Category Archives: February

Botanical Interests Spring Seeds – So Much Promise In A Packet

On a gray, cold day in the middle of February, the promise of a beautiful spring and all the summer days to follow arrived in two nondescript boxes. Tearing them open, I looked at brightly colored seed packet after seed packet of herbs, flowers, vines, and vegetables, and began sorting them out.Spring Seeds - Botanical Interests

This was easier said than done, as we’re still in the midst of a major rearrange of the greenhouse, moving our work/design area from one end to the other, in the process cleaning, painting, reorganizing, and generally going through the proverbial “mess before it gets into some semblance of order” phase.

Spring Seeds - Botanical Interests

 

 

 

Jamie and I had prepared though, setting up seed racks by the front table where our garden shop cat, Liam, likes to sleep. I pulled all the fall “cool season” seeds and set out a 50% off sale sign on them.

Purchasing them now at a discount is a smart move. Keep them cool and dry, since humidity and warmth may shorten a seed’s shelf life.  Knowing this, the best way to store any seed you purchase is in plastic food storage bags, glass jars with tight fitting lids, or any other container that will stay sealed. Place them in your refrigerator (Not the freezer!) until you’re ready to use them.image

Once you’ve browsed the sale seeds, don’t forget to check out this season’s selection for your summer flowers and vegetables.  I’ve already set aside some of them for the Better Late Than Never Garden – assortments of tall cutting zinnias, sunflowers, tithonia (Remember the tall, beautiful orange flowers that bloomed late in the season?), spider flower, moonvine, ‘Red Burgundy’ okra (It’s ornamental and edible!) and more. I’ll be putting them in my refrigerator at home until I sow them sometime in late spring/early summer.Spring Seeds - Botanical Interests

Of course there are many things that can be started inside under grow lights or in a greenhouse much earlier, and this can be a fun and educational project for anyone with children. Simply follow the directions on the seed packet to ensure success. It will say how many days to sow before or after the last average frost (For us, that magic date is April 15th.). Knowing that will help you start your seeds at just the right time.

So plant some seeds this year. You just might be surprised at what comes up!

By Kris Blevons

Haven’t Been In Lately? Here’s What We’ve Been Up To…

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery...

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery…

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix...

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix…

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl...

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl…

February is full of bright colors...primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus...

February is full of bright colors…primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus…

A pretty arrangement for Valentine's Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though...this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea...

A pretty arrangement for Valentine’s Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though…this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea…

A customer's container became home to a bird's nest Fern and agave...

A customer’s container became home to a bird’s nest Fern and agave…

Outside the greenhouse can look a little drab this time of year, but, if  you’ve just passed us by, have you ever missed out!

Primroses in the greenhouse...

Primroses in the greenhouse…

 

 

The greenhouse has been packed full with blooming beauties and with Valentine’s Day just past, we’ve been putting together the prettiest arrangements for gifts and filling containers with all sorts of plants for centerpieces too.

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses...

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses…

Succulent pots at the front door…

 

At the entrance...

In bloom at the entrance to the greenhouse…

Echeverias blooming in a tiny pot…

Here’s a sampling of what the greenhouse has looked like.

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone...

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone…

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, ferns and ivy...

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, Fern and Ivy…

 

 

 

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents....

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents….

Next time you’re driving by, take a moment out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers!

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light...

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light…

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green...

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green…

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Wire Hearts for Valentine's Day...

Wire Hearts for Valentine’s Day…

The Late Winter Garden – More To Do

Winter damaged leaves of lenten roses...

Winter damaged leaves of lenten roses…

After clipping out old leaves...

After clipping out old leaves…

The lenten roses, Helleborus orientalis, are beginning to bloom in my garden, and I bet yours are too. These sturdy and dependable perennials don’t need much help from us to survive, other than providing a shaded, well draining area.

If they’re happy they’ll slowly spread by seeding themselves. Their older leaves usually look rough by the end of winter, and this year with our exceptional cold mine look awful.

It’s very easy to remedy this, though, and they’ll look so much better! Simply take a little time one nice day and clip off all those large, old cold damaged leaves.

You’ll immediately begin to see all the small flower buds down low, and, depending on the weather, some may already be open. The trick is not doing this too early – those old leaves are also protecting the new growth and flower buds from any late winter frosts and freezes.

An epimedium bloom (Shown later in the spring.) There will be many of these on a mature clump...

An epimedium bloom (Shown later in the spring.) There will be many of these on a mature clump…

Another evergreen blooming perennial you may not be familiar with and needs the same care, is epimedium. This early spring bloomer (there are many cultivars) has delicate flowers that can be overlooked if the old foliage isn’t clipped off. With this one it’s really important to clip of the old leaves before the delicate stems begin to come up through them.

If you wait too long it’s really difficult to do without inevitably cutting off the wiry  flower stems.  If you have a shade garden and don’t have epimedium, you’re missing out on one of the toughest perennials out there! Truly, it only looks delicate.

I'll cut this clump to the ground...

I’ll cut this clump to the ground…

 

Another  many of you probably are familiar with is cast iron plant, or aspidistra. This is another workhorse evergreen shade perennial. Usually each spring I give a good tug to winter damaged leaves, pulling them right out, effectively thinning the clump a bit.

This year I’m going to cut whole clumps to the ground, since the majority of leaves show damage.  With spring right around the corner, fresh, new growth will appear quickly.  Doing all of these simple late winter tasks will ensure an even more beautiful garden as the weather warms….

Late February is traditionally the time to prune roses – some say to prune them on President’s Day, others say to tackle this chore when the forsythia blooms. Well, we’re past President’s Day, and my forsythia is blooming, but  I haven’t quite gotten around to the roses yet…that will be next on my list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

February – Boxwood Care, Tips From Dave Bradford

The following is an excerpt from Dave Bradford’s newsletter. He is a former Jefferson County Extension agent, and can be reached at the following websites if you need an onsite consultation.

www.BradfordHorticulture.com
www.BoxwoodDoctor.com

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  • Pruning Boxwoods is best done this month if possible. I visited a home last week with some beautiful 6 to 7 foot Boxwoods. They had already been pruned. These plants were mostly sheared to give the shape that the homeowner wanted. I think Boxwoods look more natural pruned with hand pruners and not power shears. One point to remember about pruning is that where ever a Boxwood stem is pruned, growth in the Spring starts just below the cut. If you only use power shears across the the outside, then all the growth occurs at that point. Years of this kind of pruning often results in ‘leggy plants’ and maybe more disease issues. Shears are best used on edging type Boxwoods. The healthy way to prune may be to use hand pruners to get growth from down inside the plant and occasionally use power shears in combination to keep them at the height you want.
  • Winter Dormant spraying on Boxwoods is a good practice. We use Horticultural Oil + (this year) Bifenthrin. This spray is helpful in controlling Mites, Black Twig Borer, and occasionally Scale insects. It’s not a cure all, but it’s a good practice. The problem we all have had is finding suitable weather conditions to spray.

 

 

 

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.

 

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

More To See On A Winter’s Walk Through A Southern Garden

Enemion biturnatum - False Rue Anemone - January

false rue anemone…

Cyclamen hederifolium - January

cyclamen hederifolium…

January is frigid in many parts of the country and can be a bleak month at best. But it’s also a good time to take a walk through your landscape, observing and planning.  Here are some things I spotted on a short walk recently.

 

Geranium 'Biokovo' - January

geranium ‘Biokovo’…

Native plants like false rue anemone, Enemion biturnatum, are beginning to show through the fallen leaves and promise  pure white blooms this spring. Only the bloodroot is a purer white.   The cyclamen hederifolium blooms are past,  but the pretty mottled foliage is spreading. Here’s some under a native azalea. There are also crocus bulbs interplanted with these cyclamen that will be coming through the leaf litter soon.

 

Selaginella uncinata - Peacock Spikemoss

selaginella…

Perennial geraniums are good, tough plants too. Here the foliage of Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a cranesbill geranium,  is looking quite happy along a rocky slope. It’s a pretty groundcover here and gets enough sun in this spot  to bloom in the late spring. After the white flowers tinged with pink fade, I’ll clip it back to keep it tidy.

 

Acorus variegata - Dry Riverbed - January

acorus variegata…

 

 

A little farther down the slope, and in more shade, is some selaginella uncinata, or peacock spikemoss. This groundcover is closely related to ferns and likes this shaded, moist spot. By midsummer, with enough moisture, it will be a lush, blue/green carpet underneath the trees and sheltered by the rock outcrop.

 

 

 

Below the rock outcrop, and along a dry riverbed, a spring provides water for evergreen acorus. In addition to Acorus ‘Ogon’, a yellow variegated form, here is the Acorus variegata, with a white variegation. Both of these love moisture, and  they spread freely. In February these will get cut back at the same time the dwarf mondo is cut, making  way for new, fresh growth.

Cyrtomium falcatum - Holly Fern - January

holly ferns…

 

Other plants that will need old, tattered, winter damaged fronds cut off next month are the perennial ferns, including  tassel (polystichum polyblepharum),  autumn (Drypteris erythrosora),  and, shown here, holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum). Sure, they’re evergreen, but, by winter’s end, they definitely need  cleaning up.  Wait until at least the end of February to do any drastic cutting back, though,  as the old foliage also helps protect the crown of the plants from cold temperatures.

 

 

 

Itea virginica & Hellebores - JanuaryAbove the water but spreading down the slope toward it, is a planting of Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet’ , still holding the garnet colored fall foliage of its name. Underneath this spreading, suckering, shrub is another common evergreen perennial groundcover, the reliable Lenten roses, helleborus orientalis.

These two have gradually spread over the years, and the itea will also show off it’s dainty fragrant white blooms along arching stems this spring. It is truly an all season shrub, and the long lasting lenten roses blooming under them are good companions. Soon enough  it  will be  time to clip off old, winter damaged leaves of the lenten roses, but not yet.  January is the month to simply observe, taking time to enjoy a quiet walk through the garden on a sunny, chilly day.

 

 

 

 

 

Bleeding Heart Vine – Try One This Year!

 

imageOur beautiful bleeding heart vine…clerodendron thomsonae,  has graced the doorway here for over 20 years, and many of you have noticed and commented on it.  Many, many years ago we purchased some of these plants and there were a few that didn’t sell and outgrew the pots…what to do with them? The grapevine placed around the doorway seemed the perfect spot to grow a vine of some sort,  so we decided to try the clerodendron – really to use the left over plants more than anything! It’s been a smashing success and has become our signature tropical vine.

Pinkie works on cutting back the clerodendron - this is done each February without fail!

Pinkie works on cutting back the clerodendron – this is done each February without fail!

 

After all these years, the same plants are on either side of the door and have bloomed faithfully each Mother’s Day for us. Each February the vines are cut back quite hard and they bloom on all the new growth that results.

 

Baskets on BOGO!!!

Yes, the Buy One Get One Free SALE on our baskets is continuing the month of February – and there are some great deals on some really nice baskets!

So many to choose from!

So many to choose from!

This would be a great time to stock up on some you think might be good gifts down the road – buy them now and bring them back in later to fill with beautiful plants ( We’ve even planted some with pansies – so pretty!)

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

More Blooms (and some herbs) for February!

These gerbera daisies could brighten anyone’s day!  They are the  perfect addition to  mixed baskets and centerpieces for a lively pop of color and also make for lovely thinking of you gifts.  Remember also that plants like this will last longer than cut flowers and you can try planting them in your garden come spring – they need a sunny, quite well drained spot if you want to give it a shot.

Cheerful blooms of gerbera daisies

Cheerful blooms of gerbera daisies

We also have a few herbs in stock now – always a fun addition to mixed containers. This basket shows some silvery lavender and a trailing thyme adding their foliage color, texture and scent to this arrangement. Our baskets are still on sale, by the way – buy one get one free. Stop in and take a look!

mixed basket with lavender, thyme and blooms

This mixed basket combines herbs and flowers…