Thursday, March 29, 2012

Failure, it's how we learn.

We all have our failures, especially as gardeners. We plant the wrong plant, at the wrong time or in the wrong place. We ask Mother Nature to just bend the rules a little bit and help us out, and sometimes she complies, and then below...she says "Nope, you shouldn't have planted that there." I have been pruning back my vinca for the last several evenings. It is on the north east side of the house and it has performed beautifully for the last five years or so. It fills in the entire 15' quite nice now and in the summer it welcomes people up to our front door with it's little purple flowers. I have a VERY LARGE beautiful red climbing rose "Blaze" that drapes over an arch across the sidewalk too so I thought, well if that rose does so remarkable well, then I am sure that a few more would also, and who couldn't use a few more roses. Well this is where Mother Nature came by to tell me "Nope darling, those just aren't going to be happy there." Guess it was the lack of full sun, or maybe it was because of how wet I keep the vinca and by the time it drains down to the climber it dissipates....but this last year I lost....not one, but two roses.

and one of my favorites, Miami Moon

So what's a girl, a gardening girl, to do you ask? Why plant more this year of course. Just maybe in a slightly differant location. One with more sun, and less water.

The Miami Moon showed a tiny tiny piece of green, so when I dug it up I pulled it off the rootstock and moved it over to my "Wild Area". Hopefully it will take off and be happy there.
Success stories for this long winter....the crab apples are waking up quite beautifully. We had a fellow gardener in the other day that was worried she hadn't actually planted a crab apple last year because there were no flowers, only leaves....."It's OK" we reassured her. Crabs are one of the spring flowering trees that leaf out first, then flower. As opposed to the plums and pears that you are seeing around town now that are starting their show in full glory.
The rhubarb is up and doing beautiful
as are the pink peonies that I transplanted from ones that I had planted for my Mom many years ago.....

and of course the onions.....ahhhhh smell the onions......Happy Gardening and Many Successes to you!

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

High Hand, a royal flush!

A few shots from today's visit to High Hand Nursery in Loomis, Ca., a true gem in the hills outside Sacramento. Mel had been to this nursery four times, WITHOUT ME! Not sure how that could be, as we seem to discover these pearls either by chance, or by traveling across the pond, yes, the big pond - because this garden center truly rivaled any that we have been to in England or Scotland. Laid out in the framework of the old High Hand fruit stand - they have incorporated all the old buildings, the loading docks, even the old delivery trucks and vintage appliances take center stage at every turn. The only problem I encountered - we only had two hours.....a definite return trip is already planned and this time I will hopefully be bringing all the girls with me.

One of the highlights of the day ........I like old things as much as I like plants, some days ....when the universe lines up just right, you get plants AND old things, and that is what occurred today. I was walking though the many trails of greenery when Mel says "We better go look inside, we are going to run out of time and I really want you to see the gift shops and pottery they have." Off we go through a door that was once part of the fruit loading dock, past an amazing array of pottery and land right smack at the front door of ~ The Vintage Bricoleur ~ an absolutely lovely little shop tucked in like it was fit from the original rafters. After meandering around every little nook and cranny I struck up a conversation with the owners, Terry and her husband Danny. Over the course of the next half hour we shared stories of blogging and collecting, and as most often the case, shopkeeping. It was a great way to end the afternoon.
High Hand, a definite Royal Flush!

Monday, March 19, 2012

First night of Spring in my world

The March equinox signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks that special moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. In 2012, this equinox comes early due to it being a leap year. It’ll fall tonight at 5:14 UTC, or 10:14 p.m. for those of us here on the west coast.

Spring, rebirth of our souls as we venture from the dar

kness of winter into the brightness of light
Today as we traveled over Donner Summit, on our way west ~ and from the very comfy vantage point of the back seat ~ I watched as we passed the thousands of beautiful tall majestic evergreen trees draped in their winter white fashion coats. The chill in the air, the wind blowing spits of snow to the ground, and the skies filled with dark gray clouds on the horizon....and then.......we crested the summit and started the slow descent down the mountain. The clouds gave way to clear blue skies and with it came the vividly bright shades of pink and orange, yellow and reds. The winter truly gave way as we landed in the colorful world of spring. Flowering plum trees, cherry orchards, forsythia and pears ~ all in beautiful bloom. I can't think of a better way to spend this day on the precipice of spring.
Because it doesn't officially start until later tonight I have plans to walk the first full day of spring on the American River Trail here in Sacramento tomorrow, taking in the bounty of this start of the new season, stop on the path and just .......breath.....breath...... .ahhhhhhh Spring.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

King, Queen, Double or Twin, What size is your Raised Bed?

The Susan & Michelle Show

Yesterday was a record turnout for our Raised Bed class, and the fact that we were inside the green room, comfy and warm vs. outside planting was sure a surprise. But it worked out wonderful ~ and we got to enjoy over 60 wonderful green gardeners that came prepared with ideas and questions. You all continue to inspire us with your thoughts and plans for the upcoming gardening season....we sure do appreciate it!

so, Dave Faulk (Rose's husband and our resident computer go-to guy) videotaped the class for us yesterday, and he is in the process of editing 90 minutes down to 10 so that we can use it on our YouTube channel. As soon as it is ready I will post up here ~ with some of the great questions that we got in the class and our notes. More later ~ Susan

My lovely assistant Charissa picked the
lucky raffle Grand Prize winner.
Raised Bed
Kit went to the Miller's~ Congrats

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Top 10 Answers - Controls

Flower Tree Nursery
Top 10 Questions - Controls
Saturday, March 10, 2012 with Kristen Smith (L & L Nursery Supply)
Notes from all of us at The Flower Tree: Many of the questions on this sheet are provided because it is what gardeners come in to the garden center and ask us about. We will always make every effort however to assist you in understanding that many of the bugs that you are concerned about are actually quite harmless and there is no real good reason to kill them off. If they do no harm ~ they do good, helping to recycle organic matter and other insect bodies. Leave them alone; do not use something to kill them. Please let us help you to identify them if possible before using any controls. If you do choose to use controls after identifying we will always recommend the most effective organic method to you. (Resources at bottom)

1.  How can I use Diatomaceous Earth in my garden? What is it used for?
Used for crawling insects only. Needs to stay dry for effectiveness, works like shards of glass when dry to cut and expose insects. ALWAYS use gloves and mask when applying. Even though it is organic, you don’t want to breathe it in or use it on a windy day. Safer brand is advertised for ants and cockroaches and other "crawling insects

2.  Safer vs. Dr. Earth Insect Spray?
            Both are organic…
Safer: soap, contains fatty acids, contact spray, good caterpillar killer, works for killing aphids, don’t want to spray during day (9am-6pm for summer temperatures) like water can damage plants with too much sun exposure.
Dr. Earth: contact spray that works GREAT for aphids, want to do 3 sprays at 5 day intervals (best plan for most organic treatments) – important that aphids are present when begin spraying due to “contact” components… will spray and kill aphids on first spray as well as new eggs present during following sprays, NEVER SPRAY from around 9am to 6pm in the summer temperatures – this is an oil based spray that will burn plants. Dr. Earth has been reformulated and each year has been altered to best suit treating while damaging plants.

3.  Neem vs. Spinosad? What insects will they work on?
Both are pesticides that do not kill on contact, they must be eaten by the insect to work.
Neem: non injurious to beneficial bugs & works on most others, oil does not suffocate – it is an insect growth regulator, Neem is ingested either through chewing on the plant or through piercing components of the product, Neem is not a poison but binds to receptors in the mouth- will not kill instantly takes about 2-3 days, do not use at 85 degrees & above because it is an oil….
Spinosad: a bacteria that must be consumed, also binds to receptors and kills the infected within a day or two, works well most leaf chewing insects but not on aphids, whitefly, scale, and all other sucking insects- recommended for spider mites & thrips, leaf miner, hornworms, & caterpillars, effective on small insects.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: will not see bugs die on contact, so do not flood, populations will reduce over time (1-3 days for infected insects to die)

4.  Can I mix a pre-emergent with a fertilizer and use a hand or push spreader?
            NO. There are different rates of application, as specified by the label. Altering these rates that have been carefully studied could possibly inactivate certain materials making it less effective, or harming the plant. Using the same spreader for different products can cause death or harm.

5.  What is the most effective Varmint control?
Look at it as a “shared space”. Use fencing, repellents, and vibrations through the ground for those that live in the earth, and other methods possibly recommended by others with the same problem. Be creative to find new things that work and if something stops working try something new. Not all Varmints have a sure fire way to get rid of them but do what works best to for your situation to fix the problem but remember that they need a home too so maybe it is just necessary to find a working compromise.

6.  What can be used to break up clay soils and how do they work?
Organic material! Compost, clippings, liquid thrive, seaweed extract, Dr. Earth Vegetable fertilizer. Liquid thrive contains high percentages of Calcium used to take salt out of the soil as does Foxfarm Sledgehammer. When breaking up soil and composting it is important to make sure to replenish the nitrogen in the soil for the plants to grow. Dr. Earth Life is an all-purpose fertilizer and a good source of nitrogen. Seaweed extract along with other fertilizers and nitrogen replenishing products are readily available to keep your soil at a plant supporting level.

7.  Why should I use a dormant spray, when is it too late?
January to Mid-March is the best time to use dormant spray. All Seasons spray by Bonide is a good dormant spray and is like “buying insurance”. Best to plan usage around problems and spray 3 times, once again, at 5 day intervals.

8.  What can I use that is safe in my vegetable garden? (squash bugs and hornworms)
**SEE #4** Discussed above in number four Spinosad is a good source of insecticide for hornworms, etc.
NOTE: Seven is a common product used but is a strong chemical that is harmful to all bugs, not just the ones you are hoping to get rid of.

9.  How effective is Tomato Blossom Set? Could I use anything else?
The tomato blossom set is more effective when sprayed multiple times rather than all at once because will use what they need and the rest will be wasted. Products high in calcium promote fruit growth. Dr. Earth Veggie #5 also good to use and best to bring in good bugs by planting perennial flowers that will do their job in pollinating plants.

10.  What is the difference between Roundup and Remuda? Explain how to use with a pre-emergent.
            Remuda is better value, it is important to check concentration/strength of product (may be cheaper because even though same size, weaker concentration). Remember that “ready to use products” are more diluted than the “mix it yourself” products. Remedua is a glyphosate product and is 41%.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

A new home

I love it when one of our benches finds such a nice new home! Abbey on her rightful throne.

Top 10 ~ Gardening Questions

Today is our first Top 10 workshop at the nursery. I invited Kristen (our sales rep for L&L Nursery products/ largest supplier on the west coast) out to the store to do what is known as a PK (product knowledge) class for our employees quite awhile back. I realized after listening to some of the early season gardeners asking questions that we did not always give consistent answers to their questions. It wasn't necessarily that the answers were "wrong", it was just the hesitancy that I heard in the voices of some of us. Myself included. I have been doing this thing called Nursery Worker for over 12 years now, and I still have to look at certain bottles in the early season when I talk to someone and look for the measuring amounts, square footage coverage, safety precautions etc. I got to thinking "If I have to LOOK, what must an employee feel that has only worked for me this past season". I want them to have just as much comfort level recommending a dormant oil spray as they already have explaining a why a Fraxinus pennsylvanica will be such a great addition to their landscape!
So, enter Kristen. We got to talking about some of the items that she sells to us and which ones we should cover at this employee meeting, and I realized that most questions come in again and again and again. I had everyone that works on the nursery floor put their questions in writing and then I would choose the top 10 to have Kristen go over. Guess what, there really were only about 10 that came up over and over. Then we got to thinking ~ well if there are 10 consistent questions, then maybe all gardeners would benefit from their answers. Hence the workshop this morning, and you are ALL invited!
I will post up the questions ~ and the answers ~ here tomorrow, but we hope that we will see you at the nursery this morning at 11am, just in want to bring us a question that isn't on the list. Come on, bring us a good one. See you soon, Susan
ps, Fraxinus pennsylvanica is a green ash, and yes they are lovely.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roses ~ Roses ~ Roses hard to wait!

Even though the hundreds and hundreds of roses that we have coming in for this year AREN'T EVEN HERE YET, Sooz and I were very busy drooling over the 2013 Weeks catalog that just arrived yesterday. Oh, so many roses, so many choices. Now if the catalog only had scentivision we would be very very happy. Till then, check out their website, and see what we mean. Weeks Roses , and watch for our "Countdown to the Roses" that starts on March 15th. We will be showcasing a new rose on our Flower Tree Facebook page every day for the thirty days until the first shipment for this year is scheduled to be here! We can't wait!!!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Little Tree Huggers

Hundreds and hundreds of trees arrive and all we can do is smile!!!!!!


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