Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Back Rose Garden

Every year in the early spring we head out to the back rose garden at the nursery to see how the plants have wintered over. This last winter was pretty warm by most standards, and they are now just starting to leaf out and form new buds. We planted most of these bushes from leftovers that we had the first fall we owned the nursery, October of 2000. We have added a few over the years and most of the bushes are getting pretty well developed by this point. Last year we did a major "hacking" on a few of them that had been neglected the year before. We used our annual rose pruning class in the spring to show everyone that you could really do some drastic cutting and everything would not only be just fine, but that they would thrive the following year. While I do advocate that you tend to your garden properly every year, you and I both know that some years it just kinda gets away from you. This is one of the things I so enjoy about gardening. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how thick the weeds are, no matter how much clean-up and pruning is to be done...after a few hours it all seems to fall into place.

This year we have a few rose pruning classes scheduled. The first is coming up on Saturday, April 5th, and then again the following Saturday, April 12th, and Sunday, April 13th. Times and more information can be found on our main website. What I hope you will enjoy about the classes is the relaxed nature of the presentation. We will go over the basics of rose care, but the majority of the time is spent "down & dirty" where you can get a hands-on experience pruning on our plants with us. If there is enough interest we will also set a class for during the week for the parents of school age children. Just let us know.
Roses are one of the easiest and most reliable flowering bushes that you can grow in our area. With minimal maintenance you will enjoy years and years of beauty in your garden, and with all the organic methods available to you, it is much easier to have a no-fuss mentality regarding their care. We have over 1400 of the most beautiful plants coming in the later part of next month. Grown specifically for us by Jackson & Perkins and Weeks, you are sure to enjoy wandering through the Rose Garden once they all come in. Relax, stop, and yes....take time to smell the roses. Till next time, Susan.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If I were to make a garden.......

If I were to make a garden, another garden, a new garden.........these are my thoughts for the start of spring. Every year as I do my annual pruning and clean-up in my yard my thoughts travel to where I would place something new this spring. Last year saw the building of a large structure in our back yard that will be a quiet and lovely space to wile away the evening time. Made of rough wood, it resembles a large open pergola. Very tall, and strong it already has two very nice large wisterias that we planted at it's base last fall. This spring we will add a trellis structure and I will plant another flowering vine that will eventually enclose the area and make a "flower tunnel" entrance.

But back to the new garden. The last few years have kept us so busy at the nursery that we have not had any vegetable garden per 'say here at home. We have had an herb garden every year, if only to have the fresh basil needed for Robert's fabulous pesto sauce. This year I am going to plan out a space for the other "must haves" around our summer kitchen.....tomatoes! and all the other plants needed to make one of Robert's other specialties, salsa. Reality though has finally set in ...and I realize that the nursery will be no less busy this season, but if I make my new area easy to maintain and water I can have the success I am looking for. I am going to use 1/2 wine barrels, drip systems and shredded bark on the ground for weed control. My tomatoes are going in the barrels next weekend, surrounded by wall's of water to protect them from the frost. This lets me plant them a whole 45 days ahead of if I were putting them straight in the ground. I am using Harvest Supreme organic soil & Dr. Earth Starter to fill the barrels so I won't really have to even worry about fertilizing them much in this season, and the drips are already close by, as I am going to tap into my existing system in the herb bed. The area is right next to my compost bin so I can't miss it when I go out there every morning to empty the previous nights offerings. It has full sun and is protected by a fence against the hot winds that could dehydrate my plants. Using this system, I should see tomatoes by June!

Only an extremely experienced gardener can plant a whole garden in the mind's eye. For the rest of us, the garden seems to have a mind of its own. That's why planning it out on paper can be such a wonderful idea. By playing around with your thoughts and ideas, you will start to see what is missing. While I was drawing up a sketch of my new vegi area I realized that the barrels were going to be the perfect opportunity to also plant strawberries. They are going to go around the exterior of one of the barrels and hopefully cascade down the sides. Marigolds will go all around the bottom of each one ringing the barrels in color and hopefully keeping the bugs at bay. Plan out your next garden plot now while the air is still cool and the spring chores aren't yet coming in abundance. Happy Spring, Susan

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sunshine on my shoulder.......

What does a garden center owner do when she has a day off at home? Garden of course! I spent today in my own garden ~ taking advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures. Like most of you, I had an abundance of spring chores that still needed finishing. With a cup of coffee in my hand I headed outside about 7:30, with the sun just starting to fill the day with warmth. I knew if I didn't get outside and get going, the chores from "inside" would start to take over. I filled up the bird feeders, an every other day event around here, and then with rake in hand I started to warm up the body. I moved on to the pruning and fertilizing and mulching and before I knew it, lunchtime was upon me.

There is something about this first major spring clean-up that always fills my heart with joy. The renewal of the season, the first signs of the daffodils blooming, the birds chirping, the perennials peaking up from under the warm winter blanket and yes, even the raking. Birds chirping, the wind chimes providing harmony and the fountain singing backup ~ ahhhh ~ music to my ears.
While raking around one of my perennial beds my eye was drawn to a flash of bright green. I have lined the bed with old glass insulators that Robert had in the garage for about 25 years. This is my "Moon Garden" and I thought that they would pick up the light on a full moon. Most of the plantings in this bed are in shades of white and silver and it really is quite pretty on a full moon evening. Back to the bright green ~ it seems that a few of them have become little mini-terrariums. Seeds have sprouted, not sure what yet, and they are living quite nicely in the warmth of the glass. It's these kind of little surprises that make gardening so enjoyable.

No day of gardening would be complete without a relaxing end. I found mine under the gazebo, a book in my lap and joy in my heart. Hope your early spring finds the same for you. Tomorrow it's back to the big garden, see ya there, Susan.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pot vs. Ground ~ Perennials

If ever I needed a reminder to get my perennials in the ground by late summer, this is it. I planted both of these 1 gallon plants "Erysium Cheiranthusat" Common Wallflower, at the exact same time last year. One in a pot, the other in the ground. They are located about 12" away from each other. They get the same sunlight, the same watering, it is all done by hand in this area, and the same nutrients during the growing season ~ liquid sea kelp. As you can see by these pictures the one in the ground has done tremendous. It stayed pretty green all winter and it has already set it's wonderful purple buds for this season. The one in the pot stayed semi-green all winter with minimal hand watering (no hand watering for the one in the ground) has no flower buds yet and is definitely struggling.

Why show this? This was an experiment last year. I wanted to see how the exact same plant would do under two different conditions. I think I will go back to putting mostly annuals in my pots or if I do choose perennials, I will make sure and take them out of the pots and get them in the ground by early August so they have a chance to get their roots established some before winter slumber. Till next time, Susan

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pruning with Jay

Saturday, February 23rd

I want to thank Jay Davison for once again giving us an awesome pruning workshop. This is the seventh year that Jay has assisted us with this class and every year I learn so much more about pruning. Plus it is such a great refresher for what I "thought I knew". This picture was taken out in our new shade tree lines where we have a gorgeous pink flowering crab apple already planted. The tree had been planted as a memorial to Norma Cooper in the spring of 2005, and while I wanted the new tree lines, I was pretty hopeful that we would not have to try and move this tree to achieve them. With Jay's help we were able to prune up some of the lower branches, and hopefully re-direct some of the new ones that will come on. Our thanks to one of our wonderful gardener friends, Jim Kapner, who attended and took some pictures for us.
I am including some websites from the handout that Jay gave us. There is some great info, just copy and paste into your browser if they won't click from here. I will also add them to our website. If you weren't able to make it the class and would like a handout, just stop by the store. We still have some left at the counter in the green room. Happy Pruning, Susan

Useful Web Sites for Pruning

Fruit Trees

Evergreens

Shade Trees

Shrubs

Roses

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Unloading Trees 101

As you can see, it can be a dirty job, but somebody got to do it. We're pretty happy it's us! This is a few pics from the first truck that we got in last week. With Marlea and I on the ground and Michelle on the forklift it went pretty fast. Add in the fact that the weather was absolutely gorgeous that day and it made for a relatively painless unload.

All the trees and shrubs are now neatly tucked into their new beds and are ready to burst forth with spring color. This one already started, an absolutely stunning Blireana Flowing Plum. Heavy fragrance and blooms to match.

And of course Harriet had to help with the unload also.
Have a great weekend. After these winds die down it looks to be a pretty outstanding weather week coming up.

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