti-dessicant to help leaves retain what moisture they have.
  • Water Early
    Morning temperatures are cooler and the sun is not as intense as later in the day so there is less moisture loss due to evaporation. Also, water sitting on foliage will have a chance to dry during the day minimizing the chance of fungal infection, especially during humid weather.
  • Water Slowly & Deeply
    Watering slowly will allow the moisture to penetrate more deeply into the root zone rather than running off the soil surface. Create depressions or water traps around larger plants to hold the water where you want it until it can saturate the soil. Remember to water trees at the drip line, not at the trunk base, as this is where the roots are most active. Drip irrigation bags are excellent for watering newly planted trees.
  • Thoughtfully Add to Landscaping
    If you are adding to your landscaping during a drought, choose water-wise, drought-resistant plants or consider xeriscaping techniques that minimize water use. Native plants, succulents and cacti are all great choices and require minimal water. In very severe drought conditions, it may be best to not replace plants, at least until watering conditions improve.
  • Water the Soil, Not the Leaves
    Plants take up water through their roots. Water landing on the foliage will be lost due to evaporation. The more water you direct to the soil, the less you will waste – drip systems and soaker hoses are ideal options. The key is infrequent but heavy watering rather than lighter, more frequent watering. This encourages deep root growth, which increases drought tolerance.
  • Conserve Precious Water
    Place a rain barrel under downspouts to collect rainwater. Wash the car on the lawn rather than on the driveway. Reuse “gray water” such as bathtub or dishwater and rinse cycle water from your laundry to water your garden. Collect the drip water from an air conditioner (may produce up to 5 gallons in 24 hours) for watering. Replace leaky hoses and sprinklers and use washers to correct leaks at fittings. Shorten showers, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth and take other steps in the home to reduce water use so more is available for landscaping needs.

No matter how severe a drought or how low water supplies may be, there are ways you can deal with it and still keep your landscaping well cared for.

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Bringing Butterflies to the Backyard

In spring, female butterflies will be mostly concerned with finding their species’ specific host plants on which to lay fertilized eggs. Instinctively, they know they must find plants to ensure that their caterpillars will have appropriate food for survival after hatching. Both male and female butterflies will be looking for flowers with nectar for their own survival. And, they will be searching for shelter from rainy or windy weather, a sunny place for basking, and a source of water. Because many natural butterfly habitats in North America are disappearing at an alarming rate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for butterflies to find these necessities of life.

Starting a butterfly garden can be simple and rewarding if you follow these pointers. The most important thing you can do as a gardener is to plant both nectar and host plants in your garden. Providing host plants for caterpillars to feed on, will allow you to watch the metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. So, do not discourage caterpillars. They may make your garden plants look bad but it’s usually only temporary. Most important – do not use pesticides! You may be killing off the very insects you made the garden for. And, you don’t have to have a large area to get a response. Just a few select plants will spur some action. Choose the sunniest spot possible for your butterfly garden. It could be any size or shape; even a short border will work. A combination of woody shrubs, perennials and annual flowers works best, but using just a couple of plants can still yield results. Planting a section of wildflowers is an easy way to cover a problem area and lure some butterflies to your yard. If you don’t have the room for a garden, fuchsia, petunia or impatiens hanging baskets will attract butterflies as well as hummingbirds.

The following is a list of plants that attract butterflies:

Woody shrubs:

  • Glossy Abelia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Japanese Privet
  • Honeysuckle
  • Weigela
  • Spiraea
  • Lilac
  • Deutzia
  • Trumpet vine

Perennials:

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Aster
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Cosmos
  • Carnation
  • Coneflower
  • Joe-Pye weed
  • Sunflower

Annuals and Tender

Perennials:

  • Heliotrope
  • Lantana
  • Rosemary
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Geraniums
  • Snapdragons
  • Portulaca
  • Zinnias
  • Allysum
  • Fucshia
  • Vinca
  • Balsam
  • Dahlia
  • Impatiens
  • Salvia
  • Verbena
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Battling the Bugs of Summer

In the summer months, insects can take their toll on your plants if you are not on the alert for problems. If the right product is used at the right time and under the right conditions, however, pesticides can be reduced to a minimum and your plants will be well-protected.

Organic Products

Apply organic products early in the morning when bugs are eating. To stop insect damage, the spray must be applied to the insect itself or sometimes to where the bug is eating. The entire plant must often be sprayed to keep the pests from moving on to untreated areas. Organic controls include insecticidal soap, Bonide All Season Spray (horticultural oil), Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, tobacco dust, bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), rotenone and pyrethrin sprays.

Contact Products

Inorganic in composition, these insecticides must be applied either to the insect or the leaf where the pest is feeding. Apply in the morning for best results, and as with the organic controls, soak the entire plant so the insects do not find a safer spot to nibble. Contact pesticides include Malathion and Sevin.

Systemic Products

Systemic insecticides circulate to all parts of the plant. Therefore, if you are only able to spray part of a shrub, the product will move to all leaves within 24 hours to control feeding insects for about two weeks. Systemics are best applied in the evenings when there is no chance of rain and sprinklers will not be used. The product will be absorbed only as long as the leaf stays wet. When the leaf dries by mid-morning, the product is then moved through the entire plant when the insects resume feeding. Systemic insecticides available to the homeowner include Bonide Systemic Insect Spray, Ortho Systemic Insecticide and Bayer Season-Long Tree & Shrub.

Not sure how to deal with your pests and unwanted insects? This handy chart can help!

Environmentally Friendly Controls for Common Garden Pests

 

Pest Type

Control Methods

Ants & Cockroaches Concern Home Pest Control, Diatomaceous Earth, Bonide Eight, Bioganic Spray & Dust, Garlic Barrier
Aphids Insecticidal Soap, Pyrethrin, Bonide All-Season Spray, Bonide Eight, Rotenone, Hot Pepper Wax, Neem Oil, Garlic Barrier
Predator: Ladybugs, Praying Mantis
Caterpillars (Tomato Hornworm, Cabbage Looper, etc.) Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, Bt (Bacillus Thuringinensis), Dipel Dust, Bonide Eight, Neem Oil
Predator: Trichogramma, Praying Mantids
Fleas Diatomaceous Earth, Concern Home Pest Control, Bonide Eight
Predator: Beneficial Nematodes
Japanese Beetles Beetle Traps, Neem Oil, Schultz Expert Gardener, Pyrethrin, Bonide Eight
Predator: Praying Mantids, Beneficial Nematodes for grub stage control
Lacebugs Hot Pepper Wax, Insecticidal Soap
Mealy Bugs Insecticidal Soap, Pyrethrin, Bonide All-Season Spray, Pyrethrin, Bonide Eight
Predators: Crytpolnemus or green lacewing
Mites Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, Insecticidal Soap, Bonide All-Season Spray, Pyrethrin, Hot Pepper Wax, Garlic Barrier, Neem Oil
Mosquitoes Pyrethrin, Mosquito Bits, Mosquito Dunks (pond control)
Scale Hot Pepper Wax, Bonide All-Season Spray, Insecticidal Soap, Bonide Eight
Predator: Green lacewing
Slugs Concern Slug Stop, Monterey Sluggo
Predator: Birds
Thrips Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew, Insecticidal Soap, Bonide All-Season Spray, Pyrethrin, Hot Pepper Wax, Garlic Barrier, Neem Oil
Whiteflies Insecticidal Soap, Pyrethrin, Repel M Sticky Tape, Safers or Tanglefoot Sticky Whitefly Trap, Bonide Eight, Garlic Barrier
Predators: lady bugs, encarsia formosa or lace wings

 

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Choosing Evening Plants for Fragrance, Color and More

Plants don’t have to be hidden away at night, and there are many different plants that can be dramatic in the evening or well after dark. While the most obvious way to enhance the darkness is to use flowers that are light or white in color, you can also add plants with fragrant flowers or foliage. And, typically, evening bloomers often have a strong fragrance to attract night flying moth pollinators. Popular plants that thrive in evening gardens include…

Annuals and Tropicals

  • Allysum (Lobularia maritime): This fragrant, sweet-smelling annual grows easily to form a mat of small, white, light pink or purple flowers and grows 2-6″. Plant or sow seeds in full sun.
  • Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens): Look for the white-flowered form for the best evening visibility. It is not as showy as the popular dark violet version, but it’s more fragrant and will be more visible in darker lighting.
  • Licorice Plant (Helichrysum petiolare): Small, round, woolly leaves in silvery grey drape well in hanging baskets and can be very showy at night.
  • Jasmine (Jasmine officinale): This white-flowered jasmine is a vigorous twining shrub producing very fragrant flowers, attracting moths and glowing under moonlight.
  • Moonflower (lpomoea alba): Easy to grow, this annual has large, white, pink or purple fragrant blooms that open in early evening and last all night. Heart-shaped leaves make this a great vine to cover a trellis or fence. This fast-grower loves full sun.
  • Stock (Matthiola incana): Many kinds bear fragrant flowers that can add a delicious sensory experience to an evening garden.
  • Tobacco Flower (Nicotiana sylvestris): Long, tubular white flowers are intensely fragrant and dramatically visible even in near-darkness.

Perennials

  • Hosta (Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’): The bright, glossy chartreuse/gold large leaves (10″ across) of this hosta form a mound of brightness in the moonlight.
  • Lamium (Lamium maculatum selections): An excellent ground cover for shade, this plant has leaves of silvery white and green with white, pink or purple blooms.
  • Lavender (Lavandula): Fragrant English lavender (L. angustifolia), French lavender (L. dentata), ‘Provence’ and similar types (L. x intermedia) are the best bets for evening beauty.
  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera fruticosa): Night-flying insects are attracted to the delicate fragrance of this pretty flower. Remaining closed during the day, its petals uncurl at dusk. These drought-tolerant plants are ideal in full sun.
  • Pinks (Dianthus): Many hybrids have lost their delightful clove scent, but others are reliably fragrant. These include cheddar pinks (D. gratianopolitanus); cottage pinks (D. plumarius) and maiden pinks (D. deltoides).
  • Verbena (Verbena bonariensis): Tall, erect stems with clusters of small, purple flowers attract moths at night as well as bees and butterflies during the day. Grow in a sunny spot in moist, well-drained soil.

Bulbs

  • Lilies: Madonna lily (L. candidum), ‘Stargazer’, ‘Casablanca’ and other Oriental hybrids are extremely fragrant and beautiful, even in darker conditions.
  • Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa): This bulb, treated as an annual, produces exotic, sweet-smelling white flowers.

 Shrubs/Vines

  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii ‘White Profusion’): This luminous plant has fragrant flowers that make it irresistible to moths. Also try the deep purple ‘Black Knight’ for a dramatic contrast. Plant in a sunny, well-drained location.
  • Daphne (Daphne burkwoodii): ‘Carol Mackie’ has variegated foliage with star-shaped, richly fragrant, pale pink flowers that can glow in moonlight.
  • Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica): Either evergreen or deciduous varieties can be a suitable choice for evening interest.
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus): Most kinds are fragrant, especially sweet mock orange (P. coronarius).
  • Roses (Rosa): Many old roses are fragrant, including the damasks, Bourbons, hybrid perpetuals, Chinas and rugosas, as are many David Austin shrub roses. Choose varieties with white or pale blooms for more evening or nighttime glamour.
  • Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): This handsome, well-foliaged shrub has a summertime display of fragrant, pinkish-white flower spikes lasting for up to six weeks. It is well-suited for use near water and a good bee plant.
  • Viburnum (Viburnum species): Three selections are especially fragrant and ideal for evening flair: ‘Burkwood Viburnum’ – An upright 8-10’, multi-stemmed shrub that produces a white flower. ‘Korenspice Viburnum’ – With a mature height of 5′ to 8′, the Korenspice has pink to reddish buds that open to fragrant, white flowers. ‘Mohawk Viburnum’ – A cross between Burkwood and Korenspice, the Mohawk displays dark red buds which open to white with red blotched reverse flowers. The flowers have a strong clove fragrance to them.

Herbs

  • Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla): With an oh-so-lemony delightful fragrance, lemon verbena has fragrant, narrow leaves and small white flowers. Leaves are strongest in scent and flavor while the shrub is in bloom, but can be harvested at any time. Plant in a moist sunny location. Unlike many herbs, lemon verbena retains its scent for years when dried.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary’s fragrant flavor is spicy, warm and pungent, reminiscent of pine, balsam and ocean air. There are so many uses for rosemary that no garden should be without this herb. Along a path, rosemary releases its fresh, clean scent when brushed against at any time of day or night. Rosemary can take the heat, and does well against a brick or stone wall or in a pot on a sunny patio or terrace.
  • Scented Geraniums (Pelargonium): Of the many varieties, those with scents of rose, lemon and peppermint are the most fragrant.
  • Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans): This 3’ evergreen shrub has bright scarlet flowers in late summer and fall.

Adding plants specifically for evening enjoyment can enhance your garden for many hours, and with so many nighttime beauties to choose from, no garden should be without some after-dark drama.

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Crazy for Coneflowers

Beautiful and dependable, Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower, is the crowning glory of the summer perennial garden. A member of the Aster family, all Echinacea species are native to North America. The genus Echinacea is derived from the Greek ‘echino’ meaning hedgehog, a reference to the spiny center disc flowers.

Coneflowers are practical as well as gorgeous. They have long been used as an herbal remedy to stimulate the body’s natural immune system. Both plant roots and tops are used in the production of herbal medicines. Echinacea purpurea has traditionally been used for this purpose, but research is being conducted on the nine other species to determine their usefulness for homeopathic treatments.

Cultivating Coneflowers

Coneflowers will thrive in a sunny location, planted in well-drained soil. They are tolerant of nutrient-poor soil, heat and humidity. Echinacea purpurea grows on thick sturdy stems from 3-5 feet tall and generally does not require staking. Coneflowers are long-blooming, the flowers are fragrant and they make a long-lasting cut flower. This is one of the top ten perennials for attracting butterflies to the garden. You may deadhead plants after the blooms have faded to improve their appearance and to encourage a second, but smaller, bloom. You may also leave seed heads in place. In the summer and fall, they attract and provide food for goldfinches and other seed-loving birds. In the winter, the black spent flower heads add ornamental interest as they contrast dramatically with pure white snow.

This perennial is not invasive, but will self-seed if flower heads are left to mature. Cut plants down to the basal foliage, the low growing rosette of leaves, in the spring. Plants should be lifted and divided about every four years or as crowns become crowded.

Where to Place Coneflowers

Purple coneflower is a great addition to the back of any sunny perennial border. Its rose-purple flowers, with their coppery-orange centers, look great with ornamental grasses, Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Appropriate usage ideas include: cottage, meadow, prairie, wildflower, native and herb gardens, as well as butterfly gardens and any containers that serve similar purposes.

Favorite Coneflowers

America is having a love affair with Echinacea and several new cultivars are released each year, while popular favorites continue to be top choices.

Popular Echinacea Varieties

  • ‘Baby White Swan’ – Dwarf ‘White Swan’
  • ‘Bright Star’– Petals are pale purple-pink on the edge and darker toward disc
  • ‘Coconut Lime’ – New for 2007, first double white coneflower
  • ‘Doubledecker’ – Unusual two-tiered coneflower with ray petals in disc
  • ‘Fancy Frills’ – Petals are frilled on the edge
  • ‘Fatal Attraction’ – Vivid purple-pink flowers with 2 rows of petals
  • ‘Fragrant Angle’ – Large, fragrant, snow white flowers
  • ‘Green Envy’ – Unusual rounded green petals with magenta veining near the cone
  • ‘Green Eyes’ – Magenta flower with a green center disc
  • ‘Hope’ – Pale pink flower named in honor of a cure for breast cancer
  • ‘Kim’s Knee High’ – Dwarf with recurved ray petals and large orange cone
  • ‘Kim’s Mophead’ – Compact plant with white flowers
  • ‘Magnus’ – 1998 Perennial Plant of the Year, purple-pink flowers, 3’ tall
  • ‘Mars’ – Large orange cones surrounded by brilliant rose-purple petals
  • ‘Merlot’ – Large rose-pink flowers on wine colored, sturdy stems
  • ‘Pink Double Delight’ – Similar to ‘Razzmatazz’ with a more compact habit
  • ‘Razzmatazz’ – Double, bright pink flower on very sturdy stems
  • ‘Ruby Giant’ – Large, rich ruby-pink flowers that are highly fragrant
  • ‘Ruby Star’ – Reddish-purple flowers held horizontally
  • ‘Sparkler’ – Rose-pink flowers, white-splashed variegated foliage
  • ‘Tiki Torch’ – Large, bright orange flowers
  • ‘White Swan’ – White coneflower with downward reflexed petals

Echinacea Big Sky Series

  • ‘After Midnight’ – Dwarf plant with brilliant magenta, highly fragrant blooms
  • ‘Harvest Moon’ – Gold flower with golden-orange cone
  • ‘Summer Sky’ – Bicolor flower, soft peach and rose petals
  • ‘Sundown’ – Russet-orange with a prominent brown central cone
  • ‘Sunrise’ – Lemon-yellow flowers
  • ‘Sunset’ – Orange flowers with prominent brown central cone
  • ‘Twilight’ – Vibrant rose-red with a deep red cone

Echinacea Meadowbrite Series

  • ‘Mango Meadowbrite’ – Mango color, paler than orange meadowbright
  • ‘Orange Meadowbrite’ – Large single blooms of rich sunset orange
  • ‘Pixie Meadowbrite’ – A true dwarf, only 18” high, bright pink flowers

The list that we have provided is not all-inclusive, nor an accurate representation of every coneflower variety we carry. Please stop by often as we continue to provide standard, new and unusual perennials, including many new types of coneflowers.

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Daylilies… Easy to Grow, Fun to Collect!

Few perennials can match the daylily (Hemerocallis) for versatility and durability. One of the most popular perennials, daylilies have become a collector plant for novice and experienced gardeners alike. Thousands of named cultivars are trouble-free to grow and adaptable to many conditions, which makes daylily collecting fun and easy. Although each lily-like flower lasts only one day, there are always more buds to open which provide summer color and a subtly changing garden for many weeks.

Using Daylilies

Just as there are many different daylilies to try, there are many different ways to try them. Plant them individually for a pop of color, or create a mixed border with other plants or multiple daylily types. Daylilies can be a fun surprise when naturalized in a grassy area or grouped in a mass as a groundcover over larger areas. Taller varieties can even become simple screens or create gentle privacy surrounds. The creative gardener may even use multiple daylilies to create fun patterns or pictures in a themed flowerbed.

Daylily Care

Daylilies tolerate dry, poor soil, but perform best and reach their full potential in rich well-drained beds. Different cultivars have different needs for sunlight, moisture and fertilizing, and while these flowers do well even if somewhat neglected, it is best to try to meet their needs so each bloom can flourish. Some will tolerate drought and frost better than others, while certain cultivars need more attention. All are quite low-maintenance, however, and will thrive for years even in marginal conditions.

Popular Daylilies

There are too many daylily types to list – there are more than 35,000 different cultivars – but some tried-and-true selections that are always favorites include…

  • Hyperion – 40” tall, space 18-24” apart. Delightfully fragrant, large, 5” primrose-yellow flowers with a green throat in mid to late summer. Full sun or part shade.
  • Mary Todd – 26” tall, space 24-30” apart. Golden or buff 6-7” flowers on a semi-evergreen foliage. Blooms midseason. Full sun.
  • Stella De’Oro – 12-18” tall, space 18-24” apart. Golden yellow 2-3” flowers with a green throat on a compact plant. Reblooms all summer. Full sun.
  • Joan Senior – 25” tall, space 24-30” apart. Near-white 6” flowers with a green throat on an evergreen plant. Blooms midseason. Full sun.
  • Becky Lynn – 20” tall, space 24” apart. Large, 6” rose-blend flowers with a green throat in a semi-evergreen plant. Blooms midseason, then reblooms. Full sun.
  • Rocket City – 36” tall, space 18-24” apart. Eye-catching, two-tone orange blossoms are up to 6” across. Blooms midseason. Full sun or part shade.

There are always more daylily types to try; come in today to see the latest, hottest, most amazing cultivars of these versatile blooms, and you’ll be eager to add more of them to your landscape.

Daylily Fun Fact:

The American Hemerocallis Society has classified daylilies by flower size. A miniature has flowers less than 3” in diameter, small-flowered cultivars have flowers from 3-4.5” and large-flowered cultivars have flowers 4.5” or larger.

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Fabulous Hydrangeas for Show-Stopping Summer Color

Hydrangeas and are widely acclaimed for their large, showy blossoms that lend fabulous color to gardens from mid- to late summer. Their luxuriant dark green foliage offers a striking background to their large round or smooth blossoms. All hydrangeas are deciduous, and it’s a sure sign of spring when their tender green leaves begin to appear. Hydrangeas are spectacular when grown as single specimens and are equally fabulous when planted in mixed shrub borders. Some of our favorites…

  • Climbing Hydrangea – An excellent deciduous vine with glossy leaves and cinnamon colored exfoliating stems. White flowers bloom in early July. Easily climbs on masonry, reaching 10-20’ tall.
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea – An upright, irregular shrub that grows 4-6’ tall. Large leaves have excellent fall color. Creamy white flowers in July. Tolerates shade well.
  • Bigleaf (macrophylla) Hydrangea – Blue or pink flower clusters (5-10” across) appear in August. Flower color depends on the pH of the soil. Acid soils produce blue flowers, whereas alkaline soils produce pink blossoms. In garden settings, their colors can be changed by adding either sulfur or lime, depending on the color you want to achieve. Blossoms are produced on last year’s growth, so prune just after blooming.
  • Pee Gee Hydrangea – A small, low-branched tree that grows 10-15’ and arches under the weight of large flower clusters. White flowers bloom in July, turning pink and then brown with the first frost, holding on through winter. Flowers appear on previous year’s growth, so prune right after flowers start to turn pink.

Mopheads and Lacecaps – Which is Which?

Before you get the urge to dash out and buy the first hydrangeas that catch your eye, it’s wise to learn the difference between “mopheads” and “lacecaps.” As peculiar as these names sound, they truly are the names designated to two cultivar groups of macrophylla hydrangeas, and understanding the difference between them can help you choose the flowers you prefer.

  • Mopheads
    Garden hydrangeas, also known as ‘mopheads,’ feature large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms and bloom from mid- to late summer. Mopheads bloom in solid masses, their clusters often so heavy that they cause their stems to droop and bend with elegant arches.
  • Lacecaps
    Lacecap hydrangeas bear flat round flowerheads with centers of fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of sterile flowers. The fascinating flowerheads of lacecap hydrangeas are also somewhat reminiscent of pinwheels.

You will be delighted with the versatility of these lovely shrubs, so relax and enjoy their beauty!

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Climbing hydrangea vine.

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Garden Accents

Landscape accents have become increasingly popular as many of us have discovered the joys of outdoor living. Used creatively, accents can turn your garden into a magical wonderland. This summer, we invite you to view our many new and exciting garden accent product lines, including popular items such as…

  • Gazing Globes and Stands
    Old-fashioned Victorian gazing globes have made a comeback and we carry them in an assortment of colors and sizes. In addition, numerous gazing globe stands, in both metal and resin, are available.
  • Bird Baths
    A wide assortment of bird baths are available in a variety of materials: concrete, cast aluminum and terra cotta. Place your bird bath in a location where you can kick back, relax and quietly observe the bathers.
  • Statuary
    Set against a simple green background or placed on a garden pedestal amongst the flower, statues become a striking accent in the garden. Stop by and enjoy our wide variety of statuary with many different themes in durable resin and cast stone.
  • Garden Furniture
    Just the sight of our line of garden benches will tempt you to sit down and rest a spell. Choose from several styles of benches made of cast iron, eucalyptus wood, concrete and bamboo to add a sweet seat to your garden.
  • Trellises and Arbors
    Traditionally, trellises and arbors have primarily been used for their functional purpose, support. Today, no garden is complete without one of these structures. They may be used for their designed intention or simply as an ornamental accent, pathway definition or focal point. We carry pvc, wood, powder-coated metal and forged iron trellises and arbors.
  • Pots and Planting Containers
    We have a wide variety of planting containers available, including…

    • Hanging Baskets – Choose from willow, moss, metal, plastic and ceramic.
    • Pots – We have pots from Italy, Malaysia, China and more. Choose from our selection of clay, plastic, cement, tin, zinc, lightweight insulated and self-watering pots.
    • Planters– Choose from lined hayracks, cradle planters and cauldrons. We also carry plastic railing/fence/deck planters and plastic or glazed ceramic wall planters.
    • Window Boxes – Available in cedar, pvc, plastic, metal and light weight insulated material with different sizes for different windows.
    • Wind Chimes
      The soothing and melodious sound of a wind chime is sure to enhance your outdoor experience. Indulge with wind chimes in aluminum, pewter or bamboo.
    • Lighting
      Lanterns and torches are a gentle way to light areas for entertainment in the garden. Candles add a serene ambiance that is unmatched by any artificial light. Lanterns, torches and candles are captivating as their flame flickers in the evening breeze.
    • Garden Novelties
      Add a little whimsy to your garden with the addition of garden novelties. Choose from garden pixies, toadstools, Victorian water bells, wall plaques, glass bee catchers and much more. Stop by and see our great selection.

No matter what your garden size, style or theme, we have the accents to give it a personal, fun touch all your own!

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Hanging flower baskets

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