Sunday, July 26, 2015

Water Wonders

This time of year, our water gardens are in full bloom. Water lilies are flowering and the mysterious lotus is showing buds, open flowers and small lotus pods.


We need to look a little closer for some other interesting plants, including floating and marginal plants that grow in the pond as well.

This year, we were able to get Mosaic plants, also known as Ludwigia sedioides. What a cool plant! The Mosaic plant is a floater. Stems can be potted in an aquatic soil and placed 4-8 inches deep. The floating rosettes, with their red and green leaves, will make their way to the surface, eventually covering an area about 2 feet in circumference.
Mosaic rosette
 By doing so, the Mosaic plant is able to protect Koi and other fish from predators and help keep algae levels down in the pond.
Ludwigia sedioides is a tropical plant, native to Venezuela and Brazil. It is  hardy in USDA zones 9-11. Here in zone 7, we treat Mosaic plant as an annual. It will get a small yellow cup-shaped flower during the summer months.
Dainty yellow cup-shaped flowers
Plant in half-day to full sun.
Mosaic plants are at home in a pond, but can also be floated in a large container water feature.

The water gardens, and the butterfly gardens that surround the ponds, are looking good. Stop in; relax, browse, and be inspired.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Baltimore Hosts The Perennial Plant Association Symposium

Yes, we are very excited to be a part of the 33rd Perennial Plant Symposium being held in Baltimore this year. Our perennial staff will be networking and learning from the country's best about plants, gardens, plant breeding, growers, landscape designs and marketing as they take part in tours, workshops and lectures. 
Janet Draper, Alex Bluemel, our own Andy Shelley, Stephanie Peer and Tim Babikow are ready to show off Baltimore's best perennials!
Andy Shelley, our perennial department manager (40 years in the business) and Robert Scott (25 years in the business), have been able to take part in the annual symposiums in various parts of the country over many years. Marian, Pat, Ashley, and Jane will get a chance to experience the event this year, acting as bus tour captains and hosts here at Valley View Farms.  This is Baltimore's chance to show off our perennial heritage by taking over 500 perennial experts on tours of area gardens, retail markets and wholesale nurseries. We are proud to be on the tour and prouder yet to be recognized by the Perennial Plant Association as their Perennial Retailer of the Year! 

Thank you to our local site committee

PPA's Board of Directors

Thank you to the local planning committee and the board of directors for the honor of having the symposium here in Baltimore. And, thank you to Executive Director Steven Still for all you do for this organization since hosting the 1st symposium in Columbus, OH, all those years ago. 

See you in Baltimore!

Friday, July 17, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Quickfire™ Hydrangea

Hydrangeas are looking particularly beautiful this year, on our nursery lot and in gardens throughout our area. It seems like the perfect time to talk about these wonderful shrubs. John Collins and I just returned from filming several Sunday Gardener episodes that we were able to do on location at a property in Parkton, MD. The owners, Andy and Kristen, have planted over 50 hydrangeas along the perimeter of their wooded areas.
A perfect setting for hydrangeas
 They are blooming in all their glory right now! Lacecaps, mopheads, oakleaf types; you name it, they are spectacular. We brought a Quickfire™ hydrangea with us for the shoot to talk about planting, pruning, and to show how blooms can age gracefully providing color for several seasons. Upon returning to the store, we spotted this beauty, potted in a large container at our driveway's entrance.

One of the planted large containers at Valley View's entrance

You can see how the bloom ages from a bright white to a pink color. By fall, the bloom will be rosy-red, providing just the right hue for the season.

White deepens to pink and eventually a rosy red

Quickfire™ Hydrangea is a Proven Winners shrub
Give hydrangeas plenty of space. The Quickfire™ can grow over 8 feet tall and wide. They can be grown in hedges, but I prefer to see these shapely shrubs set apart from one another. Prune this variety in late winter to early spring as it blooms on new wood. Provide at least a half day of sun; Quickfire™ will thrive in full sun as well. This hydrangea is adaptable to various soil conditions and will grow as well in urban areas as it has in Andy's rural landscape.
Maybe one will find a new home in my yard!

Friday, July 10, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: Hay-scented Fern

Hay-scented ferns greeted us as we headed down Andy's driveway to film this week's segment of The Sunday Gardener for WBAL. The forest setting was a lush green; the ferns set in an open glade dappled by the morning sun. The hay-scented ferns have colonized in an open area surrounded by other plants and trees in this beautiful setting in northern Baltimore County.
A colony of Hay-scented ferns
Dennstaedtia punctilobula, (Eastern hay-scented fern), is a native fern that grows to 1-2 feet in height and spreads to 2-3 feet. When planting a new bed, leave a space of 2 feet or so between plants. The hay-scented ferns grow and reproduce rapidly, indicating that they would like a large area to colonize and may be too large for a smaller garden space. The fronds are a yellowish-green, and very fine textured with a slightly 'hairy' surface. They can also be used singly in the right area.

Stumped for what to plant? Here's an idea!

 The common name comes from the scent of newly mown hay when the fronds are crushed beneath ones feet or between fingers.
Hay-scented ferns are deer resistant. The ferns are attractive when used as a groundcover, requiring light to medium shade. They are also a valuable plant for erosion control along shady slopes or hillsides.
The wooded property had many areas where other varieties of ferns were thriving in the landscape. Look for the tremendous variety of ferns available in the shady aisles of our perennial department.