Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Plants

Thanksgiving decorations usually count on mums and pumpkins to be the center of attention. Gourds, Indian corn, and corn fodder make their way into the celebration , but here are some other plants that are seasonally available in November.

Thanksgiving cactus, aka known as Christmas cactus, usually bloom by mid-November, These plants are truly easy to care for as they thrive on benign neglect, often lasting for decades in the home.

Cyclamen bloom in non-traditional colors for Thanksgiving, but are terrific for adding color, especially in a cool, bright, window. With the first day of Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving this year, a white cyclamen may be the perfect gift for the holiday host.

White hydrangeas are another nontraditional choice, offering a neutral color that will transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas according to the pot in which it is displayed.

Brace yourselves! Poinsettias for Thanksgiving? They really do come in an awesome orange color. This one has been 'dressed up' for the occasion with bits of glitter.

And, Ravens fans have not been forgotten. These painted purple poinsettias may be the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving and cheer for the home team as they face off against the Steelers on Thursday night.

Jerusalem cherries have been a hit with our greenhouse staff this year. The small, pepper-like fruits start out green then turn to yellow/orange.

Gift baskets are always fun to make up with a collection of foliage and flowering plants. Add a gourd here and there for a table centerpiece. And, as Christmas approaches, Fall color can be replaced with bright Christmas hues.

Enjoy Thanksgiving with your families. We will be closed so that we may celebrate with ours. And, know that we are thankful for your continued support of our garden center. Thank you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Putting the Garden to Bed

We've had a few frosts; winter is definitely on its way.  The weather forecasters seem to all be predicting a tough winter. My coleus is dead and the begonias are hanging on by a thread. Leaves are turning fast, then falling from the trees.

Leaves are falling, but the last show before winter is beautiful!

Yes, Old Man Winter is knocking at the door.
Some of my favorite garden tasks are included in the list of things to do to put the garden to bed. Cutting back the dead leaves of perennials, pulling the last cold hardy weeds out of the garden and stirring up the compost pile to pull out beautiful compost to top my vegetable planting beds is somehow therapeutic. As plants are cut back, I inevitably find a few plants, usually perennials, that had yet to get planted. They'll get into the ground just in the nick of time to send out roots over the winter.
Here are some of the things on my to-do list for my next day off at home.

  1. Cut back dead foliage on perennials. Leave ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susans and daisy seed heads available for winter birds.
    Pat Sherman cuts back some milkweed that has turned brown
  2. Remove spent annuals, tropical and vegetable plants.
  3.  Pull compost out of the pile and add to top-dress annual and vegetable garden beds.
  4. Take a soil sample into the garden shop at Valley View Farms for a free pH test. Add lime if the pH is on the acidic side.
    John checks soil pH for our customers
  5. Pull winter hardy weeds now before they take hold over winter into spring.
  6. Root prune any shrubs that are to be transplanted in spring.
  7. Mulch any recently planted trees, shrubs and perennials with shredded leaves, straw or compost. Two inches of mulch should suffice. Use evergreen bows to keep leaves in place.
  8. Use vinyl deer guard or fencing around young trees to avoid damage by deer.
    Deer Stopper Ribbon will keep deer out
  9. Use brown paper tree wrap on young trees to deter sunscald.
  10. Spray recently transplanted evergreens with an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf to avoid water loss in the leaves of these plants. I spray my rhododendron that tends to get wind-whipped in the winter to keep the leaves from getting all shriveled.
    Wilt Pruf diminishes water loss in cut trees and greens too!
  11. Make sure all the bulbs have been planted. One year they didn't get in the ground until January 5th. (They bloomed beautifully.)
    Plant bulbs before the soil freezes
  12. Take note of plants that have overgrown their area. I will usually wait until early spring to divide many of them as my gardening friends are more likely to add them to their gardens then.
  13. Empty all of the containers of soil. Clean pots with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.  I'll usually stagger-stack my planters in or behind my garden shed. Smaller containers will be stored indoors.
  14. Neaten things up but not too much. Keep plants and foliage to provide cover, water and some food, like berries, available for wildlife.
  15. Most important--- thank my neighbor Chuck who mows my fence line all summer to keep the multiflora roses and other vines from taking over.
It's amazing how fast these chores are completed as one task just rolls over to the other. In the meantime, I'll get to enjoy the cool temperatures, the beautiful fall colors and a day outside with my canine companion working in the yard I so enjoy.