Friday, November 29, 2019

A Gift of Bonsai

 love watching bonsai go out the door as gifts during the Christmas season. It is so gratifying to see them grow, that the joy that I find in gardening, especially bonsai, is going to be shared and encouraged in another.
I also end up talking to many people in January who were given bonsai as gifts and have no idea how to care for them. So, let’s go over bonsai gift giving 101.

In this climate, there are indoor trees and outdoor trees. Bonsai is a growing style, not the name of the plant. Trees such as pines, junipers, and maples are outdoor trees. They need cold temperatures and will not thrive indoors, though they may live for a time.
Indoor trees, such as portulacaria, ficus, and bougainvillea, will not survive Maryland winter temperatures and must remain inside throughout the winter and early spring.

The best way to determine the light and water requirements of your tree is to know the plant material. Knowing the variety of trees will give you an idea of the amount of water and light the tree needs for optimal growth. Your tree may need more, or less than recommended, but you will learn that as you learn your tree. A little research, or a trip to your garden center, can help you identify the tree if you don’t already know.

A few other tips:

Place the tree and leave it. Every time you move it, the tree is forced to adapt to a new environment. The only way a tree can adapt is by growing new leaves, which means it will shed the old leaves.

Water thoroughly. You can water from the bottom: allow the pot to sit in water that comes about halfway up the side of the pot until the top of the soil is moist to the touch. Or, you can water slowly and gently from the top until water comes out the bottom.
Check before you water. Though the top of the soil is dry, underneath the soil may still be moist. Don’t be afraid to stick your finger in to check, or pick up a water meter to go with your tree.
Humidity is key to indoor plants. With the cold temperatures, we are turning up our heat and drying out the air. A humidity tray beneath the tree will increase the moisture in the air around the pot. Place small pebbles in a saucer and set your tree on the pebbles. Keep water in the pebbles but not touching the pot.

Finally, If you are not sure, why not try a gift card and make an outing of it. Attend a bonsai class, Valley View Farms has a free class every month except May, and then head out to our greenhouse and check out the stock. Spending more time together is always a great gift!
Jen Kostick, pictured below, is an avid bonsai enthusiast and today's guest blogger. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Thanksgiving is around the corner, and, like many, we find ourselves grateful for so much of what we have today. Following are the Top Ten Reasons We are Thankful!
Founders Billy and Punkey Foard, and Andy Foard, owner
Our founders, Punkey and Bill Foard  Fifty-seven years ago, the brothers opened the doors of a roadside market where they were able to sell produce grown at their family farm directly to the consumer. Today, Billy's son, Andy, is at the helm, extending their legacies

Spring aerial view of Valley View Farms
Our Cockeysville location This property seemed so far out in the country all those years ago. We love that it is the world headquarters of McCormick, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and AAI. Gaming companies,  software corporations, and even small breweries call Cockeysville home. And scores of independent small businesses like us have settled in the area. It's no wonder that Wegman's, Proctor and Gamble and others saw the opportunities and moved branches of their businesses here to Cockeysville.

One of 12 greenhouses at the farm was rebuilt a few years ago
The Foard family farm Just 12.5 miles away, our farm greenhouses grow and deliver hundreds of thousands of plants here through the season.

Mason, Lisa' and Mark Hecklinger with our grower John Miller, and General Manager, Tim McQuaid
Our network of independent wholesale growers Mostly family-run, like us, our growers are the best! Many, like Hillcrest Nursery, Radebaugh Greenhouses, Babikow, Quality Greenhouses, Meehan's Miniatures, and Cavano's, are nearby. Others, like Hecklinger's Greenhouses, ship from Ohio, Still more from Florida, Ontario, and neighboring states. Some are first-generation, others have been in business for three or more, and all are committed to growing beautiful plants.

Beth Tfiloh Preschool presented us with this beautiful banner for our water garden area
Community support and involvement Whether it's local Girl Scout Troops, high school horticulture classes, or our partners in local media like WBAL, we are part of a larger Cockeysville, Baltimore County, and Maryland community that we are lucky to serve.

German Smokers; just add incense
Unique suppliers from around the globe Our Christmas Shop, Garden Center, Pottery department and other parts of our store are able to work with manufacturers, importers, and brokers worldwide.

Every Saturday in spring, these two have our 8 dozen donuts ready to pick-up at 5:30 am
Community services that keep our business running Our computer services, plumbers, greenhouse builders, electricians, truck painters, parking lot pavers, waste removal services, and others, keep our business moving ahead smoothly.

Our relationships Our local government, trade organizations like the MNLGA (Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association), friends and mentors that we've learned from over the years, have helped us keep our focus.

Brian, Andy (owner) and Tim

Carrie, Andy, Sue, Kathy, and Scott
Long-time managers and employees Like second-generation owner Andy Foard, many of our managers have been here for DECADES! Some started while still in high school, others after college or after having gained experience with other companies.

The arrival of the Giant Pumpkin 2018.
Don't know who the little guy is...future employee?)
Ruth, Yelena, Nina, Joann and Cynthia of our Plant Dept.
The best employees anywhere! We have been lucky to have multi-generational employees from single families, retirees from other careers, high school and college 'kids', and people who want to learn and work at something they enjoy be a part of our team for years. And, what's really great is that they stay in touch and visit Valley View Farms with their families year after year.

We love our customers taking part in our seminars! Nice bonsai tree!

Snow on the festive!
Our customers The reason we still exist is thanks to our loyal customers, who, over the years have trusted us to bring them the goods and services we offer. Some people's names we know, others we know by sight. We've been a part of each other's lives for a long, long time. Thank you!