Spring Snow

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

I like living in Ohio and having four seasons. There is of course good and bad – the random weather changes for example.  Keeping us on our toes and remind us that we, as humans, cannot control everything. Besides, it’s something (other than sports) that bring us together as Ohioans; bemoaning the local weather is always common ground.

The continual change of the seasons reminds me of the consistent change – whether natural or manipulated by us – in the garden.  This spring has been somewhat turbulent thus far. A week straight of 86˚ highs to be followed by two nights of frost warnings.

Today my son and I experienced one of these odd weather, seemingly random, changes and I thought it would make perfect blog banter.

cottonwood snow

It “snowed” and rained at the same time this early afternoon. Yup, according to the eye of a 5 year old.  Don’t worry I’m not going into a long story about how I adore my son. Just know that I do.

But check this out…..We had a lovely spring shower and the sun managed to shine through the rain (okay, so far normalish Ohio spring happenings) ALL the while this soft white “snow” drifted on the light breeze. It was enough to collect along the side of my front walk.

cottonwood and allium

What is this “snow?” It’s a pile of Cottonwood seeds! (Populus deltoides) The female trees produce these light, fluffy seeds in the late Spring-early Summer, seeds that can produce trees that can grow up to 100 feet tall and live up to 100 years old. Happy Spring Happenings!

cottonwood trees

 

 

 

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Five Native Spring-Flowering Trees

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

Not sure what all the native plant hype is about? That’s okay. I’ll let you in on it: besides the whole ecological, good steward of the landscape angle it also makes good practical sense. Native plants are adapted to our climate and soil. I know- what a revelation, right? But think about it: native plants already love our crappy clay soil, they tolerate our manic temperature swings and get by with whatever water our local skies provide. Often times, natives are also hardy in the sense that they don’t have many pest or disease issues (except for pests and diseases that are not native, but we’ll save that for another time. I hate you, emerald ash borer!).

Enough introduction, let’s get down to business. Here are five great native tree options…

Carolina-Silverbell_(2944991659)

From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carolina-Silverbell_(2944991659).png

Carolina Silverbell, Halesia tetraptera: This native has delicate white bell-shaped blooms that usually appear in mid spring. This small tree (30’-40 tall and 15’-30’ wide) likes full sun or part shade. Although it thrives in well-drained organic, rich, and slightly acidic soil, it can tolerate a range of soils. It would be best to amend your existing clay with some compost at the time of planting and fertilize with a soil acidifier (Espoma organic holly tone would work if you already have it on hand). Oh, and it is essentially pest and disease free!

serviceberry

From: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/467178161315928337/

Serviceberry, Amelandchier x grandiflora or Amelanchier laevis: This superb small tree (25’tall and 25’ wide) has a feathery white bloom in early spring. It tolerates full sun, but thrives in part sun and can tolerate part shade. Naturally a multi-stemmed tree, trained single trunk options can be found in larger B&B (balled & burlapped) sizes. So what’s the superb part? Besides being a native, blooming in shady conditions, and having delicious edible fruits (they’re our native blueberry alternative), Serviceberries have great form and foliage texture and a smattering of oranges and red fall color. This is a three season small tree with appetizing function to boot! Superb I say! (Look for ‘Autumn Brilliance’ and ‘Princess Diana’ varieties.)

Eastern_Redbud

From: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Redbud

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis: This little lady (25’ tall and 25’wide) can also be found as a single or multi-stemmed tree. It, hands down, has one of the longest bloom times, especially for a tree! The blooms have a small lady’s slipper shape with a light purple color that completely blankets the canopy and sometimes even pops up on the trunk. Gorgeous. Finding a natural stand of these while in bloom is an amazing experience. After the blooms fade broad heart-shaped leaves emerge. There are so many great cultivars of this tree, most requiring part sun, I’m going to make a separate post about them. The only downside to this native is that it does not have a long life span, typically 25 years or so. I advise a Sunday drive throughout the Clintonville neighborhood – about two weeks after this is posted- if you need any more convincing.

fringe tree

From: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chionanthus_retusus_-_Chinese_Fringetree_-_9.jpg

Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus: Another small (15’ tall and 15’ wide) native that blooms in late spring. Narrow white petals drip from the branches and give off a sweet fragrance. Can tolerate full sun to part sun and I’ve even seen (and smelled) it in part shade. Nice broad leaf texture with yellow fall color. Very underused tree. A good specimen can be found behind the main downtown library in the (Seurat) Topiary Garden NW corner.

 

cornus florida

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cornus_florida_-7_Max_Frear_2008.JPG

Dogwood, Cornus flordia: Another small tree, but this beauty needs some shade. Ideally, plant in a place that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. There are many MANY cultivars of this tree, most with varying shades of white (50 shades of…dogwood?). “They” even have some out with some pretty interesting pink coloration. I’m partial to the Cherokee varieties, but you really can’t go wrong with any. This tree may drop its leaves early in the late summer/early fall if we have a dry hot summer – which is most of the time- but they usually won’t go without first splashing your yard with a little red color.

Want large native spring blooming trees? Look into Tulip poplar, Yellow wood and of course, the Buckeye!

About Kate: Kate Wilson is a horticulturalist, educational coordinator, and blogger at Oakland Nursery. She specializes in landscape design and has been designing in Columbus for more than a decade. Kate received an Associate’s Degree in Landscape Design from Columbus State and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from Wittenberg University. As part of these studies, she partnered with both The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. In 2007, she did extensive studies of the gardens of Kyoto, Japan. Kate has been with Oakland Nursery for over five years and can be found at the Columbus store located on Oakland Park Ave. She is usually at the service desk or out in the nursery wandering through the flowering shrubs!

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Early Spring Gardening: Direct Sowing

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

photo 2

Maybe spring is coming? I’ve always loathed the month of March in Ohio for tricking me into thinking spring is on its way. Then it will snow. And back and forth, unable to decide whether spring has sprung or if winter is going to stick around a while longer.

Regardless – as gardeners, we can take matters into our own hands. Despite the unpredictable weather, we can get outside, disturb some soil, and plant some seeds. It is not immediately rewarding, but think of it as an investment. Plant now while you’re itching for spring and by the time it finally rolls around –BAM! Your garden has already started. Cool season gardening, my friends. (And now that we’ve made it to April, we have no where to go but up!)

So what in the world can handle 20 degree air temperatures at night and upwards of 55 during the day, not to mention the cold soil temps? Little tenacious veggies! And even a flower or two. Here’s the short list:

Veggies:                                                                 Annuals:
Lettuces (butter, romaine, etc.)                           Pansies
Kale                                                                          Ranunculus
Spinach                                                                    Sweet Alyssum
Cabbage                                                                   Candelas
Radishes
Beets
Carrots
Peas

Each seed’s needs can be a little different, so follow the specific instructions on each seed packet. If you do decide to venture out into the garden and direct sow some cool season crops, don’t forget to bring along some compost to amend your soil with. Your veggies and flowers will reward you for your efforts.

Speaking of seeding outside, how’s the old lawn?

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Early Spring Gardening: Over-seeding

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

Now is a great time to over seed your lawn. What is over seeding? It’s simply spreading grass seed in your patchy or newly established lawn. Why do it? So you can have a nice thick lawn that will shame your neighbors shade out any potential weeds from popping up.

These days there are so many choices when it comes to grass seed it can be overwhelming. If you’re looking to over seed, I recommend going with Titan Tall Fescue. Here’s why: It is sun AND shade tolerant. As if that is not enough, once established it is also very draught tolerant. So for an even-looking lawn, whether you have sun or shade or both, Titan Tall Fescue is the one.Oak26 COMPRESSED

Now that you know what seed to use, here’s how to over seed. Spread your seed with a spreader or, if you’re like me, pretend you’refeeding chickens and spread by hand. Most professional lawn experts would not recommend spreading grass seed by hand – and hand spreaders are fairly cheap – but I like the quick and dirty approach. Nerds out there can keep their spreaders and measure their spread with a micrometer or whatever. After you have your grass seed down, use some compost or topsoil and spread over your grass seed, especially where you have a patch of seed. Lay just enough down to cover the seed. Then water in. Soak the area with a sprinkler to best saturate the soil and seed.

That’s it! Here’s to a healthier fuller lawn…..Happy Spring!

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Three Must-Know Tips for Seed Starting

kate wilson by Kate Wilson

Seed Starting Kit

seeds1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed starting indoors is not for the timid or faint of heart. It’s an endeavor. Although it can potentially make economic sense to seed start, you’re saving some $$ in exchange for your time, commitment and literal weeding out. Yup, you must kill some of your seedlings that you have committed to. The experts call this “thinning out.” And I feel like this is a must-know before starting. If you’re cool with playing Darwin, then let’s proceed to some tips that will help you save time and give you a better chance at success.

seedneeds2

Seed starting soil–vital for seed starting success.

Soil Matters. It really does. You need soil that will stay loose, somewhat arid, but still
retain moisture without compacting. And it must do this in tiny pots or trays (and they must have drainage holes!). Seed starting potting soil is most widely used because it contains perlite which is a naturally occurring material (volcano popcorn!) which is lightweight and won’t compact. Coir, naturally occurring extract from coconut husks, is recommended by expert Jodi Kushins from Over the Fence Farm (a local CSA).

What is key about both of these types of “soil” is that neither contain fertilizers. You’ll want to be able to control the amount and source of fertilizer later, once you have sprouts.

seedneeds3

Self watering seed tray.

Bottom Watering. When I mentioned commitment earlier it was in reference to watering. If you do not spritz daily with a spray bottle your seeds will not germinate and you’ve already lost. If you are able to keep on task and spritz those little seeds into germination you’ll see sprouts pop up within one to two weeks. Once you have sprouts, congratulate yourself and reward yourself by bottom watering. Bottom watering, in this case, is using a tray under your tray/pots (that have drainage holes) of seedlings that is filled with water. You can also add in your liquid fertilizer to the water you fill the bottom tray with. The soil will soak up the water and stay moist as needed and encourage root growth. Also key to winning.

seeds3

Oakland offers a huge variety of regular, heirloom, and organic seeds.

Acclimation. At first I thought I was being very Darwinian when I took my first tray of seedlings and planted them directly into the garden. I figured after all the TLC I had given them indoors they needed to venture out on their own. Those that would survive were the toughest, right? The lesson, as always, is I’m a fool. Acclimation is the dance that needs to happen between your seedlings and the great outdoors. This is not some funny tradition, but completely necessary. Your little dudes have been growing in ideal, unrealistic conditions with lots of fake light, regular water, and no breeze. It will take about a week to two weeks for your seedlings to adjust to the outdoors (and grow a protective cuticle).

Set out your trays/pots, in the shade at first, for a couple hours a day and then gradually have them out longer with a little direct sunlight. Bring them inside each night. After five to seven days of this back and forth, they’ll be ready to spend the night outside. After their first overnight, they’ll be ready for the garden!

seedneeds4

Florescent light bulbs.

Okay, so there are really 4 must-know tips. Light! It, too, is really important for success. Little seedlings like loads of light, about ten hours a day. Use fluorescents directly over your seed trays, starting at about 4 inches. Once your sprouts begin to grow, you can move your lights higher. It’s important to keep your lights weirdly close to your seedlings so that they don’t over stretch (and pull a muscle…no that’s not right) and get leggy. Okay, maybe I was kinda right about the muscle thing. Regular fluorescents are fine if you’re unsure of your commitment and investment. If you want to get serious it’s worth it to invest in real grow lights.

For a more step by step process, click here.

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Five Interior Plants (Nearly) Impossible To Kill

by Kate Wilson  kate wilson

 

Although I’m confident in my horticultural knowledge, experience and eye for design, I have to admit I’m also really good at slaying indoor plants. Despite my own failings once cabin fever sets in every winter (it’s in full force now!) I can’t help but dream of growing an indoor jungle. Managing these five plants, not an ecosystem, however, is achievable and makes for a more cozy, happy, and healthier home.

peace lily

 

  1. The Peace Lily Spathiphyllum. The Peace Lily is considered the drama queen of interior plants. It will let you know you’re neglecting it by losing all sense of trigger pressure and demonstrate flopping down leaves, stems and all. This is its way of telling you to water it. Water it now and not later.  Once adequately watered (i.e. plopping in the sink for a good through soak) it will stand up straight and fill out its natural full form. It bounces back every time. Every once it while the Peace Lily will reward consistent watering efforts by blooming.  There are different varieties of Peace Lilies that bloom some more often than others, so I would recommend buying a Peace Lily that is already blooming.  The Peace Lily blooms are a soft, almost cream white that contrasts nicely with the large dark green foliage of the plant.  Peace Lilies prefer low light, something near a north or east facing window would be ideal.
  1. Rex Begonia. Begonia rex-cultorum.  The Rex Begonia is growrex begonian for its wildly colored foliage containing patterns of swirling burgundy, pinks, deep purple and a frosted green. It doesn’t get particularly thirsty, just needs a once a week soaking. It likes bright indirect light.

 

 

3. Spider plant Chlorophyum comosum. The spider plant keeps on giving.  This finely textured plant sends out adorable little spider babies on stem.  You have the choice of letting the babies hangout (literally) or cut them loose and re-planting them.  After your house is overrun with spider plants (just think of how fresh and clean your indoor air will be!) you can give them away to friends.  There arespider plant even spider plant varieties! Not as far out as the Rex Begonia with its swirling action, but still notable.   

 

 

 

 

2. Pothos. Epipremnum aureum. This one is just fun to say. Npothoson-botanical friends will also be impressed if you can remember its common name.  This sweet heart of a plant can take low light, direct light and yes, even comes with its own highlights (typically yellow/cream variegation).  It can tolerate drying out between waterings as well as being submerged in water.  I’ve seen this plant live happily in someone’s shower as well as thrive submerged in my son’s fish bowl.

fishbowl pothos

 

 

 

 

1. Snake plant. Sansevieria trifascita. The Honey Badger of all interior plants. It can take direct light (which would require the occasional watering – but no soaking) as well as low to no natural light.  That’s right, no natural light! Utter craziness, busnake plantt makes for the perfect office plant. It gets better- it prefers to be pot bound. This means no messy transplanting. Mine is nicely placed in decorative pot on the floor, next to a wall vent – and it’s still alive! (Not recommended). The only damage is near a tip of one leaf and that is due to a curious two year old. This plant can live on neglect, no natural light, likes tight containers, and can with stand the curiosity of a two year old.  The Snake plant is the best, easiest-to-care-for interior plant.  And it happens to be one of the prettiest.

Want more information on tropical plants? Stop by or call any of our greenhouses and our horticulturalists can help figure out the right indoor plant for your needs!

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Happy Holidays to all our New and Existing Customers!

As the snowflakes fall and temperatures plummet, please remember the theme of the season. Giving is a great way to express gratitude for loved ones and friends. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help. At our Oakland Nursery four locations, we have wonderful and numerous ways to ‘gift give’ this holiday season. Our gift cards are one of the easiest ways to give.  Plus, browse our gift departments – completely stocked with every day and seasonal home décor and garden accents, many hand-made and unique.  At the Oakland Delaware location we have two floors of unique gift ideas for that special someone.

Don’t forget, our garden stores and greenhouses are still brimming with every day and seasonal items as well. We will gladly handcraft Holiday green arrangements for you. For handcrafted arrangements and decorations, big or small, we certainly have it all!

Of course, our staff at all locations can answer any questions on plant or landscape material. We wish you all a warm and happy holiday season. Certainly the joy of living is in giving.

-Provided by Oakland Delaware

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A REAL CHRISTMAS TREE!

Now is the perfect time to consider a natural Christmas tree for the holiday season! We have already been selling a considerable number of these with the season being somewhat shorter between Thanksgiving and Christmas; many customers are either considering a switch to a natural tree from an artificial tree or setting up a  Christmas tree for the very first time and have many questions about selecting and using a “live” tree  indoors. Among the most major things to consider are how long the cut tree will remain “fresh” inside the home without dropping a lot of its needles before Christmas. Also important are the sturdiness of the branches for hanging ornaments and lights and how fragrant it is, one of the greatest aspects of having a live tree!  There are several varieties of trees we consider to be excellent to use for this purpose.

DSC05303Fraser Firs are quickly becoming one of the most popular as it has many desirable qualities that make it a superior choice. It has gorgeous, soft, light blue-ish green needles that are very full, lush, and extremely fragrant! Coming from the hills of the Carolinas, the needles are short and the branches firm, making it prime for decorating, with superior needle retention. Also extremely popular is the Douglas Fir, traditionally coming from the Pacific Northwest and having very soft needles that are also extremely full and lush, but being a little longer and darker green then the Fraser. It is also very fragrant but with a little different aroma, taking on a citrus tone; this classic fragrance alone makes this tree the choice of many!

Scotch PineAnother favorite is the Scotch Pine, traditionally a hugely popular choice that brings to many great childhood memories!  It is locally grown, usually coming from Ohio or Michigan. It is relatively inexpensive, with longer dark green needles that are somewhat coarser but with a very attractive and distinct aroma. It also has excellent needle retention, making it another safe  choice without much mess. White Pines are another popular locally grown tree known for its long, soft and lush, beautiful needles with a wonderful fragrance. Needle retention is usually not quite as good as the Scotch Pine and some other choices but still makes a great tree to use indoors.

Another traditional and less expensive choice is the Balsam Fir. Coming from Canada, it is  popular for its unique fragrance and loose, open habit with short, soft needles that make it very appropriate for filling it with many larger ornaments.Balsam Fir Canaan Firs have started to become a popular choice in recent years. It is locally grown and inexpensive, with short, soft fir- like needles and full and stout growth habit.

When choosing a tree at a nursery or tree lot, there are several things that should be considered. One way to test the freshness of the tree is to run your hand along one of the branches. If it starts dropping a lot of needles, it is probably not very fresh and will not hold up very well inside the home through the holidays. Check the tree for fullness, symmetry, and no open spots. Also, check the trunk to make sure it is straight and the base, which will decide the size of tree stand you will need. Make sure to make a fresh cut on the base as this will ensure maximum absorption of water. Once the fresh cut is made the tree should be set up and put in the stand filled with water immediately, or in a bucket of water, to avoid sapping up of the cut. It is very important to make sure the stand does not run out of water; check the tree stand frequently, once a day right after set up, as this is when the tree would take up the most water. Once the tree is set up it is best to not decorate the tree for 6-12 hrs to allow the branches to fall down and retain its original shape. Try to minimize the number of lights to avoid drying out of the tree, using miniature lights is best, and turn off over night.

We also are frequently asked about live trees to be used inside for a Christmas tree, ones not cut and with the root ball, either balled and burlapped or in a container, to be planted outside after the holiday. This can be an excellent option but there are several things to consider when planning to use this type of tree. Firstly, the root ball can be a bit sizeable and very heavy when utilizing in an inside space; as a result the most typical sizing is a 3-4’ or possibly 5’ height. It also will need to be place in a tub of adequate size so as to be able to water the root ball, which should be always moist and never totally dry out but not setting in water. Also, it is recommended to not leave a living tree inside the house for more than 3-5 days. Also, when bringing in the tree from outside, for best results, place in a cooler area such as a garage for a day or two so the tree can acclimate to the warmer conditions. It is also recommended to not use many, if any, lights on the tree.

Sit back and enjoy the fragrance and beauty of your tree this Holiday season.  Happy Holidays from Oakland Nursery!

-Provided by Oakland New Albany

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Holiday Decorating!

  DSCF0994Christmas is fast approaching, and the pressure is on!   Making your home festive can be MORE (AND SIMPLER!) than a Christmas tree!!

Bring Christmas into the dining room by using ribbon to decorate your table and chairs.  Relatively inexpensive, ribbon can be tied into bows on the backs of dining chairs.  Tie ribbon around candles (flameless would be best!), arrange in the center of the table, add some cut greens for that holiday smell, and weave more ribbon through, or add a few shiny Christmas balls for a simple and fabulous centerpiece!  A similar arrangement makes beautiful and simple mantle décor.

DSCF0976Quick, festive touches in the living or family room include swapping bright Christmas pillows for every day ones and adding glitter in the form of Mercury glass, candles, and candle holders in gold and silver.  If your style is more casual, try filling canning jars or a collection of glass vases with battery operated fairy lights and colored Christmas balls (or mini pine cones) to brighten your coffee table or mantle.  A simple basket or bowl of sparkly Christmas ornaments makes a great decoration for a living room table.

DSCF0972Don’t forget the front door! In addition to the wreath on the door, welcome guests with empty plant containers filled with Holiday greens!   Instant holiday décor!  Green arrangements can also be purchased ready-to-go with bows, cones & glitter, or custom designed for you!

Now, relax and enjoy the holidays!  Merry Christmas from Oakland Nurseries!

-Provided by Oakland Nursery HOME

 

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Holiday Lighting

Christmas lights can be a real pain to hang yourself, so why not let the technicians here atNight Lights Oakland Nursery’s Irrigation department tackle them for you? We know how busy the holiday season gets, and we are here to take the fuss out of decorating your house for the season. No untangling pesky strands of lights, no climbing up ladders that are icy and rickety, no coats, boots, and hats, just a nice cup of coffee and a view from inside your toasty home and VOILA!  Your home will be the envy of the block. Let the folks here at Oakland Nursery help you spread holiday cheer for you and your family, who knew? Oakland Nursery will take the hassle out of Christmas!

The best part is that Christmas light installation is relatively inexpensive, and we even come and take them down for you when you are ready. We neatly pack them back away for you to store, and then re-use them the following year.  Servicing commercial and residential sites, there is no holiday lighting job too big or too small. We are now scheduling free estimates and installations; call us today at 614-268-3444.

-Provided by Oakland Irrigation & Landscape Lighting

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