THE BLOG: let's talk gardening

OCTOBER
30
2013

Spread the Color!

ORANGE MARMALADE CROSSANDRA

Crossandra, sometimes called Firecracker Flower, has vibrant orange flowers that grow in clusters. The glossy, green foliage makes this attractive houseplant a great addition to your windowsill. During the hot days of summer, this tropical flower is easy to grow outdoors. Be sure to bring it in for a touch of indoor color during fall and winter.

Crossandra is native to India and Sri Lanka, where its blossoms are traditionally combined with jasmine to adorn women's hair. This beautiful plant is related to the Mexican petunia and the yellow shrimp plant. It prefers light to moderate water and requires a good amount of sun in order to bloom at its best. Crossandra plants are slow growing, but make wonderful flowering houseplants, where it will flower on and off all year long if it gets enough light. Snip off the faded flower clusters to promote rebloom. A balanced fertilizer should be applied every month during the spring and summer, and then every eight weeks in the fall and winter. Crossandra loves humidity so mist its leaves regularly... and enjoy!

Check out more of our favorite houseplants here >>

OCTOBER
25
2013

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Japanese Maples for the Fall Landscape

Looking for dramatic fall color in the landscape? Look no further than Japanese Maples. Our landscape designers love using Japanese Maples for bold, brilliant color all through the fall.

The term Japanese maple refers to a large group of plants belonging mainly to Acer palmatum and Acer japonicum. Japanese maples offer spectacular architectural form, lacy and delicate foliage, along with dramatic color in the spring and fall. They make a great landscape plant, accent plant or even a container plant. Japanese maples prefer partial sun. If grown in a mostly shady spot, the leaves will not offer intense fall color - meaning the more sun, the brighter the leaves. A good rule of thumb is that green-foliaged varieties will tolerate almost full sun, while variegated varieties need more shade. It is important for maples to have good drainage. This will keep the crown of the tree from being surrounded by soggy soil.

Tami Eilers, one of our landscape designers, comments, "I love having so many varieties of Japanese Maples to choose from. The sky is the limit and there are so many choices. What an effective way to bring texture, color, form and size to any landscape.”

Try some of our favorite Japanese Maples:

‘Shishi gashira’ - This distinctive Japanese Maple has upright branches that are thickly covered with dense layers of foliage. This compact, shrubby tree becomes purple-red with orange-red patterns in fall. This tree will put on a dramatic color display all through fall as the brilliant oranges and yellows arrive very late in the season. Popular for bonsai, as a container subject and in small gardens.

‘Sangokaku’ - Also called the Coral Bark Maple, this beautiful small tree has brilliant, flaming coral red bark on young branches that intensifies in winter. The leaves emerge in spring with a flush of bright yellow-orange and change to soft green in summer providing a sharp contrast to the glowing coral bark. Autumn color is a bright tone of yellow and gold with hints of scarlet.

‘Ryusen’ aka ‘Ryu sei’ - A true weeping Japanese Maple, this tree boasts a magnificent weeping habit with strong, pendulous branches bearing bright green leaves. The foliage on this slow grower turns brilliant shades of golden-orange and bright red in autumn.

OCTOBER
23
2013

Azaleas that bloom in the fall?

RE-BLOOMING AZALEAS

Who doesn't adore azaleas in the spring? What if we told you that now you can enjoy an explosion of blooming azaleas other times of the year as well? Try our re-blooming varieties that flower in the spring, summer and yes, even fall!

Our re-blooming favorites:

Encore – offers three seasons of blooms and year-round greenery. Blooms from late summer to early winter, as well as in the spring. This evergreen enjoys more sun than traditional azaleas, but offers the same easy care. Encores offer a wide selection of plant sizes and bloom colors from reds, to whites, to pinks and even corals. Perfect as base plants, in container gardens, borders, as a foundation planting or in woodland gardens. Prefers well-drained soil and partial sun.

ReBLOOM - featuring large, double and even triple-petal flowers that appear in spring, then rebloom in summer, and continue blooming up until a hard frost. This compact, disease resistant evergreen boast improved cold hardiness and maintains its evergreen foliage year-round. ReBLOOM comes in a variety of unique colors including pinks, reds, purples, whites and corals. Plant in borders, woodland gardens or in containers. Tolerates some sun, but thrive in partial shade. Prefers moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic.

Bloom-a-thon - touted as being 'twice as nice as other azaleas'. This azalea produces flowers in April, that rebloom again in July, continuing through fall until a hard frost. Not even hot summer temperatures can stop this beauty from producing tons of late summer and fall blooms. The evergreen foliage is disease resistant and flowers come in a variety of shades including red, white, lavender and pink. Blooms lasts for 4 to 6 weeks in spring, and 12 to16 weeks in summer and fall. Ideal in borders, foundation plantings or in woodland gardens. Prefers well-drained soil and partial sun.

OCTOBER
22
2013

Pumpkins on Parade

TIPS FOR PUMPKIN PICKING & CARVING

In the world of pumpkins, there are the varieties that are great for carving - and those that are made for eating. Selecting the perfect pumpkin for carving can be a real adventure considering all the different shapes, sizes, and colors out there. And like people, every pumpkin has its unique characteristics, giving it a personality all its own. Pumpkin carving is a tradition your whole family can enjoy, so here’s a few tips on picking and carving one.

Choose a design before shopping for a pumpkin. Think about which shape would best suit your design - tall and narrow or fat and round. If you're using a stencil, look for a pumpkin with a shape similar to the pattern you're planning to carve.

Look for a pumpkin that's...

  • firm and free from cuts, soft spots and bruises.
  • sits well on the ground and is stable.
  • includes a bit of stem.

When carving...

  • wipe your pumpkin off with a little bleach and water (approx. 1 tsp. bleach to 1 cup water) before you begin. This will greatly cut down on fungus.
  • don't cut into your pumpkin around stem. Cutting out a stem cap weakens the pumpkin. Instead, access the pumpkin from backside – this will help preserve freshness. Hiding the opening in the back also gives the pumpkin more visual appeal.
  • scrape and clean the inside of the pumpkin as much as possible. The cleaner you get it, the longer you'll have a great looking jack-o-lantern. (gut it out twice as much as you think you need to).
  • place your finished masterpiece in a dry, shady area - it will last longer!

TIPS:

  • Tall, thin shapes are perfect for funny and whimsical faces. Round shapes are ideal for happy and scary ones.
  • Oddly shaped pumpkins are perfect for creating unique characters.
  • Consider a white pumpkin, when unlit, white pumpkins appear to glow as the daylight fades.

Visit us this Saturday, October 26, any time from 10am to 5pm and decorate pumpkins. Bring the family and get your pumpkin all decked out for Halloween. Pumpkins will be available to purchase and paints, stencils and embellishments will be provided. Sure to be a real treat! learn more >>

OCTOBER
17
2013

Think Pink. Shop Pink. Be Pink.

Join us and Sentara Cancer Network this Saturday, October 19, 2013 for PINK DAY.

Most of us has known someone that has been affected by breast cancer and each year more than 200,000 women and over 1,000 men are diagnosed with the disease. Raising awareness about breast cancer health and resources may be among the most important things that you can do.

In honor of national breast cancer awareness month, we are teaming up with the Sentara Cancer Network to help spread the word on breast health awareness. This Saturday, October 19, visit any McDonald Garden Center location and help bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. Purchase from a variety of pink plants including Encore Azaleas, Mums, Pansies and Camellias and 15% of the proceeds will go to support breast cancer programs. But remember, the most important date is your annual screening mammogram. So take time to schedule your annual screening mammogram today.

Join us this Saturday, October 19 for a day of all things PINK. learn more >>

OCTOBER
11
2013

Not Just Another Pretty Face!

VIOLAS & PANSIES

Pansies and violas are the perfect flower to brighten a fall or winter landscape. Both come in infinite range of colors and color combinations offering a variety for every taste. Here in Hampton Roads, both bloom from fall to spring providing cheerful color in a time of the year when it is least expected.

Although they are from the same family, there are differences in the way these two cool weather annuals grow and bloom. Pansies offer larger flowers that are about three to four times larger than viola blooms, which are only about the size of a nickel. The other major difference between these two are that violas produce a greater number of flowers, around three to four times more than pansies. As far as food and care, pansies and violas a similar except violas tend to handle shade better than pansies, which will not bloom without full sun.

So here’s the bottom line, whether you plant a bed full of just pansies, just violas or both for an interesting mix, either of these two will have your landscape looking colorful, vibrant and healthy throughout the winter season and until April of next year! Here are a few of our favorites:

Angel Tiger Eye - A pansy-viola hybrid, this medium size bloom features golden yellow flowers with black tiger striping. Blooms summer or winter with plants going dormant during hot summers. But not to worry, Tiger Eye burst back into color after the temperatures cool off in early to mid fall. Creates an eye-catching display in containers, mass plantings or in borders. The perfect compliment to your Halloween or Thanksgiving décor!

Penny Peach Jump-Up Viola – Mini purple petals featuring a citrus-y peach and white face. Adds a punch of color fall through spring. This petite cool season lover looks stunning in containers, borders and garden beds. Did we mention Penny Peach has improved heat and cold tolerance too!

Penny Marina Viola – Petite ocean blue petals offer a continuous blast of cool weather color. You'll love the gorgeous blue flowers with plum purple overtones, yellow eyes and deep purple that bloom from early spring to late fall. This viola offers a mass of large rounded flowers that are perfect for mass plantings, in borders and containers. Like Penny Peach, Marina improved heat and cold tolerance.

OCTOBER
7
2013

Perfect Pansy Partners

One of the most popular cool weather annual, pansies are a fall and winter bloomer. They are hardy and come in a wide spectrum of color combinations and hues making them striking plants for their size. Pansies are the perfect choice for early and late season containers or to tuck in between plants in your landscape. And because this hardy plant will continue to bloom through frost, you may find yourself wondering what pansy companions you can use to create a dazzling cool-season display. Believe it or not, there are more choices than you may think whether you are planting in the landscape or designing fall containers.

We love pairing pansies with ornamental cabbage and kale, hardy garden mums, Encore azaleas, colorful camellias, hardy heuchera and an assortment of perennial grasses. And don’t forget to combine small pumpkins & gourds near your pansies for festive fall decorating both inside & out. The color show in your landscape will be the envy of the neighborhood and you’ll love seeing those pansy faces smiling back at you every time you look outdoors!

OCTOBER
4
2013

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Gather Fireside

LIGHT UP YOUR LANDSCAPE WITH A FIRE PIT

Whether you're roasting hot dogs in the summer or marshmallows in the winter or simply enjoying a cozy, crackling fire on a cool autumn night, a fire pit makes being outside any time of the year enjoyable. Fire pits are one the hottest items on the market today and adding one to your landscape will provide a natural gathering spot for socializing, entertaining, and just plain relaxing!

Backyard fire pits can easily be integrated into an existing patio, pond, or seating area, and there are countless options when it comes to the size, shape and style. Both free-standing and built-in fire pits are available in a variety of designs to fit the architecture of most any home and garden. Built-in fire pits can be modern or traditional while free-standing pits run the gamut from sleek and modern to rustic.

When it comes to built-in fire pits, you can have one custom built and installed for you by our landscape team, or you can purchase a DIY kit and build it yourself. If opting for a built-in fire pit, you'll be able to choose from an array of outdoor materials including concrete, stone, brick and pavers. And remember, fire pits don't have to be round - they can be square, L-shaped, or most any custom shape you desire, so think outside of the box when designing your fire pit. A portable pit is yet another option and can be moved from one location to another in your yard. Free standing models are an economical way to add a fire pit to an existing or newly designed garden and are available in a variety of styles and finishes. We carry an array of free-standing fire pits and fire bowls... new this season!

Whether you are throwing a backyard party or simply enjoying some peace and quiet at home with family, a fire pit will instantly make your yard the place everyone wants to be! Looking to create a fire pit for your outdoors? If so, join us for a complimentary in-store demonstration featuring “How to Install a Fire Pit” at our Virginia Beach location on Saturday, October 5, at 11:00 a.m. We'll show you how easy it is to install a stone fire pit kit. learn more >>

Free-standing fire pits and fire bowls are sold at all locations, starting at $169. Do-It-Yourself fire pit kits are sold at our Virginia Beach location at 1144 Independence Boulevard. Kits are a special order item starting at $599. We also offer installation services.

OCTOBER
3
2013

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Gorgeous Gourds for Decorating Inside & Out!

What screams fall more than pumpkins & gourds? These lovely orange orbs pop up everywhere this time of the year. Their deep harvest colors are perfect for dressing up your home for fall on both the inside and out! When it comes to decorating with these fall faves, the ideas are endless.

So spice up your fall decor with these festive decorating ideas ~ no knives required.

Chalkboard Greeting Pumpkins
Welcome your guests and trick-or-treaters with a personalized message on chalkboard pumpkins. Simply paint your pumpkin with chalkboard paint and use chalk to label with “Welcome’, "Boo!", "Trick-or-Treat!", or "Happy Halloween”.

Sequined Monograms Pumpkins
Embellish your family letter with dazzling sequins on white or orange pumpkins. Add sequin swirls and stripes to make a fall display that is perfect as a centerpiece or for the front stoop.

Pumpkin Place Cards
Add a personalized touch to a fall dinner with custom-made place cards. Use your computer to create business-card-size tags with fall images and lettering. Print and attach to a small gourd with a pushpin.

Welcoming Wagon Display
Fill your old wheelbarrow with an assortment of pumpkins, gourds, mums, cabbage and kale. Use a permanent marker to inscribe one of the pumpkins with a welcoming message.

Stacked Gourds in Glass Vases
Bring autumn to your table or mantel by filling clear glass cylinder vases with gourds and pumpkins. Use vases of different sizes and heights to create interest and dimension.

Fall Foliage Pumpkins
Have your kids collect fall leaves from the yard, and use them as patterns to make cut-outs or glue onto pumpkins. These masterpieces will last up until Thanksgiving.

Petal Pumpkins
Create a beautiful floral display using yellow and orange mums. Cut the heads from the flowers and hot-glue them all over your pumpkins. Display on tabletops, mantels or undercover on the front porch.

Potted Pumpkins
Set pumpkins in or atop of terra-cotta pots paired with rich burgundy dahlias or yellow mums accented with pumpkin leaves. Place on a fireplace mantel or on a table.

We're on Pinterest, are you? Check out pumpkin pins we love! >>

OCTOBER
2
2013

Off our Gourd

What's October without pumpkins and gourds? Well, have we got some gorgeous gourds for you to feast your eyes on! This season you will love decorating with our new Lunch Lady gourds. These large pumpkin-sized gourds are huge ranging from 5-20 pounds! They are available in a mix of great fall colors. Each boasts an interesting bumpy and durable shell allowing them to hold up well in outdoor conditions. A combination of colors, designs and shapes will create a unique and interesting display. Mix with pumpkins, mums or pansy containers for a fall look that will last until Thanksgiving.

Did you know gourds are related to melons, squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers, and are members of the cucumber family? They are one of the earliest crops to be grown. For thousands of years they have been grown for ornamentation, utensils, making instruments, and it is even said that they were used to make suction cups by the Greeks. These interesting ornamentals are typically inedible due to a lack of flesh or undesirable flavor, although some varieties such as the snake gourd can be eaten in addition to utilitarian purposes.

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