Category Archives: Gardening

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

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Aside

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, … Continue reading

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.

How to stay Healthy in a Dark Garden!

 

    I was speaking to one of our sales reps today and he and I got on a rant about weight gain and the holidays and cookies and jeans not fitting……and it brings me to this.  How in the &)^%$^& are we to stay fit when the garden is dark at 5pm or sooner!  You can’t rush home this time of year and plant, or weed, or mow or for that matter….anything outside!  When it does start snowing and you know it will the news will be full of the “dangers” of shoveling the driveway!  Honestly…..with 11 more days till the days begin to get longer, what are we supposed to do with ourselves!?

  Get to the gym!  Get on your treadmill! Go for a walk (albeit with a flashlight!) Walk up and down your stairs! Go to the mall! Go to the Library! (great seed catalogs!) My point is do something!  All summer long we go every night until the sun starts to fade, being outside, doing whatever it is we love and we all know we’re not just lying around in the hammock!  So why, in the winter do we rush home to sit on the couch and start our primetime at 6pm?       

     STOP!  Get yourself moving now and believe you me we will all feel better for it when spring gets here and we can still see and touch our toes!  Fight the darkness!  I promise you, it will head off depression, keep you more focused and thinner! (or at the very least, less fatter!)  Keep dinners light and easy (you know we can all survive on a salad in the summer!)  Let me know what you do to stay busy in the winter! Maybe we can all make a plan for a fitter winter!

Share the Magic of the Holidays with the Gift of Fairies!

A fairy offering wishes, illustration by John ...

Image via Wikipedia

   That’s it, the woman has finally lost it….I know what you’re thinking!  But, NO, truly I haven’t!  This time of year when I just don’t know if I can tolerate one more day of drab skies and rain and the threat of snow, my mind wanders to all that is green…

 You still don’t know where I’m going with this….that’s ok….I’ll share…..

FAIRIES!

     Yup….that’s it!  I’m sure you’ve seen the fairy gardens in the gardening magazines or even in your local garden centers. Some stores have everything for our winged friends, including furniture!  But close your eyes….bear with me here…close em!

     Picture a small, picturesque garden, filled with everything minature….teensy weensy ferns, and succulents and lil’ flowers that only a fairy could pick! Picture sitting in a lil’ bench, waiting for your fairy friends to show up….you can hear them….a distant giggle….off in the greenery, right behind that lil’ plant, hidden from view….a place you would imagine Tinkerbell and her friends….

English: A Fairy Tale by Dorothy M.Wheeler

Image via Wikipedia

       These fairy gardens are so very popular! Great for gifts, great as a project with your kids….imagine their joy while they gaze at the lil’ garden and wait for the elusive lil’ friends to appear…..use your imagination! What items from your own home can you use?  Bottlecaps, pinecones, pebbles, marbles (make great gazing balls for fairy gardens!) the possibilities are endless!  You can use just about anythin for a container as well!

     Fairy gardens can be started inside by a window and then moved to your porch or deck when the weather warms and you and your children can watch it grow and thicken creating so many more hiding places for the fairies!

   You can inspire dreams and stories for generations to come with one little fairy garden, for you, for your children, for your friends and family…..and the love of a garden…..

Fall Planting is GOOD for your Plants!

  Remember the old adage…Fall is for Planting“?  That has been the truth for  many, many years! Not only is this the time for planting bulbs like daffodils or tulips for spring but almost anything else you want to plant!  The secret?  Mulch!

As long as you mulch your plantings, you are almost guaranteed that your fall plantings will break forth in the spring with new growth and be as happy as ever! 

Shrubs, perennials, ground covers, grasses, vines, etc. actually love this time of year. Planting now, you get the benefit of fall rains, soil temperatures that aren’t headed to  “too hot” and cool air temperatures mean the stress level is low.  Plants get a chance to get settled in before winter which is what you want!

We do not recommend planting rooted cuttings this time of year. We do not suggest you divide your hostas now but most anything else is fair game! Most perennials are on their way to dormancy so they won’t have much on top anyways. You are planting the roots, giving them a nice home for the winter where they will settle into the soil and be ready for take-off come spring!

Don’t fear the fall and the good news is most garden centers are running specials and sales to avoid storing them in containers over the winter.  You get rock bottom prices and happy plants!  You won’t be sorry!  Just follow the planting instructions on the labels!  Have fun and PLANT!

2012 Perennial Plant of the Year! Amsonia hubrechtii

Amsonia hubrichtii – This is from the Ohio Gardener E-newsletter
by Russell Studebaker – posted 07/15/11

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen for the 2011 perennial of the year the Arkansas amsonia, also known as Arkansas bluestar and threadleaf bluestar. Leslie Hubricht first discovered it in Arkansas in 1942 and his name was bestowed to this species, Amsonia hubrichtii.

Light blue flowers appear in late April to early May in domed panicles at the ends of the stems. The flowers are attractive to swallowtail butterflies and especially zebra swallowtails.

The grassy foliage ranges from over an inch to 3 inches long and the plants produce clumps about 2 to 3 feet tall. In October the foliage is second to none with a golden to clear yellow color, making it one of the few herbaceous perennials with good fall color that lasts for weeks.

The Arkansas amsonia is definitely a star in the garden.

QUICK FACTS AND KEYS TO SUCCESS

Common Name: Arkansas bluestar, Hubricht’s bluestar, threadleaf bluestar, Arkansas amsonia

Color: Sky-blue, 1-inch trumpet-like flowers on nodding racemes on stem terminals

Height: 12 to 14 inches

Bloom Period: Late April-early May

Type of Plant: Native herbaceous perennial

Exposure to Sun: Full sun best, but tolerates light shade.

When to Plant: Anytime from containers

Soil: Well drained, average to rich

Watering: Normal applications, drought resistant after well established.

Maintenance: Plant 18 to 20 inches apart; pest and maintenance free, forms a woody tap-like root system.

In Your Landscape: Use as a specimen or back of the border planting. Naturalize it in clearings or at the edge of woods. Combine with butterfly weed, sundrops (Oenothera), black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and Baptisia. Contrast it with Siberian iris, golden barberry, Black Lace elderberry or ‘Dart’s Gold‘ ninebark.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9
 


The Arkansas amsonia is a star among native perennials in the garden for its blue flowers,
fine-textured foliage and its striking golden fall color. (Photo by Melanie Blandford.)


 

(Amsonia flower photography courtesy of Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association.)


Russell Studebaker is a professional horticulturist, book author and garden columnist for the Tulsa World. He is a frequent lecturer at garden events in the Southern region.