THE BLOG: let's talk gardening

NOVEMBER
22
2013

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Fresh & Fragrant

WREATHS, ROPING, TREES AND ACCENTS

Deck the halls and set a festive mood this holiday season with fresh and fragrant greens. Roping, garlands, wreaths and greens will add instant holiday cheer to your banisters, mantels, fences and doorways. It's easy to dress up patio urns, window boxes and planters with bunches of our greens adorned with beautiful ribbons or hand-tied bows.

Cut Christmas Tree
Our fresh cut Christmas trees bring magic to your home. We hand-pick every tree to ensure a uniform shape, thick branches, rich color and superior fragrance. Choose from any of our locally grown North Carolina Fraser Firs. We offer a traditional and a

Greeter Charm
This handmade combination of Noble Fir, Berried Juniper and cones is perfect for table décor, a door charm or even in a window. Eighteen inches long this holiday must-have is pre-dipped to extend shelf life.

Greens Wreath
Our fresh wreaths are a mix of Noble Fir, Berried Juniper, Western Red Cedar and Ponderosa Pine Cones, and are available in 18-inch, 20-inch, 24-inch, 28-inch and 32-inch. Using a live wreath as your canvas, you can add embellishments for easy decor inside and out. Pre-dipped for extended shelf life and hand tied. This makes the perfect statement on your front door.but we also even like replacing a picture on the wall with a wreath or hang on a mirror.

Ideas for Decorating:

  • To create a natural wreath. Simply tie a natural burlap ribbon to the wreath and use other natural trimmings such as nandina berries, holly sprigs or even pine cones. These items can be wired to the wreath with floral wire.
  • To create a more decorative wreath. Choose ribbon that matches your holiday decor. You can then use picks and even ornaments to create pizzazz. These can be wired to the wreath so that they stay in place.

See more of our fresh & fragrant HOLIDAY GREENS >>

NOVEMBER
19
2013

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From our Table to Yours…

Growing your own herbs is a rewarding and efficient way to making it easy to harvest fresh herbs for cooking, and with Thanksgiving a little more than a week away, it’s never too soon to start planning your menu. So, here are some of our favorite crowd-pleasing holiday recipes using your very own fresh herbs. These classics combine fresh rosemary, thyme and sage to create dishes that will dazzle your guests! Once the holidays are over, place your herbs in a kitchen window sill. And remember, herbs also make a great hostess gift to bring along to your Thanksgiving gathering. Bon appétit!

Sage – comes in lots of varieties including Garden, Golden, Blue, Pineapple, Tri-color and Clary, all of which can be used in cooking. Sage is a must in stuffing for poultry. Roast it with pork; add to butter and sauté chicken along with it. Sage also goes well in egg and cheese dishes. Try a little crumbled dry sage over a bowl of black-eyed peas. Dried leaves will keep their flavor for years.

Thyme – like sage, this herb is also available in many different varieties including Common, Woolly, "Mother-of-Thyme", Lemon, English, Silver, and Golden. Thyme is the perfect compliment to poultry, fish, soup and vegetable dishes. Add a pinch of thyme to a tablespoon of honey and add to drained cooked carrots and onions. Thyme, along with sage, rosemary and oregano should be considered the basics of every herb garden.

Rosemary – one of the oldest herbs known to man and is available in many varieties and forms, all of which can be used in cooking. Some top choices for Hampton Roads include Tuscan Blue, Arp and Barbeque, so named for its long stems which can be used for skewers when grilling to add flavor. Rosemary is a natural for pork and poultry dishes. Use a branch of Rosemary as a basting brush for barbecued chicken or as a simple garnish. Place a few springs on top of a roast or baked chicken.

Our Favorite Herb Stuffing Recipe:

• 12 cups slightly dry bread
• 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. ground sage
• 1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
• 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
• 1 cup of chicken broth
• 6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Combine bread, onion, salt, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Add broth and butter; toss lightly to mix. Use to stuff a 12-pound turkey or bake covered, in a 2-quart casserole at 325º until heated through, about one hour.

Our Favorite Herb Butter Recipe:

Spread it on toast or eggs at breakfast. Toss it with pasta at lunch. Melt it on fish or chicken at dinner. And, of course use on fresh bread for your holiday feast.

• Dash of salt and pepper
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1 tsp sage
• 1 tsp rosemary
• 1 stick unsalted of butter

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well with a spoon until combined and all ingredients are incorporated. Place butter mixture into plastic wrap and roll to form a log shape. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.

NOVEMBER
18
2013

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Jolly Up Your Holidays

DECORATING WITH RIBBON

Ribbons are perfect for holiday decorating. They’re cheerful, inexpensive, versatile and readily available. Our design team loves to use ribbon in expected and unexpected places. Here’s their top three ways to use it for holiday decorating.

Garland. Trees look great with ribbon as the garland. There are a number of ways to drape the ribbon for a dramatic filler on the tree. You can loosely wrap the ribbon around the tree or you can loosely drape it down the tree for a vertical effect. Our designers love draping the ribbon in a non-symmetrical or formal way.

Tree Topper. The topper is like the cherry on top of the sundae. The eyes will naturally move towards to the top of the tree to checkout the topper. Tree toppers can be traditional bows or you can use ribbon, picks and other unique objects to draw attention to your tree. Create a whimsical holiday feeling by topping the Christmas tree with red and green. By adding shapes and sizes and glitter and glitz you can dazzle your tree with a twist on the traditional. Go natural and modern with a burlap ribbon and instantly achieve that fresh from the woods feeling. The silver and champagne colors will make it a bit fancier and tie into most color schemes.

Presents. Using ribbon and simple Kraft paper makes an attractive yet sturdy wrapping. The natural color is a perfect backdrop to any ribbon or bow. You can use ribbon tied in a simple show string bow or show off your bow tying skills with something fancy and loopy. Ribbon is the perfect element to tie together your gift. Gift wrapping is fun and festive and gives presents their own unique personality and can bring together your holiday décor.

NOVEMBER
14
2013

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Faux Tree 101

HOW TO SHAPE A PRE-LIT TREE

Beautiful trees start with a great shape. Our design experts have put together these easy steps to help make your tree sparkle and shine this season! Before you get started, select a location for the tree near a power source and find an additional 5amp-3 prong extension cord.

  1. Remove the tree from the box, using caution so as not to cut the wiring when removing straps from the box.

    The majority of trees have three parts:
    • Bottom section ~ the largest branches and widest portion of the tree
    • Middle section
    • Top section

  2. Place the tree stand in the selected location and screw bolts into the stand, do not tighten at this time.

    Place bottom section of tree into stand; make sure the pole goes all the way to the bottom; tighten bolts once tree is secure and level. Allow the branches to fall and connect the lighting inside the bottom part of the tree.

  3. Shape bottom row of branches-starting with foliage nearest the pole and work your way out to the tips of the branch. Create an alternating V shape with shaping the foliage (see picture below). Once a row is complete move up to the next and shape in the same manner until the bottom section is complete.
  4. Insert the middle section of the tree, connect the lighting and shape in the same manner as you did the bottom section. At this point, it is a good idea to step away from the tree and view your progress, making adjustments as you see fit.

    The top section of the tree should be shaped before placing it on the tree, with foliage shaped upwards.

    TIP: You may want to wear gloves while shaping to avoid scratches.

Things to look for when purchasing a permanent tree:

  • Hinged Construction
  • Natural Looking Foliage
  • Number of lights and tips on the tree ~ the more tips the more realistic
  • Wiring of lights ~ is it visible?
NOVEMBER
13
2013

The Winter Garden

COLD WEATHER MUST-HAVES

Ah, the holidays... the season of hot chocolate, cozy sweaters and all that glitters. As you're busy trimming trees and wrapping packages, don't forget about these easy to care for plants that will keep your winter garden in full bloom. Just because that warm weather has faded away, doesn't mean the color in your landscape has to. Try some of our favorite plants that love cool weather, in fact, they thrive in it... making garden-lovers all over Hampton Roads very, very happy!

Hellebore, sometimes called the Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose, put on an especially great show during the winter months. This hardy perennial comes in a variety of colors. We especially love the Hellebore Jacob variety with its white to light-rose colored flowers that mirror the colors of Christmas. These perennials look fantastic in pots and sprinkled throughout your flower beds.

Yuletide Camellia is a beloved southern staple with plentiful blooms. Often times, the bloom season coincides with the cool holiday season. The flowers are dark red with a bright yellow center contrasted against dark glossy green foliage. You can't go wrong with this easy-to-care for evergreen that will deliver year-round beauty. While these shrubs look great in the landscape, you can start them out in containers. Pot one up with cool weather annuals like Pansies and Dusty Miller for a perfect Christmas accent. Be sure to remember that you can cut the blooms to use throughout your house for fresh décor. Try floating the flowers in water during your holiday gatherings this year.

Pansies are a cool weather must-have, an absolute staple of the fall and winter garden. It will keep performing all through the season and add a burst of color when you need it most. Best of all, these tough little beauties are available in a huge range of colors. Try pairing these annuals with Dusty Miller or trailing Vinca Vine with red and white pansies for a festive container.

Violas are the petite cousins of the pansy and are tougher in the face of cold and heat. No local garden should be without them. The smaller flower will bloom all through the winter. Because they are low growing plants, they are an excellent choice as flower bed borders. They are also perfect in seasonal pots and window boxes.

NOVEMBER
12
2013

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Time your blooms just right

PLANTING AMARYLLIS BULBS

Christmas is coming! In fact, the big day is just 6 weeks away. Add a natural element to your holiday décor with Amaryllis. Now is the time to get Amaryllis bulbs planted so they are they are perfectly bloomed for Christmas. Available in assorted colors and sizes, this big bloom will spread big Christmas cheer.

Amaryllis bulbs typically take 6 weeks to bloom so you'll want to get them planted now. Forcing the bloom is easy. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a shallow container, small glass vase, bowl or bulb vase. For Amaryllis, you want a container that does not have a hole in it and will hold water.
  2. Fill the container three-quarters full of gravel or polished stones. Small to medium sized gravel or stone works best. You can even use glass or marbles. If using a bulb vase, you can opt to leave it empty but it can become top heavy.
  3. Place the bulbs on the gravel or other filler.
  4. Fill your container with water just to the bottom of the bulb. Do not submerge the bulb totally in water.
  5. Place in a well-lit room and keep the water level just below the bulbs.
  6. As the leaves appear and the bloom stalks emerge they may become heavy or fall over. Try tying the stalks together or staking them for added support.

Time your blooms just right with our AMARYLLIS BULB PLANTING CALENDAR >>

NOVEMBER
8
2013

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Even Mother Nature will be fooled...

PRE-LIT CHRISTMAS TREES ~ INSPIRED BY NATURE

The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorating. And, unlike many fake impostors of the past, faux trees have come a long way. Today, many can pass for the real thing! There are so many assortments of faux, life-like Christmas trees available in a variety of sizes and styles. Quality faux trees bring seasons of beauty and you can't go wrong with their easy set up, natural look and minimal mess. So, bring good tidings this holiday season with your own nature-inspired faux tree.

Here's a few trees sure to make your holidays merry & bright:

ASPEN PINE- long paired needles and lots of lights for a natural glow. This faux conifer features long spreading branches making set-up quick and easy. This tree is sure to bring Christmas cheer to any room in your home! 7.5 feet high, 46 inches wide, 1.227 tips, 750 lights. 3 year warranty.

BEDFORDlong, deep-dark forest green needles perfect for showcasing ornaments. This striking 7.5-foot tree is a great way to ring in the holiday season. Make this season holly and jolly with easy set-up and no mess. 7.5 feet high, 47 inches wide, 1,367 tips and 700 lights. 3 year warranty.

CAMERON - a lush, full look with plenty of room to display all of your cherished ornaments. Say goodbye to hours of untangling strands of tree lights. Pre-lit with 400 sparkling lights, this tree will dazzle through the season. 7.5 feet, 51 inches wide, 1,241 tips, 400 lights. 1 year warranty.

Save on all pre-lit Christmas trees this weekend, November 8-10 at our HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE >>

NOVEMBER
5
2013

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The star of the season...

NATURAL FAUX CHRISTMAS TREES

The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of holiday decorating. Add lights and ornaments and you have the inspiration for all other holiday décor. Shop McDonald’s incredible selection of faux, life-like Christmas trees and you just might fool Mother Nature. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles there is surely a tree that will set the stage for your holiday trimmings. Each quality tree is crafted with care and will offer beauty for seasons to come. With easy set up, these trees offer a natural look with less mess. But, should a problem arise, we offer permanent tree diagnostics to help solve and fix the problem. With more than 75 faux trees available there surely one to spruce up your holidays.

Why a McDonald tree?

• Fresh-cut realistic appearance
• Fade and crush-resistant needles, so your tree will look fresh year after year
• Dense branching for utmost fullness - like a real tree
• Durable hinged branches. No assembly needed for easy set-up and take-down
• Rounded edge and sculpted branches with long lush needles on heavy gauge wire
• High density of lights for optimum brilliance
• Lights wrapped around each branch to ensure they will stay in place
• Virtually invisible wiring
• A sturdy metal stand

Shop our pre-lit trees this weekend, November 8-10 at our HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE >>

NOVEMBER
1
2013

What all the locals are talking about...

VIRGINIA HEIRLOOM ORNAMENT DEBUT EVENT

We're unveiling our newest Virginia Heirloom Ornaments this weekend! Be the first to shop this exciting new collection of hand-painted ornaments featuring historic sites & attractions unique to Hampton Roads. Wondering how these local keepsakes came to be? Well, here's the scoop...

Inspired by the history and culture of the southeastern region, McDonald Garden Center owner, Eddie Anderson has put together a one-of-a-kind collection. Growing up in the community, Anderson became quite familiar with the important role our home has played in developing this great nation.

History, community, and a love for the land, Anderson has taken more than 65 years of pride in his community and developed a photo collection of some of the regions most valued treasures. Whether it be Virginia Beach’s Cape Henry Lighthouse or Hampton’s Chamberlin Hotel, Anderson has captured each scene and incorporated his impression into a hand-painted ornament.

In an effort to celebrate Virginia’s 400-year anniversary and the heritage of the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Heirloom Ornaments were first introduced in 2007. With the overwhelming demand, McDonald Garden Center has introduced new editions to the collection each year since. Our 2013 collection features 9 new ornaments. This year, we've featured hand-painted images of the Hampton Coliseum, the Norfolk Pagoda, the Lesner Bridge,and the Chesapeake Blue Crab among others.

See the full 2013 collection here! >>

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