Thinking Outside The Pot

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Time to think container gardening. Nothing new there, right? Plants, pot, color, done. Yeah, so I thought too. But my mind changed last spring. I had the pleasure to attend the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, N.Y., it was an outdoor festival of extraordinary events. Chic vendors; handmade, antique, trendy, classic, you name it. Best of all? A great line up of seminars.

It rained. Did I say it rained? It poured. It deluged. It tidal waved. Ok, maybe not that bad.  It was still enjoyable to attend, but the dry tents of seminars were really looked forward to! A seminar on container gardening? What could a seasoned gardener possibly glean that wasn’t already known about planting in containers? It was a dry tent, so I went. Well, let’s just say, my love affair with containers was renewed during this seminar aptly named  ‘Courageous Containers’. The speaker sure had me thinking outside of the proverbial pot. Seeing him in action, placing and replacing plants, using different textures, using houseplants with annuals and perennials, using water plants in antique urns….it was inspiring. Not only inspiring, I was reminded that container gardening, is FUN!

The key to how and why the speaker’s containers came together in a fabulous way, was due to the fact that everything he needed was right there. A huge selection of plants, a big table of soil, and the container. No guesswork. If it didn’t work, he pulled it out and tried something else. During our B.Y.O.C. event (see below for details), bring in YOUR container and we’ll help you fill it up in a fun way. There are so many awesome plants to choose from, and it’s so much easier to visualize your end results with your container on hand.

Here is a list of Do’s to consider while planning your 2014 container gardens:

Do know where you intend to put your container. Shade? Sun? Choosing plants is so much easier if you know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and your house faces which direction? Know how the sun travels over your home and property.

Do have fun with color. Do you want to compliment the colors of your home? Are you a monochromatic type of person? Or do you like contrasting colors?

Do choose upright and cascading plants. Different heights make your container more interesting.

Do go for instant gratification. Our seasons are so short. Why wait for your container to ‘fill in’ and look awesome by September?

Do plan on replacing your plants when they get tired. I’ve seen many container gardens that the commitment the owner had to finishing the season with them, was admirable, but alas, not so pretty. Container plants really perform, and sometimes need to be replaced mid season.

Do feed your containers. High performers need food to keep going!

Do water your containers. If it’s a sunny day, you should probably water it. Water first thing in the morning, and water the soil, not the blooms.

Do consider vegetables. Vegetable plants are beautiful. Try mixing in a few with your flowering plants.

Do consider the moon. Will your container be somewhere it will be seen at night? Silver foliage and white flowering plants really pop in the moonlight.

Do look for unique things to plant in. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas. From birdbaths, to ashtrays, to old boots, if it holds soil it’s a planter.

Container gardening. Let’s go beyond the ‘spike, geranium, vinca vine’ combo. Have FUN with those containers this year, and let us help YOU think outside the pot!

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What To Do With Forced Bulbs

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I’m sure you’ve given them as gifts, and received them as gifts too. Those fantabulous spring jewels that have a brief but spectacular showing…they line the shelves almost everywhere at Easter time, perfuming the air with the unmistakable scent that screams spring. In the greenhouse, I’ve had the pleasure of watching people enter, and then watching their face soften as the wafting bouquet reaches them. –Smile-

With Easter come and gone, soon those beautiful blooms will be too. Then what?

Here are some common questions we get this time of year:

Can I plant my potted bulbs outside right now? Yes. And, no. Our weather has been a little unpredictable lately, yes? If you buy potted bulbs that are budded or tightly budded, then go for it! If they’ve been forced in a greenhouse and are fully open…and then we get another snow storm (kidding). Well, let’s just say, you’ll have longer enjoyment of your flowers if you let them finish blooming indoors.

Will they come back next year? You bet! Just keep on reading for proper care.

What do I do when the flowers are done? Some people will treat their potted bulbs just like they would a bouquet, and dispose of them when they’re done blooming. But why not plant those bulbs in the garden to enjoy year after year. Plant outside as soon as they’re done blooming.

Can I cut the greens back when the flowers are done blooming? Not if you want big beautiful blooms again next spring! The bulbs get their energy from the greens, and they should be allowed to die back naturally. It’s kind of an insurance policy for future blooms. This goes for bulbs that are already in the garden too.

Can I treat my bulbs as a houseplant and have them bloom again next spring, as is? One of the perks of living in zone 6 – spring bulbs! We have them because of winter. Because it gets cold, we get flowers. Bulbs need a cooling period, and yes, it is possible to mimic winter, but honestly, I think it’s just easier to plant them outdoors!

Hope all this helps! Enjoy these blooming beauties in your home, and then expand your garden by planting them after.

Fertilizer: Time to Get it Done!

I’ve got a confession to make…are you ready? Wait for it…

I’m bad at fertilizing my plants.

There I said it.

It’s not that I don’t know I should fertilize my plants, because I do. It’s just that I get so wrapped up with other garden chores this time of year, and it just slips my mind. My head is planning and plotting; big ideas of constant succession of bloom in the perennial border, endless color in my window boxes, and apples the size of softballs. Envisioning my little piece of paradise, and making it my reality, would become ever so much easier if I would stop thinking above the soil line.

That’s right. Focus on the soil instead of the end results (ohhh, vases full of oriental lilies, peonies, and dahilias!) The bottom line? Soil becomes depleted of valuable food for plants as time goes by. It’s up to us to replenish nutrients by amending the soil. Amending the soil means;  putting back what should be there, and then some! Amended soil = better success from your investment in plants!

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Fertilize now, for more of these later!

Now, this is not to say that I NEVER fertilize. I just remember it a little later in the season, when things might not be going according to –ahem- plan.

There are MANY different fertilizers available, organic and conventional. Here are some of my favorites used in my personal garden:

Organic Plant Magic

It’s a little bag, but man! I’m still using the same bag I bought last year! Organic Plant Magic is an all purpose organic fertilizer formulated to provide every macro, micro and trace element that plants really do need to grow their best. It also helps to improve you soil with beneficial bacteria. Think of it like a probiotic for your soil, which in turn makes happy, healthy plants! Oh, and you can apply it with a watering  can and also in a sprayer, for foliar feed.

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Chickity Doo Doo

The name pretty much says what it is. And most people know, if you want a beautiful garden, chicky doo is the thing that will doo it. Fortunately, we live in a great time that you don’t necessarily have to go out and get your own flock for chicky doo. It comes in a bag, and is a great fertilizer to get going now with.

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Chickity Doo Doo comes in a bag…or you can get a bunch of these!

Black Gold Garden Compost Blend

Making your OWN garden compost is definitely something you should give a try if you haven’t already. However, one never seems to have enough compost. Love, love, love this Black Gold brand compost. It’s made from peat moss and aged compost and helps  improve soil moisture retention, aeration and drainage. Keep a bag on hand and everytime you plant something new this year, add some of this compost to give your plant a good start. Top dressing as the season goes is a good idea too.

Fertilize! I’m on it! How about you? Nurture your investment by picking up some fertilizer this weekend, and LET’S GET GROWING!

Butterfly Release

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There is something so very magical about a butterfly release….check out these great photos of our event!

Beautiful Begonias

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Tuberous Begonias or “Nonstop’ Begonias

Tuberous, Rex, Angel Wing, Wax….the family of Begonias is absolutely huge.

For me, Begonias are a lot like potato chips. One can never be enough. And two? One must have odd numbers to satisfy the eye.

It’s the Rex family that really gets me. Love? Yes. And what’s not to love? Different textures, shapes and colors grace easy to care for, shade tolerant plants. And when the season is over, simply move them indoors and keep them as a houseplant.

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With the Impatiens blight affecting us right now, it’s great to have begonias as a colorful option for shade container gardens, or they can look equally fantastic in a hanging basket.

Now through June 19th, 2013, all Begonia hanging baskets are Buy 1 – Get 1 Free. Want to create your own exciting container garden by mixing in some coleus, torenia, caladium, and variegated ivy? There are multiple plants in the hanging baskets and they’re easy to divide.

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Check out our Pinterest page for some great begonia pics.

Plant, Bloom, Smile!

These Roses Are A Knock Out!

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My grandfather was  a ‘rose guy’. While he had no formal horticultural training, he knew all the roses of his day personally by name.  We would be driving down the back roads of Quaker Hill, and he’d point out a fantastic Mr. Lincoln in one yard, and a gorgeous specimen of Double Delight in another.  He’d spend hours in his rose garden learning his roses; what they liked and what they didn’t.

Sometimes I smile and wonder what he’d think about all the latest roses on the market. I think he’d be thrilled and would need a bigger rose garden! While the old varieties are cherished and wonderful, the newer roses  are much more carefree and great for beginners. You don’t have to be a ‘rose guy’ or ‘gal’ to grow and enjoy roses.

For roses that are carefree, disease resistant, and bloom from spring to fall, Knock Out Roses can’t be beat.

Come on in and smell the Knock Out Roses! And don’t forget to take a whiff of Mr. Lincoln, Double Delight, the David Austin Roses….June at BCG is like a walk in a rose garden.

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Grafted Tomatoes – Mighty ‘Mato

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Have a favorite tomato? What if I told you, you could have your favorite tomato, but made better? No, not in a lab, but through an old-time tried and true method called grafting. Grafting, by definition, means to be or to become joined. This practice of propagating has been going on for a long, long time. If you have a fruit tree or roses in your yard, chances are they’ve been grafted.

Grafting is when you take the positive traits of two different plants and bring them together. Tomatoes are new to the world of grafting. Rootstock and scion (the top part), are both chosen for their superior traits that give these new grafted tomatoes the right to be called Mighty ‘Matos.

Here’s what we’re to expect from grafted tomatoes:

1. Dramatically more fruit
2. Produce earlier and longer
3. Resistant to diseases, including verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, rootknot nematodes and tomato mosaic virus. Because grafting produced vigorous, healthier plants, it likely will help ward off three of the other big tomato problems: early blight, late blight and blossom-end rot.
4. Need less fertilizer and water
5. Grow in poor soil
6. Tolerant of swings in temperature

Still hesitant to stray from your regular tomatoes? Why not add a grafted tomato to the mix this year and let’s put them to the test!

One important note, grafted tomatoes must not be planted above the graft. If this happens, the scion will root.

Columbine (Aquilegia)

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If Columbine weren’t an actual plant, I think they’d deserve fairy tale status. They remind me of the kind of flowers that little storybook fairies could turn upside down and use for hats. This elegant early blooming perennial, is a great addition to any perennial garden or rock garden. Blooming prolifically in late spring to early summer, seed pods then form and drop, with the promise of many more Columbine for each new season to come. While this is an attractive thought for some; feel free to dead-head your Columbines as well to keep control of your colors and varieties.

Columbines are not just a dainty little flower. Once established, they are quite drought tolerant. Butterflies and hummingbirds find them very attractive, and according to many lists, deer do not, (although I’m sure there are deer out there that haven’t seen any of these lists).

Very easy to grow, Columbine do well when planted in sun to a part sun area.

Available in a rainbow of colors – how can you choose just one?

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Plant – Bloom – Smile!

Where Have All The Impatiens Gone?

Where have all the impatiens gone? Impatiens are a popular shade annual, that have a very loyal following from year to year. But, you, like many, may have lost all your impatiens last year. White coating on the underside of the leaves, that yellowed, curled, and dropped to the ground. Sound familiar? It’s a fungus-like pathogen called downy mildew. This is not the same downy mildew that can sometimes affect vegetables and other ornamentals during humid weather in late summer. This is a special strain of downy mildew that just affects our beloved impatiens walleriana.

The bad news? Well, it’s really not THAT bad. But because we don’t want you to fail with your garden plants, we won’t be carrying them this year. Why buy bedding plants that have a HUGE chance of not making it a full season?

The good news? The good news is that we have alternative annuals that will provide color for all your shady spots.

Some of these suggested plants below like partial shade, and others are tolerant to full shade. When you visit, we’ll be happy to help you find just the right plants for your kind of shade.

Although an impatiens by name, New Guinea Impatiens are not affected (whew!). And we have a variety of colors to choose from.

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Coleus varieties have come a looong way. And yes, these colors really are as bright as they are on your screen!

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A new line of Coleus, called Under the Sea (you need to say it just like Sebastian the Crab in The Little Mermaid), has that oceanic look to it. There are many colors in this line to choose from.

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Don’t forget about Caladiums when you need height in your shade garden!

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Below, is a new Perilla, called Magilla. Yes. It’s a Purple Perilla Magilla, that’s really its name.

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Colorful foliage can really brighten up the shade garden, but there are blooming plants that you can plant along with them. Like these beautiful begonias….

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And don’t forget about Torenia. Torenia comes in several different colors and will do great in your shade garden too!

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There are others that you can see in person at BCG; polka dot plant, fuschia, lobelia, and even sweet potato vines can do well in part shade. I know, I know, we’ll still be missing our impatiens. But let’s wait it out and see what happens next year, we’ll be sure to keep you informed.

Plant – Bloom – Smile!

Container Gardening

Container Gardening is all the rage right now. Why? Maybe it’s because of all the hot new annuals that even seasoned gardeners have never seen the likes of. Or perhaps is because container gardening lets you put color and blooms right where you want them. Nonetheless, anyone can garden in a container whether you’re an apartment dweller or livin’ it up on several acres. Container gardening doesn’t even necessarily have to be done in an ‘garden center approved’ container. If it’s empty and will hold dirt, plant it up!

Anyone can just put a plant in a pot.

But with just a little more thought and know-how, a planted container can be work of art…a focal point for the garden that will thrive and bloom the whole season long.

Consider this before planting a container….

  • Light Exposure. How many hours of sun will your container get?
  • The Container. How many plants will it hold and does it have adequate drainage?
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Source. Sometimes it’s nice to ‘think outside the pot’.

  • Soil. A good container mix will make-or-break your success. Unfortunately for many, it’s an after thought.
  • Color Selection. Elegantly monochromatic or jazzy and contrasting? What’s your preference?
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Source. These bright colors are striking!

  • Foliage. Leaves can be just as exciting as the flowers. Look for different shaped and textured leaves to bring excitement to your container.
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Source. This awesome combo would be made in the shade!

Check out our Pinterest page for some drool-worthy container combinations ideas. The internet is such a gift of creativity allowing even beginner gardeners to ‘bloom’ spectacularly. Whether you get your perfect plant combos from the web, your imagination, or from your neighbor; remember that our expert staff is always happy to help put together a masterpiece. This weekend, (May 18 and 19), we’ll be celebrating the season with a B.Y.O.C. event! Bring Your Own Containers in and we’ll help you select just the right plants. Use our soil and your hands, and bring home your own show stopping container garden.