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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.

Powdery Mildew Disease on Leaves

Wise Watering

Periods of drought, heat waves and rising water bills can make any gardener more interested in saving water. Fortunately, there are many ways you can be water-wise without skimping on the moisture your plants need to thrive.

  • Make the Most of Mulch
    Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important function is to help retain soil moisture. They keep the ground cool to reduce moisture loss and prevent growth of grasses and weeds that would otherwise compete with plant roots for soil moisture. The recommended depth is 2-4 inches, and there are many mulch types you can choose from to complement your landscaping and garden design.
  • Improve the Soil
    Prevent soil compaction and aerate regularly to improve the efficiency of how the soil absorbs and retains water. Test the pH and make sure the levels are correct for the plants you are growing. Till in several inches of compost each year and amend with Profile soil conditioner.
  • Plant Wisely
    When deciding what to plant, consider native species as they are adapted to the area and can withstand the local moisture conditions, including periods of low rainfall or drought. Also consider plants that have been specifically bred as drought-tolerant, particularly for more at-risk areas of your yard. Ask one of our staff for recommendations of native plants.
  • Design Thoughtfully to Save Water
    A good landscape design can help minimize water use. Start with graph paper and sketch your home, property lines, water faucets, existing trees and other permanent features. Plant large deciduous trees to maximize summer shade on the hot sides of your house. Combine groundcover in your plantings. This can reduce surface temperature up to 20 degrees. Plant a dense windbreak to cut down on drying winds. Group plants together by water needs and concentrate high water demand plants into one area. Plant rock gardens, native shrubs or drought-tolerant wildflowers on southern exposures.
  • Use Water-Saving Watering Techniques
    Install a drip irrigation system and use other water-saving devices like soaker hoses to minimize water loss. The system of “drip watering” that was originally designed for commercial use is now available to the home gardener. It has become very easy to use and quite effective. Drip watering applies water slowly and steadily directly to root zones in proper amounts. This saves time (less time watering and weeding) and money (less water). It also puts water where it’s needed without runoff or evaporation.
  • Choose the Proper Watering Tools
    You will want to look at our various styles of oscillating and pulsating sprinklers and choose the sizes and styles that meet your unique landscaping needs. Other assorted nozzles and wands can also make watering easier and more efficient. The Four Channel Water Distributor allows several watering accessories to be used at the same time.

It doesn’t take much to get started watering wisely, and not only will your plants thank you for providing adequate moisture, but you’ll love how much your water bill dries up!


Vegetable Gardening Tidbits

Are you ready to make the most of your vegetable garden? Try these tips and tidbits for everything from easier weeding to stopping pests to enjoying a hearty harvest!

  • Reducing Weeds
    Minimize weeds in your garden by covering the soil between planting rows with mulch. Several sheets of moistened newspaper topped with hay or straw works very well, especially if you move your planting areas around a bit from year to year. You can even use carpet scraps placed upside-down. Landscape fabric topped with wood chips or gravel is a good choice if the walkways are permanent. Try to avoid the habit of tilling to remove weeds because this process brings up weed seeds from deeper in the soil and exposes them to the light they need to grow.
  • Increase Tomato and Pepper Production
    Fruiting of your tomatoes and peppers may be improved by applying Epsom salts, which contain sulfur and magnesium. Apply one tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of one tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering and fruit set. You can find Epsom salts at drug and grocery stores.
  • Supporting Tomato Plants
    Set your tomato supports in place before plants get too large. Smaller determinate (bushy) varieties can be supported with small cages, but larger indeterminate (vining) varieties need large cages or tall stakes. Secure cages with stakes so they don’t fall over as plants grow larger and heavier.
  • Growing Larger Tomatoes
    Indeterminate tomato plants, such as ‘Better Boy’, will produce many suckers. A sucker is a new shoot that starts where a branch connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers will decrease the number of fruits produced, but the remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen sooner.
  • Ending Blossom End Rot
    To minimize blossom end rot, keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don’t over-fertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer) and avoid damaging plant roots while cultivating. Blossom end rot shows up as dark sunken spots on the blossom or non-stem end of tomatoes, peppers and squash. It’s caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant. The soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn’t able to take up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit.
  • Stop Slugs and Snails
    Slugs and snails may be deterred with coffee grounds, diatomaceous earth and even sharp gravel. Spread any of these materials in a ring around individual plants. Wrap pots with copper tape to keep slugs from crawling up. Inspect foliage and pick off any insects that have already passed the barriers.
  • Keep Cucumber Beetles at Bay
    Young cucumber, melon and squash plants are easy prey for cucumber beetles. As the seedlings grow, these yellow-striped or spotted beetles emerge to feed on their foliage. The beetles also spread bacterial wilt disease. To control cucumber beetles use a portable vacuum cleaner to suck up them up in early evening, spray beneficial nematodes on the soil or try planting broccoli, calendula, catnip, nasturtium, radish, rue or tansy, which naturally repel these insects. If you want to try marigolds to repel them use the more pungent varieties like African, French or Mexican marigolds. The more common marigolds may actually attract these pests.
  • Plan for Late Summer Harvests
    It’s not too late to sow lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes and other short-season crops for a late summer harvest. Shade lettuce, if possible, during late afternoon to keep young plants cooler, or grow them next to larger plants that provide some shade. You’ll need to water more often on these hot days than you did in spring and early summer, but you can easily extend their growing season for later harvesting.
  • Grow More Tomatoes, Zucchini and Beans
    Harvest tomatoes, zucchini, beans and other fruiting crops frequently to encourage continued production. Don’t allow any fruits that you won’t be harvesting to remain on your plants, because when mature seeds are produced it’s a signal for the plant to slow down fruit production. Instead, consider sharing, selling, preserving or trading extra produce so you can continue to harvest and extend the growing season.
  • When to Harvest Herbs
    Herbs are best harvested just as they are beginning to flower. That’s when they have the highest concentration of essential oils and flavor in their leaves. Harvest entire branches back to within a few inches of the main stem to encourage new, bushy growth.
  • Harvesting and Storing Onions
    Begin harvesting onions when about half to three-quarters of the leaves have died back. Then gently dig or pull the onions and store them in a dry, shady place with good ventilation, such as an outdoor shed or barn, for 10-14 days. After the onions have cured, put them in slatted crates or mesh bags and store them indoors in an area with low humidity and temperatures between 33-45 degrees F.
  • Enjoying Green Tomatoes
    When daytime temperatures no longer rise above 65 degrees F in late summer and early fall, it’s time to pick the green tomatoes. Wrap them individually in newspaper and let them ripen indoors, or try some fried or in other recipes that call for under-ripe tomatoes.
Tomato plant and garden tools




Tropical Outdoor Living Room

This year, discover the pleasure of tropical plants by transforming your courtyard, balcony, flat roof or deck into a wonderland oasis. If you haven’t experienced the hot colors and unusual textures of plants like mandevilla, dipladenia, stephanotis, passion vine, bouganvillea, oleander, hibiscus, lantana and Pandora’s vine, you’re in for a treat!

Growing Tropical Plants

Tropical plants can be grown in pots and planters almost anywhere, providing they get at least 6 hours of sun daily. Fertilize them weekly with Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster and keep the soil evenly moist. Spray every 10-14 days with a light concentration of Bonide All-Season Oil Spray to control insects like mealybugs, aphids and scale. Check for each individual plant’s needs for proper fertilization, space and other care, and you’ll discover that tropical plants are no more difficult to care for than any container garden.

Creating Tropical Arrangements

Tropical plants can pack a punch by themselves, but they look even more lush and paradise-like in thoughtful arrangements. Go for the filler-thriller-spiller formula when planning a tropical container, and choose plants with good contrasting colors and unique foliage to make the most of every combination. To help the plants “pop” in the arrangements, opt for more understated, neutral pot or container colors, and let the vibrancy of the plants shine through.

More Tips for a Tropical Outdoor Living Room

To give your outdoor living space a truly tropical feel…

  • Use wicker, bamboo or similar tropical materials for outdoor furniture, topping chairs and loungers with bold patterns and bright colors for a tropical vibe.
  • Use louvered shutters to enclose a shady spot but still catch breezes, and go for a beachy look with driftwood-esque stains and finishes.
  • Add torches or lanterns for ambient lighting, or add a touch of whimsy with a string of lights with tropical themes, such as palm trees or flip flops.
  • Add cute tropical flair to the yard with a lawn flamingo, seashell fountain, teal gazing ball or similar decorative accents. Pineapple, flamingo, nautical and beach themes are popular.
  • Include a water feature if possible for that splashing wave sound. A tabletop fountain or even a sound machine can create a similar tropical ambiance to enjoy.
  • Serve up the tropics with beachy beverages, fresh fruit and themed appetizers whenever you entertain in your tropical outdoor living space.

No matter where your garden may be, you can add a touch of the tropics when you plan a fun and inviting tropical outdoor living room.



Think Outside the Window Box

Do you want to add more plants to your yard but think you’re out of space for any more gardening? No matter how large or small your outdoor living area, no matter what types of plants you favor, you can always find the space for a new garden when it’s housed in a container – and that container doesn’t have to be the same old window box or boring planter.

Whether you choose to feature your container gardening efforts sitting on the floor, deck, stairs, path or patio, or you prefer a delicate garden suspended in a basket from an arbor, pergola, archway or hook, we’ve got the container selections that will suit your taste and your lifestyle. Not sure what your preferences are? We can help you discover you best container garden design look! Choose from our great selection of…

  • Hanging Baskets – Choose from willow, moss, wire, cocoa, resin wicker weave or rope weave baskets in different sizes, colors and styles. We also carry self-watering hanging planters and pots in several different sizes, colors and designs to suit your needs and style preferences, and to blend well into your other garden décor and accents.
  • Pots – Shop our extensive line of hand-crafted and manufactured pottery from around the world – Italy, Malaysia, China, etc. – with unique and stunning designs and colors. Choose from a selection of clay, plastic, fiberglass, cement, tin or resin pots in various themes as well as designer and lightweight insulating pottery.
  • Planters – Choose from our lined hayracks, cradle planters (also lined), railing, fence and deck planters as well as pot trellises and obelisks to add interesting structure and layers to different containers in your yard. Many different sizes are available to suit all your planting needs.
  • Accessories – To coordinate your décor efforts even among different pots or planters, we have saucers, caddies, plant stands and brackets, hangers, chains and s-hooks for both indoor and outdoor use so your plants are always displayed to their best advantage. Not sure what you need to give your planter the best support? We’ll help you choose the smartest and safest option.

Stop by and take a look for yourself – we’re sure that you will find a container that holds your interest as well as your plants. And, of course, we also carry window boxes in different sizes, styles and designs, if you still prefer that traditional, classic look!




The Enabled Gardener

As we age, many activities that have brought us joy are lost as physical limitations set in. Gardening does not have to be one of those lost hobbies. With a little planning, gardening can be made accessible for everyone. No matter what your needs or abilities, there are ways to modify your practices, situations and tools so that you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of gardening.

  • Beat the Heat
    High temperatures can lead to fatigue, heat stroke and other dangerous conditions, so garden early in the morning or late in the day when temperatures are lower. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes that cover exposed skin. Wear a hat, apply sunscreen, eat light meals and wear gloves.
  • Stay on the Level
    Getting down to the dirt can be difficult if you have joint or mobility problems. Use raised bed systems to reduce the need to bend or kneel. Knee pads are also a good idea, or you can use a lawn chair cushion to make kneeling more comfortable. Garden stools can provide an intermediate step between standard gardening and raised beds.
  • Get a Grip
    Adaptive tools like Radius tools offer better leverage and improved grips help make gardening easier. Look for ergonomic tool designs that can alleviate hand pain and help you leverage your motions more easily for more efficient gardening using less effort or strain.
  • Downsize
    If a large garden is outside your ability or endurance, there are still areas you can indulge your green thumb. Choose container gardening or window box projects for smaller areas that are easier to reach but can be just as productive and fun for creative gardening.
  • Go Vertical
    Don’t overlook the possibility of vertical gardening. Climbing plants reduce the need for bending and stooping and bring the plants into easy reach. Look for fences, walls and other areas you can use for vertical gardening, or create unique vertical container gardens to make the best use of climbing space.
  • Sow the Joy
    If you have trouble managing a garden on your own, sow seeds of gardening joy with others in your life and you’ll have plenty of able helpers. Invite neighbors, friends, children and grandchildren to help out in the garden, or offer to help start a joint garden at a senior center, community center, church or elementary school where many hands can make light work of garden chores.

Even if gardening gets more difficult as you age, you don’t have to give up your passion for playing in the dirt. Adjusting your gardening style is easy and you will continue to enjoy the beauty, bounty and relaxation that gardening brings.


Gardener Preparing Raised Beds in Vegetable Garden With Rake

Tent Caterpillars

“Ugly” “disgusting” “gross” and “creepy” are just a few things gardeners say when they see tent caterpillars. Not only are they visually unattractive, but the hundreds of caterpillars within a tent can defoliate a shrub or tree in a matter of days. Fortunately, the attack is seldom fatal.

About Tent Caterpillars

The Eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, one of the 26 species of tent caterpillars or tent worms, emerges from its egg in early spring as the leaves of the host plant, generally a member of the Rosaceae family, begin to open. Along with other emerging caterpillars, it climbs up the plant and begins building a silken nest in branch forks to provide group protection from predators, maintain warmth and act as a staging site prior to leaving the tent. The worms quickly consume any leaves within the nest, forcing them to forage outside of the nest during the day. At night, they return to the protective nest to rest and stay warm. In fall, the individual caterpillars spin cocoons and two weeks later emerge as snout moths. As adults, they mate, lay eggs and die. Thus, the cycle starts again.

Eliminating Tent Caterpillars

These are four methods to deal effectively with tent caterpillars…

  1. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) effectively kills this pest when young. Following directions, directly spray onto surrounding leaves and onto the tent. The unsightly nest will remain, but the caterpillars will die. In time, the nest will decay and disappear, or it can be removed manually if desired.
  2. Releasing parasitic wasps and attracting birds to the landscape will also reduce the worm population. This provides a long-term solution and increases the natural biodiversity of the area. Wasps and birds will also help control many other unwanted insects in the region.
  3. Removing the tent removes the eyesore and the worms, if the tent isn’t too large. In the early morning or evening, when the worms have not yet left the tent or have already returned, thrust a stick into the middle of the web and twist until the tent is on the stake and off the tree, and then plunge it into soapy water to kill the worms. Or, remove it by pruning the branches and twigs going into and out of, the tent, but be sure to dispose of it properly so the caterpillars do not move on to another nearby location.
  4. In the fall, after deciduous leaves have fallen, remove any egg masses. Look for them on or near any trees previously infested. They’re usually 6-18″ from the tips of branches.

Our friendly staff is here to answer your questions about these and other pests. We have a wide variety of safe and effective methods to keep your garden beautiful, and are always willing to help you find a solution that meets your needs and preferences.



Shrubs for Summer Color

Many gardeners assume that the brightest flowers are only seen in spring, but there are many stunning shrubs that have great color all through the summer. Some feature outstanding blooms while others have equally showy foliage and can brighten up any yard. But which will look best in your yard?

Top Summer Color Shrubs

There are a number of tried-and-true summer-flowering shrubs that never fail to be impressive. Consider these favorites to enhance your landscape all summer long.

  • Hydrangea
    This very popular mounding shrub is an old-fashioned favorite, but it doesn’t have to be just your grandmother’s shrub – there are hydrangeas for every situation and taste. Flowers appear in early summer and can last for several weeks. Choose from pink, blue (use an acidic fertilizer to maintain this unusual color) or white blooms. Large flower heads great for drying or make outstanding arrangements and bouquets when cut. These shrubs do best in light shade or sun. One of the easiest hydrangeas to grow is the native American oak-leafed hydrangea has lobed leaves with fragrant, conical-shaped flower heads.
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
    This dramatic shrub is truly a butterfly magnet, and hummingbirds love it as well. One of the most fragrant flowering shrubs, butterfly bush blooms from early summer to autumn frost, and different varieties can thrive in a wide range of growing zones. The flowers can be pink, purple, blue, yellow or white, and often feature elegant spiked panicles, arching branches and interesting foliage. These shrubs do best in full sun and come in different sizes to suit different landscaping areas.
  • Spirea
    A generally low-maintenance choice, this shrub features golden yellow to lime-colored foliage all summer with pink or lavender blooms in late spring through summer. Goldmound, Gold Flame and Anthony Waterer are all great cultivars and easy care shrubs growing to about 2-4’ by 3-5’. This truly is the perfect shrub to use anywhere in the landscape, and it can tolerate sun to part shade growing conditions.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus)
    This is one of the showiest plants of the summer, and Rose of Sharon is also one of the easiest to grow. Dense growing and upright when young these shrubs will spread with age, so take care to plant them in appropriate spaces to avoid overcrowding. The dark green foliage contrasts nicely with large, showy flowers that can be up to 4” across. Flowers open in July and will continue blooming through late summer and into fall. Flowers are sterile, eliminating seed problems. This shrub is ideal to plant as a screen, hedge or focal point in full sun.
  • Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris)
    This shrub is a great plant for late summer color with bursts of purple-blue flowers just when many other plants are growing dull. Its low-growing, mounding habit reaches 2-3’ wide by 2-3’ tall. Blue Mist Spirea is easy to grow and can tolerate some neglect. It should be planted in full sun, and will bloom from summer to fall.

With any of these shrubs in your yard, your summer landscape can be just as colorful and eye-catching as any spring flowers or autumn foliage.




Shade Gardening: A Natural Opportunity

Although developing a garden for a shady area may require a little extra planning, some more thought and a bit more effort than sunny spaces, there are many opportunities to grow remarkable, unusual plants in the shade garden. Shade-loving plants are often noted for their foliage and can be combined to produce appealing contrasts in form, texture and color. From the glossy, dark greens of camellias and rhododendrons to the soft, silvery lamiums and the bold-textured, brownish-purple leaves of bergenia, the diversity of foliage available is positively breathtaking!

Defining Shade

The term “shade” encompasses many light conditions. Shade can range from dense darkness to the light-dappled shade under a birch tree. Most plants require at least a few hours of direct light each day (light shade) to look their best, especially if they feature bright colors in foliage or blooms. Some plants, however, do best in an abundance of filtered light (medium shade), especially if the shade is provided in the afternoon to cut the strongest rays of the sun. In the meantime, a few plants can thrive in the darkness of a forest (dense shade), without ever being exposed to bright, direct sunlight.

Other factors you will need to consider when planting your shade garden are the amount of moisture your shady spot receives and the soil conditions. The soil under large trees is usually dry because of the “umbrella” affect created. Other locations may have soggy soil that will only allow bog-type plants to grow. The soil’s drainage, pH and texture will all have to be taken into account to create the best shade-loving garden.

Not sure where to start for finding plants for a shade garden? Top shade-loving perennials and their requirements include…

Perennials for Dry Shade:

  • Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley)**
  • Dicentra ‘Luxuriant’ (Bleeding Heart)*
  • Epimedium perralchicum, pinnatum, pubigerum (Bishop’s Hat)*
  • Geranium maculatum, endressii, nodosum (Cranesbill)*
  • Helleborus foetidus*
  • Lamium maculaturm (Deadnettle)*
  • Polygonatum multiflorum (Soloman’s Seal)*

Perennials for Cool, Moist Soils in Shade:

  • Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)**
  • Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese Painted Fern)**
  • Cyrtomium (Japanese Holly Fern)**
  • Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)**
  • Dryopteris marginalis (Marginal Shield Fern)**
  • Epimedium grandiflorum, warleyense*
  • Helleborus viridus, orientalis (Lenten Rose)*
  • Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebell)**
  • Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)**
  • Polystichum setiferum ‘Divisilobum’ (Soft-Shield Fern)**
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)*
  • Tricyrtis formosana (Toad Lily)*
  • Trillium sessile, grandiflorum**
  • Trollius europaeus*

Perennial Groundcovers in Shade:

  • Acanthus mollis (Bear’s Breech)*
  • Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ (Goutweed)*
  • Asarum europaeum (European Wild Ginger)*
  • Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)*
  • Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Florentinum’ (Variegated Archangel)*
  • Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ (Dead Nettle)*
  • Luzula sylvatica ‘Marginata’*
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)*
  • Vinca minor*
  • Waldsteinia ternata (Barren Strawberry)*

Climbers for Shady Walls & Fences:

  • Akebia quinata, trifoliata
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’
  • Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloradus’
  • Hedera helix (English Ivy)
  • Humulus lupulus (Golden Hops)
  • Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ (Japanese Honeysuckle)
  • Parthenosis henryana, quinquefolia, tricuspidata

*Does best in light shade
**Does best in medium to dense shade



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 possess 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 sometimes frustrate the home gardener. With so many magnificent specimens growing wild in eastern forests, why is it sometimes difficult to grow mountain laurel in the home landscape?


Mountain laurel needs the proper site to thrive. These plants will tolerate sun if there is adequate moisture and the root area is cool, however, partial shade is preferable and shade will do if there is some morning sun. Plant your mountain laurel where it has plenty of room to grow to maturity; it should not require pruning except to remove dead or damaged wood. Mountain laurels are slow growing, 4-8 feet over 10 years; this contributes to their irregular habit, creating an elegant, natural specimen.


As a member of the heath family, which includes rhododendron, mountain laurel requires well-drained, rich, acidic soil. Attempt to replicate these conditions and your plant should thrive. Your pH should be between 5.0-5.5, but if your reading tops 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/root ball. Do not plant it more deeply or the roots will suffer. 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.


Mountain laurels require little care if they are sited and planted appropriately, but it is wise to monitor them, especially when the plants are young and not yet fully established. Check the plant often throughout the season and water before the soil dries out. Fertilize twice yearly with a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants: once in the spring and half-strength in the autumn.

Selections of Mountain Laurel

Not sure which mountain laurel to choose? Consider each of these beauties, or come on in to see new cultivars of these favorite shrubs!

  • 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 with 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.



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.




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.


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 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.



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.

ladybirds (3)

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.


Father And Son Planting Seedling In Ground On Allotment

Spring feeling


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!


Hanging flower baskets


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!


Climbing hydrangea vine.


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 ½” and large-flowered cultivars have flowers 4 ½” or larger.




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.




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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.




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




Adding Nighttime Garden Accessories & Accents

You can enjoy much more than plants in your garden every evening and into the night, and in fact the right accessories can beautifully enhance your garden even as twilight falls. Consider these stunning accessories and accents to turn your daytime garden into a nighttime paradise.

Wind Chimes

Let gentle evening summer breezes play soothing sounds in your garden or patio. Choose from Bamboo styles or traditional wind chimes, and try different sizes and styles to find the tinkling tones you like best. Avoid using too many wind chimes, however, as different styles can have contrasting tones that may clash with one another rather than create a soothing melody.

Candleholders, Lanterns & Torches

Light up the night with lovely candleholders, lanterns and decorative torches to keep your summer evenings long and bright. Place appropriate lighting along pathways, deck edges and stairs to safely illuminate gathering areas, or use spotlights to create dramatically uplit trees and shrubs. For a whimsical touch, try kitschy strings of themed lights for a fun accent, or add elegance with multiple lanterns suspended from a large tree.

Tabletop Fountains

Erase your daily pressures by bringing the soothing, relaxing sounds of water to your patio or deck. A handcrafted tabletop fountain will add a soft, natural sound in harmony with your evening of relaxation. Consider fountains that may double as bird baths or centerpieces to do double duty during the daytime as well.

Tinkling Toadstools

Add enchantment to your garden with magical Tinkling Toadstools. When placed in groups, colorful glazed caps create a tinkling sound when the wind blows. Position them under a shrub or in a large, rustic container to add a fairy garden ambiance to your evening landscape, and be sure there is subtle light nearby to highlight their color and beauty.

 Ponds or Other Water Features

When the moonlight, candles and twinkle lights reflect on the water’s surface, there is an added glow and iridescence to the garden. Running water from a re-circulating pump powering a small spray fountain or waterfall provides a relaxing background sounds to the summer evening. Accent your water feature with floating lights, stunning water lilies or other creative options.


Add nighttime beauty to ponds, fountains, statuary, landscaping and more with Cal Pump’s Egglite. These assorted colored, 10-watt lights are compact spot lights that can be used in or out of the water and are suitable for fresh, salt or chlorinated water. Position them unobtrusively and select colors that can magically enhance your nighttime landscaping.

With the right evening accents, you don’t have to stop enjoying your garden when the sun sets – just as temperatures cool off, the beauty of your garden can be heating up.


Grasses With Gusto

Ornamental Grasses lend a unique dimension to any landscape with their texture, sound, motion and architecture. By planting ornamental grasses, you can also add multi-seasonal excitement to your landscape. Either combined with other ornamental plants or featured by themselves in “Grass Gardens,” ornamental grasses are attractive from spring until late fall and often through winter as well.

Choosing Ornamental Grasses

It can be challenging to select the best ornamental grasses for your landscape. Choose from varieties that are short or tall, upright or weeping. Foliage can be bold or fine and comes in colors ranging from green, blue-green, lime-green, gold and red to variegated with horizontal or vertical bands of white or yellow. Flower heads can be showy plumes, fuzzy foxtails or airy particles and appear from mid-summer to fall, depending on variety. Dried flowers and leaves may persist into winter, looking particularly effective against a snowy backdrop.

Depending on the conditions of your landscape and your grass preferences, there are many different types of grasses to try.

Screens Or Barriers

Taller growing varieties such as Plume Grass (Erianthus ravennae) or Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus floridulus) can be used as effective screens or windbreaks. The wind rushing through their foliage creates added sensations of sound and movement. Even some of the medium-sized growers, such as varieties of Miscanthus sinensis, can enclose a patio or act as a barrier against wind, noise or an undesirable view.


Many ornamental grasses also make excellent specimen plants and can turn a dull corner into a focal point of color and texture. Some of the most dramatic grasses for specimen planting include Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis gracillimus) with its graceful arching vase shaped foliage and pinkish blooms which age to cream, and Porcupine Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’) that has upright green and yellow banded stems.


Water gardens and ornamental grasses go together beautifully. A grouping of grasses looks particularly effective at the water’s edge, softening the boundary between land and water. Many grasses such as Miscanthus can tolerate moist conditions, some, like sweet flag (Acorus) and Giant Reed (Arundo donax), can grow in shallow water. Sedges (Carex), which are not true grasses, although similar in appearance, are also moisture-tolerant. Look for varieties with plain, variegated or golden foliage.


Grasses that are groundcover varieties spread by underground stolons rather than forming tight clumps. One such selection is Ribbon Grass (Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’), a fast-spreading green-and-white variegated variety, particularly useful as a groundcover in difficult areas such as slopes or even under trees that cast light shade. Give this one plenty of space! You’ll also want to try green or variegated Liriope and Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon).

Beds and Borders

Massed in groups, ornamental grasses are wonderful as a background to, or in combination with, other plantings. Try planting them with perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Veronica ‘Goodness Grows’ or ‘Sunny Border Blue’ for a dynamic summer and fall interest addition to your landscape. Varieties for mass planting include Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), whose upright delicate flowers are held above leaves that turn reddish in the fall; Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutifolia ‘Stricta’) which yields stunning buff-colored plumes over a long period and Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) that sports maroon foxtails which age to cream in late fall. A number of different forms of Fountain Grass are available: ‘Hameln’ is a dwarf variety with creamy foxtails, while ‘Moudry’ has unusual black flowers. For edging beds and borders, plant low-growing Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca). Its steely blue clumps hold their color though winter and contrast well with pink or purple flowers or foliage.

Growing Grasses

Ornamental grasses are relatively easy to grow. A site that receives at least six hours of sun per day is best, although varieties such as Hair Grass (Deschampsia) and variegated Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’) can grow well in as little as four hours of sun. Soil preparation, as with everything you plant, is a must, so work in plenty of organic matter such as peat moss, humus or compost. Fertilize in early spring with 5-10-5 or bone meal, when new growth is starting to show. Clumps should be cut back to within 6″ of the ground at this time, and can be divided if needed.

You’ll love the look ornamental grasses can give your landscape, and these easy-care plants can be effective at many functions in many different types of landscapes. Give them a try today!



green leaves of sedge cane

Simple Water Features for Small Spaces

A simple water feature can make a large impact even in small spaces. The addition of a container water garden will transform, beautify and diversify your existing garden into an oasis that brings relief during the dog days of summer and beyond. Sit back, relax and enjoy the melodious sound of dancing water from your garden pond, and it will provide soothing, background music to your summer retreat. Bring wildlife into the garden by incorporating fish, frogs and snails into your mini aquascape. A simple water feature may be placed in the garden, on a deck, patio or porch or even added to a rooftop garden for a tremendous impact in a tiny space.

Choosing a Container

Container water gardens can be created from practically anything that has the capability of holding water or supporting a liner. Ceramic sinks or tubs, half-barrels, buckets, pottery or planters and troughs can all be used to create beautiful ponds. Remember, these features will look their best when the shape and materials are similar in style to that of your home and surrounding gardens.

Lining Your Container

If you have chosen a whiskey barrel or other similar wood container, follow these simple instructions to incorporate a liner to waterproof the container.

  1. Center your flexible liner over the whiskey barrel or other container. Push down in the center so excess material is evenly spaced over the outside lip. Begin folding the liner over itself at 4 to 6 inch increments, working your way around the container and minimizing any bulges. Fasten each fold with a ½ inch staple placed about ½ inch from the top of the container.
  2. Trim the liner so it is even with the lip of the barrel or container.
  3. Fill your container with water, and then arrange your aquatic plants and pump/filter system.

Rigid pond liners are also available to insert into half whiskey barrels for ease of waterproofing these containers, but double check sizes to be sure you choose the right fit.

With such a wide assortment available, pots and planters make great garden ponds when properly prepared.

  1. Plug the drainage hole with a small piece of pond liner spread with caulk.
  2. Seal any minor cracks with caulk.
  3. Paint the inside of the container with a water garden sealant.

Properly lined, your container will hold water easily without slow leaks that can traumatize plants and destroy your water garden.

Picking Plants

The use of aquatic plants will help you avoid the need for algaecides by reducing pond algae in two ways. First, aquatic plants remove excess phosphorus and nitrogen from the water. Second, plants shade the water from sunlight, thereby inhibiting algae growth. For a healthy balance, cover half of your pond surface with floating plants for shading. Submerged plants should be planted at a rate of one bunch, 6-10 plants, for every 5 square feet of surface area. Marginal or bog plants will complete the ecological balancing act.

  • Floaters: Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) and Miniature Water Lilies (Nymphae spp.). These plants provide habitat and will shade the pond water surface to reduce the production of algae.
  • Submerged Oxygenators: Anacharis (Elodea Canadensis), Water Buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis) and Fanwort (Cambomba caroliniana) are great choices that help maintain water clarity by consuming excess nutrients that contribute to the production of algae. These plants can reproduce rapidly, but they are easily controlled in the small pond by simply removing surplus growth.
  • Marginal Plants: Sweet Flag (Acorus spp.), Dwarf Cattail (Typha minima), Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus profiler), Iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Camelion plant (Houttuynia cordata). Placed at a pond’s edge, these marginal aquatic plants add color, height and variation to the water garden. They also provide cover, habitat and oxygen.

Be careful not overwhelm your container water garden with too many plants or it will be difficult to maintain a natural balance.

Fish and Other Pond Life

Different types of wildlife will love to be a part of even a small water garden.

  • Fish: Fish create additional interest to a water garden by adding sparkle and movement. Good choices for a small water garden are: Goldfish, Red Comets, Calico Fantails and Shubunkins. Do not overstock your water feature. As a rule of thumb, each inch of fish should have 6 square inches to one square foot of water.
  • Snails: Slow and steady, snails can help keep your water garden clean and healthy. Japanese Trapdoor Snails eat algae stuck to the sides of the pond and will consume excess fish food.
  • Tadpoles and Frogs: Tadpoles will morph into amusing frogs. Tadpoles eat algae and add motion and interest to the pond, especially for children. Frogs will lend sound to the garden and aid in insect control.

Water Garden Container Care

Several common problems can occur even in small water gardens, but they are easily controlled and you can keep your water garden looking beautiful.

  • Algae: Despite all your planning, it is perfectly natural for your pond to turn green at first. Once the plants get to work, the green will fade. If you find that you require a little extra help in algae control, try Microbe-Lift or Barley Straw pellets, both are natural algae controls. Adding an extra snail or other algae-eater to the pond can also help control the color naturally.
  • Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes may be managed in several ways. Adding water movement to the pond with a pump and small fountain will keep the insects from breeding or settling on the water. Adding BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) to the water in the form of Mosquito Dunks will also discourage the insects. Incorporate small fish into your pond garden, they eat mosquito larvae. Other mosquito predators include: dragonflies, bats, tadpoles and frogs, all of which can be a part of your backyard ecosystem.


Check the pond weekly. You need to be observant to animal activity and any abnormal growths or marks. Inspect plants and fish for health, insects or disease. Clean up any dead or yellowing foliage. Replace evaporated water as necessary. If your water contains chlorine or other chemicals, be sure they are removed before adding this water to your pond. Chlorine is toxic to fish and beneficial bacteria. Chlorine will dissipate after a few days if it is exposed to air, but do not add fish or plants until after this is accomplished.

With just a little thoughtful planning, the right plants and proper care, you can have a small water garden to brighten up a small space in your yard.




Perennials for the Cutting Garden

The classic gardener’s dilemma is whether to cut flowers for enjoyment or leave them to look nice in the garden. Often, removing flowers from the border can make it less attractive and leave an unsightly hole in the overall garden design. The cutting garden solves this problem and allows you to grow many plants that have beautiful cut flowers but are less than lovely in the garden. For example, many varieties of carnations have a tendency to flop with their heavy flower heads. The cutting garden offers an excellent place to hold perennials in reserve until you are ready to plant them in the garden, and it is a great place to practice with new perennials.

Planting Perennials for Cutting

Traditionally, the cutting garden has been basically utilitarian with perennials grown in rows like a vegetable garden. But, by growing enough plants (a minimum of three) of each perennial in your garden, you will have plenty of flowers to make the garden more attractive. Plant the tallest flowers so they don’t shade the shorter ones, and consider more natural curves and groupings in your garden so any missing plants aren’t so obvious.

Perennials for Cut Flowers

Many beautiful perennials are ideal for a cutting garden. While you should choose blooms that will thrive in your climate, soil type and yard conditions, these are popular choices that do well in many different areas…

Achillea                                    Aconitum                                 Allium

Anemone                                 Anthemis                                 Aquilegia

Armeria                                    Asclepias                                  Aster

Astilbe                                      Boltonia                                   Campanula

Catanache                                Centranthus                             Chrysanthemum

Convallaria                               Coreopsis                                 Crocosmia

Delphinium                              Dianthus                                  Dicentra

Doronicum                               Echinacea                                 Echinops

Eupatorium                             Filipendula                               Ferns

Gaillardia                                 Geum                                       Grasses

Gypsophila                               Helenium                                 Helianthus

Heliopsis                                  Hemerocallis                            Heuchera

Hosta                                       Iris                                            Kniphofia

Lavendula                                Liatris                                       Lillium

Lobelia                                     Lupinus                                    Lysimachia

Lythrum                                   Paeonia                                    Papaver

Penstemon                              Perovskia                                 Phlox paniculata

Physostegia                              Platycodon                               Rudbeckia

Salvia                                        Scabiosa                                   Solidago

Stokesia                                   Thalictrum                               Trollius


Study different cultivars of each type you are interested in, and don’t forget to include greenery as well as blooms to enliven and fill out your cut bouquets.

Tips to Increase the Lifespan of Cut Perennials

While flowers may last longer in the garden, that doesn’t mean they will immediately wilt once they are cut. To make your cut perennials stay plump and fresh for longer…

  1. Cut flowers in the morning or evening when they are most turgid.
  2. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to make a clean cut. Plunge stems into water immediately.
  3. When arranging the flowers, remove any foliage from the base of the stems (no leaves should be underwater). Re-cut stems before putting the flowers in a vase.
  4. Place your arrangements in a cool room out of direct sunlight and change the water daily.
  5. Add Floralife, a preservative, to prolong flowers.

A cutting garden can be a beautiful and practical addition to your yard, and while it may need different care than your other landscaping, it can be just as vibrant.




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.


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.


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 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.



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.





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.



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.


Small Shrubs for the Perennial Border

Adding structure and an aspect of year-round permanence to any yard, small shrubs are excellent for enhancing the perennial border. Thought of as the spine and bones of good landscaping, small shrubs hold the soft body of flowers together and add consistency between areas. Well-chosen selections integrate with perennials to add interest for more than just one season. Not only do they add support for perennials in late summer but also they provide definition to the bed throughout the year. Though shrubs take longer to reach maturity, their outstanding foliage, lovely flowers and attractive shapes and forms add to the beauty of the garden.

Choose Shrubs That Promise Year-Long Interest

The ideal shrub for the mixed border has outstanding foliage – deep green, purple, gold, silver, or even variegated. Its leaves may be glossy, soft or even fuzzy to touch. Colorful veins or other variations may mark its foliage to seize your interest throughout the seasons. And, certainly, the ideal shrub has flowers. Late-blooming flowers liven up the border during the tired end-of-summer days, while early-blooming varieties add excitement to a garden just bursting into spring. You’ll also want to take into account flower color when working shrubs into a planting scheme. White is a delightful and safe choice because it harmonizes with all other colors. Consider also mellow blues, pinks and other pastel shades to add a peaceful mood to the garden. Bold colors of yellow, orange or red will add a warm, daring feeling and dramatic interest. In fall, colorful leaves cover the ideal shrub before falling to the ground. And in winter, twisted, colorful branches and bright berries provide visual interest even under a layer of frost or snow.

Top Border Shrub Choices


Height Interest

Background and Mid-Border Shrubs

Cornus alba cultivars (red twig dogwood)* 8-10 ft. Variegated or golden foliage; red winter branches
Cornus stolonifera cultivars 7-9 ft. Variegated foliage; red or yellow winter branches (red osier dogwood)*
Cotinus coggygria ‘Velvet Cloak’ or ‘Royal Purple’ (Smokebush)* 10-15 ft. Dark purple foliage
Deutzia ‘Mont Rose’ and ‘Magician’ 4-5 ft. and 6-8 ft. Pink spring flowers; graceful, arching habit
Hydrangea cultivars 4-12 ft. Late summer blue, white or pink flowers, variegated or unusual leaves
Viburnum macrocephalum 6-15 ft. White flowers in spring fading to buff, seed heads
Viburnum plicatum var. momentous  5-10 ft. Bright white lace-cap flowers summer, ‘Summer Snowflake’ (doublefile viburnum) through fall
Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’ 5-12 ft. Dark green or maroon-tinged foliage; ‘Susquehanna’ (Sargent viburnum) late spring flowers; bright red winter fruit
Weigela W. florida 4-6 ft. Golden or purple foliage; late spring, ‘White Knight’ and ‘Wine and Roses’ pink or white flowers

Focal Point Shrubs

Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’ 4-5 ft. Upright form; reddish, purple leaves (Japanese barberry)
Buxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’ (boxwood) 4-6 ft. Narrow, upright habit
Buxus microphylla cvs. (littleleaf boxwood) 3-4 ft. Dense, rounded shape
Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’ (Japanese holly) 4 ft. Extremely narrow, columnar form

Front-of-the-Border Shrubs

Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea Nana’, ‘Aurea’ 1-4 ft. Golden or purple foliage; dense, rounded form and ‘Bagatelle’ (Japanese barberry)
Caryopteris clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’ 2-4 ft. Golden foliage; late summer lavender flowers (blue mist shrub)
Fothergilla gardenni 2-3 ft. Creamy flowers stick up like bottlebrushes on bare tips in early spring
Hypericum androsaemum ‘Albury Purple’ (tutsan) 2-3 ft. Purple-tinged leaves; yellow summer flowers; red berries
Spiraea japonica (Japanese spiraea) 1-4 ft. Golden foliage; pink spring flowers
Spiraea ‘Goldflame’ 2-3 ft. Pink flowers, red spring leaves tinged with bronze, changing to gold
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus ‘Foliis Variegatis’ 2-5 ft.

Yellow-edged variegated leaves (coralberry)

*Prune hard in late winter to control height in mid-border positions.



Lyme Disease

For those of us who work and play outdoors in deer tick-infested areas, Lyme disease is a reality. If caught early, the disease is usually cured with antibiotics. If not detected and treated early, Lyme disease can be a debilitating condition that may linger for months or years.

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. The tick becomes infected with the disease by biting an animal that is carrying the bacteria. The main culprits in our area are the white-tailed deer and white-footed mouse. Not every deer tick is a carrier of Lyme disease but it is wise to always take precautions to prevent potential infections.

Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Wearing light-colored clothes to help spot and identify deer ticks before they attach to spread the infection.
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants to minimize exposed skin that can attract deer ticks. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks. Include a hat for added protection.
  • Spraying exposed skin with a product that contains at least 20 percent DEET and spraying clothing, and all other cloth gear, with a product containing Permethrin. Always follow the product label when applying repellents.
  • Removing clothing and immediately laundering it when coming back indoors. Dry clothing at a high temperature for at least 30 minutes, since ticks are sensitive to dryness and will die quickly without appropriate moisture.
  • Showering immediately and thoroughly after being in a tick-prone area. Inspect all skin surfaces, especially hard-to-see areas like behind the knees, the back of the neck and in arm pits. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and therefore hard to see. Ticks must be attached for at least 18 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.
  • Protecting pets from ticks with appropriate collars, drops, powders or dips, and inspecting pets’ fur regularly for ticks or other pests.

Protect your yard by:

  • Mowing the grass regularly. Ticks thrive in longer grasses with moist soils, but are not as abundant in groomed areas.
  • Keeping leaves raked and keeping the yard free of refuse that can create moist patches in the soil where ticks will thrive.
  • Creating a protective barrier, at least 3-4 feet wide of mulch or stone, between yard and wooded area. Ticks are not easily able to cross these open areas.
  • Stacking wood neatly in a dry area where it is less likely to harbor a tick infestation.
  • Spraying your yard with a tick control product like bifenthin. Always follow the product label when applying pesticides.
  • Taking steps to discourage deer and mice in your yard, such as choosing deer-resistant plants and using traps responsibly to eliminate rodents.

By taking appropriate precautions to protect you, your family and your yard, you can minimize any risk of contracting Lyme disease.


Eliminate Water Garden Algae

During the summer months you can eliminate algae easily, effectively, naturally and attractively with the simple addition of appropriate pond plants to your water garden. Three factors contribute to excess algae growth: sunlight, nutrients and low oxygen. While it may be impossible to eliminate every speck of algae – it is still part of your aquatic ecosystem, after all – when you work to control those factors, you also control and minimize algae without adversely affecting your water garden.

Limit Sunlight

Algae needs abundant sunlight to reproduce, and sunlight also raises the water temperature which helps algae grow even more quickly. In shady, cooler ponds and water gardens, however, much less algae is able to grow. You can easily reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the water surface in your garden by 40-60 percent by adding floaters that will cover the surface and provide shade. Top water garden floaters include water hyacinths and water lettuce, both of which successfully reduce excessive algae growth. For the best results, cover 50 percent or more of the water’s surface area with floating plants.

Reduce Nutrients

Because algae can grow so rapidly, it requires abundant nutrients to reproduce. If you remove those nutrients, there will be less nourishment available to sustain algae growth. Submerged plants, such as water lilies and lotus, compete with algae for limited available nutrients, essentially starving the algae to death, while at the same time adding their own beauty to your backyard pond or water garden. If fish are part of your container garden or pond, be sure you are not overfeeding them, since excess, uneaten food quickly decays into vital nutrients algae can use as well. Similarly, prune and clean out any decaying plant foliage so it does not become the nutrients algae needs.

Increase Oxygen

Algae thrives in stagnant water, and abundant oxygen is toxic to these simple growths. Oxygenating plants like milfoil and hornwort should be included in your plant choices to increase the oxygen in your water garden and make it less suitable for algae. More oxygen will also be healthier for any fish, frogs or toads that might call your water garden home, and many other water garden plants will also thrive with better oxygen in the water.

Stop in and see our extensive collection of water garden plants and supplies. Our well-informed staff will assist you in making the best choices for your water garden to help reduce algae growth and keep your water garden or pond clear and sparkling.



Less Pain, More Gain: Ergonomics in the Garden

Merriam-Webster defines ergonomics as: An applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. Experts in ergonomics strive to design and produce items that better match the capabilities, limitations and needs of the people who use them. The result is a safer product that causes less fatigue and stress on the body, while still allowing you to perform the same functions as with regular tools or items.

How Gardening Can Hurt Your Body

Repetitive gardening activities can put you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, and can exacerbate other conditions such as arthritis, sciatica and other aches and pains. Poor movement or sudden strains can pull muscles or pinch nerves, which can lead to days or weeks of recovery, doctor appointments, tests, medications and other treatments. Even worse movements could lead to more severe injuries, falls or sprains which could cause you to miss out on a gardening season altogether. Listen to your body – if a movement hurts, change what you are doing and the tools you are using.

Ergonomic Garden Tools

Before purchasing the tools required to perform your garden chores it is best to choose those that fit the job – weeding, pruning, digging, trimming, harvesting, raking, etc. It is equally important, however, that the tools fit you as well – your size, your grip, your posture and your preferences.

Ergonomic tools will help you accomplish different garden tasks with greater efficiency and reduced effort, force, bending, leaning or twisting. With the correct tools you will be able to dig, trim and cut more, in less time, with less effort and more gardening enjoyment. Some ergonomic tools may look no different than the familiar tools you’ve been using for years, but they may be made of different materials to be lighter or stronger. There may be angle or length changes in handles to allow for easier use, or handles may be cushioned to provide firmer grips without causing pain or fatigue. Some tools, such as portable stools or combined tools that include buckets as well as a seat or kneeling pad, help make gardening chores more accessible and comfortable as well.

Ask one of our employees for their assistance in making your garden equipment choices. We carry a wide selection of ergonomic garden tools and are happy to help you choose the right device, size and style for you to accomplish your gardening chores safely and pain free.



Summer Watering Tips

As the days heat up, watering can become a dreaded garden chore and too many gardeners use wasteful techniques that use plenty of water but don’t give their plants the moisture they really need. Make watering plants easier and more efficient with the proper practices and tools…

  • Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important functions are to help retain soil moisture and minimize weeds, which would also usurp moisture from your plants. Mulch around plants to a depth of 2-4 inches, refreshing mulch as needed to maintain that depth and attractiveness.
  • Watering cans and small containers work great for spot watering plants with different watering needs by hand. You don’t always need to get out a hose or sprinkler to get the watering done.
  • Check to make sure that you have the proper length hose(s) to reach every corner of your garden. Take into account any obstacles in the way, and be sure you aren’t dragging the hose over any delicate plantings to reach more distant dry spots.
  • Add a water wand to the hose to get the water where it’s most needed – the base of the plants – without needing to bend over repeatedly, which can cause back strain.
  • The best time to water is during the early morning hours of a sunny day. This will allow plants to absorb more water before it evaporates when temperatures rise, but won’t leave water to sit on plants overnight when mold can develop.
  • Always water plants and container gardens thoroughly and deeply to encourage deeper, more drought-tolerant root systems. It is better to water less frequently but more deeply rather than more often but with less water.
  • In the landscape, a good rule of thumb is to provide an inch of water per week minimum. Keep track of precipitation with a rain gauge to avoid wasting water by overwatering when Mother Nature does the job.
  • New individual plants that are set out, direct sown seed beds, sodding, etc. often require daily care, including watering, until established. Check moisture levels carefully during this period so the plants are well cared for.
  • Use soaker hoses to provide slow drip watering. This allows plants to absorb water easily without wasting water by evaporating from foliage or spraying into the air. Soaker hoses can even be layered beneath mulch to preserve as much moisture as possible.
  • Pay extra attention to plants in containers and hanging baskets as they tend to dry out faster and with greater frequency. These plantings will likely need to be watered daily or even multiple times a day during heat waves.
  • Place Tree Gators, a drip irrigation bag, on newly planted trees for slow, steady watering that will soak down to the root system without draining away along the surface of the soil.

If you’ll be away on an extended vacation, or even just for a few days, make arrangements with a trusted friend or neighbor to “plant sit” while you are gone. There’s nothing worse than worrying about your garden while you’re away – except coming home to crisp plants that haven’t been watered properly!



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


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

Annuals and Tender


  • Heliotrope
  • Lantana
  • Rosemary
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Geraniums
  • Snapdragons
  • Portulaca
  • Zinnias
  • Allysum
  • Fucshia
  • Vinca
  • Balsam
  • Dahlia
  • Impatiens
  • Salvia
  • Verbena



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.



Goji Berry (Wolfberry)

Touted by some as the “fruit from the fountain of youth” because of its high antioxidant, carotene and essential amino acids content, the goji berry (Lycium barbarum), also creates a large sensation in the garden. Additionally, it’s easy to grow in zones 3-10 (even in seaside locations!) and doesn’t need a second plant for cross-pollination as it is self-pollinating. Is this super plant right for your garden?

Growing Goji Berry

In its natural form, this vigorous vine sprawls along the ground but training it to grow vertically is tidier, more space efficient and will protect nearby plants from overcrowding. Tie it to a strong stake, espalier along a wall or train along another framework for an attractive 8-10′ long plant and easier harvesting of the berries. Full sun exposure produces the most fruit. In areas where summer temperatures exceed 100⁰ F, provide afternoon light shade. It thrives in alkaline soil with a pH from 6.8-8.1. Add lime to the soil to increase the pH, if necessary. Regular watering and light fertilizing, along with light pruning to maintain its shape and appearance, are all that’s necessary to grow your own goji berries.

If your space is limited, grow goji in a container. Container growing produces fruit earlier, makes it easier to maintain the soil pH and easily manages the vine’s size. Moreover, it’s quite attractive. Because the taproot grows deeply, be sure to choose a frost-proof container at least 18″ deep and 18″ diameter or larger.

In the spring, bright red-orange berries follow lavender bell-shaped flowers. Since birds love the fruit, cover with netting to protect it so it can ripen fully.

The berries turn red before they reach their full ripeness. Allow the berries to remain on the plant prior to harvesting to develop the best flavor. The best way to tell if they’re ripe is to eat one. When the tart taste becomes sweeter, they’re ready. Use the fresh berries in salads, sauces, juices or soups, or experiment by adding them to favorite jam recipes, infusing water or creating crushed fruit spreads. Alternatively, preserve your berries by drying or freezing and you can enjoy them long after the harvest ends.

At first frost, the plant becomes dormant and the leaves drop. They’re hardy to -18⁰ F. When the temperatures rise to 50⁰ F, the leaves and fruit begin anew. In warmer areas, then, the growing season will be longer and you can enjoy goji berries even more, while in cooler zones you will have a shorter season, but one that is just as sweet.

If you have questions or need assistance choosing your goji berry, soil or container, our friendly staff is always glad to help.


A Taste of the Tropics

It only takes a few plants to cast a tropical look upon a garden. Although our gardening zone here isn’t strictly tropical, it’s still possible to include some tropical and tropical-looking plants in our landscapes to create a lush summer oasis that hints at a vibrant paradise.

Use Houseplants for Tropical Flair

A simple way to add a tropical touch to your garden is to place houseplants among your outside ornamentals. As many of our houseplants originated in tropical, semi-tropical or desert zones, they’re right at home in the summer garden. Consider the effect of adding spathiphyllums, orchids, ficus or cacti to your garden or patio. A brugmansia (sometimes called datura), with giant drooping, fragrant flowers epitomizes the idea of “tropical.” Potted citrus trees produce fruit and fragrance. A “tree” of tillandsias (air plants) creates an amazing sculpture. A single large stag-horn fern hanging from the side of a sturdy shade tree is another eye-catcher. When summer ends, simply shower the plants, look for insects and treat if necessary, and reinstall them in the house to provide winter enjoyment.

Summer Tropical Bulbs

Many beautiful bulbs can add a tropical vibe to your garden with very little care or maintenance. Here are a few of our favorite summer bulb additions to the tropical garden, but remember that these plants are not winter hardy here and the bulbs must be dug up and stored inside for the winter.

  • Caladiums: Available in a variety of colors including pink, white, gray, green, red, white, mottled and variegated. These plants flourish in shade with rich soil and regular watering.
  • Callas: This slender plant with large green leaves grows 2-4′ tall. White spath-shaped flowers in spring and early summer rise above the leaves. Grows best in wet soils and light shade.
  • Cannas: Large leaves of green, red or variegated with spectacular flowers of red, orange, yellow, pink or cream in summer and early fall. Tall varieties grow to 6′ and dwarf varieties grow to 3′. Plant in full sun.

In addition to bulbs, other bold and exciting additions with tropical flair include:

  • Chilean Jasmine (Mandevilla laxa): A deciduous vine growing 15′ or higher, this provides an overhead tropical look when grown on a pergola or overhead structure. Very fragrant white flowers in summer add to the tropical effect. Requires rich soil.
  • Gunnera: Huge, dark green, stiff-haired leaves growing to 8′ tall. These “dinosaur food plants” make an amazing statement in the landscape. Requires good soil and ample water. Produces large red cone-shaped flowers.
  • Hibiscus: Tropical Hibiscus may be set outside for the summer in our area and brought back in when the cold weather sets in. There are, however, two varieties of hibiscus that are hardy in our area:
    • Rose-Mallow or Perennial Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos): An American native, grows as a perennial with many varieties of different sizes and colors. Flowers may grow to 12″ diameter in red, pink or white. Regular fertilizing increases bloom vigor and colors.
    • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus): Deciduous shrub growing to 12′ tall but easily trained or kept smaller. Flowers, 2 ½-3″, in mid- or late summer.
  • Palms: Nothing says tropical like a palm. Here are four that are readily available and can be used in your garden for a lush accent.
    • Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix): Fan palm with short or no trunk, to 6′ tall. Extremely winter hardy.
    • Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor): Native to the southeastern United States. Grows 4-6′ tall by 8′ wide. Green or blue-green fan-shaped fronds.
    • Mazari Palm (Nannorrhops ritchiana): Shrubby clumping growth to 6′ tall, bluish-green colored fan fronds.
    • Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunea): Grows to 30′ tall and 10′ wide.
  • Bamboo: Few plants rival this group of grasses for hardiness, tropical appearance and variation. Both clumping and running bamboos vary in color, height and requirements. From the dwarf to the giant, there’s a bamboo to add tropical pizzazz to your garden.

To see the best selections for our growing zone or ask questions about creating a tropical garden, come in and talk with our friendly staff. They can help you make the best selection to put the topical in your garden paradise.





Versatile Hydrangeas

Tall or short, red, pink, purple, blue, white and shades in between, few shrubs provide the versatility of hydrangeas. Generations of gardeners have loved and designed their gardens using these showy shrubs as summer privacy screens, landscape focal points and beautiful cut flowers. Now, thanks to new hydrangea introductions, there are even more ways to use them.

Discover the Newest Hydrangeas

New types of hydrangeas are being introduced every year, and these showstoppers are fast favorites among both experienced hydrangea aficionados as well as newcomers to the hydrangea craze.

  • ‘Endless Summer’
    Termed “the best new flowering shrub of the decade” by some gardeners, this cultivar has gained a reputation as the first “reblooming” hydrangea. Blooming from early summer to first frost on both new and old wood, it is unfazed by high heat or extreme cold. Now gardeners in colder microclimates can grow beautiful low maintenance 3-5’ tall and wide hydrangeas. The 8″ diameter mophead balls of light blue or pink flowers bloom the entire summer.
  • ‘Bloomstruck’
    A dwarf ‘Endless Summer’ this hydrangea grows to only 2-4’ tall and wide with pink or blue 4-5″ diameter mopheads on upright red-purple stems. Perfect for containers, in smaller gardens or in the front of cutting beds, it also graces balconies and decks. In fall, red-purple colored leaves extend the beauty.

Color Tip: Change the flower colors of ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Bloomstruck.’ The soil pH affects the flower color of many hydrangeas. To intensify the pink color, decrease the acidity by adding hydrated lime. To intensify the blue color, increase the acidity by adding sulfur. Our staff can suggest products to help you determine your soil pH and the amount of lime or sulfur to use.

  • ‘Quickfire’
    Also known as Hydrangea paniculata, this variety blooms earlier than most other hydrangeas and has flowers along an elongated stalk. The flowers, blooming on new wood, open as white, gradually turning to pink in the summer and darker rose in the fall. The soil pH does not affect the flower color. As one of the hardiest hydrangeas, this beauty grows to 6′ tall in most soils, full sun or dappled shade and tolerates drought conditions.
  • ‘Little Quickfire’
    A dwarf form of ‘Quickfire,’ this tiny powerhouse has all the beauty and benefits of its bigger relative but in a small package. Growing only to 3-4′ tall with a slightly larger spread, this hydrangea makes a big statement in a little space when covered with blooms and can be an ideal choice to start out with hydrangeas.
  • ‘Bobo’
    Another paniculata hydrangea, this variety creates huge drama for such a little plant. Growing only to 3′ tall and wide, it’s a thriller in containers, and easily won the Gold Florall medal for best novelty plant. ‘Bobo’s early season white flowers also bloom on new wood and cover the plant on strong overhead stems. Unaffected by soil type or pH, this hardy hydrangea steals the show wherever it is planted.

No matter how you use these newcomers in your landscape – larger varieties in the back of beds or as borders, smaller options in the front or in containers – their long-lasting flowers will make you think summer truly is endless.





Pruning Red Raspberries

There’s an unfounded rumor that raspberries are difficult to prune. This isn’t true if you understand the type of raspberry in your garden. Summer-bearing raspberries produce only one harvest per year while everbearing, or fall-bearing, raspberries can produce two harvests.

Raspberry Types

Summer-bearing raspberries plants bear fruit on one type of cane, a floricane. These large, thick canes grow fruiting lateral branches. Most of the purple and black raspberry varieties and some red varieties are summer-bearing plants.

Everbearing raspberries grow two types of fruiting canes, floricanes and primocanes. The floricanes are similar those of the summer-bearing raspberry. However, the primocane has no lateral branches. Instead, the fruit buds are located on the thick cane. Most red and yellow raspberry varieties are everbearing.

No matter what type of raspberry you grow, proper pruning improves production and the taste of the fruit, the appearance of your garden and makes it easier to harvest the delicious fruit.

Raspberry Pruning Tips

If you are growing summer-bearing raspberries, you will follow a cycle of pruning out the older floricanes, which already bore fruit. If you are growing ever-bearing raspberries, you will prune out floricanes and the top one-third of the primocanes where fruit developed in the fall. However, you can choose a second option for pruning everbearing raspberries. Simply cut the entire plant to the ground in early spring to produce berries from fall until the first frost. This sacrifices the summer harvest, but puts all plant energy into fruit production for fall harvest, creating a larger, more robust crop. It also protects the canes from any extreme winter conditions and reduces insect damage. Using row covers or greenhouses to maintain a warmer temperature easily extends the harvest season later into the fall.

To simplify the pruning process…


When you grow your own berries, you know exactly how they were grown, you save money, and best of all, they taste great, even with dirt under your fingernails!


The Cotinus Craze

Smoketree, the common name for the genus Cotinus, aptly describes the hazy, smoky look of the flowers sported by this fabulous plant. Best described as a deciduous large shrub or small tree, Cotinus boasts species with varying heights, unique summer flowers, outstanding fall color and low maintenance requirements, all features that can make it an excellent addition to your landscape.

Cotinus Care

Thriving in full sun, the smoketree isn’t particular about soil conditions; it is drought tolerant and virtually disease and pest-free. Cotinus does, however, require excellent drainage, and it is important that the soil not be soggy or compacted which will choke off roots. Although this plant may be pruned for size it is important to remember that the flowers appear in the late spring on old wood, therefore, fall or early spring pruning will eliminate the smoky flowers. When pruning is required to maintain size or shape, consider coppicing (cutting entire bush down to 12″ tall in early spring) every other year. This allows you to enjoy the flowers on alternate years but keep the plant to a manageable size.

Cotinus Varieties

We recommend two species and various varieties of Cotinus because of their sizes, colors and landscape beauty. The large C. obovatus, American Smoketree, is native to the eastern United States. A large specimen grows to 20′ tall and wide, with large bluish dark green leaves. In the fall, the leaves turn bright yellow, orange and bronzed red.

The smaller C. coggygria generally grows to 15-20′. The flower puffs of the purple-leaved cultivars ‘Purpureaus’, ‘Royal Purple’, ‘Norcutt’s Variety’ and ‘Velvet Cloak’ appear even stronger purple than the dramatic leaves. Especially when positioned against a light colored fence or wall, the purples seem to glow.

On the other hand, ‘Golden Spirit’, growing to only 7′ tall with lime green spring leaves, stands out against dark walls and fences, whether in the ground or in a container. ‘Pink Champagne’ pairs tannish-pink flower puffs with green leaves for a 10′ tall and wide, clean, contemporary look.

One of our favorites, ‘Grace’, is a hybrid of the two species. Growing to 15′ tall and wide, the purple leaves create a beautiful backdrop to large, deep pink smoke puffs. Autumn foliage colors include orange and a stunning red/purple/bronze.

Choosing Your Cotinus

With so many varieties of this stunning plant available, it can be difficult to choose your best Cotinus. Check the specific growing conditions for each variety, as well as its mature size, when selecting one for your landscape. Care for it meticulously until established, and you’ll be rewarded with many years of dramatic beauty to enjoy.