Scents of the Holiday Season

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by Kate Wilson

My colleagues and I were discussing our favorite smelling Christmas tree as they started rolling into the nursery the other day. And while it’s still a toss-up between Balsam Fir and Douglas Fur – both having a strong citrus scent- we decided there are two other variables to consider when picking out the perfect Christmas tree. Branch strength (for holding up ornaments) and needle retention. Here’s the list of fresh cut Christmas tree varieties we carry.

Scotch pines have stiff dark green pokey needles. Good branch stiffness and needle retention. Mild to no scent. It is an excellent value.

White pines have long soft needles with limber branches. Mild scent. Good needle retention and is also an excellent value.

*nerd alert : Frasier, Balsam and Canaan’s all derived from the same ancestor (Abies balsama) and then became sub species evolving differently due to geographical differences. Balsams in Canada, Fraser’s in NC and Canaan in WV and southern Ohio.

Frasers are the king of needle retention, have a strong fragrance and strong branches, their needles are blue-green with a silvery-grey undertone. We view the Frasers as our premiere Christmas tree.

Balsams have the strongest fragrance of the firs. They have deeper green needles,  a narrow open habit (old fashion look) and flexible branches. Balsams are also the most inexpensive of all the firs.

Canaans are pretty much the exact same as frasers except branches aren’t quite as stiff. For anyone looking to be the most eco-friendly, these are Ohio grown.

Concolor have strong branches and longer needles. A bluish green color and a strong orange/citrus fragrance. It’s lovely.

Douglas have more flexible branches with short needles. Also having an orange scent with moderate needle retention.

Blue spruce is not as common. Very strong branches with pokey needles. Mild to no fragrance.

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Now that I let you know what trees have strong scents and you can tell me which you think smells the best? I’m going to start a tally.

Whether you’re considering a fresh cut tree or have been choosing them for years, I wanted to share a couple care tips for the season. Now wait a minute – fresh cut – you may be thinking to yourself….what do you mean care tips??! It is already cut, right? What else is there?!

After getting a fresh cut, a service the nursery provides or you decide to do it yourself, you need to get that tree in water asap! Even if you’re not putting up inside or in the tree stand right away, place it in a bucket of water right away. Sap will start gumming up the cut, so have a ½” minimum for a fresh cut.

It is really important to check daily for the first few days for water. It’s downright startling how much and how quickly the tree will take up water. This water supply will help keep the tree fresh longer. After the first few days the need for water will slow considerably.

Straight up water is fine, but some like to give there tree a cocktail of sorts. I remember my Dad mixing in Sprite to the tree stand. It’s fun to experiment, but the most important factor is keeping the tree stand full for those first few days. A product I do recommend is Santa’s Magic Water Spout. It’s a long skinny funnel with a cup at the top end, and relieves us from having to fumble with pouring watering into the tree stand while under the tree! It blends in with tree, making watering way easier ($7.99), and reaches about 3’ tall.

Lastly, the cooler the room, the longer the tree will last. Keeping it away from heating vents is also a good idea.

Here’s to Happy Holidays and a Merry Chistmas!!

IMG_7710PS: Below is our Tree Lot information, in case you can’t make it into any of our Garden Centers!

HOURS:

Monday – Thursday 11 am – 8 pm
Friday 11 am – 9 pm
Saturday 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 7 pm

Lot Locations:

1. SHERMAN SHOPPING CNTR (Rt. 256) 1230 Hill Rd N, Pickerington, OH 43147 – 3 Miles South of I-70, Pickerington, Canal Winchester

2. WEST OF LENOX CENTER – KINNEAR RD 1066 Kinnear Rd, Columbus, OH 43212 Columbus, Upper Arlington

3. ACORN FARMS 7679 Worthington Rd, Westerville OH 43082 Galena, Westerville, Polaris, Lewis Center

4. KARRIC SQ. SHOPPING CTR 5857 Frantz Rd, Columbus OH 43016 – South of Tuttle, Dublin, Columbus

5. GLENGARY CENTER (Dempsey Rd.) 5992 Westerville Road, Westerville, OH 43081 Westerville, Columbus

6. HIGH STREET (North of Graceland) 5304 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214 – Across from Iron Grill BBQ Restaurant Worthington, Columbus

7. HILLIARD ROME ROAD 2633 Hilliard Rome Rd, Columbus, OH 4  3026 – Corner of Hilliard Rome & Roberts Rd Hilliard, Plain City, Upper Arlington, Columbus

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Planting bulbs in the Fall for Spring rewards

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

bulbs

As a mother of two young children, planning ahead and following through as planned is a sweet rarity. There are always well meaning intentions to do more, get more done whether around the house or being more focused on work, eating healthier, exercising, volunteering, socializing with friends….You get the idea and I’m sure you all can relate on some level. It’s focusing on the follow through that seems to be the constant struggle.

This notion extends into the gardening realm. Looking out at the garden I see perennials that need to be cut back, tired annuals, veggies that are waiting to be harvested, and a lawn that is looking rather weedy. In shorter terms, its fall clean up time! Realizing that my ”to do” list to going to take me most of fall to actually complete (click here for a more comprehensive fall clean up list) there is one stand out item on that list – Planting spring blooming bulbs.

Admittedly, planting spring blooming bulbs does not have any immediate reward. But once you get them in the ground, that’s it. You’re done. They do all the follow through. In fact, most of the time – with the above mentioned busy schedule- I forget about having planted the bulbs altogether.

Until spring! Once you see those green tips peeping out of the cold ground, you can’t help but get gitty with excitement and thank yourself for taking the few minutes it took to tuck them into the ground.

Here are some of my favorites:

crocus field

Photo courtesy of oldhousegardens.com

Crocus. One of the first to come up in early spring. Reliably come back from year to year and look best in large groupings.

crocus flowers

daffodilsDaffodils. They reliably come back from year to year and gradually fill out. The dwarf all yellow are particularly cute.

 

 

colorful tulips

Photo courtesy of easytogrowbulbs.com

Tulip mixes. This is one of the few scenarios where lots of color packed together works really well – take advantage!

There are loads more spring blooming bulbs out there and it’s always fun to experiment if you find something you like.

 

 

 

Ideally, September through the end of October (maybe early November if you’re desperate) is best to plant spring blooming bulbs. Rafiki (the Mandrill baboon from Disney’s Lion King) said it best “It is time.”

raffiki

That facial expression also happens to be extremely similar to the one I exhibit when spring bulbs are a bloomn’ !

Happy Fall!

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Fall Clean Up-The List

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

pond and grasses

Grasses and a Japanese Maple give color and texture to a fall landscape.

  • Fall is a great time to plant – it gives your plants a jump start on getting some roots established. And there is the added bonus that trees, shrubs and perennials are on sale in the Fall!
  • Watering in any newly planted trees, shurbs or perennials.
  • Planting grass. It is the perfect season to get that patch of grass established or revitalizing an old lawn. Sod is readily available and easy to water in or you can choose to seed. It is cheaper to seed, but you will need to put down some topsoil and water in. Continue to water lightly and regularly so that the top few inches of soil don’t dry out (it’s easier to accomplish now that we have cooler temps out!). And just a heads up, it’s advisable to over seed again in the spring.
  • Plant Spring bulbs. September through October is the time to be planting crocus, tulip, daffodils and allium. Oh, and those super adorable dwarf iris! I tend to drop an assortment of the bulbs in when I’m widening out my beds. (yes, I’m annually widening my garden beds slowly over time)
  • Cut back/dead head perennials. Leave all basal leaves (the leaves at the bottom of the stalk), but cut back dead flowers and stalks. Some perennials, such as Echinacea (purple cone flower) you can leave as a food source for birds.
  • Pack away the veggie garden. Take out any dead summer annual veggie plants – I’m looking at you pepper and basil plants! Once your tomatoes are done producing take down with their cages or support system. Usually, I like to put down/rake a fresh batch on fallen trees leaves over my veggie bed. Just a few inches deep. And then in the spring I’ll turn the leaves over into the soil. Kinda an on the spot leaf composting.
  • Put Roses to bed. It’s important to build up mulch around the crown of your roses to protect them over the winter. It’s just as important to gently remove said mulch around the crown come spring.
  • Protect hydrangeas. If you have some extra leaves lying around that you just can’t bear getting all the way to the curb again, put them on and around the base of your hydrangeas. It will help protect them in the winter.
  • Annuals It’s time to revisit your annual patch and/or containers. Consider replacing some of the more tired looking summer annuals with some fresh cool weather color. Pansies, celosia, and decorative cabbage are a good place to start for a new pop of color!

And of course there is always leaf pick up. Don’t forget to jump in a pile or two:)

Happy Gardening!!

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Temptations of March (early April!): 4 Garden Tasks You Should Be Doing Now

kate wilson by Kate Wilson, Landscape Designer

pussywillow Spring has been toying with us, with these unusually sunny days – sometimes warm and sometimes barely above freezing. It’s tempting to get outside and to get planting, splitting perennials and transplanting – maybe even wanting to throw some mulch down if you’re feeling really ambitious. Even though the enticing weather is bringing us outside, as gardener’s we do need to keep in mind the time of year – March. Yes, it’s only March. This means there is still plenty of time…PLENTY of time to get things going in our garden and if we try to push it we might be sorry. Frost and dare I say freezing temps are still the norm. And with that in mind, we need to pick our garden chores carefully.

Outside. Right Now: Start with starts. I’m planting cool weather crops in my garden right now, mostly from starts. Cabbage is a favorite as well as small head producing Broccoli. Kale and Swiss Chard are also good to plant from starts now. Salad greens, spinach, radishes, carrots and beets you can directly sow into the ground from seed.

edge beds

It’s also a good time to edge your beds. Hand edging your bed lines will give your garden a crisp clean look….and keep that sneaky lawn from slowly intruding on the edges of your garden. If you can stand to, it would better to wait to mulch giving the soil a chance to warm up a bit more. It is, however, a great time to purchase your mulch because it tends to be on sale now.

magnoliaAnother great garden task: planting trees and shrubs. Right now is a great time to plant. Why? Because it’s sunny and cool and therefore, plants aren’t as shocked when planted. You’ll need to start a watering schedule for the growing season to encourage root growth before the summer heat sets in. And amending your soil with topsoil or compost is always beneficial!

grass seed

It’s a great time to plant grass seed or to over seed in thin areas. It will be quick to pop up easily rivaling any weed seeds and you should only need to water occasionally (long periods between rain showers).

seed starting

Inside. It’s also a good time to start warm weather crops indoors if you were planning on doing so. Peppers, okra, basil and annual flowers. Starting seeds indoors always sounds super easy, but it does require some equipment and TLC. Click here for more details on seed sowing indoors.

daffodils

For now, enjoy the colorful blooms of the crocuses and daffodils. Tulips are even starting to poke out of the ground. Forsythias are blooming as well as the magnificent show of the Magnolias and cherries. Soon we’ll have our fruit trees in bloom and hold our breath in hope that a late freeze doesn’t kill off the flowers and therefore potential future harvest. And before we know it, Redbuds will be in full bloom and our perennials will be starting to wake up and more garden chores beckoning. I love this time of year and I hope you do to!

Happy Spring!!

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Why Design Matters

MORRIS SKETCHkate wilsonby Kate Wilson

Some believe that your yard is a reflection of yourself. And I do like the metaphor…our landscapes are always changing, not just with the seasons but slowly growing and maturing with time. And hopefully we are too. You can tell a lot about someone from looking at their yard. If it’s well played in or the lawn meticulously cared for or sometimes no lawn at all! All of these different actions speak to the owner’s character. But what makes having a landscape design worth it?

  • A landscape designer will ensure that each plant is in its happiest place.
  • A landscape designer will bring clarity to your vision’s scope, schedule, and budget.
  • A landscape designer will formalize your various ideas into a focused, buildable design.

Hilliard Residence

Right plant in the right place. Many of us have heard this before and if you haven’t I’m glad to introduce you to the saying, because it’s a biggie. For those of you who already possess a good knowledge of different types of plant material and their specific needs, this probably doesn’t apply to you (but the other reasons definitely do! Feel free to skip down). Knowing different plant material and their needs beyond sun or shade is important for long-term success of any landscape. Some like it hot, some like it dry and some like it wet. And some plants don’t give a hoot and can take sun, shade dry soil, wet soil, heavy soil or loamy– it doesn’t matter to them and those are what we call gems. Gems, because not all plants can tolerate any and all conditions. In fact very few can, so it’s best to know which plants can tolerate what conditions. Having thriving plants will make it all last.

CAMERON front landscape drawing

CAMERON--BACKYARD RENO.

It’s more than just curb appeal. Although that is a big part of it. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, novice or depending on the designer to know all the plant material, getting help figuring out your priorities applies to everyone. A landscape designer not only probes for how you currently use your landscape, but plans for how you would like to use your landscape. Whether you want to make it less maintenance, you’re looking to spend more time gardening, or you want a place for your family to relax and play, a designer can help you figure out your objectives, values and concerns AND THEN make it all work. Having a literal plan on paper will help you to achieve your priorities. This is also the moment when budget is an important topic. No matter what your budget may be, a creative designer will layout the steps necessary to achieve your goals.

 

KORNADOVICH SKETCH

Beyond function and form.  It’s not only a plan of where you should plant certain plants, how-to of necessary steps to build your landscape dreams, but also connects all your concepts into a buildable design. They’ll bring a sense of scope and cohesiveness to all your rad ideas and bring them into a reality. AND make it all look fabulous. This is where I could write a book on the theories of landscape design. But some really good books already exist on this very topic, so I’ll spare you, for now. But this is the moment when you realize that hiring a designer will create clear steps for achieving your landscape dreams victoriously. What if you don’t have a vision and just want things to look nice (aka have curb appeal)? That’s totally cool, designers can lend a vision to a project, but only when needed.

For those interested in hiring a designer from Oakland Nursery, please call our design office at 614.268.3834

For those interested in digging deeper into landscape theory here are some good reads:

Landscape Design: A cultural and architectural history. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers. Harry N. Abrams, INC., Publishers.2001.

The Melting Pot. Susan Davis Price. The American Gardener, March/April 1998.

Modern Landscape Architecture: A critical review. Marc Treib. The Mit Press. 1993.

Siftings. Jen Jenson. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1990. (reprint of the 1939 publication)

And I just can’t help myself….

Evolution of the Lawn. Wesley Greene. Magnolia, Fall 2005 Vol.XX, No.2 – if you can’t find it, I’ll be happy to make you a copy. For real.

Happy Gardening!!

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3 Key Factors to Achieving a Low-Maintenance Landscape

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

Haha! Now that I’ve roped you in with the hot term LOW MAINTENANCE, let’s get on the same page. Low maintenance in no way equals NO maintenance. For those who are less enthusiastic about working in their own gardens but still care about its appearance and up keep, outside of hiring someone else, there are steps you can take to ensure a more positive experience. If you build/develop your soil (1) , plant the right plant (2) and water to establish any newly planted plants (3) – you’ll find yourself enjoying the growth of your now healthy landscape. Healthy landscape = Low Maintenance.

 soil layers

1. Soil Development: Amend your soil – compost, posey power, topsoil, leaf mold, straw, pine needles, comtil….lasagna layering, mulching, sheet mulching, and tilling…what to choose and how to do it? Anything – as long as you are attempting to improve your soil, any and every bit helps. The soil around your home was stripped of its natural nutrient filled and humus rich layer (A horizon pictured above) when your home was built and replaced with surrounding sub-soil. In central Ohio we already have heavy alkaline clay soils, but the sub-soil tends to be even denser and often times compacted. Nowhere near ideal for root growth and thriving conditions. Therefore, choose to feed your soil and you’ll be rewarded with stronger, healthier plants. It’s worth your investment and time, every time.

 

 

 

 

2. The right plant. There is a common saying in the landscape industry, “right plant in the right spot.” Meaning there are lots of different types of growing conditions and certain types of plants are better suited in some situations than others beyond simply sun or shade. For example, you may have a low spot in your yard that remains soggy longer than other areas and there are certain trees, shrubs even perennials that tolerate “wet feet.” Noting all the details in your landscape can become overwhelming quickly and I would advise taking notes or making a working plan of your yard (aka site evaluation). Doing sections at a time will not only help you become more familiar with your space and how you’d like to use it, but will also clarify where certain types of plants are needed. Does this still sound daunting? Seek a design from a professional (the importance of landscape design) and any reputable designer will not only tackle solutions for site conditions, choosing the right plant for the right spot, they’ll make sure the overall landscape will function the way you need and look attractive.

landscape design--kate

3. Watering. You’ll need to water in your newly planted plants so that they establish a good root system. It typically takes one to two years for newly planted plants to become establish and no longer in need of supplemental water. Learning how to water will also save you time, future headaches and be easier on your pocket book. If you water your plants well for the first year and only during drought periods the following season, you’ll notice fuller growing plants!

Happy Gardening!

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Deer Control?

kate wilsonWritten by Kate Wilson

The most popular room in our house is the screen porch, despite its small and somewhat awkward size. Even on cold winter days, if the sun is out, we’re out on the porch. It happens to be south facing and the acrylic panels trap the sun’s heat wonderfully. Often times it is warmer than our heated house. This room also has the wonderful benefit of having floor to ceiling views on three of the four walls. As my young children scramble around the porch I often daydream of piddling around in the yard. Thinking to myself of what garden chores need to be done, what bed lines need improving and if I’m feeling particularly wistful….what new fun plant additions!

screened porch

While in mid landscape design dream land, five deer jumped a 3’ chain-link fence (something I also vision creatively disguising) into the yard. And by jump, I mean gracefully stepped over. 3’ was not a problem for these young’ns. As we watched these deer search for something edible in our winter garden I immediately became tense. Having seen loads of evidence of their presence here before, this was the first time we had witnessed them helping themselves to whatever our yard had to offer. Needless to say, hungry deer don’t mess around. It seems like they actually enjoy experimenting and trying new foods…something I can’t get my own son to do! Gobbling up hostas is one thing, but thorny raspberries – even new growth on my climbing rose- it’s too much.

In school, we actually had a whole segment designated to animal control in the landscape. There are a slew of books available in the library based solely on this issue. With the academic understanding that deer control has been a problem for a long time, but now the added personal experience and deep annoyance, it’s time for serious decisions and action. What I’ve gleaned so far is that deer are rather smart. You basically have to constantly be changing up your game – one step ahead. A single strategy may work, but only for a matter of time until they figure out your trick.

Let’s run through some of the more common deer-proofing ideas. First, you can hang CD’s to scare them off, then after a while switch over to fox urine (available at the garden store) then maybe spice things up by using a cayenne spray, then coyote urine (curious, but still not totally ready to know how “they” collect urine from a predatory animal). But then what? I’m all for planting deer resistant plants, but my entire yard? That is a little unreasonable. I’m also game for surrounding delicious plants with herbs or other plants deer seem to be grossed out by – but again – it’s unreasonable to do it around every single potential plant victim. Not to mention the design nightmare having practically every plant encircled by an herb or what have you. What if you have shade? The only sure fire way the experts have come up with is a 7’ tall fence. Some may argue 8’. But that’s right….a giant fence. I’m hoping there may be more than one solution…

Okay, getting to the point. As my children and I watched, one of the more curious deer sniff the ice on our small pond and then venture out onto it and began to slip and slide across the frozen ice only to desperately scamper off – don’t worry, it wasn’t hurt, but totally hilarious. It all came together. What if the fence was a green fence…more theory than boards?gaia's garden Gaia’s Garden: A guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway, was recent winter reading recommended by local gardening professional, Debra Knapke’s blog Heartland Gardening. Hemenway mention in a sidebar using Maximillian sunflower, Helianthus maximilianii, to deter deer. It’s a perennial sunflower that grows to about 5’ tall. It grows just dense enough that the deer don’t want to walk through it, let alone nibble at it. Toby Hemenway describes how he designed a Maximillian sunflower swath slightly downhill from their perennial cut garden and that was successful in keeping deer out of that area. And even though it’s a perennial, supposedly the stalks of the sunflower are thick enough to cut down to 4’ and stay up over winter, deterring for four seasons!

maximillian sunflowerAs an added benefit, Maximillian sunflowers attract bees and other (small) beneficial wild life to the garden. The flowers are 4” across and a bright happy yellow. It should to be noted that this is design idea more suited for the less formal gardens, somewhat naturalized areas, or a good border between a naturalized and more intentional areas.

Our backyard is surrounded by a chain-link fence. The back stretch is 5’ tall while the sides are only 3’ in height. I’m going to plant Maximillian perennial sunflower this spring from seed along the 3’ tall chain- link sides. There are two appealing outcomes rolling around in my head. The first being that these magical sunflowers really do deter the deer from entering my yard if planted strategically. Secondly, perhaps we’ll see deer jump the 5’ stretch of fence!

I’ll let you know how this project pans out, both functionally and aesthetically. Happy gardening!

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Four Great Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life

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We always have someone that is hard to buy for. Hopefully your hard to buy for person likes to garden?! If not, perhaps we can pique their interest…

My person happens to be my dad. He has been the receiver of many lame gifts (let’s just say he has an extensive tie collection), but he now has become the giver of lame gifts! I think it’s his way of coping with the years and years of having to politely receive tie after tie, sweat pants after sweat pants and so on. He’s made a game out it – humorous (for the giver at least) yet thoughtful. Spoiler Alert: Uncle Den will be receiving a half full stamped Subway card. Yes, you’re right, they don’t do those anymore- he’s been sitting on this subway card waiting for it to mature properly for years now.

If you don’t have that kind of patience or same notion for gift giving, no worries: here are some better ideas for your hard to gift person…

  1. A good garden book (or ebook). If you’re person doesn’t happen to be a gardener yet, I highly recommend Micheal Pollan’s Second Nature.

second nature It’s about his first trials when he decides to really get into gardening. This may not sound interesting at first glance, but Pollen is a very talented writer. Trust me on this one-he has even made reading about eating vegetables sound interesting (In Defense of Food). Now that’s talent!

 

 

 

 

There is always the more instructional garden book route as well – which is pretty much limitless. Here are a couple of my favorites:

dirrs trees  edible landscaping  ohio perennials

  1. The best tool a gardener could ever own. What about a shovel you say….Think I’m over selling? Think again. It’s simple handle tool,like any worthwhile tool, it’s capable of many different tasks. Every time I’m out in the yard I use this tool. What could this amazing tool be? It’s called: The Soil Sword.

soil sword

Well actually it’s called a soil knife (I need to talk to their marketing). I wonder too if we can figure out how to play the clip in Crocodile Dundee where a guy tries to jump him with a knife and Paul Hogan says, “That’s not a knife….This is a knife.” And busts out his crazy looking more-like-a-sword-than-knife knife. Yeah, it’s kinda like that- empowering.

soil sword handle

Anyway, why bright orange? It’s A.M. Leonard brand, located right here in Portsmouth, Ohio. And it will last. So it looks impressive…but what does it do? It is great for weeding, bulb planting and plantings annuals. It’s also great for splitting perennials (cuts them like butter). And it is the only tool I know of that cuts through burlap and twine without getting jammed up. I used it to dead head perennials and grasses. It can also cut through roots or help loosen roots when planting anything that had become pot bound. I’ve also used it to cut through plastic pots to retrieve grossly pot bound plants. It’s an extremely useful tool and I highly recommend it.

shovelHowever, if you’re trying to buy for a child, stick to that shovel idea. There are small versions available which are great for those with little hands. Just go with one that has a wooden handle and a metal shovel head. This way there will be no tears when they go to use it!

 

 

 

  1. Good boots. For the avid gardener, well, they’ve been known to wrap their shoes in duct tape when desperate. When you’re on your feet a lot, shoes breakdown at surprising speed. Investing in a pair good pair of boots is definitely worth it – but we hardly do it for ourselves.

duct tape shoes     bogs

I’m currently trying out insulated Bogs® boots. Slightly more fashionable than duct tape – function before form in this case. My feet have stayed toasty warm and most importantly, dry this holiday season. And I bought Bogs® because they were actually recommended to be by a co-worker that has their pair for going on three years now! If a pair of boots lasts one season in the nursery industry that is considered good.

There are other style offerings by Bogs® that attempt to be more flattering and are still of good quality.

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  1. Still not sure what to get? I know it is a busy time for so many, but why not pay a visit to one of our gift shops? You’ll find everything from fancy, functional to unique and especially quirky. Art (both garden and wall), bird feeders, bat houses, distinctive ornaments, educational toys and books just to name a few. Not to mention…interior plants, seasonal bulbs, decorative pots and supplies. And of course, when in doubt a gift card to Oakland Nursery will be sure to please! This way you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong size or what have you – let those hard-to-buy-for pick out something for themselves!

Wishing you Happy Holidays and Happy Gardening!

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Trendy Tillandsia: Air Plants!

by Kate Wilson

kate wilsonairplantTillandsia, more commonly known as air plants, are a great low maintenance addition to your interiors! Their natural habitat is up in the treetops among the orchids and ferns, cousins with Spanish moss. Hanging out in tropical trees, they are provided with good air circulation and bright, filtered light – essential ingredients to recreate in order to thrive at home.

Watering. Plants in the Bromeliad family, Tillandsia and Spanish moss included, absorb nutrients through water that has been cupped by the plant. Drench twice a week or soak (even overnight) once a week. Because these plants obtain their nutrients through water, it is important to use water that is chlorine free and not to use water that goes through a softener. Rain water is actually the best – setting the plant outside during a summer rain would be a real treat! Well water or spring water are good alternatives to a rain shower. It’s also important to shake off any excess water or drain out any standing water to avoid rot.

Display. Because these plants don’t need soil around their roots it’s easy to come up with creative ways to display them. They prosper in coral, lava rock (finally, a good use for lava rock!) or potted in a container using moss, twigs or bark in lieu of soil medium. Air plants can also be wired, stapled, or even glued… liquid nails or a silicone-based adhesive is recommended. Here are some inspiring ideas:

Contemporary:

airplant2

Blinged out:

airplant3

Woodman’s Cottage:

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And my all-time favorite, the hermit crab! Too cute!

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Air plants can also work well in terrariums. I highly recommend giving one a try for yourself or as a gift for a friend. Remember: very low maintenance! Happy Gardening!

 

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The 411 on Four Organic Products

kate wilson by Kate Wilson,
Oakland Nursery Hortculturalist    image2

You’ve decided to grow organic! Great, whatever the reasoning behind you’re decision I’d like to support you and your organic gardening efforts. My favorite bonus to growing organic is barefoot gardening!

Having a healthy garden from the soil up is the most important step to warding off pests and diseases. And if you’re just starting out organically you need to build up your soil profile (we’re offering a free lecture on this in September) to obtain happy healthy plants. The most sustainable ways to change your soil into a goldmine of loose, nutrient rich organic matter of awesomeness takes time. And in the meantime, there are some organic pest and disease management products that can help bridge the gap.

If you need a little help in the garden we want you to make sure your efforts aren’t wasted in buying something you don’t need. Here are need to know terms to keep yourself straight – the 411.

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Insecticidal Soap: A long chain of fatty acids that break down insect’s protective coating while not harming plants. Safe for edible and non-edible plants. Direct contact is needed to be effective. Do not use when beneficial insects, such as honey bees, butterflies, lady bugs, etc. are present. And only effective on insects, will not be helpful if you have a disease issue.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis): A naturally occurring soil bacterium disease that is fatal to the larva stage of certain insects. Applied to the leaves of plants in the evening, worms and other insects will ingest it, get sick, and die. Note: It is harmful to moths and butterflies, so don’t use it if you’re trying to protect monarch or other “good” butterflies!

Diatomaceous earth: The fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton, DE works when sprinkled on and around your plants. When an insect or worm comes in contact with it, DE scrapes and cuts them open, killing the pest. Works well for slugs too! Note: must be kept dry to work!

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Horticultural oils: These oils have been around for decades and are harmless to people, animals and it evaporates quickly. The oil either suffocates insects or acts as a poison. Please be mindful when you spray because it can effect coloring on sensitive plants (such as, Blue Spruce or Blue Rug Juniper). Also, it should be used in moderate temperatures.

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Neem Oil: Botanical insecticide, repellent and fungicide. BAM. Seriously, it’s extremely useful. Very low toxicity to humans, birds, bees and many other beneficial insects. I’m currently trying it out on the leaves of my raspberry bramble, because Japanese beetles of been out in full force. I usually just pick them off into some soapy water- but I’m going on vacation. I’m not going to allow those little jerks to take over while I’m gone, nor do I expect any of my lovely neighbors to swing by and knock off any for me. I’ll report my findings and let you know if Neem Oil deters Japanese beetles in addition to all its other pros.

Keep cool and Happy Gardening!

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