THE BLOG: let's talk gardening


Get this look!


Whether you're hours away from a coastline or steps away from golden sand, bring the beach inside your home with a beach-themed garden in glass. Beach décor is all the rage this season and can be found everywhere from pillows to carpets to dinnerware. Embrace this trend with your own terrarium and capture an endless summer. You can even bring back seashells or a special memento from your summer vacation to showcase in your project.

Here's what you need:

  • glass bowl or hanging orb
  • sand
  • Tillandsia plants
  • shells, starfish, fish net and coral

Assembly is easy and fun for all ages. Simply fill the bowl with sand and then start placing your beach items. You can hang the glass orb with natural ribbon or twine for that beachy look.

Tillandsia Plants: There are about 500 different species of tillandsia and the best known is the Spanish moss that gracefully hangs from oak trees throughout the South. Tillandsia is part of the bromeliad family and is sometimes divided into grey-leaved air plants and green-leaved terrestrial plants. All tillandsia are naturally epiphytic air plants that grow by clinging to trees and extracting excess moisture from the air. Tillandsias prefer to be mounted or placed on a solid surface that does not retain water. Try glueing it or using chicken wire to put into place. Don't cover the base of the plant with moss or dirt as it may rot. Tillandsia can be grown on almost any imaginable decorative mount, including shells, rocks, slate, driftwood, etc. We like placing them in glass orbs and hanging them in windows for a green element in the house. To water, simply mist 2-4 times a week with a water bottle. Never leave them standing in water.


A Daily Dose of Daylilies

NEW DAYLILIES, Jazz King and Mighty Chestnut

Great for the gardener who doesn't have a lot of time or patience, these perennials aim to please! Blooming throughout the summer, daylilies will add a burst of color to sunny gardens without a lot of fuss. Showy plants produce an amazing diversity of colors and shapes and can be planted spring or fall in just about any location. Daylilies are often referred to as the perfect perennial for lots of reasons. Not only do they come in a variety of colors and sizes, but they also survive in a wide range of climates - with very little care. Daylilies grow vigorously, help suppress weeds, and are virtually disease and insect free. They thrive in full sun or light shade, are drought resistant and tolerate many types of soil. Daylilies are known to bloom from late spring until autumn. They are ideal in flower borders, for massing, as a groundcover or even in containers. As for daylily maintenance, simply deadhead foliage in spring before the plant begins to green up. So be sure to get your daily dose of color with this summer favorite. Check out two new varieties that we adore, Jazz King and Mighty Chestnut.

Jazz Kingboasts loads of ruffled, orange gold flowers with a raspberry red eye and matching edging. Jazz King is a fragrant, profuse bloomer that is a superb choice for the garden because of its extended blooming time. Blooms will stay open for up to 16 hours. Perfect in borders, massed in the landscape or in containers. Prefers full sun to partial shade.

Mighty Chestnutfeatures intense russet red-orange blooms with a contrasting plum eye set off by a yellow-gold throat. Produces loads of large 5 1/2" blooms atop emerald green foliage that keeps its healthy green appearance from mid to late summer. Plant in borders or group in the landscape for a pop of color. Plant in full sun to partial shade.


Ignite Your Summer Garden

RED HOT POKER, also known as Torch Lily

If you’re looking to heat things up in the summer garden, look no further! Red Hot Poker, also known as Torch Lilly, offers a firework display of color in the landscape throughout the summer. This perennial features upright, grass-like clumps of long, narrow foliage that produces stems topped with vibrant, color clusters. With shades ranging from orange to yellow, coral to red and even green to near white, color options are extensive. Heights range from 1½ to 6 feet tall, depending on the variety. Most species are evergreen, but some slightly deciduous varieties will reappear in early summer after lying dormant during the winter months. This plant is an ideal choice for any perennial garden, especially when planted in mass. Red Hot Poker does best in full sun to partial shade and is drought tolerant.

Here are a couple of our favorite red hot varieties: Echo Mango – a repeat bloomer featuring flower spikes in a soft, warm shade of apricot ascending above grass-like foliage. Blooms last spring into summer and are perfect in beds or borders. Prefers full sun to partial shade and is drought tolerant once established. Papaya Popsicle – an all-summer bloomer with a very short compact habit that features flower spikes in bright red and yellow atop grass-like foliage that stays tidy all summer. Ideal massed in the landscape or planted in small gardens or containers. Prefers full sun. A hummingbird favorite!


Just Add Water


Did you know that 90 percent of every plant is composed of water? This should give you some idea of how important watering your plants really is. Here are some tips to ensure your plants and lawn make it through the extreme heat of summer...


  • Water between 5:00am-10:00am in order to prevent evaporation which occurs during the hottest part of the day. Morning is better than evening, since dampness encourages growth of fungus.
  • Water long enough to soak the roots. A light sprinkling evaporates quickly and results in shallow root systems.
  • Allow an inch of water per week on your lawn.
  • Adjust your hose to create a gentle rain. Sprinklers that produce a fine mist waste water due to evaporation.

Vegetable and Flower Gardens

  • Keep soil loose so water can easily penetrate.
  • Remove weeds to reduce competition for water.
  • Place the water where you want it and avoid evaporation by using soil-soakers or slow-running hoses, not sprinklers.
  • Too much water can be just as bad for plants as not enough. Plants that are submerged in water for too long may rot or drown from lack of oxygen.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Water deeply using a soil-soaker.
  • Water only when needed. Check the depth of soil dryness. While the surface may be dry, moisture is retained beneath the surface to sustain trees and shrubs.
  • Mulch to reduce evaporation. Add a 2" to 3" layer of wood chips, pine needles or grass clippings to keep soil cool in summer.
  • Mulch not only reduces weeds but also adds landscape interest.
  • Water plants growing in full sun more often than those in shade.
  • Do not fertilize during the summer. Fertilizing increases a plant's need for water.

Look for these plant clues for signs of over-watering or under-watering:

Signs of Over-Watering

  • Soil is constantly damp.
  • Leaves turn yellow or a lighter shade of green.
  • Young shoots are wilted.
  • Leaves are brittle but still green.
  • Algae and mushrooms are growing.

Signs of Under-Watering

  • Soil is dry.
  • Older leaves turn yellow or brown, and drop off.
  • Leaves are wilted or curl.

It's National Pollinator Week

Pollinators positively effect all our lives - let's SAVE them and CELEBRATE them.

How do pollinators affect your life? Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, then you owe a big thank you to a small pollinator. Pollinators are birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat. But these invaluable creatures are facing declines. That’s why we are all collaborating together on efforts to help increase awareness and tackle challenges facing pollinators.

Seven years ago, the U.S. Senate approved and designated a week in June as National Pollinator Week. This was a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.

Pollinating animals, including bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and others, are vital to our delicate ecosystem, supporting terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed, and more. Therefore, Pollinator Week is a week to get the importance of pollinators’ message out to as many people as possible. Pollinators positively effect all our lives - let's SAVE them and CELEBRATE them!

More information on Pollinator Week >>

Pollinator Week was initiated and is managed by the Pollinator Partnership.



The Real "Dill"


Fresh herbs are easy to grow and can make all the difference between a good dish and an extraordinary dish! Once you begin to use fresh herbs in your favorite recipes, you'll never want go back to using just dried herbs again. Chefs know that fresh food is always best and fresh herbs are no exception.

Dill is a very tall, hardy herb that will grow as an annual here in Hampton Roads. Grow this herb in your garden for the leaves and seeds. Dill thrives in a sunny spot and prefers well-drained soil. This fine-leafed plant is delicate, so we recommend not planting it where it may be subject to high winds. It does have very long roots, so once it’s established; you won’t need to worry about regular watering chores.

This maintenance-free herb is a member of the parsley family. We suggest cutting often to keep it producing. Dill has a zesty flavor that’s a popular addition to fish, salads and soups. It is also commonly used for pickling – dill pickles are a summertime favorite!



The Bug You Want in the Garden


Of all the insects in the garden, the ladybug is probably the most familiar and there are many reasons we love them. A ladybug’s bright coloring will not only bring cheer into the garden, but they are also great for getting rid of “bad bugs” without the use of harmful insecticides making them a gardener’s best friend. They are most active in warm weather from spring until fall and feed on aphids, spider mites, scale, thrips, whiteflies, mealy bugs and other slow-moving, soft-bodied insects, larva and eggs. Known for their ferocious appetites, a single ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day – that’s 5,000 aphids during its lifetime! They’ll stay in your garden as long as there’s something to eat.

Today, you can buy ladybugs at most garden centers to help diminish those unwanted pests. Once you and your ladybugs arrive home, keep the container they come in sealed and place it in your refrigerator or a cool place. Being cool calms the ladybugs down. Keep them refrigerated (35-40 degrees) until you’re ready to release them. It’s best to free them in the evening hours, so they'll have time to find a place to sleep and settle in for the night. In the early morning, they’ll wake up, find some something to eat, and hopefully will make themselves at home. They may also be thirsty, so spray some water on your garden plants before you release them. You’ll only have to do this once, since they'll get the moisture they need from the insects they feed on.

Once they’ve become a garden resident, you want to make sure they stick around. There's a few ways to encourage them to hang around your place and not go flying off to the neighbor's garden. You can keep and attract ladybugs to your garden by planting marigolds, angelica, butterfly weed, yarrow, roses, and goldenrod. In a vegetable garden, lure them with cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. You can also keep ladybugs at home by offering a hibernation site. Pile dead leaves, hay, straw, or other organic mulch at the base of a fence or around plants to serve as winter housing.

It’s no wonder gardeners welcome these lovely bugs with open arms - and remember, kids love ladybugs too so be sure to involve them. Children will have fun releasing ladybugs into the garden and what a great way to teach them about their environment.



Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects

Beneficial insects are good bugs - that means they eat bad bugs like aphids, thrips and spider mites that feed on your plants or they provide a benefit to the plants. Ladybugs for instance are great workers in the garden and a single ladybug can eat more than 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Flowers attract other beneficial bugs including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that help pollinate. Caterpillars are also beneficial. When they are preparing to form their cocoon, they will eat aphids. Here’s a list of some of our favorite plants that attract beneficial bugs.

Dill - has feathery green foliage that stands tall in the back of herb gardens. But, don't just plant it there, mix it in with your perennial flowers. It attracts butterflies and ladybugs. Dill has clusters of pretty yellow flowers. Its also a spice for fish dishes or to incorporate in salads.

Salvia – a member of the mint family these blooms offer long lasting color and attract butterflies and pollinators. Salvia is typically a rapid grower and tolerates summer heat with more graceful, spiky blooms. Many colors are available from different types of salvia and these include blues, purples, pinks, reds as well as some whites and yellows.

Lobelia - has brilliant blue or white flowers that are a favorite of hummingbirds. Plant them in container gardens and beds that receive full to partial sun.

Agastache - has spikes of tubular shaped flowers and aromatic foliage with a lemon-peppermint fragrance. This perennial is a favorite of ladybugs, butterflies, hummingbirds and gardeners alike.

Parsley – This is a favorite of the parsleyworm caterpillar, which becomes the treasured black swallowtail butterfly. White the caterpillar will ea much of the plant, they will not kill so we suggest planting some for your and the soon to be butterflies. Grow in full sun to part shade.

Scabiosa – also known as the Pincushion flower. The lavender blooms look like a pincushion. They bloom profusely from early spring through summer. Plant this perennial in a sunny spot for you and the ladybugs to enjoy.

Coneflowers - Echinacea, or Coneflowers are a favorite summertime perennial that attract ladybugs, butterflies and hummingbirds. Best known as the Purple Coneflower there are many different varieties available today in all sorts of shades of purple, white, orange, yellow, pink, red and peach. Plant in full sun and enjoy these hardy perennials

Coreopsis - is another perennial that blooms profusely through the heat of the summer. While ladybugs and butterflies love it, deer do not and this bloom can be planted in a deer resistant garden. It will thrive in full sun.

Lavender - there are many different types of lavender which will attract ladybugs and butterflies. Their spikes of lavender or blue flowers are also prized for their fragrance. Plant them as a hedge in your herb garden, in a mass in a waterwise landscape or in container gardens in full sun.

Milkweed (Asclepias) - is also called Butterfly weed and is known as a butterfly magnet, but they aren't the only beneficial insect that loves Milkweed, ladybugs do too. The beautiful flowers of Milkweed are either yellow, orange, or red and yellow mixed. Plant them in a sunny spot.

Yarrow - is one of the easiest perennials to grow. Beautiful clusters of flowers in yellow, pink, or white sit atop fern like foliage. Yarrow is beautiful planted in mixed perennial borders and makes an excellent cut flower for drying. Plant in full sun and once it is established it requires little extra water.



How to: Butterfly Gardening


You can easily enjoy the graceful beauty of butterflies in your garden year after year with the proper selection of their favorite plants. All butterflies begin as caterpillars and must spend this phase of their life eating, so resist the urge to reach for insecticide. Caterpillars have very specific food needs provided by plants- known as HOST PLANTS. Only when the required host plants are available can they grow and weave the cocoon in which they will transform into beautiful butterflies. Adult butterflies are usually less particular in their choice of food and are attracted to a variety of brightly colored and fragrant plants - known as NECTAR PLANTS. Plan you butterfly garden in a warm, sunny spot protected from the wind and add a shallow container of water and a few large, flat stones for the butterflies to rest and warm themselves on.

NECTAR PLANTS (to attract butterflies)

Flowers: - Aster • Butterfly Weed • Centranthus • Coneflowers • Coreopsis • Cosmos• Daisies • Gaillardia • Joe-Pye Weed • Lantana • Liatris • Monarda • Pentas • Petunias • Phlox • Pineapple Sage • Primrose • Rudbeckia • Sedum” Autumn Joy • Sweet William • Verbena • Veronica • Zinnia

Shrubs - Butterfly Bush • Clethra • Glossy Abelia • Ligustrum • Lilac • Mock Orange • Weigela

HOST PLANTS (caterpillar food)

Flowers - Baptisia Australis • Broccoli • Butterfly Weed • Cleome • Clover • Dill • Everlasting • Fennel • Glove Thistle • Hollyhock • Mallow • Milkweed • Mints • Parsley • Rue • Snapdragons • Stinging Nettle • Violets

Shrubs - Anise • Spicebush

Trees - Black Locust • *Black Willow • Elm • *Hackberry • *Sassafrass • Tulip Poplar Tree • *Wild Cherry

*Denotes native plants frequently found existing in this area.



Pink or Blue, It's Up to You!

Hydrangeas are a wonderful garden shrub that are easy to grow and bloom through a long season. They're elegant, colorful, and versatile, suitable in the landscape, garden beds, flowerpots, and even that tricky spot right by the front door. Hydrangeas come in a variety of colors ranging from white to blue, pink, red, purple and shades in between. Hydrangeas are best known for their chameleon-like ability to change the color of its flowers, and, you don't have to be a magician to make this happen. With a few easy products you can be on your way to creating the color that is perfect for your landscape. Remember, you can't change the color of the white hydrangeas - they will stay white.

To get started, we suggest bringing us a soil sample to get a base reading of where you acidity and pH levels. Bring them to any of our three year-round locations. From there, we can recommend one of these specific products to jump start your color changing.

To Make Your Hydrangea Blue
You will need to lower the pH in the soil. This is done with a soil acidifier. We like Espoma Soil Acidifier (with the blue hydrangea on the bag). It is an effective way to acidify soil. It is all natural and non-hazardous and non-toxic. This is also a great product for blueberries! To lower the soil pH, apply this product in the spring and every 6 months thereafter. We recommend using 1 and ¼ cup for new plants and 2 and ½ cups for established plants.

To Make Your Hydrangea Pink
You will need to increase the pH of the acidic soil. We recommend Espoma Garden Lime (which features a pink hydrangea on the front of the bag). It is pelletized for easy application and is all natural. We again recommend applying this in the spring and every 6 months thereafter.

If you want to make a rapid change in color, we suggest planting the Hydrangea in a pot. This will give you a bit more control to adjust the color. Hydrangeas can flourish in large pots, and a container gives you more control over the soil quality.

TIP: Keep in mind that you will need to adjust the soil before the bloom season or at the very latest when you see buds forming in order to change the bloom color.

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