Tag Archives: spring

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!

I received this from a friend that read it online at opennhort.com.  It’s fantastic and should make all independent garden centers think about their customers. Also…to those that shop at the big box stores…remember the lil’ guys out there where you will receive the personal assistance and someone WILL remember your name when you walk in but may not have that big parking lot!


You know Her: she’s a great customer. She ADORES plants, devours every issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and spends Her winters pining away for the first signs of spring thaw so she can eagerly attack Her garden plans. She drives the nice-but-not-too-nice car, knows your staff by name, and wouldn’t dream of shopping for Her garden anywhere else.

Um, yeah. There aren’t 10% of Her out there anymore.

NewsFlash: She’s already cheating on you. And if she isn’t, she will.

Honestly? She likes you well enough, but she’s gotten bored with you, the spark just isn’t there anymore. She used to be surprised by something new each time she came in, she was inspired by your lush and lavish displays.

The recession-era you: with paint from two seasons ago, staff reductions, and merchandise constriction, well, you’re a little less alluring.

You’ve become predictable, and not in a good way.

She’s already shopping at Nordstrom for Her shoes but Costco for Her paper towels. She’s smart enough to see the grower’s truck when it stops at the Big Box store on Tuesdays with fresh product, which, golly – looks fairly much the same to Her eye.

She’s using more coupons these days, because austerity is ‘in.’ She’s savvy enough to price shop the essentials online. And even if you’re closer… well, your staff are more harried and distracted than ever, your parking lot is tight, she can’t get to your store after work…

Can you make Her feel special again? Can you give Her the thing she values most – Her TIME – back? Can you delight Her? Make Her life easier? If not, then you’re just 5% better than the other guys – and they’re 20% cheaper.

And she’s smart enough to do the math.

Welcome Spring

March 29, 2011 – By Kristine Gilson

    Spring means BACK TO WORK for me!  It’s great reopening the store, getting in lots of new things and seeing old friends again, coworkers and customers.  

    During March I did a presentation for the Wildwood Garden Club in Mentor showing them how to make lots of ‘living wreaths’ and other small ‘living gardens’ for inside the house and out.  They sent me the nicest thank-you letter!  

    My husband and I have a few presentations prepared that we are glad to present to local groups:

Long-blooming Perennials                                                              Kris

Fall Wreaths                                                                                   Kris

Shade-loving Plants                                                                        Kris

Living Wreaths                                                                                Kris

The Immigration Dilemma: a nurseryman’s perspective               Mark

Nurseries, Natives and Invasives                                                     Mark or Mark & Kris

Who’s Afraid of Invasive Plants?                                                     Mark  

Nurseries of Lake County:  growing for 150 years                           Mark

    We’re working at creating a ‘farm preservation easement’ on our 19-acre farm on Antioch Road.  Basically, we’re trying to sell off the ‘development rights’….we get reimbursed for that by a federal preservation program as well as North Perry Village…and set aside the property for agriculture…forever!  No strip malls or housing developments!  We feel strongly about farm preservation, especially in eastern Lake County, and it would also provide a great economic shot-in-the-arm.  Rainbow Farms and others did this in North Perry about five years ago.  We should know in a month or two whether our application goes through.  Keep your fingers crossed!

February 2011

    I’m really fortunate to have a ‘book club’, mostly with former teachers in our local communities, and a ‘card club’, mostly with ladies in the nursery industry…both of which meet once a month!  Sometimes we talk about books and cards.  Mostly we talk about food!

    Some of the books I’ve been reading this winter…

City of Thieves, David Benioff, a book-club selection about the siege of Leningrad in WWII.  

Homer’s Odyssey, Gwen Cooper, about a blind cat named Homer (we’re cat-lovers!)

Under the Marble Sky, an upcoming selection.

Little Bee, Chris Cleave, an upcoming selection for our book-club and an Oprah Book.  

    Also, my husband and I read everything by ‘Martin Cruz Smith’, and he has read everything in the ‘Master and Commander’ series, all twenty-two books!  

    Books are a portal to our souls!

We lost our official greeter…Johnny…this Fall.  What a great guy with so much spirit.  He was small but feisty and he would sometimes attack the dogs that customers brought through our garden center.  Once, he jumped on the back of a giant heron that was wading in our pond.  Johnny liked to THINK BIG and he knew no fear.  We still have our five cats at home, but it’s just not the same here at the store.  

One of our special treats each holiday season is when the Perry Band ensemble stops by in our garden center to play some Christmas music!

We’re already planning our Passport-to-Plants activities for June, 2011, when we partner with other local garden centers for a weekend of plants, music, pets and other fun stuff!  Here’s Nick Ferranti selling his own wines in our garden center at last year’s event along with our own Sue Koprowski.  We enjoyed mixing wine samples with work and we encourage everyone to visit the Ferranti Winery!

Applicants, Friend or Foe?

     With the spring season comes the HELP WANTED signs and here come the applicants! We get large waves of unemployed coming in the door to fill out applications. Because we are a wholesale nursery and a retail garden center, we get  a wide variety of people coming in the door.

  Some are teenagers looking for work after school and weekends. Some are immigrants, some are the average Joe just out of work and looking for something to do. Some are just so over qualified, you don’t know how they could even be interested! Some are mom’s with extra time and want something “fun” to do. Some are seniors that would like to get out of the house. We get plant lovers, people with no knowledge that the “green side goes up”, ex-factory workers….you get the idea!

   Some funny things happen when people come in to apply. We get those that want to work RIGHT NOW and don’t understand that breathing isn’t the only requirement for the job. Interviews don’t seem to be these people’s forte for when called to come in for just that….they don’t show up at all.

  Then you have people that harass you…they come in everyday, want to talk to the person in charge, want to bully their way in…just so you know….this doesn’t work too well!

 Then the other day, we had this dear gentleman come in. We have on the application a place when they can put a person’s name to contact in case of emergency…he left this spot blank. Then where the line is for that person’s phone number would be he put in “911”.  We all got a chuckle out of that one.

  I think there should be a class offered (and maybe there is) on the right way to conduct yourself when applying for a position. What to wear (and what not to), what to say and communicate on the application, how to follow-up so you’re remembered and not feared…you know the basic stuff!

   Although we have many that apply…with the economy and that we are mostly seasonal…we have to work hard to “put the right people on the bus” and then after they are hired…get them in the right seats! That takes finesse! Wish us luck! The sign is down so we are now sorting through the candidates and we’ll see what happens!  Happy Spring everyone!

My boss should have been a writer….

Springtime  – Mark Gilson

      I read somewhere that Spring travels north at 16 miles a day.  It’s not here yet, but there are signs that it’s getting close…maybe Cincinnati or Columbus.  I was in a greenhouse the other day and heard a flock of geese making a commotion as they traveled up from the south.  They were more musical than the Canada Geese who overwinter here and I knew immediately that spring was approaching.  Snow geese!  Stepping outside, I watched as their ragged formation passed over a nearby farm, turned briefly to check out our back pond and then resumed their northward progress towards Lake Erie, a short ways away, probably just coming into their leader’s view.  They spend the cold months at the Gulf of Mexico, awaiting some signal, unknown to us, that it’s time to begin their three thousand mile journey to the tundra above the Arctic Circle.  I waved as they passed. 

     The ice on Lake Erie is broken now, drifting in giant flows with open water in between.  One day it’s gone, pushed off by a southern breeze.  And the next day it’s back, acting like a giant ice cube to keep things from getting too far ahead.  I’m reminded of the number sixteen again, for that’s the distance to the horizon on large lakes and open seas. 

     Nursery trucks are all over the local roads, another sign that Spring is approaching!…loaded with balled and burlapped trees and shrubs from Loselys, Klyns, Yoes and others.  Some of the white poly is coming off the hoop-houses at Cottage Gardens and Roemers as crews load containers onto farm wagons. 

     It’s getting close. 

     We’ve enjoyed a few sunny days in a row and I can feel my ‘seasonal mood disorder’ beginning to lift.  I feel like a bear or a wood chuck peering outside the cave, eager to begin another year.  (This metaphor only works until I reflect that they emerge from hibernation substantially thinner….) 

     Another season… 

     Another year…

     My fifty-eighth.  

     What if I could apply the magic of the number sixteen to my own life…subtracting that many years and reliving my forty-second!  Thinking back…I was just entering the most productive and one of the happiest periods of my life!  That Spring our nursery was thriving.  Our boys were thriving.  I was jogging four times a week and feeling better than ever.  I totalled our Ford Aerostar Minivan so we bought a used Buick Park Avenue and drove around pretending we were wealthy.  Perennials flourished and so did everything we touched.  It was a time and an age of renaissance.  Even our favorite artists were doing their best, most creative, most reflective work!  Sting had just won album-of-the-year for Summoners Tale, at age 43.  Annie Lennox had recently come out with Diva (at age 39).  Life remained a mystery, but clues abounded and we felt we were on a golden path to somewhere.   

     Don’t get me wrong.  

     I’m not complaining about fifty-eight.  

     But the world has been roughed up in recent years and so have we.  Business is tough.  We drive utilitarian company vehicles now.  We seem to keep acquiring more debt, more weight and more doctors with medical specialties.  Life is murky, filled with shadows.  Everything is relative. (I think I just paraphrased a line from William Golding  Freefall)  Elusive questions outnumber the hard-won answers. That optimistic and confident forty-two-year-old is a stranger now, a character in some former lifetime.  

     And yet…life is good.  There’s plenty to build upon.  We’re more engaged in our communities these days than ever before.  We’ve got great friends going through the same things we are.  We laugh every day.  Bitterness, cynicism and remorse remain beyond our doors.  Spring is almost here…a time of new beginnings.  I think of Tennyson’s Ulysses, in which the tired warrior and adventurer, late in life, longs again for the sea, for battle, for the unknown:  tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but stong in will to strive, to seek to find, and not to yield.  (Despite a reference by the embarrassed Illinois Governor Blagojevich in one of his absurd news conferences, this remains my favorite poem, followed closely by Ferlinghetti’s Dog.)

     Spring is almost here. 

     Life is what we make of it.   

     I’m going jogging! 

Mother Nature’s Mistakes Today

Small trees after heavy snowing.

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the temperatures were in the high 30’s with torrential rains. Seemed like spring to me. Visions of colorful bulbs danced in my head….

Today…there is over a foot of heavy, white, beautiful snow on the ground and it’s still coming down. There is not one piece of the landscape that isn’t covered. The snow is so heavy even the ornamental grasses have given up and allowed themselves to be covered to the ground.  Every one is tired of it! It’s March and I find myself stuck in my driveway! Really?

Japan gets hit with a record earthquake, Hawaii is in danger of tsunamis  and the west coast is on alert (although that may have passed by now) Really….is Mother Nature pissed off today or just grumpy? Could someone give her some flowers to cheer her up already? Enough!

 I hope everyone is safe and warm and my prayers go out to those that are not.

Dreams of the Early Risers on a Winter’s Day

My office is on the back porch of a very old home.  I love it  most of the year. I remember when I was applying for the job and my boss said that my office would be right here, surrounded by windows and I was thrilled! 15+ years later, I still love my office and I can’t imagine being anywhere else day in and day out. (I truly do mean this!) I can look out and see the birds and the trees and flowers in the summer and watch the rain in the spring and admire the leaves changing colors during the fall.  You’ll notice….I said nothing about the winter. On days like this….I am literally the somebody in a snow globe! The snow is whirling around me and let’s just say…I’m not a fan of the white stuff! My boss, ever the optimist says it’s beautiful, I say it’s beautiful up until December 26th….then it can go!

Ok, I live in a snowbelt in Ohio so I guess it’s going to hang around for a while but as my friend just texted me…she thinks the snow is snowing and she has a point! So after all this complaining and rambling…what I really wanted to share today is my favorite early rising plants in the garden. I can dream of them now, waiting patiently for those first sunny warming days and breath a sigh of relief that they have FINALLY arrived and I can really start concentrating on what to do in the garden this year!

PULSATILLA vulgaris Pasque Flower –  The dainty fern-like foliage that is covered in fuzz emerge first and very soon after…these incredible flowers that seem to last and last! Flowers are deep to pale purple, depending upon maturity and stand proudly above the foliage and I can just hear them saying “Hey Looky here…I’m back!  Sometimes these beauties will be blooming in February in our greenhouses if the weather breaks early!  It’s so exciting!  These do well for me in the shade garden where the soil is evenly moist.  They can tolerate more sun but will tend to cook a bit in the heat.  Alkaline soils are best.   Plants only reach a height of 10″ tall but a very worthy addition to your garden if you don’t have it.  

Pulsatilla vulgaris, Botanical Garden of the G...

Image via Wikipedia


 HELLEBORUS – Lenton Rose –  These are VERY early risers and many times will stay evergreen in the garden year-round. The flowers come in many many shades from white to burgundy and everything in between depending on the cultivar! Some are single, some are double, some are speckled, some nod, some don’t….there are way too many varieties to mention but very often, these are blooming when the snow has yet to melt. Hellebores require full sun to part shade and reach a height of 2-15″ often with the flowers reaching taller than the foliage.


I love the bloodroot! My aunt gave me a piece of hers years ago and now I have a healthy batch that I simply adore!  You have to be quick to see this bloom though! I keep watch out my window every day as soon as the weather turns because if I don’t…I miss the blooms! The large leaves spring from the soil in early spring (most times before any of us have even had a chance to venture out to the garden!) and are literally wrapped tightly around the flowers.  Then one day….there are the flowers and you know we really have reached spring! It makes me smile!  I’ll have to dig up the photo that she took of a few that she had where she literally watched the flowers open!  They last about a day, especially if it’s warm but what I sight for sore eyes! If planted in the shade in a woody area, the foliage will stay nice all season long and makes a nice ground cover. I have it interplanted with galium, asarum, hostas and Tiarella and it’s very happy! 

 Of course these are just a few of my favorites that keep me waiting for the seasons to change and I’m sure you have many more that are your favorites. Tell me what yours are! Are you a fan of the bulbs like crocus and daffodills?  Share with me!  Till next time!