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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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Fairy Garden Magic

Do you think your tiny balcony terrace means you can’t have a grand garden? Are you looking for a clever and imaginative way to introduce a child to the world of plants? Have you ever dreamed of your own “McGregor’s Garden?” One of the newest gardening trends can do all these and a whole lot more!

Start planning…and playing…in your fairy garden!

About Fairy Gardens

One of the newest gardening trends, fairy gardening is the new-and-improved miniature gardening of yesteryear with all sorts of new products, idea books and plants. Despite their small size, the themes, designs and creativity of these tiny garden spaces is boundless. Any container, nearly any type of plant and any type of design can add a bit of garden magic even to a tiny space. Go small and have fun.

Designing a Fairy Garden

You can create your fairy garden just about anywhere. For portability, consider a pot, basin or terrarium. Or, for a more rustic appeal, plant an old lunchbox, garden bucket or child’s wagon. Old shoes, a stack of broken pots, a rusty wheelbarrow or a concrete bird bath are other great planting options.

Fairy gardens can be positioned anywhere. A smaller design can be a fun centerpiece to patio furniture, or it can be part of an entryway display. To heighten the intrigue, find a secret place in your own garden to lure the garden fairies. Between tree roots, beside a water feature or in a grove under flowering shrubs… The possibilities are endless.

Design the overall look of your fairy garden just as you would a larger garden. What is its theme? Is it a fantasyland for unicorns? A gnome family farm? A replica of your own big house? It can be anything you imagine. Consider tiers, layers and depth as well to create a truly impactful scene in your miniature fairy world.

If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea, visit your garden center to check out all the products. If you need some inspiration, our Enchanted Garden products by Grassland Road will get you started. Whimsical and charming, they’ll help you create your own mini-fantasy scene. From arbors and benches to umbrellas and miniature tools, the possibilities are amazing. If you’re not sure your resident garden fairies will understand your invitation, you can always buy a mannequin fairy to entice them to share the fun.

This visit also sets the mind whirling with ideas for plant materials. Consider the mixture of colors, textures, shapes, and scents… in miniature. Tiny groundcovers such as moss or creeping thyme create beautiful “lawns.” Pebbles become paths. Sand creates shores. Twigs make houses, fences and other structures. What can you do with a small pinecone or acorn? How can you recreate a Disney-type pumpkin carriage?

Creativity knows no limits, and the fairies will love you for it!

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Kale, the Super Food

Did you know kale is a super food? Kale belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. It is a rich source of vitamins C, A, & B6, and is loaded with manganese, calcium, copper and potassium, with no fat or cholesterol. Add it to your garden for a healthy harvest!

Planting

In the fall, set out transplants or sow kale seeds about 6-8 weeks before first frost in deep rich soil. Kale will need at least 6 hours of sun per day. Enrich your planting soil with plenty of compost. Planting kale in nutritious soil will promote faster plant growth and thus provide a tender, richer crop. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8. Sow seeds roughly one-half inch deep and thin seedlings to 8-12 inches apart to provide adequate air circulation. When thinning kale shoots, however, bear in mind that larger spacing will produce larger plants, larger plants produce larger leaves and larger leaves are generally tougher. Keep soil moist and mulch to control weeds. Water when planting and during dry spells.

Harvesting

Don’t worry about frost harming your harvest, a light frost will only enhance the sweetness of kale. Harvest the outer leaves of kale as they are needed for salads and recipes. Young tender leaves will grow from the center of the plant. Use the young leaves for salads and keep older leaves for cooking, which will help tenderize those larger leaves. Kale will continue to produce throughout fall in the warmer sections of our area. In low lying areas or where it is colder, use floating row covers or low tunnels to extend the life of your kale. Kale will bolt (elongate) and flower in the spring. This signifies the end, and it is time to pull it up and compost the remaining plant.

Cooking

Kale may be used fresh or frozen. It may be steamed or stir-fried, or used in soups, stews, omelets and casseroles. It is a tasty base for salads or can be added to sandwiches. It may be used in recipes as a replacement for spinach and collard greens. It even makes fantastic chips!

Kale Chips

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Clean Kale and spin dry. Remove all the tough stems.
  • Drizzle about 8 cups of leaves with one tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat.
  • Place Kale leaves in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes or until leaves are crisp but not scorched.
  • Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with generous amount of flaky sea salt.
  • Devour!

With so many tasty options for kale and so many nutritional benefits from this super food, there’s no excuse not to add this easy-to-grow dietary wonder to your garden!

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Bringing Your Tropical Plants Indoors for the Winter

As the summer comes to an end and autumn approaches, the days get shorter and cooler temperatures signal the time to ready your plants for winter. How can you protect your treasured tropicals from winter damage?

Overwintering Tropical Plants

Don’t wait until frost warnings or freezes occur to bring tropical plants inside, especially since these plants are more susceptible to dropping temperatures. Try to have all of your plants acclimated to the new indoor environment by the end of October. Avoid the temptation to move your tropicals back outside if it suddenly gets warm, because they will have to re-acclimate when you bring them back inside again. With a little extra care even exotic hibiscus can be over-wintered inside the house.

First, it’s a good idea to prune approximately one-eighth to one-fourth off the total height of the plant’s foliage. This helps reduce the shock that the plant receives with the change of conditions when bringing them indoors. Check the plants for signs of insects and treat them with insecticidal soap or pyrethrin spray as well as a systemic insecticide that will provide protection for up to six weeks.

Position indoor tropical plants in a very bright location that receives no less than 6 hours of light per day. If the winter is very cloudy, supplement your plants with an artificial light source. Be sure the room is warm, but avoid putting the plants too close to a heating vent, which can dry them out drastically.

Because they are tropical plants, they will need good humidity which can be achieved by using a humidity tray. Use a saucer that is at least 3-4 inches larger than the pot and fill it with an inch of stones. Pour water over the stones until they are half covered, then place the pot on top of the stones. The humidity immediately around the plant will be increased, but avoid setting the pot directly in any water, which can lead to fungus and rotting. Grouping several plants close together can also help them preserve humidity for more luxuriant growth.

Fertilizing should be continued throughout the winter, but at a rate of once per week. You will find the plant will not utilize as much water in the winter because its growth has slowed. Generally, plants should be watered every 4-7 days depending on location, pot size, soil type and plant type.

If you have any questions about winter care of your plants, our staff will be glad to help you keep your tropicals in good condition all winter long.

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Repotting Houseplants

Fall is an excellent time to repot many houseplants. Potted plants that have been growing outdoors during the summer have probably grown quite vigorously due to the high light levels and greater humidity. If the top growth of the plant has increased in size by 20 percent or more, it probably should be transplanted into a larger container so the roots can stretch and settle comfortably.

Before You Repot

Before repotting, check the plant and the soil carefully for insects.  Add systemic granules to the soil and spray the leaves with an insecticidal soap to remove any unwanted pests. If an insect infestation is particularly bad, it may be necessary to remove most of the plant’s soil and replace it with fresh potting soil. Avoid using soil from the garden, however, which will harbor insect larvae and eggs as well as weed seeds and other material you do not want in your houseplants.

Acclimating Plants

Bring your plants indoors well before any danger of frost for proper acclimation to the indoor environment. The change in light levels and humidity could shock more delicate plants, and they may wilt temporarily or drop leaves before they adjust to the new conditions. If possible, bring them in just a few minutes at a time for several days, gradually increasing their indoor time to several hours before keeping them indoors all the time. Flowering tropicals will also benefit from cutting back some of their foliage to avoid shock before being brought indoors.

To help houseplants overcome the transition from outdoors to indoors, position them in a bright, sunny area and consider adjusting indoor temperature and humidity controls to more closely mimic outdoor conditions. Make adjustments slowly and gradually, and the plants will adjust.

Time to Repot

Once your houseplants are adjusted to their indoor fall and winter environment, they can be safely repotted without adding to their stress. Repot the plants early in the day, and move them to a slightly larger pot. Avoid jumping several pot sizes, which could lead to excessive root growth while the foliage is neglected. Be sure to fertilize and water the plants appropriately to provide them proper nourishment as they settle into new pots. Do not expect luxuriant foliage growth right away, however, as it will take some time for the plants to begin growing again, especially in fall and winter when most houseplants are entering a dormant, slow growth period.

By repotting your houseplants in fall, you can help healthy, vigorously growing plants adjust to a new environment and continue their growth with ease in a new, larger, more comfortable pot.

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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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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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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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