Fall(en) Leaves

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Driving to the garden center yesterday morning, my eyes noted the presence of leaves on the roadside of route 82, flying into the air as oncoming cars zipped by. My brain (still sleepy and waiting for the coffee to kick in), sighed ‘fall is here’. Yessss…but not the reason the leaves are falling. Sorry to say this dry weather may affect our fall display of colors if we don’t get some much needed rain soon. Look at THIS chart to see how little rain the hottest month of the year gave our gardens. We encourage you to protect the plants you’ve invested in, especially the ones you’ve planted this year. They need to be watered, and not just the kind of water that prevents wilt or just enough to keep them alive, but BIG and thorough drinks every time you water. You loved it when you bought it, continue with the love….questions on watering? Give us a call. We’re happy to help. THIS article will help too.

Pansies: The Tough Cookies of Spring

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If ever there were a pretty little flower that could be considered a ‘tough cookie’ , it would be the pansy. Although these captivating little beauties may look delicate, they are one of the first flowers that can brave our spring time in cold New England. Believe it or not, pansies perform best in cool weather months, looking and blooming best in early spring, and again in fall. It’s the heat of the summer that stretches their limits, literally. Warm weather temperatures cause pansies to stretch and become ‘leggy’ or tall. The solution to keeping them going in the summer is to plant them in part shade, cut them back when they get too tall, and plant summer loving annuals close by to take the spotlight off of them until they perk up again come fall.

So when can pansies be planted outside? What are the minimum temperatures they can tolerate? Good questions. It depends on who grew them. Pansies can tolerate low temperatures down to the mid twenties without flower or bud damage, as long as they’ve been acclimated. That means, they are already used to cold temperatures and haven’t gone straight from a hot greenhouse to outside. Our pansies our locally grown in cool greenhouses, making them ready to brave the chilly outdoors.

This spring is going to be a little messy, with snow still being on the ground and major melting going on, the ground is going to be sopping wet for a while. We recommend planting pansies in decorative pots, containers, or window boxes to bring a little spring to your home and garden. To give you a helping hand, we’ve decide to add a Pansy Container Garden Workshop to our spring events list. Come in on April 4th and 5th, and we’ll help you plant a beautiful early spring container garden that will chase away what’s left of winter.

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It’s Friday! See What’s Growing On…

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Hyacinths and Pansies…how about we pot them together in a container for you? Instant spring.

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Beautiful houseplants to add some life to any room in your house.

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Terrariums are SOOOO fun to make! Lots of options.

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Indoor ferns for terrariums or just by themselves. Elegant and easy to care for.

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Rex begonias. Colorful and interesting leaves.

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Phaleanopsis Orchids.

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Add a little colorful plant to this fun bunny planter!

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Gardenia trees are fabulous with their perfumy blooms.

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…and speaking of perfumy, Easter Lilies are just breaking bud and filling the greenhouse with their scent.

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Smiling little pansies!

Spring is Springing!

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This is a good sign that winter has finally loosened its grip on us!

In the last week, we have had some serious snow melt. Do you realize how long it’s been since we’ve seen…ground? It’s actually kind of weird. I saw my little solar walkway lights for the first time in forever last night, and I thought, what’s THAT? 

With the snow line receding, and as the possibility of walking around your yard becomes a reality, it’s time to start accessing the winter damage. While the snow was a protective blanket for our plants in regards to the record breaking low temps, it was also heavy for some things. I’ve walked only a small area so far. My poor ‘Miss Kim’  lilac bent in some places until she broke, I guess she won’t have a big showing this year. Other small shrubs with broken or cracked branches have also been noted for some helpful pruning as soon as the rest of the snow and ice are melted. 

We’ll keep you in the know about winter clean up as the season progresses, OH, and you might need those pruners and lopers NICE and sharp to make your spring chores easier. (BTW, the tool and knife sharpening people will be at BCG the first weekend in May.)

So how about you and your yard and garden? Winter damage? Concerns? Log on to our facebook page and let us hear it #wintercleanup, post pics too. 

Got Snow? That’s Great News! (For Your Plants)

Authors note: At the time of this post, the temperature has finally caught up to the calendar and the snow is melting! But if you’ve worried at all about how your plants fared through this winter, read on!

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Every time I venture south of our zone 6 climate in winter, when asked where I’m from, I’ll inevitably hear “you get a lot of snow up there”. And while true in this particular year, historically, our winters are anything but consistent with snow covering the ground. As a gardener, I cringe as some days have been below zero followed by a thaw the next day. Why? Because it’s not good for the plants!

 

Believe it or not, a steady supply of snow is a very good thing for the winter survival of plants, especially when we reach the status of record breaking cold temps. When plants are labeled hardy for our zone (zone 6a – 6b in Connecticut, excluding part of Litchfield County), that means they can survive temperatures as low as -10 degrees. Think of snow like a big, soft, insulating blanket, keeping everything below it at a consistent temperature of around 32 degrees, even when the air above is in the single digits. Let’s be thankful for that layer of protecting snow as we broke 100 year old records with some areas reaching -22 degrees!

 

So when the snow melts, the grass turns green, and the trees begin to leaf out while perennials break the ground – you can thank old man winter of 2015 for his consistency.

Do You Know How to Water? Watering 101

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Watering 101. Believe it or not, if it were an actual course, it should be one that everyone should take that gardens, or ever plan to garden or grow anything.  But being capable of watering plants seems like a pretty basic life skill, doesn’t it? Anyone can turn on a hose and spray down the landscape. But does everyone’s landscape flourish, grow, and bloom into an oasis of blooming plants, blooming all season long?

If a plant is thirsty, water it. If you want a green lawn, water it. Simple as that. But what if your flower, vegetable garden, and lawn look they are just barely surviving their way through the season  even  though you water faithfully and daily? Why, oh, why doesn’t your garden look like the beauties gracing the pages of Better Homes and Gardens?

With just a few tips, you can maximize your watering efforts, and make every drop count toward the lush, blooming paradise you want. It’s all in the ‘when’ and ‘how’ when it comes to watering.

When to Water

Watering is best done early in the day and ideally before the sun shines its rays on the leaves of the plants. But what if you don’t want to get up that early? Well. Early day sun is not as intense as midday sun, so don’t let sleeping in stop you from watering.

But what if you really sleep in? And you have a job. Or a life for that matter. And watering in the morning is simply an impossible feat that cannot be squeezed in in the morning. Well, then you have to water in the evening (although this may promote disease and unwanted critters). While this is not the MOST preferable, it would be the other choice.

BUT what if you walk out your door at 12:30 in the afternoon in the middle of August in 90 degree weather and your cucumbers are flattened to the ground because you forgot to water the day before? What then? Then you water no matter the time of day. Maybe they’ll come back. Maybe they won’t. But at least you tried.

The best bet, is to get on a watering schedule. Check the forecast. If it’s a sunny summer day, water. If it’s overcast and showers are expected, hold off.

How to Water

Don’t stop reading now. Your water wand is not magical. You can’t just wave it over the plants with one motion and done. That’s called shallow water and doesn’t promote good healthy root system. Deep regular watering is really the way to go. That does take some time, but plants are an investment you want to last the whole season, right? A perfect example would be a flowering hanging basket: water until the excess drains out the bottom, and if it happens immediately, then you need to do it several times because it was probably so dry that the water is running around the sides instead of saturating the roots. First year trees, shrubs, and perennials need special watering attention. During droughts pay attention to the look of the leaves on your plants and try to water them prior to severe wilting as to not stress the plant and compromise their health.

Soaker hoses are a great way to limit how long you have to stand there watering. Just turn them on and go about your business for a while. Sometimes, just laying down a hose on trickle can accomplish the same results. Nevertheless, let the water flow for a while and it will cut down on how often you have to do it.

Remember how much you loved those plants when you purchased them? Continue the love with regular watering during the dog days of summer so you can enjoy them for years to come!

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The garden is a lot like a Broadway play. The lead role is given to annual plants. They bloom non- stop from the start of warm weather season, to the end. Showy. That’s their role and they do it well. 

The supporting role is given to perennial plants. Their bloom time is specific, and they take turns having the spotlight on them. They are dependable, breaking the ground every spring, waiting for their moment to shine. ‘Filling in’ the garden, giving an established look, and providing changeable bloomers, are what these supporting actresses do best.

We wait with anticipation for our favorites to take center stage. How much longer until the lavender plants show their spikes? Eagerly we watch for the first formed buds on the echinacea. Perennial plants provide interest, surprise, and conversation in the garden. 

How is the ‘stage’ in your garden? Is there always something in bloom? Our talented staff will help make it easy for you to keep a perennial garden blooming. Whatever is in flowering season, gets center stage on our end caps, and some even have a special offer (Dianthus B2G1 free through June 4, 2014). Keep an eye on facebook to see What’s Blooming Now to keep your garden blooming all season!

 

See you in the greenhouse!

Don’t Get Caught With Your ‘Plants’ Down!

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Pack a little basket of necessary tools so you don’t have to search for them when you need them!

There are two ways to do things…there’s the right way, and then there’s my way. The right way is to have the proper tools and necessary objects ready for the task at hand. Then, there’s my way. A little…how shall we say? Macgyver-ish? Using duct tape and a paper clip, the job gets done using what’s on hand. The end results are always good, but the process could go smoother with a little more planning.

The perfect example would be the following,  (unfortunately),  true scenario… it’s a beautiful spring morning, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining, all is right with the world. Without hesitation, my head starts the lineup for the day. Get the garden tilled, herbs planted, prune the rose bushes, patch the bare spots in the lawn…and the list goes on. 

So I’m off! Grab a pair of gardening gloves – oh, but wait! They were left in the garden shed all winter, and what if something’s living in them?! Forget the gloves. Ok, let’s till the veggie garden. First, these leaves  need to be raked up. But, where did I put that rake? Oh yeah, I broke it in January using it to get the snow off the roof. No matter, the roses can easily be pruned…as my dull pruners gnaw through the canes. By this time, I’ve wasted half a day chasing my tail! 

With just a little preparation and thought, YOU can have a much smoother gardening experience. 

Here is a spring checklist to help get you started in the right direction:

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Hoses – check to see if rubber rings need to be replaced. Nothing worse than water running down your arm on chilly mornings. Do you have enough hose to reach your gardens? Is the wand or nozzle in working condition? 

Soaker Hoses – what plants will need the most water? Lay soaker hoses out BEFORE you plant, or BEFORE the plants get too tall. This will save a world of frustration in the long run. Trust me. 

Pruners & Loppers – where are they? When was the last time they were sharpened? Don’t double your time by gnawing your plants instead of pruning. 

Tomato Cages– Install them when you plant the tomatoes! Don’t wait until you have to wrestle them over the plants.

Bird Netting – Who did you plant those strawberries and blueberries for? Bird Netting to the rescue. Not only that, but it also helps keep cats out of newly planted areas until the plants are big enough to survive their tromps through the garden.

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Twine – One can NEVER have enough twine. Have several balls of twine on hand and keep them in different locations so it’s there when you need it. It’s a good idea to keep scissors tucked right inside the ball of twine too. 

Plant Labels – You might remember which tomato is Brandwine, and which is Beefsteak….that would make you better than me! Labels save the guessing. A nice little basket of plant labels and a marker makes one feel prepared.

Soil Amendments – New plantings? Coast of Maine Compost in every hole. Blueberries or Holly Bushes? Holly Tone. Tomato plants? Every plant gets a handful of Neptune’s Harvest Crabshell to prevent blossom end rot. Whatever you have planted in your gardens, know what they like and keep it on hand.

Hopefully you can benefit from this little bit of garden wisdom, sprinkled from a gardener who is learning every day, just like I hope you are. Plan ahead, and don’t get caught with your ‘plants’ down, spring is here my friends – Let’s Get Growing!

See you in the greenhouse!