It's Root-amentary

Fall is a great time to plant.

Did you know fall is a great time to plant? Cool weather provides ideal growing conditions for new plants. By planting now, roots have time to become established without the stress of summer’s heat.

With the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall, the time from fall to spring will help the plant’s roots become better established. The soil is still warm in the fall and allows roots to grow until the ground freezes. (With mild weather, roots may even continue to grow throughout the winter.) If the same plant is put in the ground in the spring, it gets a slower start because soils are cooler. If planted in the summer, it may become extremely stressed due to heat, drought and an insufficient root system.

Now's the perfect time to plant some of these favorite trees & shrubs:

• Camellias
• Encore Azaleas
• Purple Leaf Plum Trees
• Dogwoods
• Indian Hawthorns
• Maples
• Boxwoods
• Holly
• Knock Out Roses
• Fruit Trees
• Arborvitae
• Gardenias
• Crepe Myrtles
• Nandinas
• Palms



How Well Do You Know Your Crepe Myrtle?


With our 32nd Crepe Myrtle Fest upon us, we've put together some info to see how well you know your Crepe Myrtle. Check out the facts and fiction of this local favorite and don't forget to come out this weekend and save big on Crepe Myrtles and much, much more!

All Crepe Myrtles grow into trees.
FALSE: Crepe Myrtle breeding has given us a wide range of sizes. Some are as small as a few feet tall, like Pocomoke, while others grow to medium-sized trees capable of providing summer shade like Natchez. Some Crepes are small enough to act as a ground cover like the Orchid Cascade variety. There's a Crepe Myrtle for every size yard.

Crepe Myrtles bloom for 100 days.
TRUE: Crepe Myrtles are known as the "Tree of 100 Days" due to the fact that they bloom from June into September.

Crepe Myrtles are a multi-season interest plant.
TRUE: These deciduous plants produce crepe-like flowers all summer, then have great orange-red fall color. During cold winter months, many varieties display a unique, cinnamon-colored bark that stands out in the landscape. In a nutshell, Crepe Myrtles look great all year long!

All Crepe Myrtles are disease resistant.
FALSE: Many of the older varieties do not have the improved breeding from Dr. Donald Egolf of the National Arboretum. Dr. Egolf first worked with Lagerstroemia indica for breeding and selection in hopes of eliminating the problem of powdery mildew. From that initial work, 6 varieties were chosen with improvements and these were given Native American names so that these plants would be recognized worldwide as having American Heritage. His work further continued with cross-breeding with Lagerstroemia fauriei which gave us many of today’s newer hybrids such as Natchez, Tuscarora and Tonto. It is important to select newer improved varieties to replace the older disease prone selections.

Crepe Myrtles love the heat.
TRUE: Crepe Myrtles love the hot summers of our area and are the perfect addition for carefree summer color.

Crepe Myrtles are not picky about the soil they are planted in.
TRUE: Crepe Myrtles are adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and can perform even in poor soils.

Crepe Myrtle is spelled with an “e.”
TRUE: In the McDonald Garden Center dictionary, we spell Crepe Myrtle with an “e” based on the tissue-paper like flowers that resemble the "crepe" paper texture.

Crepe Myrtles can flower in the shade.
FALSE: For maximum flowering, Crepe Myrtles must have a full sun location - meaning at least 6 hours of sun daily. Less than that will mean less flowers.

Crepe Myrtles need to be dead headed.
FALSE: It is not necessary with the newer selections to remove old blooms before they go to seed to produce new flowers. Re-current flowering is one of the benefits achieved with new selections and they are free flowering through out the summer.

Join us as we celebrate this local favorite this weekend at our 32 annual CREPE MYRTLE FEST.



Pretty in Pink


Pink, the color of summer comes in many different hues. The Crepe Myrtle proudly displays this summer color from watermelon pinks to a soft strawberry pinks. With hundreds of blooms cascading from a Crepe Myrtle, you will have summer color for almost 100 days! So no matter the color you would like, there's a shade of pink for every summer garden.

Tuscarora - This variety boasts large, deep watermelon-colored clusters. Growing upright, this tree will grow to about 15-20 feet tall and 12-16 feet wide making them ideal for small spaces. Tuscarora is a fast grower that can grow up to 3 to 5 feet per year. We love this tree in the center of a lawn with their showy flowers spring until fall. Tuscarora will give vibrant color in almost all growing conditions. It doesn’t matter if your soil is sandy, loamy or clay - it will grow. Even better, it is drought tolerant. This one is highly resistant to disease, powdery mildew and leaf spotting. You get a spectacular tree without the problems. We've even heard that this tree is virtually allergy free for all you allergy sufferers out there.

Tonto - You'll love this variety with large clusters of soft-textured fuchsia blooms that cascade. In fall, the foliage turns a luscious orange-red for exquisite cool season color. Smooth, colorful peeling bark provides year-round interest. The Tonto is a disease-resistant, semi-dwarf variety with an upright growth habit and a rounded canopy reaching to 10 feet in height and 6 to 8 feet in width. Tonto was developed by the U.S. National Arboretum in 1990 and was bred for adaptability, rapid growth, and explosive color. It is exceptionally resistant to flower spotting and other diseases. Once established, Tonto Crepe Myrtles only require regular watering in the high heat of the summer. A heat and drought tolerant specimen or accent. This tree is great planted in groupings or as a foundation plant.

Rhapsody in Pink - A vigorous grower, this Crepe features dark wine new growth and soft pink flowers. Offering a long flowering season, this beauty will give interest all through summer and into fall. It is drought tolerant and highly resistant to powdery mildew. It will grow to a mature height of 10 feet or more.



The Local's Top Choice

It's no secret what our favorite tree is! Hampton Roads' gardeners often visit asking this question and the answer is always the Crepe Myrtle. When debating the variety to choose, we polled a few of our experts for their favorites and here's what they had to say:

STEPHANIE PHILLIPS, Assitant Store Manager (Virginia Beach)
"That's a hard one, but I think it would have to be a tie between Natchez and Catawba. Natchez, because it's a neutral white and will work in any landscape as long as you have room for a tree that can grow at least 30 feet. Also, the Natchez is significant for the Virginia Beach Garden Center because it greets customers as they enter our store, provides a canopy for shade-loving plants, a backdrop for many displays, and it can be seen by passers-by on Independence Boulevard! I also favor the Catawba, because it has the most vivid color of the crepe myrtles -- it's a bright purple. Unlike the Natchez, it's small enough to fit into almost any yard. Growing to about 15 feet, it can be pruned into a small tree, or, left unpruned, can be kept as a large shrub."

MIKE WESTPHAL, Garden Supply Buyer
"My favorite is the Hopi. This semi dwarf variety gets 12 feet tall and wide. Hopi has a perfect pink bloom that is not too hot of a pink, but not too soft either ~ it really is the perfect pink. It has great exfoliating bark that adds to its winter interest. It fits into any landscape as a small specimen tree or focal point, or in mass to make a major impact and color show. It can bloom over 100 days in our summer heat, and has great disease resistance. Its compact habit keeps the canopy full and is great as a tree or large shrub. It has amazing foliage as well, starting off as lime green in spring, to dark forest green in summer, and the fall color is a magical red & orange mix. Because it's a semi-dwarf, it can be a great focal piece in a large container and makes an excellent patio tree. Hopi is also one of the most cold hardy of all the crepe myrtles, tolerating temperatures as low as -20 degrees. Truly one of the best all around crepe myrtles, and my favorite of all."

TARYN RUESCH, Hampton Store Manager
"My favorite Crepe Myrtle is Natchez. It is my favorite because of its' dark cinnamon bark that exfoliates as it gets older, giving the structure of the tree interest even when defoliated during the Winter months. It is a small tree, reaching around 20-25' tall. Even in smaller yards a Natchez is a beautiful specimen. The leaves turn a beautiful orange/bronze color during the Fall before the leaves drop completely and the flowers are a crisp cool white, very showy during the hot Summer months."

BILL KIDD, Vice President of Purchasing
"It's definitely the Muskogee. It is fast growing, actually one the the fastest growers and it blooms for a very long time. The city of Hampton has lots of these beauties planted throughout the landscape and they look amazing planted in groups. Muskogee will grow to about 30 to 35 feet making it an ideal small tree to provide summer shade. I enjoy Muskogee's delicate lavendar blooms each summer!"



Ahhh... what an a-peeling tree

The Beautiful Bark of the Crepe Myrtle

There are endless reasons that the Crepe Myrtle is the locals' favorite tree ~ it's blooms of 100 days, it's ability to thrive in heat & humidity, it's year-round beauty; and, it's magical peeling bark. You may begin to worry once your Crepe Myrtle's bark begins to peel. When you discover the bark shedding, you may think it is diseased and be tempted to treat it with pesticides. But, hold back. That peeling bark is normal; in fact, it's one of the most prized qualities of our favorite tree!

As all Crepe Myrtles grow and mature, they shed last year's bark, revealing a colorful, mottled bark beneath. Once the tree has reached full maturity, several years after planting... you are in for a real show. Sit back and enjoy the unique texture and coloration that shows up on their wood once the bark is shed. Because the Crepe Myrtle is a deciduous tree, it sheds all its leaves during the winter, leaving behind the beautiful bark on the tree which makes it a centerpiece in many winter landscapes.

Now that you know peeling bark is a normal process, observe the surprises your Crepe Myrtle provides each season. During the summer, enjoy 100 days of gorgeous crepe-like flowers. Once the flowers fade in the fall, watch as their leaves turn, enhancing your fall landscape with bright yellow and deep red leaves. Once the leaves fall off and the bark is shedding from your tree, you will then have beautiful colored wood providing structure and style. The peeling bark will first leave behind warm colors ranging from cream to beige to cinnamon and on to bright red. When the colors fade, they are more like light green-gray to a dark red.

Join us as we celebrate this tree at our 32nd annual CREPE MYRTLE FEST, JULY 19 & 20. >>



Let Your Inner Sparkle Out

NEW CREPE MYRTLES: The Princess Series

Who doesn’t love a princess and these little darlings are no exception. Garden Adventures Nursery introduced their Princess Series of dwarf crape myrtles named after enthusiast Dow Whiting’s grandchildren, Holly Ann, Kylie Grace and Lyla Jane. This series features a smaller more compact version of this landscape favorite ranging in size from 18 to 48 inches tall by 30 to 36 inches wide. These profuse bloomers come in a variety of colors with flower clusters in cherry red, magenta and rose pink with an extended bloom time from midsummer until fall. Crepe Myrtles have always been popular throughout Hampton Roads and can be seen in median islands, lining the entrances to driveways or in the landscape. So let you inner sparkle out with the Princess Crepe Myrtle Series.

Princess Kylie – features magenta blooms that cover this mounding dwarf crepe myrtle from summer until fall. Kylie grows 2 to 3-foot tall with a 2 to 3-foot spread. It’s disease resistant, heat and cold tolerant and prefers sun. Ideal in the landscape as a focal point, in borders, massed plantings or in containers.

Princess Lyla – this dwarf variety boast rose pink blooms with deep green foliage in summer that turns to gold in fall. Lyla reaches a height and spread of 18 to 24 inches. Like Kylie, this myrtle variety is also disease resistant, heat and cold tolerant and right at home in beds, containers and mass plantings.

Princess Holly Ann – with vibrant cherry red blooms, this mounding dwarf crepe myrtle blossoms from summer to fall. Features deep green foliage in summer with purplish-red growth in fall. Reaches 4-5 feet tall with a 2 1/2 to 3 feet spread. This disease resistant, heat and cold tolerant shrub is just the thing for garden beds, containers and mass plantings.



Top Picks for Pop


Celebrate Dad with something he's sure to love. Think outside the box of the usual ties and socks and give him something he can enjoy for years to come. Here's our top picks for pop...

Felco Pruners - You can't go wrong with these top-of-the-line pruners that provide awesome cutting power and precision -- making dads work a whole lot easier. Trust us, everyone loves a good pair of Felcos! All Felco pruners have two blades: one very sharp and is known as the cutting blade. The other is not sharp and is called the anvil blade or hook. These pruners will last a life time and are a cut above the rest, featuring a lifetime warranty. Add the leather holster so that dad can protect his pruners and always keep up with them.

Landscape & Hardscape Services – Give Dad the day off by hiring McDonald experts to redesign or refresh his favorite outdoor spot. With our Landscape & Hardscape Sale in effect, you can save 15% off any landscape service booked before September 1. Services include landscape design & installation, seasonal plantings and clean ups, tree plantings and pruning, and hardscape services that include patio, firepit, outdoor kitchens and more.

Bonsai – A one of a kind gift that will make his day. Choose from a variety of leaf color and shape that will add interest and a conversation piece. Perfect on a desk or office table.

Local Sauces & Vinaigrettes – Fire up the grill and spice up dad’s day with local sauces and marinades. Sure to spark his taste buds choose from Roasted Garlic Sundried Tomato, Orange Balsamic and Lemon Oregano.

Japanese Maples - These amazingly hearty and versatile trees are a must-have for Dad's landscape. There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese Maples from the cascading dwarf or semi dwarf shrubs to the 30-foot version of this stately tree. With an endless assortment of leaf and color options, there’s truly a Japanese Maple for every taste and space.

Firepit Chat Tables – Light up Dad’s day with a fire pit chat table. This 57-inch table can burn brightly at night or convert to a cooler for parties. The entertaining package makes this table a real must have. Let Dad enjoy cool drinks with friends and warm night with family.

Collectible Conifers - Get Dad started on a collection of unique dwarf conifers. These mini's will bring a major smile to his face!

Adirondack Chairs – Let Dad sit back, relax and enjoy the view in an Adirondack chair. These chairs made from recycled plastic will weather the test of time and gets better with age – just like dear ole Dad.


Our Natives are Right at Home

Native plant is a term used to describe plants that are indigenous to a particular area. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in a particular place. These plant species are adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are the foundation of our native ecosystems, or natural communities.


Native Plants Save Energy:
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so they can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require very little care.

Native Plants Provide Balance:
Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions where it is suited, but preventing it from running wild.

Native Plants Benefit Local Ecosystems:
Natives are a cornerstone of biological diversity. They provide food and shelter for native wild animals such as birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The also keep the natural balance of each.

Native Plants Help Save the Bay:
Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff. They help divert water from storm drains and decrease the impact of runoff to rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay. This improves water quality.

Here is a recommended list of Natives for you to try in your garden. You will definitely have success with these native plants while benefiting wildlife and our ecosystem.

Native Grass-Like Plants
• Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)
• Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
• Rush (Juncus effuses)
• Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries)
• Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Native Perennials
• Aamsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
• Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)
• Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose)
• False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
• Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
• Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)
• Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)
• Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
• Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium coelestinum, dubium)
• Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
• St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum)
• Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
• Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
• Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
• Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
• Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
• Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Native Shrubs
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
• Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)
• Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
• Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra)
• Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
• Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
• Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
• Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
• Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
• Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

Native Trees
• Red Swamp Maple (Acer rubrum)
• River Birch (Betula nigra)
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginica)
• Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
• Sweetby Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
• Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
• Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
• Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Native Vines
• Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
• Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
• American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)



Branch Out!


Introducing color that pops in the landscape just in time for spring. These trees and shrubs will add bold color in the early spring days. Not only can you enjoy these blooms through your window, but branches from these trees & shrubs look stunning in a vase to add color inside your home. Branch out this spring with our favorites...

Ornamental Plum Thundercloud - This showy springtime bloomer offers beautiful blooms as a beacon for spring. A moderate grower this tree will grow to be about 20 ft tall and wide with coppery-purple foliage backing pale pink to white blooms. Plant as a single specimen tree or in small clusters amidst rich green landscapes. Try a matched pair to flank gateways and driveway entries or in an orchard-like row to screen neighboring views. This is one of the best plants to create the American country-garden look because it mimics the aesthetic of a farm orchard.

Ornamental Cherry Snow Fountain - Graceful, weeping branches are covered with showy, snow-white flowers early in the season. Ideal for any landscape, this tree is especially suited for smaller spaces. The Snow Fountain Cherry is the iconic tree of the Japanese tea garden. Plant in matched pairs to highlight a special gateway or frame a work of garden art. Particularly charming in small groves, which add light and diversity to woodland settings.

Forsythia - The calling card of spring, the vibrant yellow of these blooms will let you know that spring is on its way. The arching branch features lightly bell-shaped blooms that range from butter yellow to gold. This low maintenance and fast growing shrub is deer resistance.

Ann Magnolia - This sweet little magnolia offers exquisite, 3 to 4 inch blooms with reddish purple outside and white inside. The blooms appear before the foliage buds out making them stand out in the landscape. Slow growing this smaller sized tree will reach about 10-15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Perfect as a centerpiece of a flower bed or near a patio or terrace.

Double Take Orange Storm Quince - With big, coral 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. Orange Storm Double Take Quince is 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.

Dogwood - Our state tree, the Dogwood boasts beautiful four-point flowers or bracts that begin to spread open in spring with a creamy, yellow-green colored flower. Attractive horizontal tiers of branches make this small deciduous tree popular. The splendid canopy of white flowers creates big impact. Give it room to spread, but place it as a specimen or in the border where you can readily enjoy its flowers. In autumn this tree will produce hanging red fruit and red-scarlet tints on the leaves.



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.