Friday, April 19, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Garden Center

Valley View Farms FAQs

Does Valley View Farms provide soil tests?

Yes, we do. Soil testing is a free service available in our garden shop.  Bring in a coffee can sample of soil taken from the surface down to about 6 “. We will test it while you wait or shop, to determine the pH of your soil. Optimum pH levels differ for various plants. Our staff will make recommendations based on the results, suggesting soil amendments as needed.
Soil tests and plant diagnosis in our garden shop

 What hot peppers do you carry?

Valley View Farms carries over 35 peppers, with about 20 hot peppers in the mix, including some of the hottest peppers in the world. Ancho, Big Jim, Cayenne, Cherry Red Hot, Cubanelle, Garden Salsa, Hot Portugal, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Jalapeno, Pepperoncini, Serrano, Super Chili, Tabasco, and Thai Hot can be found in our pepper aisle from mid-April through May. In addition, we have Trinidad Hot Peppers including Chocolate Congo, Purple Coffee, Orange Explosion, Red Trinidad, Yellow Trinidad and Scorpion. We also carry both the Red and Yellow Ghost Peppers. All of our peppers are grown from seed in our own greenhouses in Hydes, MD and shipped daily to our store.
One of our Trinidad pepper plants out in the garden

What rose varieties do you carry?

Valley View Farms’ roses arrive in mid-April. We carry over 100 varieties. We won’t attempt to list each and every one. We do carry hybrid tea, floribunda, multiflora, miniature, climbing and shrub roses. David Austin, the popular Knockout, Drift, Star and Weeks are some of the brand names available in our nursery. Our buyer, Alan Thomson, seeks out the best growers in our region to sell in our nursery.

Do you sell fish and pond supplies?

Yes. We added our water garden department over 20 years ago. Stop in to see pond liners, pumps, filtration systems, fish, tadpoles, water lilies, marginal plants and everything you need to create a pond in your landscape. Our staff, including manager Tim McQuaid, is very knowledgeable. They would love to share their expertise with water garden enthusiasts. Check with them for pond services as well, including cleaning and installation.

Koi and other fish are available Spring, Summer and Fall
Display pond in our water garden area
What tools do you have to identify plant disease and insect problems?

We have a microscope attached to a computer monitor that allows our customers and our garden shop staff the ability to see problem pests and diseases up close. Our staff is trained in many Integrated Pest Management practices and is able to provide accurate information to keep your garden healthy. Stop by and talk with Brian Brannan, Ryan Gilmore, Scott Anderson, and other personnel for any questions you may have.
Ryan using microscope to diagnose plant problem

What perennials are best suited for Central Maryland?

Our perennial manager, Andy Shelley, goes to area perennial growers every week to identify the best plants for our gardens. With over a thousand choices, our perennial sales people and our signs will help gardeners decide which plants are best for their particular location. Scores of Hostas, Ferns, Astilbes, Heucheras, and other plants are available for shady spots. Echinaceas, Lilies, Peonies, Iris, Ornamental Grasses and other sun-loving plants are also displayed. In addition, rock garden, groundcover and other specialty perennials are featured in our perennial department.

Rudbeckia fulgida

What plants and flowers are best for attracting butterflies?

Butterflies are attracted to two types of plants, those that they use as host plants and others that are attractive because of their nectar. We have a wonderful handout naming many of the annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that fill this gardening niche. In addition, we have put a butterfly garden in our water garden area. Asclepias, Lantana, Pentas, Echinacea, Parsley, Agastache, Butterfly Bush and many, many other plants are attractive to butterflies. In addition to our handout, Valley View Farms has a butterfly icon on the many annual, perennial, herb and tree and shrub signs that are located throughout our 10 acre property.

Do you sell native plants?

Yes. Our native plants are displayed with other ornamental perennials, trees and shrubs. We use the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Conservation, Chesapeake Bay Watershed   list as our guide. A copy of the list is located in our perennial sales area. It is also available to download at

Which tomato plant do I choose?

Good question! With over three dozen varieties to choose from, making a decision to choose just one is tough. We carry old standards like Rutgers and Big Boy, our all-round favorite, Celebrity, Cherry, Grape, Plum, Pineapple and Plum types, and lots of heirloom varieties. Some do fantastic in pots, others do best in the garden.  Let us help you choose the one (bet you can’t pick just one!), that will have the best taste, performance, disease resistance or any other characteristic you’re looking for.

Our staff learns from the master---Billy Foard in his tomato garden
I love to entertain. Do you carry outdoor furniture?

Yes. Stop inside our store and see our patio department. John Hessler purchases deep bench seating, bistro sets, large dining table and chair sets, garden benches, hammocks, umbrellas, and accessories. Relatively new is the conversation table with a propane fire pit, great for entertaining outside in the evening. John has a large number of cushions, colors and styles available and can also custom order for our customers.

When does your fabulous Christmas Shop open?

Our Christmas Shop is usually completed by mid-October. We start putting it up in late August, decorating each of the over 100 trees.  Customers are welcome to browse through the shop as we are setting it up.
Donna Steele talks about the Christmas Shop with WBAL TV


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Baltimore Sun Article on Impatiens

Susan Reimer, Baltimore Sun columnist, wrote a great article on what garden centers and gardeners can expect to find in lieu of impatiens this season. Click on the link to learn more about the Downey Mildew that has affected this most popular shade annual.

New Guinea Impatiens will replace regular impatiens in gardens throughout the mid-Atlantic. Here they are growing in shade at Penn State's Landisville Plant Trials

Impatiens Update

Many varieties of begonias will be substituted for impatiens in gardens throughout our region

The New York Times joined The Baltimore Sun and other major newspapers by running a column
devoted to Impatiens Downey Mildew. In the article, our own Ruth Engel is quoted, talking about our best selling shade plant. The article goes on to offer alternatives for impatiens. Click on the link below to read the article.

As we ready ourselves for our busiest month of plant sales, our staff is putting together displays, handouts and signs to help gardeners make good, sound choices for shady plants. And, I readily admit that is has been fun to look at all the different annuals, perennials, tropicals and houseplants that have stepped up to the limelight. We are going to see some awesome gardens and container plantings this spring!