February 2020

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Winter Interest in the Garden

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winter-interest-2-1Many gardeners think of the fourth season as a time for rest, but winter can be interesting and fun to plan for a bold, appealing landscape. While most of us plan our landscapes for bloom times in spring and summer, there are many plants offering color and texture appeal for the cold season landscape.

Winter Beauty in Your Landscape

Winter is a time of special beauty and interest. Berries sparkle on shrubs under a layer of frost and ice, while other shrubs have shades of bronze leaves that cling and rattle in winter breezes. The leafless branches of larger trees cast dramatic shadows across the freshly fallen snow. Bark hidden by the leaves of summer stands out gorgeously in the winter. Barks of silvery gray, white, green, yellow, purple or red hues add a burst of color when the landscape is covered in white. Even barks that are deeply fissured, sleek as satin, peeling in thin layers or curiously pocked by a pitted surface give interest to a wonderful winter landscape. Dried grasses stand out in bright contrast against the backdrop of dark evergreens, shaking snow off their delicate heads. There is even the surprising yellow ribbon-like blooms of witch-hazel which flower in mid-winter or the delicate lavenders and blues of tiny species of crocuses under the snow. Pansies are also a great addition for late-season winter color in your flowerbeds. Everywhere you look, there can be beauty in the winter landscape.

Top Plants for Winter Interest

Many different plants offer interesting features that reach their full potential in the winter landscape. Popular options include…

  • Paperbark Maple (Acer grisium)
  • Threadleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum)
  • Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifalia)
  • Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
  • Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’)
  • Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)
  • Winter Dephne (Daphne odora)
  • Common Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
  • Christmas Rose (Heleboris niger)
  • Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
  • Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) Need female and male plant for berries
  • Christmas fern (Polystichun acrostichoides)
  • Common Camellia (Camellia japonica)
  • Heathers/Heaths

Not sure which plants will offer the beauty you want to see all winter long? Our experts are always happy to help you plan the best landscape design for all four seasons, so come in and share your ideas today and we’ll help you be prepared for an amazing winter landscape.

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

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atracting-bird-1One of the benefits of a garden is the wildlife it attracts, and birds are some of the most popular garden wildlife. Most birds are voracious eaters that are glad to keep the insect population down, and may eat 500-1,000 insects in one afternoon. This makes them ideal for natural (and free!) pest control. Anything you can do to attract birds will make your garden healthier and you’ll be entertained by their feeding antics along the way.

Fortunately, it is easy to attract birds to your garden if you meet their needs for food, shelter, water and overall habitat variety.

Food

While birds will certainly eat insects and may munch on seeds, berries and fruits in the garden, consider placing a variety of bird feeders in your garden to entice even more birds to visit. Platform feeders attract ground birds, hanging feeders are for perching birds and suet holders attract insect-eating birds. Suet is especially important during the winter as this helps birds maintain their body temperature by adding fat to their diet. Hang plastic mesh bags of suet or pinecones dipped in suet (or peanut butter) from the limbs of trees.

For your other feathered guests, white millet and black oil sunflower seeds will attract the most common seed-eating birds and can be sprinkled directly on the ground or added to feeders. Add other species-specific seed like Nyjer (thistle) seed (to attract goldfinches, pine siskins and purple finches) or peanuts (to attract chickadees, jays and tufted titmice) to your buffet. Various gourmet seed mixes are also available like Lyric Supreme, Delight, Chickadee, Woodpecker and Finch Mixes, each of which is blended with specific birds in mind and includes the foods those birds like best.

Shelter and Nesting Sites

Birds feel more secure if they have shelter to protect themselves from the weather and other predators. Plant native trees and shrubs birds will easily recognize as suitable shelter. If your landscape is young and doesn’t include much shelter for birds, don’t worry. Consider building a brush pile or adding a loose woodpile to the yard and birds will happily take advantage of it.

You may also want to add nesting boxes or bird houses and other materials for birds to raise their young. This should be done in late winter or early spring just as birds are beginning to look for nesting sites. Clean houses or boxes after each nesting season.

Water

One of the most important things to include in your bird-friendly garden is water. This is especially true during the winter months. Use a bird bath heater to keep water from freezing. Ideal water sources are 2-3 inches deep and 3 feet off the ground to keep visiting birds safer from prowling predators. Moving water is a magnet for most birds and will attract them from great distances for a drink or bath. A mister, dripper or circulating pump can be added to a bird bath or other water feature during most of the year, but take care to winterize the equipment properly so it does not freeze and break during the coldest months.

Habitat Variety

Because birds live in many different habitats, the variety of plant material you can offer in your backyard will determine how many birds are attracted to your garden. Consider native plants, plants with berries, fruits, sap and nectar for year-round food sources as well as nesting materials. Plan your landscape in tiers and flowing, connected beds so birds can move around easily, and include a variety of both deciduous and evergreen plantings so birds can find the habitat useful year-round.

We carry a complete line of bird feeders, houses, seed mixes and suets as well as garden accents; all the accessories and plants you will need to start attracting birds to your backyard. Stop by today!

Low Light Houseplants

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low-light-5Plants brighten up any room, help clean the air and bring a bit of nature inside, but indoor spaces rarely have the same levels of bright, natural light many plants enjoy in their native habitats. Without adequate light, a plant’s foliage may be dull or turn yellow or brown, growth will be slow and flowers may fail to bloom. Choosing low light houseplants is an ideal solution for any indoor space, and there are many beautiful plants that can thrive in a dim environment.

20 Best Houseplants for Low Light

There are many reasons to opt for low light houseplants. Some rooms, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, generally have lower than average light levels. Some homeowners use window shades, blinds or curtains for temperature control, which reduces the light available for indoor plants. Even bright rooms may have dim corners or shadowed spaces where light isn’t as intense. The exposure of any window also affects the sunlight it brings indoors, with north and west windows generally having lower light than south and east windows. Changing seasons also changes how much sunlight comes through any window, with less light available to indoor plants in fall and winter. Fortunately, there are many outstanding houseplants that can grow well in lower light conditions. While the best plants for your home will also vary based on humidity conditions and the care you can provide, houseplants that don’t mind lower light include:

  • Begonia (Begonia)
  • Bromeliads (Aechmea)
  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
  • Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
  • Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  • Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena)
  • Maindenhair Fern (Adiantum)
  • Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
  • Peperomia (Peperomia)
  • Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Prayer Plant (Calathea)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
  • Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

These are just a few of the most widespread, popular indoor plants that can do well with lower light levels. Check at your local nursery or garden center for additional varieties that are adapted to your region’s climate, especially during the winter months when houseplants are much more widely available.

Caring for Low Light Houseplants

It is important to note that whatever type of houseplant you choose, a designation as “low light” does not mean the plant can thrive in darkness. All plants need some light, but low light plants can still thrive in indirect or filtered light rather than several hours of bright sunlight each day. To give your low light plant the very best indoor habitat, you will also need…

  • A proper pot or other container.
    The pot will need to be the right size for the plant and its anticipated growth, without being too big or too small. Adequate drainage is also essential to prevent root rot and other care difficulties.
  • Suitable soil or potting mix.
    Garden soil has too many contaminants to be good for houseplants, but choose a soil with good nutrition for the type of plant it will nurture. Add coir, peat or other potting material if necessary to adjust the soil composition.
  • Proper watering.
    Inadequate water or overwatering can both be deadly for houseplants. Know what water your plant needs and adjust the watering schedule based on the plant’s size and seasonal needs throughout the year. Watering gauges or automatic watering tools can help you be sure you aren’t drowning or drying out your houseplants.
  • Regular feeding.
    Because houseplants rely on the same soil and can’t stretch their roots out to seek extra nutrition, regular fertilizing is essential. Choose the proper fertilizer for the plant type and feed gently rather than risk burning delicate roots with overfeeding. Slow-release fertilizers formulated for indoor plants are one of the best options.
  • Increased humidity.
    Indoor air is often much drier than the air outside, and houseplants can dry out more quickly without the proper humidity. Adding a humidifier in a room with houseplants, grouping plants together, misting regularly and providing a humidity tray are all ways to help.
  • Occasional dusting.
    With no regular breezes to blow away debris, houseplants can become dull and dingy without being dusted, and dust can clog their pores. Use a soft, clean cloth to gently wipe the foliage, or give plants an occasional shower to rinse away unwanted dust.

Every home can be made brighter with houseplants, even in darker rooms where there wouldn’t seem to be enough light. By choosing the right low light houseplants and caring for them appropriately, even a shadowy corner of your home can be a restful bit of nature.

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