Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Roof Plants

Are you ready for a green roof? There doesn't seem to be a better way to start a "green living" lifestyle.
Recently, we got a chance to visit Kruger-Maddux greenhouses in southeastern Indiana. Rob Maddux was growing sedums to be installed at an area elementary school.
Green roof plants in the foreground of Kruger-Maddux Greenhouses

We've seen green roofs in many areas of Maryland too, including the Edenwald Retirement Community in Towson, MD. Knowing that we should probably plant up some green roofs ourselves, we started on a much smaller scale. Our first project, pictured below, is a luxury birdhouse, featuring it's own version of a green roof.

Green Roof Birdhouse

The project came together easily. We started with a cedar birdhouse. Valley View Farms owner and resident builder Andy Foard added some shallow sides to the existing roof. Some roof flashing or thick plastic can be added as a cover over the roof to keep water from the top. Soil was added; we used a special mixture that we also use for bonsai. And, last but not least, we planted shallow rooted plants that should thrive. We used ajuga, artemesia, and some sedums. The sedums are especially good as they are succulent, needing little water, and have a fantastic range of colors and textures from which to choose.  The birdhouse is adorable. Next up? Maybe a doghouse or a garden shed.

Recently Planted Garden Shed Roof in Landisville, PA
 Watch us plant the birdhouse on The Sunday Gardener, airing Sunday, August 1st on WBAL TV 11 during the 9:00 am news segment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hanging Garden Boxes of Edenwald

Charles Tuley (the gentleman with the cap) had a vision. As a retired nurseryman, Charles saw an opportunity to bring gardening to other retirees at the Edenwald community in Towson, Maryland. He and fellow volunteers, (including Albert Keller, pictured with Charles) hatched a plan to display large flower boxes on the 4th level roof top terrace. The boxes are 4 feet long, 12 inches wide and 15 inches deep. They are displayed at waist level, making it easier for residents to plant. Mr. Tuley and his all-volunteer crew added irrigation to make watering easy. The results are phenomenal. Twenty-six boxes have been planted with a total of 230 plants featuring 130 varieties of flowers. All of the boxes feature the names of the artists that created each hanging garden and a list of plants included in each box. Vines were planted as a vertical element to use the existing back fence. Many of the plants were chosen during a trip out to Valley View Farms where the gardeners found plenty to choose from and some advice from Kitty and Melissa in the greenhouse. This blogger was invited to the open house yesterday. It was terrific! The experience really shows us how one person's vision can become a reality and made so much better by and for the community. Congratulations to all of you at Edenwald that made it happen!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Shows

Summer is a great time for all of us at Valley View Farms to catch up with growers, plant breeders and other garden centers. We ask each other how the season has been, what winning plants and products were hits and continue to look for ways to help people be better gardeners. Trade shows abound in the summer as owners and managers get a chance to preview new items for next year. We're lucky to have some growers that will let us trial perennials and annuals to see how they are accepted by our customers. Pictured above are three of the folks from Hillcrest Nursery in Millers, MD. Hillcrest grows herbs, annuals and perennials for us most of the year. Jimmy, Jim and Karen deliver to us as needed, helping us serve the community with fresh, healthy plants. The second photo is from the OFA trade show held in Columbus, OH every year. The show is attended by plant professionals from around the world. A black petunia is featured in the third photo. We may grow a few this fall with some purple pansies for all of the Ravens fans. What do you think? Will a black petunia sell this fall and next spring? We'd love to have your comments.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot

A look to the weather forecast this week reveals that we're in for another hot spell! For those of us that garden, that can only mean more watering chores.
Container gardeners should check their pots daily for water. Flower and vegetable gardeners with garden plots can put a rain gauge out; most of the garden would like an inch of water a week. Water at the root zone to avoid splashing water on plants' leaves. Pictured above are Billy's beans being watered by a garden hose connected to a soil soaker hose with straw over the top to retain moisture. It is better to water early in the day to allow foliage to dry out before evening. Give plants enough water to encourage plants to root deeply; watering lightly will keep the roots too close to the surface causing them to dry out faster.
Most lawns will go dormant for the summer, giving us a break from mowing.
Check the garden center for all sorts of watering tools and supplies, from hoses and rain wands to automatic drip watering systems.