THE BLOG: let's talk gardening

NOVEMBER
29
2014

Shop Small, Make a BIG Difference!

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Now, there's Small Business Saturday, the day people support small businesses!

Pledge to shop small on Nov 29th. By choosing to shop local, you can directly impact your community. The money is reinvested in your community to fund local schools, hire more police, officers and improve roads. When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local community. Spend that same amount at a national chain and it drops to $43.

"Nine in 10 Americans believe small business success is critical to the health of the U.S. economy, and Small Business Saturday translates this sentiment into dollars and cents for independent retailers," said Maryann Fitzmaurice, senior vice-president of American Express OPEN.

Take the challenge and help your community. Your choices can change your community.

With every purchase you make, think about the impact you have on your local businesses. Buy your morning coffee from an independent coffeehouse, shop for your plants from a locally owned nursery, or visit a servicing dealer for outdoor power equipment instead of buying from a national chain. Think about the impact you can have with every purchase you make. Learn more. >>

NOVEMBER
28
2014

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The Real Thing

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR FRESH-CUT CHRISTMAS TREE LAST LONGER

How much of the trunk should be cut off before setting up the tree?
Removing a thin disk (1/4 to 1/2 inch) off the trunk before placing the tree in a water holding stand is all that's needed. It is always a good practice to make a new cut before putting the tree into the stand.

What is the minimum amount of water a tree stand should hold?
As a general rule, a tree can use up to a quart of water per day for each inch of stem diameter. The warmer the temperature and the lower the relative humidity where the tree is displayed, the greater the amount of water required by the tree.

If the base of the trunk has a split, will this affect the quality of the tree?
It should not affect the ability of the tree to take up water, assuming a fresh cut is made on the base, nor have any effect on how long the tree lasts after it is displayed.

What precautions should I take when decorating a live tree?
Christmas trees do not start fires, people do. Here are some helpful hints so that you and your family can enjoy the Christmas season and your Fraser Fir to the fullest.

  • Check all electric lights and connections before decorating. Don't use any lights with worn or frayed cords.
  • NEVER use lighted candles on your tree.
  • Don't overload the electrical outlets.
  • Place your tree away from fireplaces, radiators, television sets, and other heat sources. These elements can prematurely dry out your tree.
  • Always make sure that your tree has plenty of water to prevent drying.
  • ALWAYS turn off all decorations before going to bed at night or anytime that you leave home.

How do I keep my tree fresh longer?
Make sure you never let the water level go below the base of the tree. Some people put an aspirin in the water to help keep it fresh. Some also add Ginger Ale, Sprite, or another similar soda drink (fizzy lemonade) to feed their tree.

NOVEMBER
26
2014

A Christmas Tradition

THE FRASER FIR

Bring the family out to experience your local Christmas Shoppe as you select the perfect family tree this year! Available from 2 feet all the way up to 12 feet.

The Fraser fir was named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1700s. It is a pyramid-shaped tree that reaches a maximum height of 80 feet and a trunk diameter of 1-1/2 feet. The species is sometimes called Southern balsam or Southern balsam fir.

The Fraser fir grows naturally only in the southern Appalachians, above 3,000 feet. The cool temperatures and lots of rainfall of the North Carolina High Country are what causes the Fraser fir to keep its needles throughout the Christmas season. The strong branches are turned slightly upward which gives the tree a compact appearance and makes it perfect for decorating.

Over 50 million Fraser firs are grown in North Carolina on 25,000 acres for use as Christmas trees, and the Fraser fir represents over 90% of all the trees grown in North Carolina as Christmas trees. Christmas Trees haven't always been a Christmas Tradition. No one really knows who put up the first Christmas tree, but some historians believe that even the Egyptians and Romans used some form of an evergreen to decorate their homes in late December.

What a treasure to purchase a tree grown this close to home! When you purchase a McDonald tree, they come straight from the farm in North Carolina so this Christmas icon will stay fresh and looking good all season long.

NOVEMBER
24
2014

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6 Holiday Must-Haves

Our holiday experts have put together a list of the top 6 things you need this holiday season that you can only get at McDonald Garden Center.

  1. McDonald Line of Local Foods
  2. McDonald Garden Center is excited to announce their new line of jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters and hot sauces. Crafted locally from Virginia grown produce these products offer the utmost quality at an affordable price. The products are produced using the finest ingredients with methods established in the 1920’s. When you taste these jams and jellies you will experience vintage flavors in every bite. Taste the home-grown local goodness.

  3. Heirloom Ornaments
  4. What all the locals are talking about! Discover our exclusive collection of two-sided, glass ornaments intricately hand-painted celebrating Hampton Roads. These keepsakes will be the highlight of any tree and are available for a limited time. This year's new collection includes: the 757 Collection of Cities, Life on the Beach, Virginia Beach Boardwalk, and Rockfishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

  5. Fresh Local Greens
  6. Bring fresh and fragrant live greens and plants to any room this holiday season. Fresh greens can offer a nod to traditional decorating or create a contemporary flair to your holiday embellishments.Seasonal greenery provides a backdrop for holiday decorations and can be embellished as little or as much as you like. Living greenery can add festive cheer to virtually every space inside the house and out. Place greenery on walls, tables, mantels, the hearth, on the floor, and on chandeliers. Heap them in vases, garland your doorways, banisters, mirrors, or even place in a pretty mug on the kitchen counter. Decorate outdoors with fresh greenery on shutters, gates, on and over doorways, columns, mailboxes and light posts. There are plenty of ways to use fresh greenery for the holidays.

  7. Twig Lights and Branches
  8. Add a little ambiance during the holidays with these nature inspired LED twig lights. Ideal for lining walkways or placed in outdoor planters or beds, these accent lights can also be used inside or on a covered porch. Available in an assortment of styles including natural birch, crystal ice and pinecones and branches.

  9. Holiday Living Arrangements
  10. From traditional poinsettias to unexpected Hellebores to even holiday terrariums, we’ve got an array of holiday plants perfect for decorating & gifting.

NOVEMBER
21
2014

From our Table to Yours

McDonald Garden Center is excited to announce their new line of jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters and hot sauces. Crafted locally from Virginia grown produce these products offer the utmost quality at an affordable price. The products are produced using the finest ingredients with methods established in the 1920’s. When you taste these jams and jellies you will experience vintage flavors in every bite. Taste the home-grown local goodness.

Vidalia Onion Peach Hot Sauce - This hot sauce is really unique with a hint of peach. The result is a fruity, hot sauce with a slow burn.

Pumpkin Butter - Autumn in a jar - If you like pumpkin pie, you'll love this creamy treat. Tastes great on buttermilk biscuits.

Apple Butter - Made in large copper kettles just like Grandma did in years gone by, this butter is made from local Virginia apples.

Blackberry Preserves - Enjoy the fresh-picked taste of blackberry preserves. Try pairing with muffins, scones or your favorite bread for a real sweet treat.

Cherry Preserves - Delightfully cherry, this sweet and tart fruit spread is perfect on toast, bagels or an english muffin

Peach Butter – A real taste sensation, made from local Virginia peaches. Enjoy this juicy, summer fruit all year long.

Strawberry Preserves - Fresh, ripe strawberries, what could be better! This is one of our top sellers.

Apple Pie Preserves - Don't have time to bake an apple pie? Try our delicious Apple Pie Preserves over ice cream. Tastes just like grandmother's homemade apple pie.

NOVEMBER
19
2014

A Holiday Fave

POINSETTIAS

Introduced in the United States by our first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, the poinsettia has become the traditional holiday houseplant. Available in reds, pinks, golds, whites and even variegated - there is one for every taste. We even love them painted and glittered! When purchasing your poinsettia, look for a plant with dark green, healthy foliage, strong stems and bright colored bracts. Yep, we said "bracts" - bracts are the showy, colored parts of the poinsettia that most people think of as the flowers - but in fact they are really a modified leaf. Place your poinsettia in a well-lit location, but out of direct sunlight and drafts. Water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist, but not too soggy. Enyoy poinsettias for 8 to 10 weeks, after all, the holidays just wouldn't be the same without these festive plants!

McDonald Tip: It is possible to grow your poinsettia for another year. When the bracts begin to fade, cut the plant back 5 to 8 inches above the soil. Place it in a cool, medium light location and allow the soil to dry well between waterings. In late April or early May, repot and place it outdoors in a shady location. Fertilize once a month. In order to initiate flowering and color development of the bracts, poinsettias need long night periods. Beginning October 1st, and continuing for six weeks, place the plant in a dark closet or an unused room each evening from 5-7pm. After six weeks, place the poinsettia in bright, indirect light and water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. The plant should soon flower and develop color in its bracts.

Check out more of our favorite HOLIDAY PLANTS. >>

NOVEMBER
17
2014

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Your local light source

THE LATEST IN LIGHTS

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without lights. Lights can magically transform your home into a winter wonderland on both the inside and out! And remember, Christmas lights aren’t just for the tree any more... everything looks better with lights! The McDonald Christmas Shoppe has a huge selection of lights to fit any taste. With lights in all shapes, sizes, patterns and colors you can get everything you need to illuminate the holidays indoors and out. The Griswolds would even be envious of your festive display.

Why LED lights?

  • Long lasting and virtually maintenance free
  • Energy efficient, using only 10% of the electricity required to power traditional incandescent lights
  • Cooler to the touch, making them the safest option
  • More vibrant colors
  • No filaments to burn out
  • Molded construction, which helps prevent moisture from seeping in and causing corrosion
  • Fully rectified (meaning they produce a steady flow of light without the flickering that is often common on inferior LED light sets) Rectified sets also produce more shine and a truer color.

Invisilites
A lighting design that features LED lights that are dropped on to a very thin wire, making the wire virtually undetectable.

  • Battery operated (18, 24 and 36in sets) makes these lights versatile in a myriad of applications where electricity and ugly extension cords won’t work, such as wreaths, mantles, tablescapes and garland.
  • 96 LED Light AC Adapter is the new light for decorating Christmas trees. Available with 2 function controller for the ultimate light display. Available in warm white, multi, and candy cane.
  • Invisilite Beaded Garland is battery operated with 36 lights per strand. It offers three functions with a timer. Ideal for dressing up tablescapes or adding a little extra to your holiday greenery for banisters, mantles or wreaths. Available in warm white, blue red, gold and green.

Incandescent Style LED Lights
Looks like a traditional incandescent bulb it’s even made of glass but as an LED light set. Available in warm white, blue and multi these can be used indoor or out.

5MM/Wide Angle LED Lights
A 50 light plug in set available in warm white, cool white, warm white twinkle, red ,blue, green, multi, candy cane, and Caribbean. Can be used indoors and outdoors.

LED Meteor Shower Lights
This new technology creates magical light displays the will move and dance in a variety of patterns. Available in three colors (warm white, cool white and blue) and in three lengths (1.5ftw/48 lights, 3ftw/96lights and 4ftw/128 lights) these light sets will create maximum impact outdoors.

NOVEMBER
14
2014

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Get This Look!

DO-IT-YOURSELF HOLIDAY WREATH

Give your entryway a makeover this season with these Christmas door decorating ideas. Festive and colorful, wreaths are the perfect way to welcome holiday guests into your home. A wreath is a great addition to the inside and outside of your home. You can choose a traditional style or get creative with something more modern. Don’t be overwhelmed - wreaths are as simple as picking the form, the picks, the ribbons and the trimmings. You can make an infinite variety of wreaths from real or fresh greenery and just a few supplies. Each year, you can add to your creation or simply take the décor off and create something new. Wreaths are great to do with family and friends and take very little time to make.

To Get Started:

  1. Pick your wreath

  2. Whether you are choosing grapevine, moss, faux greens or a combination of all. The wreath form is the structure for which your décor will sit. Make sure that the wreath is the correct size for your door and that it is sturdy enough so that your door will open and close easily.

    Grapevine – this traditional wreath form is natural and less dense. It will give a rustic look and can transition from fall to Christmas easily.

    Faux Greens – the quintessential Christmas wreath, this form offers a full green backdrop for all your decoratives. Either tuck in some fresh greens or use as it is. Available in a myriad of sizes this wreath form can be as simple or complex as you would want to make it.

    Moss – with a garden, natural feel this form requires very little trimmings to make a stunning statement. The chartreuse green is a fresh color for Christmas décor and pairs great with red.

  3. Pick your trimmings

  4. Choose from a variety of picks, ornaments and sprays to embellish your wreath. Look for items that will match your décor or make a statement on your front door. The sparkly the better! Just be sure to use floral wire to secure your ornaments and embellishments.

  5. Pick your ribbon

  6. Wire ribbon is great because it will form and nice bow and hold its shape. However, floppy ribbon is beautiful too for a more free-form elegant look. Choose ribbon that pairs well with your embellishments.

NOVEMBER
12
2014

Keep Things Blooming

AUTUMN ROCKET CAMELLIA

It can be tough to find a plant that blooms during the fall months, but camellias can fill the gap. Fall-blooming camellias bring a splash of color to the autumn landscape when you need it most. These flowering shrubs not only offer beautiful blooms but feature glossy, evergreen leaves that bring a welcome touch of color to your garden.

One of our favorite camellias for fall is Autumn Rocket. This heavy bloomer features semi-double, white blooms with just a hint of pink at the edges. It has an upright growth habit making it ideal for screening and hedging. We also love these in containers to add vertical interest. Try pairing them with pansies for an easy cool weather container. Give camellias the conditions they need, and they’ll reward you! This hardy camellia prefers full sun to shade and a spring fertilization to keep it looking healthy. Prune it back in the spring to ensure dense leaves and numerous flowers. So, if your looking to keep things blooming this autumn... consider Autumn Rocket.

NOVEMBER
10
2014

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From Bulbs to Holiday Blooms

AMARYLLIS & PAPERWHITES

Looking for an easy way to add color and fragrance to your holiday decorating? Look no further than planting Amaryllis or Paperwhites. These easy-to-plant bulbs will fill your home with the Christmas spirit.

Amaryllis
Of all flowering bulbs, Amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom. The large, striking flowers and bold colors make this a must-have, holiday classic! Amaryllis bulbs are available in so many beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and even orange. There are also striped and multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white.

Paperwhites
Another favorite holiday bulb is a member of the daffodil family, but looks much more delicate than the big yellow trumpet daffodils you see in spring. These are the most fragrant of the daffodil family, with a distinctive sweet smell that will permeate your home throughout the season.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • 3 to 4 Bulbs (either Paperwhites or Amaryllis)
  • Nutritious potting compost or stones/pebbles
  • Decorative Container

Planting Instructions:

  • Amaryllis:Plant bulbs in potting compost. Plant the bulb up to its neck in the potting compost, being careful not to damage the roots. Press the soil down firmly to set the bulb securely in place after planting.
  • Paperwhite: You do not need any soil; just set them in a shallow dish with some pebbles, or even some nicely-colored marbles. Let the bulbs stand, flat side down, in the pebbles, so the pebbles cover about half the bulb.

Place your potted bulbs in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees F. Water sparingly until the stem appears, then, as the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. At this point, the stem will grow rapidly and flowers will develop after it has reached full growth. Bulbs will flower in 7-10 weeks as a general rule.

If you're left wondering when to plant these bulbs in order to have them holiday-ready, we've got you covered. Use these handy bloom calendars as a guide:

Amaryllis Bloom Calendar >>
Paperwhite Bloom Calendar >>

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