Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Winter Gardening Classes January -March 2019

Eric teaching about orchids
Our  2019 Seminars and Special Events Schedule through March has been published in-house and will be available on our website later this week. Most are free of charge and are held in the back of our store or in the greenhouse on Saturdays at 9 and 11. In addition, we can host your garden club or civic organization here at a time to be arranged. Contact or call 410-527-0700 for additional information.

January 5, 9 am
Welcome to the World of Bonsai, presented by our long-time grower, Martha Meehan, introduces Bonsai to budding enthusiasts.
Martha has hosted our Bonsai seminars since 1985

January 26, 9 am
Succulents I, In Containers, is a class exploring the many non-hardy plants displayed in our greenhouse. Ideas on displaying and planting succulents indoors and out will be discussed. Succulents II, on hardy plants, will be presented in April.

February 2, 9 am
Bonsai Fertilizers and Soils is today's topic. Join us for a repotting demonstration and methods to grow bonsai.

February 2, 11 am
Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny, Weeny Fairy Gardens are a fun project for families. Bring the kids to create a mini-garden they can enjoy. Materials costs will vary.

February 9, 9 am
Growing Plants Year-Round Using Lights is a subject that is very familiar to our speaker, Eric. Learn more about lighting techniques to produce herbs and vegetables all year.
Eric is an indoor light/plant enthusiast

February 9, 11 am
Orchid Care and Repotting is a skill that many find intimidating. Eric will demonstrate the process, and even assist in repotting your orchid. Learn how easy the process can be with the right products and instruction.

February 16, 9 am
Seed Starting and Germination as discussed by our own Donna S will increase the gardener's ability to grow vegetable and annual flowers for transplanting. Donna will talk about the best lighting, seed starting media, heating and the many choices available to those who start their own transplants.
Donna is our in-house seed guru

February 16, 11 am
The Displaying Airplants Workshop, led by our own Jen K, promises to be a fun project, as participants frame a group of tillandsias for display. Cost of class will vary.
Master Gardener Jen loves plant projects

February 23, 9 am
Gardening Under Glass is a fun way to make houseplant gardening easier. Make your own terrarium after a wee bit of instruction. Buy a glass vessel from us, or bring your own.

February 23, 11 am
Square Foot Gardening 4 U is presented by Air Force veteran Kim Roman. Kim is a fervent disciple of Mel Bartholomew, presenting a method of intensive gardening utilizing smaller spaces to produce abundant harvests.
Kim loves her fruits and veggies!

Weekends in March
Tool Sharpening, by C J, is a must for gardeners who need working pruners, loppers, garden scissors, chainsaws, mower blades and other implements that make our garden tasks easier. C J will be here on weekends in March. Customers may leave their tools with C J and have them returned the next day or week. Times to be announced.

March 2, 9 am
Build Your Own Bonsai is one of our most popular workshops. Participants are provided with a tree, soil, wire, pot, tool rental and advice from other bonsai enthusiasts to create a bonsai for inside or out. Cost is 35.00.

March 2, 11 am
1st Annual Hip Houseplant Revue is a houseplant fashion show, complete with a runway. Our models (let me know if you'd like to be one), will present plants as our moderator speaks of each plant's unique properties and care. Let's have some fun! Stick around later as a panel of experts answer questions anyone may have about the best plants for their home, office or living space.

March 9, 9 am
Bartlett Tree Experts Presents---Preventative Care and Techniques for Growing Healthy, Happy Trees. Last year's talk 'How to Kill a Tree' was a hit, so we are trying again, with a new name to help gardeners care for the largest investment they may have in plants on their property. Bartlett Tree has been Valley View Farms' partner in providing tree care for over a decade.

March 9, 11 am
Vegetable Gardening Boot Camp will give new gardeners much-needed information on soil prep, fertilizers, plant selection, garden placement, and other items. Bring your questions and a 16 oz. cup of soil from your yard for us to test while you attend the class.

March 16, 9 am
Herbs, organically-grown locally for us, have seen increased demand as their health benefits and ethnic flavors are much sought after. Our own herb specialist, Jeff M, will help gardeners navigate through the many choices we have in edible gardening.
Jeff is our urban herb expert

March 16, 11 am
Vegetable Gardening in Containers will be presented by Marty Gottlieb, of Smart Pots fame. Marty's passion to share his gardening successes have made him a staff and customer favorite here at Valley View Farms. You will be very inspired after today's presentation.
Marty is very enthusiastic about vegetable container gardening

March 23, 9 am
Spring Lawn Clinic is presented by our garden shop manager, Brian B. He will review timetables, products, methods- both organic and traditional, necessary to maintain a beautiful lawn all season. Please bring in  16 oz. of soil for free pH analysis.
Brian knows lawns!

March 23, 11 am
Growing a Deer Resistant Garden will be presented by Kathy Jentz, a gardener, garden communicator and publisher of Washington Gardener magazine. Bambi may be cute, but we don't want him and the whole herd feeding on our gardens. Kathy will cover proven and humane tactics to deal with deer and other wildlife to keep them out of our edible and ornamental garden.
Read Kathy's magazine; follow her advice!

March 30, 9 am
Spring Pond Opening, featuring our own Tim M, details the steps necessary to get fish, plants, pumps, filters and other components of the pond up and running for spring.
Tim knows ponds!

March 30, 11 am
Answers to Frequently Asked Gardening Questions from a Pro features our Garden Center manager Brian B. He will offer a basic how-to for a wide variety of gardening topics, including how and when to apply and use fertilizer, how much grass seed to use and when to use a spreader vs. a sprayer. Have questions? This is the perfect venue in which to ask them.

Look for more topics in our April - June schedule to be published in early March. Any ideas for seminars or workshops? Let us know by emailing

Friday, December 14, 2018

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

 Three of us go to Longwood Gardens every year to celebrate our friendship. This year, we found some Christmas trees we may have to try to replicate next year in our greenhouse here at Valley View Farms. While I love my own tree and the hundreds that surround me at work each day, the displays we saw at Longwood kept us clicking our iPhones with the new ideas we encountered.

Birdhouse tree with smaller trees to the side, decorated with seedheads and other bird feed

Paper trees in the music room

Orchid tree overhead

Loved the protea and ginger

Beautiful use of natural materials

Tillandsia trees are always a personal favorite

Tillandsia trees mimic the conifers on the outside

Roses and ivy

Pilea, pepperomia, and lysmachia add contrast and color

Simply poinsettias

Christmas Tree Spaceships?

We loved the trees at Longwood, and are sure to return for next year's displays. Like our own Christmas Shop, it is fun to spot the new displays while still treasuring the older ones.  
Enjoy the holiday season, with an outing with friends to the local botanical gardens, or a drive to see the area's beautiful outdoor light displays. 
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Poinsettias; are They Poisonous?

Dear WBAL TV Noon News Viewers,

I got in a lot of trouble and some unwanted attention today when I said on WBAL TV, our local NBC affiliate, that poinsettias are not poisonous. I have gathered research from both Ohio State and Cornell Universities citing poinsettias' non-toxicity, but I may not have said forcefully enough that pets should be kept away from all houseplants as we often don't know how they have been treated. The link presented here was published just yesterday by a scientist from Cornell University. 6 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season does mention holiday plants that may be harmful, including mistletoe and holly.  As I mentioned in passing during the segment, I personally got sap from a Euphorbia (a poinsettia relative) and suffered for some time with an irritated eye.

I apologize to everyone who found my response to the question to be lighter than it should have been. I have had dogs and cats and am very careful to keep them away from plants that I bring into my home. The Ohio State University also cited research providing answers as to whether poinsettias are poisonous. Some sites that I have since checked do say that poinsettias have a low toxicity, including the ASPCA website on toxic plants.

I'm hoping Dr. Kim Hammond addresses the question during his pet segment on WBAL. To any of you who have additional questions or concerns on what I presented during the noon show today, feel free to email me at, or call the store at 410-527-0700. I am generally in from 7-3 except on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I will respond to any emails in the next few days as soon as possible.

Again, I apologize for any concern my comments have caused. I am a pet and plant enthusiast and would never place my animal's or anyone else's purposely in harm's way. We had agreed as a company at one point to not discuss plant toxicity as each situation is different, and some pets may have allergies that we are unaware of. I answered this question, often asked during my work as a garden center employee, thousands of times. Please feel free to send me any information from reputable sources that I may learn more.


Carrie Engel