Monday, July 28, 2008

A Day in the Mountains

Some days, it's good to just get up in the mountains. Marlea, Michelle, Lucia and I did just that last week with a short day trip over the hill into Nevada City. I have been wanting to take them to some of my favorite stores over there for quite a while, and it it all seemed to fall into place thanks to Kimmie & Jaime holding down the fort for the day at the nursery.

We set out at 6am, we are bright and early kinda gals, and first stop was an hour and a half away in Truckee for some hearty breakfast at the original Squeeze In. If you have never been there, give it a try sometime. The only hard part is narrowing down your choice from the 80 or so omelets that they offer. After fortification, we headed over to Villager Nursery to see if they were open yet. . I had met two of the owners, Eric & Rob, of Villager while at the FarWest Nursery show in Portland my first summer in the business back in 2001. Eric has continued to be a mentor and wealth of information whenever needed. I love their place!!! It is set into the side of a large hill, and as you climb your way up through the nursery from the parking lot you encounter so many beautiful and exciting specimens of plants. Of course many of these plants would have a very tough time making it in our dry - hot -alkaline climate, but it is still fun to look. The morning was very cool, and the dew was still on the leaves as we toured through the trees and shrubs. We all picked out a few things that just had to go home with us, and Eric suggested we place them inside his front gate in a shaded area and pick them up on our way home. Even though it was very cool at that moment, the heat in the car during our day out would cook them. After a quick goodbye and a promise to catch up at this coming FarWest show in Portland in August, we were on our way.

Our next stop was in Nevada City at a relatively new garden center called The Prospector. This one is also tucked into the side of a hill, but is located directly off the busy freeway. Our Kelloggs/Dr. Earth sales rep, Mike McLain had told me about this store a couple years ago and Robert and I had stopped on one of our trips to Nevada City. It was amazing to me how much more developed the property had become in such a short time. We wandered around for the better part of an hour looking at their gorgeous displays and comparing plants again, but knowing that we weren't going back home on the same highway, we had to keep our purchases to items in the gift shop instead. We chatted with the owners for a bit about Christmas promotions, as they were in the process of unwrapping and tagging ornaments that had just come in. If the situation arises, we usually like to mention that we are also in the business when we are in a gift store or nursery. Part of the purpose, and fun, of these day trips is picking up new products and companies to buy from that we think might be a good fit for our store also. It makes the owner feel a whole lot more comfortable when they know you live a couple hundred or thousand (as was the case when we were all in Atlanta) miles away. We usually always end up in some sort of "brain storming" session with them as well. They will ask us what works for us, what new companies we have found, what our store is like and what does the best for us. I can't ever remember in all the years of doing these little trips having a business owner upset that we are checking out their store for new ideas and products. Usually it is just the opposite, they love to talk to you about their business decisions and purchases, and they love to hear how you have solved a particular problem, or made an extra creative display. Over the years I have picked up quite a few "email pen pals" from different stores in New York, Atlanta and San Francisco. I love this information highway that helps us all be better store keepers.

Next Stop: downtown .......Nevada City

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Camp Garden

A few months ago, as she was approaching retirement as Children's Librarian from our local school district, Donna March mentioned to me about maybe doing something during the summertime for the kids. She, along with Eleanor Ahern, has been a integral part of the success of our Growing Young Readers program which we do on the 2nd Saturday of every month. They tirelessly, and very creatively come up with a great reading selection and craft project for the kids each month. We are going on 5 years with this program, and every month brings some new faces, quite a few steady followers, and just plain fun.

So back to the beginning of this. Donna asked me if I thought we would have interest from the parents for a weekly offering during the summer. We threw around some ideas, and came up with Camp Garden. Appealing to the same age group as our Saturday group, we would focus on bugs, gardening, birds etc and maybe give the Mom's some time together too.

The first week I think we had 5 or 6 kids. We hired a young teenage assistant, a very helpful Madison Brown, and off we went. Of course I was thrilled because my daughter and grandson were still here visiting for the first 2 camps. The second week we had 12 children assisting Michelle with the planting of flowers in the River Garden.

We are now coming up on week 4 this next Tuesday. The group grew to 32! last week and we have covered Bees & Butterflies, dug up garlic, planted Bee Balm and toured the nursery looking for all the flowers that butterflies love. This next week brings on the spiders and bugs, oh boy!

And just in case you can't tell..............we are having just as much fun as the kids. Hope to see you at Camp Garden soon, Susan

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Leafminers are here!!!

Are those pesky little "worms" starting to fly down from you cottonwood trees?

Are the leaves of your cottonwood trees starting to turn brown and fall off?

You probably have an infestation of leafminers. They are usually the larvae of flies, moths, or beetles that feed or "mine" between the upper and lower epidermal leaf surfaces. The larvae tunnel through the leaf creating a narrow, whitish colored serpentine (winding) mine. They can be very destructive to the leaves of tree, as evidenced by the appearance of many of the larger cottonwoods around town. Sometimes the leaves will have "circles" in them like those in the photo to the right. If you scratch this open you can see the little white worms that are getting ready to hatch. The leaves are almost all brown, and are beginning to drop like it is fall.

Systemic insecticides usually provide the greatest control of leafminers. A systemic insecticide is absorbed into the leaf tissue, killing the insects inside. Non-systemic insecticides stay on the leaf surface and do not affect insects inside of them. That is why thorough spray coverage of the upper and lower leaf surfaces is especially important--- and almost impossible on these large trees. Of course it should also be mentioned that you should always apply the pesticide according to directions outlined on the container label. Unfortunately a systemic is not going to do that much good for you now. Because it has to leach down into the roots and then travel up the tree - it is best applied in the early Fall. That way it has time to do it's job before the eggs would hatch in the spring.

We will have a reminder notice in our enews in the Fall. Till next time, stay cool and in the shade if's HOT out there. Susan

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The HEAT is on!!!!!

This week has given us a small taste of the heat that July is likely to have in store for us. We have been spending extra time watering here at the garden center, the plants.......and ourselves. Sorry ~ in advance ~ if you happen to get caught in one of Flower Tree's summer highlights "Michelle vs. Susan" water hose fights.

At this time of year the Ziplocs start to change from a preponderance of "Bug Bags" to "Leaf Bags". While we are still seeing signs of tomato horn worms, aphids, ladybug larvae and squash beetles ...we are also seeing large amounts of gardeners with leaf scorch. The best way to describe it is a brown area around the outside of the leaf. Most of the time you will see this on young trees that do not yet have a good root system established. However, Sycamores are one tree that suffers from this until they are 3 or 4 years in the ground. The good thing is it that you probably won't lose the tree over this. It might make it unsightly though. Our recommendation is to check the watering ~ see if it needs to be stepped up in this heat ~ and then mulch...mulch....mulch the root zone area. There are all different kinds of mulch you can use from grass clippings to leaf mold. Bagged products come in an assortment from redwood to cedar, cocoa mulch to compost. We do not ever recommend rock be placed around your trees or shrubs. Think about how you feel when you stand in an asphalt parking lot with no shade....your feet get HOT! The roots of your trees are the same. They like their roots cool too. Also keep in mind, plants already stressed from lack of water are more vulnerable to diseases, insects and other environmental factors that can further damage them.

Of course you could have a bug eating on your plant. If you are concerned about the way your tree is looking, bring us a leaf and we will do our best to diagnose the problem for you....that's what we are here for.
See you soon, Susan.


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