THE BLOG: let's talk gardening

MARCH
29
2013

Hop to it!

Set a spring scene inside and out. From the graceful to the bold, these blooms are perfect center stage on your table or to add a springy warm welcome to your entrance or even for spring curb appeal. These bunny approved blooms in all the shades of Easter will make your Easter “egg-tra” special.

Shades of White
• Orchids
• Calla Lily
• Peace Lily
• Mountain Snow Pieris
• Candytuft

Vibrant Violet
• Purple Alyssum
• Scabiosa
• Hyacinth
• Pericallis

Gorgeous Green
• Mexican Feather Grass
• Ferns
• Spring Cactus
• Tillandsia
• Green Spike

Pretty in Pink
• Tulips
• Pink Dianthus
• Geraniums
• Mini Roses
• Hibiscus
• Camellias
• Candytuft

Sunwashed Yellow
• Suncatcher Pink Lemonade Petunias
• Daffodil
• Tulips
• Orchids
• African Daisy
• Bush Daisy
• Forsythia

TIP: Remember, any outside bloom can be brought indoors to add a burst of color. We love our Easter Planters that combine Mexican Feather Grass, trailing Suncatcher Pink Lemonade Petunias, pink Dianthus and purple Alyssum and are perfect as a centerpiece but can be planted outdoors to enjoy all spring.

MARCH
28
2013

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A juicy garden favorite

Who doesn’t love strawberries? Those juicy red berries are a sure sign that warm has arrived! One of our favorite berries, are Chandler Strawberries. And, did you know that Chandler is the leading strawberry variety sold in supermarkets. They produce fruit that is conically-shaped ranging in size. When ready to be picked, the berries are red, firm, juicy, sweet and tangy. The number of berries per plant will depend on the size of the plant and overall condition of the roots and stems. Chandler strawberry plants drop their fruits in late May or early June.

Chandler strawberry plants thrive in the southern states during the spring. They require full sunlight, sufficient water and well-drained soil; too much water can cause the roots to rot. We recommend planting in single rows about 8 to 14 inches apart or in double rows that are 1 to 2 feet apart. Healthy, mature plants have shallow roots and stems that grow to about 8 inches tall. Strawberry plants can also grow from seed or clippings; plant them in small containers with fresh soil. Available in strawberry baskets for $19.99, or individually at $2.99.

Be sure to join us this Saturday, March 30 at 11:00am to create your very own strawberry jar using Chandler strawberries. Get the juicy details >>

MARCH
26
2013

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Hello Spring Blossoms

Introducing color that pops in the landscape just in time for spring. These shrubs will add bold color in the early spring days. Not only can you enjoy these blooms through your window, but branches from these shrubs look stunning in a vase to add color inside your home. We’ve decided that these two blooming beauties are a must have for the garden!

Double Take Quince
With big, richly colored, double flowers this shrub provides a stunning early spring flower display. Drought tolerant once established, it may be pruned to shape after it blooms. Available in Pink Storm, Orange Storm and Starlet Storm, the Double Take Quinces are easy to care for and easy to love. This deciduous shrub is thorn less and deer resistant. Plant in part sun to full sun. Any of these branches are great to use for cut flowers. Developed by Dr. Tom Ranney and his team at the Mountain Crops Research & Extension Center in beautiful North Carolina, Orange Storm and the other Double Take Quinces are sure to brighten spring gardens across North America. In stores now, $24.99.

Bloomerang Lilac
Get ready for some major blooming with this reblooming lilac ~ the Bloomerang Lilac. Bloomerangs bloom heavily in spring, taking a brief resting period, and then start up again in mid-summer continuing until cold weather sets in. Now you can enjoy classic lilac fragrance for months instead of weeks! While traditional lilac varieties bloom for a few short weeks in spring, Bloomerang's fragrant flowers continue until frost. This compact, mounded variety fits easily into any landscape. Reaching just 4 to 5 feet tall, it is ideal as a foundation planting or as part of the mixed border. You can even include it into perennial beds. Lilacs are easy to grow in full sun and average, well-drained soil. It is great as cut flowers for arrangements and even attracts butterflies. It is also deer resistant. In stores now, $26.99.

Check out more of our shrubs in stores now >>

Photos courtesy of Proven Winners

MARCH
22
2013

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Color Your Containers

Since spring has officially arrived, let's get a jumpstart on our container gardens. Try these bloomers that tolerate the cooler early days of spring and get your containers if full spring. These flowers will work great in the early unpredictable days of spring and last all the way until the heat sets in, in May.

Candytuft
A small evergreen shrub with clusters of small flowers, Candytuft thrives in full sun areas with well-drained soil. Candytuft is great for a rock garden where they can tumble about and over rocks. They are also excellent as edging in a border and are well-suited to growing in pots.

Bush Daisy
Add a burst of sunny yellow flowers in spring with this bright bloomer. Not only will this plant give you flowers now, but it will reward you again with flowers this fall. It is very tolerant of cold and can go down to about 28 degrees, so on these cold nights that we are having now, they will handle these nights near freezing. They will not come back reliably outside over winter but they are great as container plants, on their own or in a combo. Just set them in a protected spot in winter (garage is fine) for more flowers in spring!

Dianthus
This perennial offers a long blooming season. They will begin in early spring and continue all the way until frost, if deadheaded regularly. Blooms stand up above the grassy blue-green foliage with sturdy stems. These bold blossoms sparkle in borders, beds, window boxes and containers. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Available in a range of colors from coral to red to pink to even white, some Dianthus also carry a scent.

Snapdragon
This vertical annual, offers great hues in a variety of colors. The abundant spikes of lovely flowers come red, yellow, orange, pink, white and crimson. They are excellent in beds, edging and in containers and they are popular as cut flowers too. Plant in full sun, well drained soil.

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower
This charming perennial is easy to grow and produces loads of large blossoms. Almost frilly in their look, the blooms sit atop a long graceful stem. These are long and profuse bloomers that begin flowering in early spring and go long into summer. For repeat flowering you do need to dead head. With its compact, tidy habit, it is ideal grouped together as a border and the more you plant together the more impact they make! We love these as cut flowers and left it in the garden to attract butterflies. Scabiosa prefers full sun and well drained soil. Mariposa Violet is a double violet color but Butterfly Blue (one of the most popular) is a single bloom in a chambray color.

MARCH
21
2013

Want Early Spring Blooms?

SWEET ALYSSUM

If you're looking for early spring blooms that like the temperatures a bit cooler, you'll love Sweet Alyssum! A member of the mustard family, it's quite fragrant and packs the blooms in early spring. White is the most planted color, but it is available in pink, lavender, and darker shades of violet. This annual grows best in full sun and cooler weather, but will tolerate partial shade. Growing only a few inches high, Sweet Alyssum will spread to fill the space with its ever blooming flowers. This plant will survive light frosts. The bright white pairs well with lots of other springtime favorites like Bush Daisy, Candytuft and Petunias.

Be sure to check out our newest variety ~ Lobularia 'Blushing Princess'. Fragrant, just like the traditional Alyssum, this one goes into the summer heat! It’s a good sized grower - getting up to 24-36" wide, and capable of trailing down in a basket. Its pretty vigorous so chose its partners wisely. And, it does not require dead heading. Look for these in stores this week!

MARCH
13
2013

An Early Spring Favorite

SCABIOSA (Pincushion Flower)

We know spring is close when you start to see the lavender blossoms of Scabiosa. Also called Pincushion Flowers, they get their name from the interestingly shaped flowers, which resemble little pincushions. This charming perennial is easy to grow and produces loads of large, double, deep violet blossoms. Almost frilly in their look, the blooms sit atop a long graceful stem. These are long and profuse bloomers that begin flowering in early spring and go long into summer. You may even see some repeat blooms in fall. With its compact, tidy habit, it is ideal grouped together as a border and the more you plant together the more impact they make! We love these as cut flowers and left it in the garden to attract butterflies. Scabiosa prefers full sun and well drained soil, but it will tolerate some shade. Hellllooooo spring!

MARCH
11
2013

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Pruning Fruit Trees 101

February through March is the perfect time to prune fruiting trees & plants. It's important you prune during these months. Don't know where to start? Don't worry - it is not as hard as you might think, and it's worth every minute. Following basic fruit tree pruning instructions will ensure your trees enjoy good health, disease management, and more delicious fruit. Pruning will also stimulate shoot growth, control tree size and shape, and improve the quality of fruit.

Beyond these basic tips, each tree or shrub has its unique pruning needs, so be sure to follow the specific fruit tree pruning instructions for different types of fruit trees. For example, apple trees require a different pruning system than plum trees. However, follow these basic fruit tree pruning instructions and you’ll get you off to a good start.

  1. Always use sharp shears or saws to ensure clean cuts. Use pruning shears on young trees and limbs less than 1/2 inch diameter, and lopping shears for your larger cuts. Use a pruning saw for mature fruit trees.
  2. Start by removing dead wood and broken branches. Cut out any wood that crosses or rubs against any other branches. This opens up the middle so the sun can reach all the fruit.
  3. Make cuts close to a bud, joint in the branch, or to the trunk and never leave a stub. Pruning cuts should be made just above a bud and at a backwards angle of about 30 degrees.
  4. Prune stems just above a pair of opposing strong shoots or buds. If shoots or buds are staggered, find a strong one and prune just above it.
  5. Prune more vertical branches and keep more horizontal branches.
  6. Remove any debris which can harbor pests and disease.

Pruning fruit trees is a skill that is can be easily learned. Just start now and come summer, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor! If you have any specific questions, please see any of our Trees & Shrubs Experts at our three year-round locations.

MARCH
7
2013

Pretty Primrose

PRIMROSE

If you’re yearning for a kiss of spring, but Mother Nature seems somewhat slow to oblige, don’t despair. Primroses can be grown with minimum of effort on a sunny windowsill. They make cheerful gifts for anyone, even yourself while still held indoors in the grip of winter.

The vivacious colors of the Primrose, when seen in bloom seem to jump up and grab you with their charm. Their crisp ruffled leaves form a neat rosette and their fragrant blossoms look like a dainty nosegay in a rainbow of colors: red, yellow, orange, white, purple, bronze or maroon ~ all vivid and captivating. Native to China, there are more than 500 species of Primula bearing their flowers, either singly or in cluster, above the foliage.

Display on a windowsill and keep the plant slightly moist and in direct sunlight. If the window is somewhat cool and drafty - all the better! While not a long-term houseplant, primroses are hardy, low-growing perennials that offer much enjoyment from your windowsill until the weather breaks. Then they may be moved outside, making an excellent border or mass planting under a flowering Dogwood or two. They can also be used in cool spring combination planters for your porch, perfect for Easter décor. Rich acidic soil, plenty of moisture, good drainage and plenty of air circulation are imperative. They like a shady spot as respite from those hot summer days with maybe the morning sun to bring them into flower again.

Visit us and bask in the myriad of colors provided by this delightful harbinger of spring - the world may seem to be a little brighter place!

MARCH
4
2013

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Time to Prune

Now is the time to start spring cleaning in the garden and tidy up those plants to be in tip top shape for the spring and summer. Mid February to mid March is the time to start working on those ornamental grasses.

Here’s some tips from the pro’s on how to get started...

First thing, put on some gloves, especially if dealing with larger grasses as they can be sharp as razor blades. All ornamental grasses should be cut between 2’’ and 12’’ from the ground depending on the size of the plant. A good rule of thumb is to cut the grass 1’’ high for every foot of growth it grows in a season. Therefore if it grows 4 feet every year, cut it 4 inches from the ground. Pampas grass gets 8-12’ tall, therefore you will cut it at 8-12 inches from the base of plant or ground level, however liriope only gets 12-18’’ from the ground so you will cut this very low, about 1-2’’ from the ground. This is a rough estimate, but it gets you close.

The most important piece to pruning ornamental grasses is timing. We recommend pruning ornamental grasses in this area around mid February to mid march. The worst scenario, is after you prune we get a heavy snow or freezing rain that can rot the crown out, if it weren’t pruned the crown would not be exposed and the grass would protect itself. Most winters you won’t have that worry. Another great tip is after you prune, pull out some of the loose grass from the middle of the plant to allow more new foliage to break through the surface. Many times a grass will get so thick after many prunings that it can begin to not produce foliage in the center of the plant, giving it an odd look. If this happens, you can always dig up the entire root ball and split into multiple plants, best time to do that is the beginning of April.

If you have further questions, please feel free to visit any of our garden supply shops at our three year round locations and we can help you get started.

MARCH
1
2013

Life Begins Outdoors!

After a long winter, our 19th annual Outdoor Show offers a warm and colorful welcome to spring. This year, the show will be held March 1-3 featuring an array of flowers and plants rich in color, fragrance and texture. With many local exhibits, the show will feature sensational display gardens and other ideas to brighten your home, indoors and out!

From the latest in edible gardening to trendy living walls and even terrariums, the show provides a preview of gardening trends for 2013. Discover the latest tips and techniques from landscape designers, horticulturists, environmental experts and other professionals. Visit mcdonaldgardencenter.com for a complete listing of show exhibitors.

Our 19th annual Outdoor Show is going on now and is free and open-to-the-public. The event will be held rain or shine from 9 am to 6 pm today through Sunday, March 1, 2 and 3 at McDonald Garden Center’s Hampton location at 1139 W. Pembroke Avenue.

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