It’s a whole new year!

Icartoonfile1364Happy New Years from all of us at Gilson Gardens!  As I sit here in my office with the snow falling down and the wind blowing I just keep thinking to myself….spring is coming….2015 is coming and you know what…it is!  Tonight we all celebrate a brand new year…we will make resolutions we won’t keep, we’ll probably drink too much, not feel too good in the morning BUT…at the end of the day….2015 will be here and that is exciting!

We have a brand new set of 365 days to enjoy!  Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter!  We have new plants to put into the earth, gardens to renovate or just prep for the coming of spring.  I know most of us can’t get out there right now but it will be here before you know it so start planning what you would like to do with your outdoor spaces.  Maybe this is the year you put in a small pond, or add to your patio, start container gardening….whatever you dream up you can make happen!

Do you know that ANY time you spend outside, doing ANYTHING with nature, you extend your life?  It’s true….add some years to your life and get outside in 2015!

As for us here at Gilson Gardens, we’re busy planning our year.  What plants to raise, how many of them, should we start with smaller liners to cut our costs but extend our growing season?  We’re constantly re-inventing ourselves to be sure we stay relevant!  It’s a tricky process getting our plants ready for when customers want them and then of course we have to deal with mother nature who we all know can be temperamental! (or just mental!)  I’m not sure which!

So my wish for you all is that you have a wonderful new year…spend those 365 days wisely because they go fast…don’t waste too many of them!  Be safe, stay healthy and keep planting!

Happy New Year!!!

Annette

Going Going Gone!

It’s official – fall is here and at this rate, winter may be here sooner than later.

Halloween has come and gone, and the garden centers are offering discounted prices on their plants to get ready for Christmas.  You can’t blame them really, most major department stores (including our very ownGreat Lakes Mall) already have beautiful Christmas ornaments on display!   You can get some great bargains this time of year for your garden and indoor plants so don’t wait.

Insider Tip:  here in Lake County, Gilson GardensSabos, and Martins are offering 50% and more off hardy plants.

This is also the best time to purchase your ornamental grasses because they are in their glory right now.  They are at full size so what you’re planting is what they will become in your own garden next year.  That’s awesome for those of us who can’t visualize winter vs. summer garden sizes.

This is the time to plant your bulbs, clean up your beds and YES, you can still plant!  This is the time to plant daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, crocus and more and I promise you…getting them in now will reward you with their beauty in the spring.

Finally, your veggie garden may be done, but you can still get plenty of apples and veggies from your local farm market.  Gourds and squash last a long time so get them now to enjoy later.   Bring in your herbs or harvest them so that you have fresh herbs throughout the winter – did you know you can dry and freeze them so you can use them throughout the winter?

Bring on winter!

I DARE YOU!

This month I want to dare you to push yourself to be a unique gardener.  What do I mean by this?  I want each of you to make the most of your garden.  It could be adding a new vegetable that you haven’t grown before or adding a tree to your yard that you’ve always admired into your own yard!  Maybe it’s a new ground cover where you’ve always put mulch.  It’s up to you!

We all have an area in the yard, no matter the size where we could add a garden area to enjoy.  Butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds can all be attracted to your private spaces with just a simple addition of a few flowering perennials or shrubs.  Maybe you want to mow a little less grass and add some more square feet to an existing bed!  The possibilities are endless!

I could list all the plants that I love in the garden but what makes your garden yours is YOUR plant selections and combinations!  There are endless possibilities out there for you to choose from!  You can narrow down your selections by researching them online, you could join a garden club, you could read a gardening book or magazine but my favorite way to pick out the plants that go in my garden are at the garden center!  I like to see for myself what a plant is going to look like!

You are lucky to live in an area that has many garden centers!  Of course you have Gilson Gardens but there is also, Martin’s Nursery, Springlake Nursery, Havel’s, Bluestone, Middle Ridge Gardens, Secor Nursery, Sabo’s Woodside Nursery, Wyatt’s Nursery, Petitti, Gales Garden Center, Woodworth’s and many more!  Look them up and patronize them!  Spend an afternoon and hit several!  Although Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Lowe’s all offer gardening supplies and plants, I highly recommend that you shop your local small business for all your plant needs!  Keep our county alive by shopping where the experts are!  Your local garden centers are employed by some of the most knowledgeable people there are!

Share your love of plants with people that know how to help you!  They will help you find that perfect addition to your garden!  You may find a new passion for plants that you didn’t know you had!  Plants at your local garden centers are most likely grown right here in Lake County!  Can it get any better than that?  You’ll find the right plant for the right place from the best place in America….Lake County Ohio!

Let me know what you are shopping for!  Which spot are you going to add something new?  What color bloom are you looking for?  Go ahead!  Share!

Roses are the Sweetheart of the Garden

FEBRUARY 12TH, 2013 by guest blogger Annette Howard
Roses are the Sweetheart of the Garden

Roses, once the fame of Mentor, OH

Valentine’s best loved flower is the rose, a symbol of love for all time. Times have changed however…. flower shops have closed down, grocery stores are selling month old roses at the register and we’ve all seen the ads online for FTD. Gone are the days of men spending $75 for a dozen of these beauties!

It’s also getting more difficult to find the roses you think of for Valentine’s Day at your local nursery. These are hybrid tea roses and although the roses are beautiful, the foliage is often leggy, riddled with disease or covered in bugs. Many landscapers are planting and recommending the new shrub roses as an alternative. Shrub roses have been improved and are anything but “shrubby”.

The relatively new Knockout series offers an almost true red, pink, and yellow and most are available in both single and double flowers. They bloom just about all season! These plants are tough and compact, they tolerate pruning and resist disease. These roses are popping up in landscapes everywhere from homes to commercial plantings. They are even drought resistant once established!

If you would prefer a shorter selection of roses than the 36” Knockouts, try the Fairyland series that is hardy, covered in blooms and pretty much maintenance free. They reach a height of 24”. There are many shades of pink, red, white and yellow in this series. Both families of roses make a gorgeous vase all summer long in your house and will be a colorful shrub in your landscape.

Although you cannot find shrub roses at the garden center this time of year, true romantics out there are welcome to pick up a gift certificate at their local garden center that their Valentines can use when it does warm up. Think about adding an “I’ll plant it for you!” note in the card – Now that’s romance!

Aside

Image

The Hostas are starting to pop here in NE Ohio and I am definately a collector….here’s the word from Doug Green’s Garden that I wanted to share with you!  Although many think of Hosta and think of the variegated forms, my favorite is the blue ones! Big, small, tall, short, I like them all!

Enjoy!

Blue hosta are prized by gardeners because they contrast so nicely with other foliage in the perennial flower border.

I’ve picked most of these for their slug resistance or for their outstanding garden performance. Many are award winners.

They are grown exactly the same as other hosta although it should be noted that the colors will be more intense in the shade with a good rich organic soil than if you try to grow them out in the sunshine.

Design Tip

For maximum impact, plant blue hosta beside gold leaved hosta. ‘This blue-gold color combination is one of the highlights of the shade garden and both plants will benefit from this combination.

Some Good Varieties

‘Drinking Gourd’ 18″ tall, a cupped leaf, blue-green. Good slug resistance with white flowers.

‘Blue Angel’ 36″ tall, large blue-green leaf, large mounded growth, white flowers, excellent slug resistance

‘Blue Cadet’ – 15″ – I’ve added this one because it’s great for it’s powdery blue foliage and thick leaves! White flowers!

Blue Mouse Ears’ – this is for the front of the garden or in mixed containers due to it’s size. It’s just a “little bitty” but strong performer!  Truly does look like lil’ mouse ears!  Must have! (I added this one to Doug’s list too because I love it!)

‘Bressingham Blue’ 24″ tall, massive 15″ long leaves are blue-green with undulating edges, white flowers.

Dress Blues‘ 18″ tall, long pointed blue-green leaf with white margins, pale lavender flowers.

‘Fragrant Blue’ 18″ tall, chalky blue, wavy leaves. Fragrant, light lavender flowers.

‘Hadspen Blue’ (pictured) 14″ tall, steel blue wavy leaves. Excellent slug resistance with pale lavender flowers.

‘Krossa Regal’ 40″ tall, frosted blue-green leaf, massive vase shaped plant, lavender flowers.

Northern Exposure‘ 36″ tall, blue-green massive leaves with 2″ wide yellow margin. White flowers.

H. sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ 20″ tall, massive blue-gray leaf heavily corrugated. Slug resistant with white flowers. One of the best all-time hosta and should be in every garden collection. ‘Silver Bay’ 12″ tall, intense silver-blue leaves, seersuckered, pale lavender flowers.

H. todudama Aureonebulosa’ 18″ tall, blue green margin with gold centers, rounded and cup shaped. Near white flowers. One of my favorite blue hosta.

I hope this gives you a few ideas of which plants to look for. You’ll find all kinds of suggestions out there but these are some of the classic and best growers in my own garden experience.

Ideas to plant with the blue hostas as Doug suggested would be Dicentra Goldheart or Caryopteris ‘Worchester Gold’ and of course you could use golden hostas like “June” or ‘Gold Standard‘ or ‘Stained Glass!  Great combos!

Have a great day!

Help in the Garden through Apps! The Down and Dirty!

iPad mini

iPad mini (Photo credit: patrick-allen)

This was written by Jane Milliman and I felt it was worth sharing! By all means if you find an app that you have found to be helpful, I’d be glad to hear about it!  We’re always looking for ways to make our customer’s gardening experience a positive one!

Fortunately, a few apps for both Android and Apple users have generated positive reviews and the even better news is that two of the better ones are free.

The Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News (free onApple and on Android, as Garden Guide), Gardening How-To (free on iPad and Android) and Landscaper’s Companion — Gardening Reference Guide ($6 on iPad andiPhone, $5 on Android) are all worth downloading.

The Landscaper’s Companion wasn’t created by a gardener, but the app’s developer, Dave Stevenson, and his researchers have landscaping and gardening experience with botanical gardens and the United States Department of Agriculture, among others.

The companion is an encyclopedia of sorts, with more than 20,000 plants and vegetables listed. You can browse an alphabetized index that is separated into 16 categories, including houseplants and vegetables, for instance, or you can search by name.

The search feature is nicely designed. You can enter “cucurbita pepo” or “zucchini” or “summer squash” and the software will find the same vegetable.

Each plant page includes a profile with the plant’s zone, growth rate, water and sun requirements, color and typical height and width. The descriptions are basic but include important elements — like whether the plant has thorns, for instance — that would help a gardener prepare for a planting.

You can also narrow the search criteria if you specify the zone, height or color of a plant, among other features. If you live in an area with deer, you can also filter results to show only plants that are deer-resistant.

On each plant page you can leave notes for yourself, e-mail the description or add photos of your own. In another section of the app, you can review only those plants that you marked as favorites, or review every note you have recorded.

Not every feature of the app is built with this same attention to detail.

You could spend hours perusing the 14,000 photos in the “Plant Images” section, for instance. Unfortunately, some of that time would be wasted, since you can sort the images to include only plants in your particular zone, but you can’t sort in other meaningful ways.

If you could filter out all but the plants that needed full sun, for instance, or those with red flowers, the images would be more useful.

While the Landscaper’s Companion is encyclopedic, it’s not highly useful as a how-to guide. On that front, the Mother Earth News Gardening Guide is considerably more helpful, at least for vegetable gardeners.

The app makes good use of archival materials from Mother Earth News, an environmental conservation magazine that publishes organic gardening tips, among other pieces.

The guide includes tutorials on growing about 20 different types of crops, like carrots and tomatoes, and the advice is excellent.

The carrot tutorial, for instance, offers overviews on the different varieties, how to plant them, when to harvest and how to generate and collect seeds. The “Growing Tips” section includes a range of information that will appeal to serious and more casual vegetable gardeners alike. (Carrots grow best in soil with a pH balance of 5.8 to 7.0, it says, then adds: “Before pulling carrots, use a digging fork to loosen the soil just outside the row.”)

The techniques section is equally helpful, with 23 in-depth tips on disease prevention and planting self-seeding crops, among others.

The app is free, which is great, but it wastes valuable space with advertisements for Mother Earth News. No ad-free option exists for current subscribers or those who would rather pay for the app.

Flower gardeners who own iPads have a solid option with Gardening How-To, which is built on content from the magazine of the same name, published by the National Home Gardening Club.

Users receive four free issues of the magazine in iPad format, which yields dozens of features and smaller stories on flower gardening and information for vegetable and fruit growers.

Unlike many other apps, Gardening How-To isn’t strictly confined to biology or design. Articles on new plant varieties and building flower beds sit alongside more conventional growing tips.

You can take the iPad into the yard for guidance, as long as the device is in a zippered plastic food storage bag. That way the screen is protected yet still reacts to your touch.

Graphically, Gardening How-To is far more polished than Mother Earth, with beautiful photography and interactive elements like animated graphics, audio and video. (All those interactive elements and glossy photos add up to a slow download, so start the download at bedtime.)

Unfortunately, I found nothing as good as this for iPhone or Android users, who must pick through a thicket of poorly rated choices — often for $1 or $2 — to get what they need.

Given that we are still in the early days of apps, this looks like a case of the software engineers grabbing some quick bucks before being crowded out by more established gardening publishers.

So until those publishers get serious about mobile technology, gardeners will have to pull lots of weeds to find something good.

Old or New Traditions for Christmas at Your House?

1-08-06 christmas tree 011

Image by takfoto via Flickr

Do you have a live tree? Does your family go to a Christmas Tree farm and cut one down? Do you go to the nearest corner lot and pick a tree from the selection they have? Do you shop your local box store for your tree?  Do you patronize your local garden center?   

I ask because there are many options out there for those that still choose to have a live Christmas tree.  Personally if I had a real tree, we’d either cut it down ourselves (we did this for years) or visit the garden center.  I’ve never been a fan of the pop up tents  that literally materialize over night, set up lights and sell trees for much less than the local store that is there for you all year. Just my opinion. I’m blogging, you get to hear it. 

oh christmas tree, oh christmas treeNow…if you choose to have an artificial tree, how often do you replace that tree?  I have a sister that must get a new one every couple of years, myself…mine is several years old.  I chose the artificial so that I don’t have to water it, I can leave it up for 8 weeks if I want to, it looks real and I’m not picking needles out of my carpet until July and mostly because Christmas trees just don’t smell any more!  I have no idea why…it’s too bad though.  Instead, I’ll use a pine scented candle or potpourri.    

   Let me know what your family does for a Christmas tree. I can suggest that if you go with the live trees, be sure to set them out in the yard after Christmas for the birds!  They love them and it’s good winter protection for them!

Have a blessed Christmas to you all!

 

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

Image via Wikipedia