Tag Archives: spring

Late February and March To-Dos

See the green growth at the base of this snapdragon?

See the green growth at the base of this snapdragon?

February is usually the month the temperatures begin to rise, though there is always the possibility of cold weather still through March. This year it’s definitely been colder than usual, and the pretty pansies, snapdragons, and other cool season annuals we all planted last fall have definitely taken a hit.



These pansies need to be deadheaded - they have cold damaged blooms and buds...

These pansies need to be deadheaded – they have cold damaged blooms and buds…

Normally in February, regular deadheading (pinching off faded blooms) should  be done to keep pansies and violas blooming well. Many of the snapdragons you planted will still be green at the bottom, but have dead growth that needs to be clipped off. With temperatures moderating and even rising, they will begin to grow again. In fact, they may be prettier than ever late spring into early summer; think of the cold damage as a rejuvenating pinching back!

Mondo grass, prior to being cut back with a string trimmer...

Mondo grass, prior to being cut back with a string trimmer…


Mid-February is the traditional time to cut back mondo grass, liriope, and acorus  in your landscape before spring growth begins. A string trimmer makes quick work of this job. Don’t wait too long to take care of this necessary grooming maintenance or you’ll risk damaging new growth.

This big clump of miscanthus needs to be cut down to make way for fresh growth...

This big clump of miscanthus needs to be cut down to make way for fresh growth…






Do you have tall perennial grasses in your landscape? They should also be cut back now. The easiest way to address large clumps of grasses is to bundle them up with strong twine or a bungee cord, then, if it’s a small clump, cut it back with your hand pruners. Or, if the clump is large, use a power hedge trimmer and simply cut the entire clump to the ground.  Again, don’t wait too long to tackle this chore or the new spring growth will already be up. Be very careful with these large perennial grasses; wear long sleaves to protect your arms and glasses to protect your eyes from the sharp grass blades.

It’s still a bit early to fertilize shrubs and trees in anticipation of spring growth – that is best left for the end of March into April.  However, if you didn’t shred your leaves this fall and work them into garden beds, resolve to do it this year. Adding any organic matter to beds helps loosen soil and provides nutrients,  contributing to the overall health of your soil and microbes that live in it.

These 4'x8' beds are just the right size for a few veggies...

These 4’x8′ beds are just the right size for a few veggies…

Have you been thinking about creating a new bed in your landscape? It’s a great time to do this as well. Perhaps you’d like to have a vegetable garden this spring. Even a small area of 4’x8′ can provide enough space to grow a couple of tomato plants or some peppers or a combination of a few different things.

The one thing to remember when making a new planting bed is you must add organic matter to our clay soil – leaf mulch, cow manure, soil conditioner, homemade compost (Do you have a compost pile? You should!).  Work as much organic matter as possible into your new bed. This will aid in drainage and soil fertility and make it easier to plant too!  If you have old newspapers, these can be laid over the top of your bed and a thick layer of mulch or leaf mold placed on top. Not only does the newspaper smother weed seeds you may have brought to the surface but it will decompose – the perfect way to recycle your newspaper!

Narcissus 'Baby Moon' foliage beginning to come up through the ipheion...

Narcissus ‘Baby Moon’ foliage beginning to come up through the ipheion…

You may have perennial bulbs appearing in your garden. As this foliage emerges, it is the time to fertilize them with a bulb fertilizer. If they seem crowded and don’t bloom well,  consider dividing into smaller clumps this spring.

Taken a bit at a time, these tasks aren’t too demanding, and the deadheading, cutting back, and fertilizing will make your landscape shine!


Interesting Late Winter Arrangements…

Cork Bark Planter with Spring Bulbs and Lichen BranchesBark Planter with Spring BulbsNow that January is behind us, we can look forward to spring, knowing it is right around the corner. Until then, we’ve been satisfying our planting urges using late winter offerings from growers. We are determined to come up with something interesting on long winter days in the greenhouse!

Jamie found some wonderful lichen covered branches; they’re beautiful to work with. She positioned them on one of our cork pieces and planted around them, creating a visual feast of winter flowers – cyclamen, primroses, muscari, osteospermum and teté a teté narcissus – for a customer. The bright flowers of this piece and the addition of some ceramic mushrooms make it memorable!Lichen Branch Planter

I wired one large lichen covered branch that had an interesting shape to one a bit smaller, using bark wire.  I  then lined the opening that was created with waterproof foil and sheet moss. In this “container” I planted a simple fittonia and air plant arrangement. The size and shape make this one a nice coffee table piece…and it would be very easy to care for too.

Cork Bark Planter - Aeonium, Mustard & ThymeCork Bark Planter - Aeonium, Mustard & ThymeMany of the succulent aeoniums fare better here during the winter months. They seem to dislike our excessive summer humidity (Don’t we all?), and the Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ seemed just right to work into some sort of arrangement. I loved how they looked paired with this frilly dark purple leaf ornamental mustard. If I could just work it into a container that could be moved in and out easily if temperatures dropped below freezing…

I chose a cork bark piece that complimented  the aeoniums and mustard. With the addition of some creeping thyme and a couple of pots of species crocus bulbs just beginning to come up, I think it turned out pretty well!

Lichen branches and rex begonias...

Lichen branches and rex begonias…





We have more of these lichen covered branches available, if you’d like to use some for an arrangement of your own, or we can  put one together for you.


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A Look At The Nursery – Come See!

We’re at the beginning of the new planting season and thought it would be nice to give you a glimpse of the nursery…for those of you familiar with us, you know things come in and go out just as fast – if you see something you think you could use, it’s really best to make up your mind quickly! Of course, we’re always happy to take your name and number and call you if we’re out of something that can be reordered.

Beautiful pots of 'Tuscan Blue' rosemary...

Beautiful pots of ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary…


The rosemary has been beautiful – this is one herb that does so well for us here in the Birmingham area…it’s happy in the ground and in containers.  It’s just a big,  beautiful, edible shrub!  Plant it in full to at least half day of sun and give it excellent drainage and you’ll have a winner on your hands.

The tables under the lath house are filling up with bedding plants...

The tables under the lath house are filling up with bedding plants…


We’re beginning to get serious about stocking bedding plants. While our last average frost date here is mid-April, we are pretty much there, though many of you are just now seeing the pansies at their peak. Enjoy them, and when they’ve given out in the heat, replant with your summer bedding plants. Container plantings are usually the first to suffer as a result of higher temperatures, especially if they dry out at all. We’re beginning to get in everything you’ll need for pots, hayracks and more…shipments come in just about every day but Monday!

The nursery is divided into distinct areas. All of the shrubs are against the fence on the inside of the lath house  and on the end toward the alley.

Annuals and tropicals are out front on the tables and steps, and also in the middle area under the lath house on tables.

Perennials and groundcovers are against the greenhouse on tables and on the ground.

Herbs and veggies are on the end toward the street and side garden. The fresh fruits and vegetables are on the red tables as you enter toward the greenhouse door…and the U-Pot-It bench is against the greenhouse as well. We know it can get very overwhelming to come in and see so much in a relatively small area, so hope this helps…

Happy Spring!

Arrangements – Happiness On A Rainy Day In The Greenhouse









Recently, on a rainy day, with extra baskets on our hands and plenty of pretty plants at our disposal, these arrangements were the happy result. Rainy days in the greenhouse are the best. When the wind blows and the poly whips across the roof like the sails on a ship, and then the rain starts…there’s nothing like it. That’s when it feels good to work in a greenhouse, the rain rat-tatting on the roof, sometimes so loud it’s hard to hear the phone ring…




But of course there is still work to be done – plants to be tended, orders to be filled, and customers braving the rain to be taken care of. But, between work, there is, shall we say, creative play…

imageAnd there are such pretty things to play with! This time of year, with spring in the air but not quite yet here – this is the time of hydrangeas, calla lilies and sweet alyssum –  the soft colors of Easter mingling and overlapping with the brightness of other, more exuberant blooms of gerbera daisies, ranunculus and the first of the geraniums. So much to work with! So we begin to gather flowers and foliage and perhaps  a few herbs to add their scent, color and texture to the mix.

imageThis post isn’t going to be about design rules, because quite frankly, we sometimes break them. (Maybe we’re just rebels at heart!) No, this is about what feels and looks right to you. And, perhaps it’s more about not being afraid of making a “mistake” – with arrangements, container plantings or your own garden.image


So, here are some of our gifts to you, a few creations on a rainy day in March…while the rain rat-tatts on the roof and the poly whips like the sails on a ship…

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Herbs and Some Annuals In Stock Now!

This post is mostly about herbs, but we’ll mention a few annuals you can plant now too. Everyone is getting spring fever, but this is that tough time of year when it’s best to sit tight and wait out these last few weeks of winter…we know it’s hard!  So, not to worry, if you just need to  get out in the garden or maybe plant a few pots on one of those beautiful early spring days,  here are some plants that will satisfy your cravings now.


First up, dill and cilantro. These are two herbs that you really must plant early, because once the real heat of early summer moves in, these will bolt, or flower.

cilantro - another one that's best in cooler weather

cilantro – another one that’s best in cooler weather


dill is grown for the leaves and dill seed

dill is grown for the leaves
and dill seed









Now, with your dill, this isn’t all bad because when the flowers are spent  you end up with dill seed which is great for pickles…(Let the flowers stay on the plant til you see the seeds forming.) but the cilantro will  flower, or bolt,  and give it up once summer arrives. So, plant now and enjoy if you like these two!

Leaf lettuce - yum!

Leaf lettuce – yum!

Next up, not an herb but we’re going to put it in this post anyway, is lettuce. If you didn’t plant it this fall it’s not too late to get a late winter crop going that you can enjoy until the heat sets in.

We have some beautiful red and green leaf lettuce – it’s ready to go in the garden, grow a bit and end up in your salad bowl! If you plant it in a spot with a bit of afternoon shade it will last longer  before it finally bolts in the heat. (Yes, lettuce flowers too!)image

We’re just beginning to get in some thyme – there are so many varieties! Right now we have ‘Silver Posie’ and ‘Red Creeping’. We’ll have plenty of culinary thyme, lemon and silver thyme in the coming weeks too.

Creeping red thyme

Creeping red thyme



If you don’t have at least one rosemary in your landscape,  try to find a sunny spot for one this year, either in the ground or in a pot…rosemary is really a big shrub and of course it has great culinary uses as well as being ornamental – there are many varieties of rosemary – what we normally have in stock is a mix of upright and trailing. At this time we have the more upright growing varieties. Rosemary blooms in the early spring with purply/blue blossoms that compliment the gray-green foliage beautifully.

Yes, that is one rosemary!

Yes, that is one rosemary!

We have mint too – ‘Kentucky Colonel’ is the prettiest and best tasting there is. Remember to keep your mint contained in a pot unless you want it to take over your garden! Mint is also happiest with a bit more moisture than other herbs and it can also take a bit of shade…you’ll be set for the Kentucky Derby and your mint julep – or maybe a mojito?

Mint 'Kentucky Colonel'

Mint ‘Kentucky

Parsley, both curly and flat leaf is also available – all the best cooks say flat leaf is the tastiest…but curly is very pretty in the garden and in pots, so we’ll have both and leave it up to you which one – or both! you want in your garden.

Lavender and ornamental variegated oregano round out this first list of herbs…these are really for blooms and foliage more than culinary use. Lavender can be tricky in our heat and humidity, ‘Goodwin Creek’ lavender pictured here does well if given adequate drainage.

Lavender 'Goodwin Creek'

Lavender ‘Goodwin Creek’

Be sure not to crowd your plants (Yes, we know it’s difficult when things get wild and wooly in the middle of summer but try to give them a bit of room if you can…)

variegated oregano

variegated oregano





The variegated oregano one the right  is one we really like in pots…it adds a bit of foliage interest in herb containers and in mixed annual plantings as well. We’ll have the culinary oregano in soon also.


Nasturtiums are so much fun we had to include them in this post. Ok, technically they’re an annual but you can eat them too! They’ll add a peppery bite and some color to your salad! If you plant nasturtiums, don’t baby them too much.



Don’t fertilize them – they’ll bloom better if you don’t. Enjoy them til the heat of summer takes them out, then replant them again in late summer to bloom for you through the fall.

Whew! This is just the beginning! So, there are some things you can do now while we wait for the last of winter to get out of here…happy planting!

Spring Shrubs! From Azaleas to Vitex…

some of our hollies...

some of our hollies…
fresh off the truck!

Recently some of our favorite nurseries in Alabama  sent spring shipments of shrubs, a few trees and the beginning of our perennial stock…perhaps you’ve seen the mass of green in the parking lot!

In addition to old southern favorites like oak leaf hydrangeas, gardenias and azaleas, (among them the deciduous, fragrant  Florida Flame and ‘Varnadoe’  azaleas) and sweet tea olives, including Osmanthus fragrans ‘Fudzhingou’ (a particularly floriferous selection), we also offer the tough, tried and true cleyera, some pyramid hollies that would be great in containers,  and the  blue flowered butterfly and bee magnet, Vitex ‘Shoal Creek’.

Viburnum 'Awabuki' Beautiful as a screening shrub

Viburnum ‘Awabuki’
Beautiful as a screening shrub

If you need even more tough plants  we have ‘Mary Nell’, ‘Nellie Stephens, and ‘Emily Bruner’ hollies. Or, if you have a spot or large planter  for a specimen plant, the limbed up Burford hollies are beautiful.  ‘Snowball’ and  ‘Awabuki’ viburnums,  anise and leucothoe…so much more that could be beautiful additions to your landscape!

Knockout roses have been around for a few years – if you haven’t tried the yellow or white selections, we have them now. And, if  you need more ornamental shrubs have you tried blueberries? In addition to white blooms in the spring and delicious fruit in early summer they also have wonderful fall color – we have some beautiful plants here if this is something you’d like to try.

These blueberries are loaded with buds!

These blueberries are loaded with buds!

Finally, what could be more southern than a magnolia? The hybrid Magnolia ‘Butterflies’ is a small, deciduous magnolia with fragrant, white blooms in early spring…

Fragrant tea olives... Osmanthus 'Fudzinghou'

Fragrant tea olives…
Osmanthus ‘Fudzinghou’

This is a small sampling of what we have in stock. Please stop in to see the other offerings – new arrivals will be coming in weekly!

Magnolia 'Butterflies'

Magnolia ‘Butterflies’



Succulents Coming Soon

This planter shows what we did with some of the succulents we’re beginning to get in – this definitely means spring is coming! Echevarias, rhipsalis, sedums, cryptanthus, these are all plants that take our summer heat in stride. Some are annuals and only grow through the summer, while others will survive winters for us as well.

Mix them with a few herbs – think thyme, oregano, chives, sage, trailing rosemary (we’ll give you examples down the road!) or other sun lovers – a pretty variagated yucca would be interesting, or you could go with a different contrast in leaf form and soften the look with some asparagus fern…the possibilities are endless and so much fun!


You could even include some houseplants – pepperomias in particular work well as do some pileas. An interesting plant you may not have seen much of is one called rhipsalis, with light, thread-like foliage. Remember, these will add a lot of color all by themselves. If you would like some flowers in the mix, purslane,  narrow leaf zinnias (cut them back if they try to take over), and mecardonia (tiny yellow flowers on a low growing, trailing plant) are a few you could start with.





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Native Plants…Here Are Some Jewels For The Garden!

We’ve gotten in our first shipment of native perennial plants for those of you who’d like to add some of these beauties to your garden. The selection is usually a bit limited, so please come see us now if you’re interested in them.

jacob's ladder...sweet blue blooms will appear in spring...

jacob’s ladder…sweet blue blooms will appear in spring…


Blue woodland phlox will spread readily in a woodland garden

Blue woodland phlox will spread readily in a woodland garden










Plants in stock now include bloodroot, (Sanguinaria canadensis) which have the purest, whitest blooms in early spring…) blue woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) that will slowly spread where it’s happy…  jacob’s ladder, (Polemonium reptans)  Indian pinks, (Spigelia marilandica) that are actually red and yellow!  Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) which will brighten the garden with  bright yellow blooms…and southern maidenhair fern, which handles our heat in stride…(Adiantum capillaris)

Southern maidenhair fern adds a soft texture and light color to a landscape

Southern maidenhair fern adds a soft
texture and light color to a landscape


when the bloodroot appears
spring is not far off!









The above photo shows the bloodroot   just emerging…These are all in quart pots with the exception of the southern maidenhair fern, which is offered in gallon containers. We are so pleased this shipment is from just down the road in Wilsonville, Alabama.

You’ll notice as you walk in our door we have our own southern maidenhair fern growing in the greenhouse out of the asphalt – obviously some spores landed there and took a liking to that spot – so, sorry, it’s not for sale…of course, we’ll  continue to post as new arrivals come in, so stay tuned!

this southern maidenhair fern is growing in asphalt...

this southern maidenhair fern is growing in asphalt…

Promise In A Packet…Seeds!

If you’ve been in recently you may have noticed the colorful seed display behind the counters.

Oh the promise of seeds – those tantalizing pictures and mouthwatering descriptions of vegetables, flowers and herbs…all in a magical seed packet.

Maybe you’ve never tried to grow anything from seed. That’s ok, there’s a first time for everything!  Here are some easy flowers to grow by direct sowing them right where you want them to come up  in your garden: zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, marigolds, tithonia (Mexican sunflower) and gomphrena are a few.

It's planted with lots of help but...

Seed planting is a fun project for the little ones!

Since you will be sowing these directly into the ground, you need to be sure the soil is warm enough for them, May is the perfect month to plant these. Here you can see Billy planting seeds in the garden with some little helpers in the community garden across the street last spring. Below you can see we have veggie seeds too – and plenty to choose from as you plan your summer garden!

Warm season vegetable seeds...eggplant, peppers, melons and more!

Warm season vegetable seeds…eggplant, peppers, melons and more!

February Construction – Progress!

We'll be happy to welcome our municipal complex neighbors back this spring!

We’ll be happy to welcome our municipal complex neighbors back this spring!

We’ve had a front row seat to the exciting progress of the municipal complex across the street for the past months and are happy to see it beginning to look like a real building!

From what we understand, the fire station directly across from the shop will have big windows where the kids can see the firetrucks when they’re not out.  (We’ll just be glad to hear the sound of fire trucks again instead of the beeping of construction crews, and see our friends across the street once more.)

The projected completion date  is spring of this year, so we’ll not only be celebrating a new growing season but cheering that we’ll be able to look across the street and see a beautiful, completed city hall,  fire and police station too!