Keeping Flowers Looking Great All Season

algoflashjack'sWelcome to July! Let’s not forget to fertilize our flowers in a way that will keep them looking amazing all Summer long. Normally, we’re dealing with a lot more humid and hot weather here in Wisconsin, but even with less than typical temperatures, we can still give our plants summertime help to keep them blooming and healthy.

Shady Lane sells a variety of fertilizers and plant foods in our gift shop. And, just like people, each plant likes things just a little bit different.

Begonia:
Fertilize every 2 weeks (Try AlgoFlash!)

Geranium:
Fertilize every 10 days to 2 weeks (Try AlgoFlash!)

Petunia, Lantana & Million Bells:
Fertilize every time you water, as they love food! (Try Jack’s Petunia Food!)

Hibiscus, Mandevilla & Fuchsia:
Fertilize every 10 – 14 days

Impatiens – New Guinea and Bounce:
Fertilize these low maintenance plants every 3 weeks

Veggies & Citrus:
Try fertilizing with Organic Fish Emulsion, which is also available in our shop!

Inspiration For Your Spring Garden

Budding TulipsThe groundhog said winter will remain, but I keep dreaming of spring. I encourage all of you to do the same. After all, the days are getting longer and the sun is warm—despite the cold winds.

As long as I’ve got you thinking of spring, why not start planning for your yard? Dig into all those beautiful magazines you see while in line at the grocery-store. Look at those eye-popping photos filled with new color combinations and great garden ideas. They’re all a great form of inspiration.

Think, too, about growing your own vegetables. If you’ve never done so, let me just say there’s something special about picking your own fresh peppers, tomatos and cucumbers. The plot needn’t be big. In fact, try growing vegetables in pots, boxes and crates. Or, for starters, plant a few edibles between your annuals. What a delightful surprise to see tulips, daffodils and veggies growing side-by-side. I, myself, plant peppers between my roses.

To get you pumped for spring, here are some Pinterest boards and a beautiful website with unique ideas from one of our suppliers, Monrovia.

We’ve got some great events and seminars coming up within months. Details will be on our website as soon as they’re finalized. Talk to you soon!

photo of work bench

Command Center

Here it is. One of the busiest holiday hubs at the greenhouse. It’s the workbench where I create most of the season’s indoor and outdoor arrangements. I have great fun putting it all together and am always looking for new ideas. You know, special touches to make every wreath and every arrangement as beautiful as can be. The orders are beginning to pile up and I’m thinking we’re in for a very busy Christmas. Couldn’t be happier about that!

What To Do?

photo of mumsDecisions, decisions. Now’s the time we need to make a few tough ones for our gardens. While some annuals remain vibrant and blooming, the threat of frost is looming. (Honest, I didn’t intend the rhyme!).

How do we keep the color going? What should we cut down and clean up? What do we plant in fall? Well, I’ve got some answers for you.

Mums, of course, not only add color, but body, as well, to gardens and planters. White, yellow, dark red, pink…they’re beautiful mixed together or planted as a solid mass of one color. Mums, along with those hardy geraniums most of us, no doubt, still have growing, are real workhorses in extending the life of our autumn gardens.

When it comes to prepping for future seasons, I believe that it’s easier to clean in the fall than it is in the spring. So, start cutting down spent perennials such as Black-eyed Susans, tall phlox and shasta daisies. I suggest a cut 4”-8” above ground level.

Keep in mind that some perennials offer visual interest over the winter. I’m thinking, for instance, of autumn joy sedum, cone flowers and different grasses. Before cutting them, think how they’ll look all snow-covered and how they’ll add height and texture next to evergreens and shrubs.

It’s my passion, so excuse me on this next part…I’m already looking forward to Spring 2015! That means I’m planting tulip and daffodil bulbs right now. I encourage you to do the same, ‘cause they’re a must for sharp color in spring. Just remember to protect them from nibbling bunnies.

 

Start Planting

Photograph of PeonyWhile our weather has been so unpredictable and disappointing, you can do more than think about all the fabulous things you want blooming in your yard. Start planting now. What are some of the standards I suggest? Tough-as-nails geraniums, dahlias, petunias, cone flowers and, of course, one of my absolute favorites, peonies.

While you’re at it, prep your planters. Add some soilless mix and make sure your pots have proper drainage.

Here’s a link that newbie gardeners might enjoy: Bailey Nurseries Gardening Basics. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you’ll see advice for beginners and experts alike: Relax and have fun in your garden!

Morning Blend Appearance

Photo of Heidi with MandevillaBold color combinations, the year of the begonia, tropical hibiscus, getting kids interested in gardening…I covered quite a bit on today’s Morning Blend. Click and let me clue you in. There’s a lot that’s new this spring in the world of gardening and at Shady Lane.

It’s Not About What You Can Do

Photo of purple and red tulipsSome estimates have the frost line down to 4’ here in Wisconsin. That means it’ll take many warm days and nights before we see new life in our gardens. And, no doubt, the first greens to appear will be weeds. I mention these fun facts for several reasons.

First, I want to emphasize that there’s nothing you can do for your garden at this point except be patient. I know I’ve got clients out there who’ll soon be poking at the soil, looking for anything that shows possibility. It’ll all pop when it’s ready, perhaps more than you imagine. The thick blanket of snow we had insulated plants quite nicely and our perennials will show their gratitude this spring.

Second, with the weeds showing first as I mentioned earlier, you’re given a golden opportunity for their quick removal. The ground will be soft, the weeds tender and their root systems shallow. As you work in the wet soil, though, be careful not to pack it so hard that seedlings can’t break through.

If you absolutely can’t wait for your hands to be in soil, then I suggest a few things: start growing herbs and bulbs indoors or visit us on Transplanting Day, Saturday, April 26, anytime between 10am and 4pm.

 

Photo of Hydrangeas

BloomStruck

Below zero and with wind-chill warnings, I was up at 5am on Thursday, February 27, and soon swimming at the local Y. Next, I headed to the College Avenue Park and Ride to pick up one of my staff members and head to Chicago and Bailey Nurseries 6th Annual Spring Preview.

It didn’t matter how cold it was outside; inside the Morton Arboretum it was all about spring. What a refreshing topic considering we’re still stuck in a never-ending winter.

We were treated to keynote speaker Timothy Henry of Arete Management who introduced us to the concept of Conscious Capitalism: businesses can be powerful forces for good; their purpose should transcend profit; filling deeper societal purposes can be accomplished without sacrificing productivity, profitability and growth.

According to Natalia Hammil, Brand & Business Development Manager at Bailey Nurseries, we should be thinking conifers, bamboo and grasses for garden containers. Europeans are doing beautiful things with this idea. Apart from the fact that these woody plants look stunning in pots, they’re also low maintenance. Leave them for a week or so as you vacation; when you return, they’re still thriving.

The garden star of the seminar was BloomStruck, Bailey’s newest addition to their Endless Summer collection of reblooming hydrangeas. What caught their breeder’s eye about this plant? The intense bluepurple mophead blooms, the ruby red stems and the plant’s potent reblooming quality. Of course we’re bringing in these beauties, along with several others in the Endless Summer collection: Blushingbride and Twist-n-Shout.

Thanks to everybody at Bailey Nurseries, including Alec Charais, for a great 2014 spring kick-off. Loved the lunch! Love your plants more.

Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun

Heidi and FritzEnd-of-winter checklist: Reviewing orders, preparing for presentations, brainstorming upcoming greenhouse events, contemplating the addition of an e-commerce shop to our website, finalizing spring fundraising information, checking in with staff and, oh, yeah, getting in some playtime with my favorite four-legged friend, Fritz.

He’s good to have around as we begin the countdown to spring and the craziness it brings. In between all the planning for our 40th Anniversary Party and the Kid’s Day/Train Jamboree, getting ready for my appearances on the Morning Blend, handling the continuous stream of phone calls and e-mail, Fritz has the wonderful ability to pull me away from my tasks at hand and get into the fun of the moment.

If only this winter he could have kept the rabbits away from my viburnum.

No Rabbits Feed Here

It’s hard to begrudge any living creature food when it’s bitter cold outside. At least, that’s what I tell myself should I happen upon vegetation that’s been nibbled or gnawed upon by rabbits and deer. Still, I want my trees and bushes to survive.

If you’ve been experiencing the same problem, it’s not too late to protect your evergreens, roses and fruit trees and shrubs from wildlife. Get the smallest chicken wire you can find. By smallest, I’m referring to the hole size in the mesh. It’s amazing what hungry, skinny rabbits can squeeze through.

Should you need a fairly lengthy roll to wrap around a bush, simply adjoin strips of chicken wire by bending the frayed ends together. Or use zip ties. Be sure to leave space between the foliage and the mesh. Not enough space allows wildlife to still get close enough to feed.

Be sure to look up. Deer feed at head level, so those higher branches need protection, too. Generally, a 5’ high barrier will keep the deer away.

If you have any questions about this post, call me at Shady Lane Greenhouses. Right now, I’m out to feed the birds.