Many 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)
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
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!
Plants 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.
A fresh cut tree can be a wonderful addition to your holiday décor as well as a treasured Christmas tradition. Unfortunately, with poor care a cut tree can be looking wilted and worn long before December 25, but if you know a few tricks, you can keep your tree looking vibrant and lush throughout the season. Extend the life of your cut tree this Christmas and enjoy the beauty of the season much longer!
- In selecting a tree, make sure the “handle” at the bottom is long enough to allow the trunk to fit into your tree stand. Otherwise, it will be necessary to remove large branches near the base, which could ruin its appearance, shape and visual balance.
- Check the tree’s freshness before your purchase by bending, pinching or flexing needles. They should be somewhat pliable and not fall off easily. Avoid purchasing a tree that is already showing signs of dryness.
- Make a fresh cut to remove 1/4″ to 1″ of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. If you use a “center pin” stand, make sure the hole is drilled in the stem after the tree is trimmed.
- Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible within 6-8 hours after cutting the trunk. This will help the tree better absorb moisture to keep the needles plump and secure.
- If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location, such as a garage, before being taken indoors and decorated. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket full of water. The tree may need to be supported to keep it from tipping over.
- To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
- Use a stand that fits your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top, so the ring must be large enough for the trunk to fit through the hole. Other stands are open, which may allow a greater range in trunk size. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
- Keep your tree away from sources of heat such as fireplaces, heaters, heating vents and direct sunlight, all of which can make it dry out more quickly. Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
- Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged an unable to absorb water.
- Apply Wilt-Pruf, an anti-transpirant, to branches to help prevent moisture loss and needle drop. This should be done as quickly as possible before decorating the tree.
- Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, etc. Clean water is all that is needed to maintain the tree’s freshness.
- Miniature lights, particularly LEDs and other energy-efficient bulbs, will produce much less heat and reduce drying of the tree. Do not overload the tree with too many lights.
- Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set. And, do not overload electrical circuits, fuses or circuit breakers.
- Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or when going to bed. Minimize how long the lights are on, such as not leaving the lights on during the day when they are less visible.
- Monitor the tree for freshness by bending or pinching needles to test their flexibility. After Christmas or if the tree is dry and brittle, remove it from the house.
With just a few common sense steps, you can find a lovely fresh cut tree and keep it beautiful throughout the holiday season.
Although many gardeners plant trees and shrubs in the spring, knowledgeable gardeners plant in the fall to take advantage of all this fabulous season has to offer. But why is fall planting better than spring planting?
- Stress Reduction
Transplanting causes stress as plants are removed from containers, balls or established locations and changed to new locations. Planting in the fall, when a plant is entering dormancy and is generally hardier and sturdier, reduces this stress so the plant can thrive.
- Establishing Strong Roots
Fall planting “establishes” trees and shrubs by encouraging root growth. Because the soil is still warm, the roots continue to develop until freezing, though the upper parts of the plant are already dormant. When transplanting in the spring, the developed roots are active and delicate tips or rootlets, as well as buds and new leaves, are more easily damaged.
- Weather Resiliency
Trees and shrubs planted in the fall are better able to withstand the rigors of the next summer’s heat and dry conditions because they have much longer to develop healthy roots systems and become thoroughly established. This is especially critical in dry climates or areas prone to drought or irregular rainfall.
- Faster Maturity
The “head-start” of fall planting results in a larger plant in less time, helping create a mature landscape without waiting for smaller plants to catch up. This can be especially critical when replacing dead or damaged plants in a mature landscape to avoid a gap or uneven look.
- Water Conservation
Planting in the fall saves watering time and promotes conservation by eliminating daily watering. Cooler temperatures with the addition of both morning and evening dew contribute greatly to soil moisture availability in fall without as much supplemental watering.
- Color Confirmation
Fall is the best time to see a plant’s autumnal color. Planting in the fall eliminates the surprise of the wrong color or unexpected shades that may not coordinate with nearby plants. By planting in autumn, you’ll know exactly what you’re purchasing and planting, and you will be able to match better with your existing landscape.
- Saving Money
Last but definitely not least, buying your beautiful trees and shrubs in autumn can save big money. We discount prices on trees and shrubs to create room for holiday season materials and pass the savings on to you. Selection may be more limited later in fall, however, so don’t wait too long to take advantage of great savings.
Autumn can be the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, whether you are adding to your landscape, replacing plants or starting a whole new look. If you plant in autumn, you’ll be amazed at how lovely your landscape will look next spring.
Transform summer garden pots, planters and window boxes into magical displays this fall. The addition of mums, winter pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale are always excellent choices but you can really spice things up with the inclusion of a few of these colorful, cold-hardy selections. Which ones will look best for your autumn landscape?
- Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’
This graceful, fan-shaped acorus variety is ideal for adding height to plantings. It keeps its color and shape into the winter for visual interest as other plants lose their vibrancy.
- Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’
This is the white-variegated version of ‘Ogon’. Its white-green striping is the perfect complement to mixed planting in silver, pink, purple or blue, and its lightness adds freshness to the arrangement.
- Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’
This ajuga has a trailing habit and pretty, variegated leaves. Its blue flowers are scattered in fall and summer but this plant blooms profusely in springtime.
- Ajuga reptans ‘Mahogany’
The rich mahogany color of the shiny, short-stemmed leaves turns darker and more lustrous in the winter, ideal in a frosted or snowy landscape. Pretty bright blue flowers punctuate this creeper, mostly in the spring.
- Ceratostigma plumbaginoides ‘Leadwort’
The prolific flowers of this plumbago are an intense gentian-blue and the foliage turns bright red in low temperatures, adding visual heat to the landscape even on cold days.
- Euphorbia amydaloides ‘Purpurea’
This pretty perennial is exceptionally frost resistant. ‘Purpurea’ features upright branches with leaves that form a rosette pattern and turn from reddish to purple in the cold.
- Helichrysum thianschanicum ‘Icicles’
Here’s an easy, fast-growing helichrysum variety with striking, velvety-silver leaves and a compact growth habit.
- Lamiastru galeobdolon ‘Herman’s Pride’
‘Herman’s Pride’ has serrated, shiny silver leaves with green venation and yellow flowers in the spring. The plant trails as it grows, making it perfect as an accent in hanging baskets, taller containers and window boxes.
- Lavendula lantata ‘Silver Leaf Lavender’
This lavender variety has silvery-white leaves that are velvet-like to the touch and hold their color throughout the winter. Dark purple-blue flowers appear by the second year and contrast beautifully with the foliage.
- Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’
Proven to do equally well in both sun and shade, ‘Goldilocks’ exhibits wonderful versatility. The golden foliage creeps and hangs in lush profusion of round, shiny leaves.
- Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina’
This sage has a glowing, golden-yellow variegated leaf. ‘Icterina’ maintains its shape and holds its color long into the winter.
- Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’
The eggplant-colored leaves of this sage warm up any planting. Try it as a culinary herb as well and enjoy the subtle taste.
- Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’
‘Tricolor’ offers a unique combination of purple leaves with white borders that turn pink when temperatures drop.
No matter which of these plants you opt for, you’ll enjoy the rich colors and variation they bring to your autumn plantings.
For those of us who work and play outdoors in deer tick-infested areas, Lyme disease is a reality. If caught early, the disease is usually cured with antibiotics. If not detected and treated early, Lyme disease can be a debilitating condition that may linger for months or years.
Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick. The tick becomes infected with the disease by biting an animal that is carrying the bacteria. The main culprits in our area are the white-tailed deer and white-footed mouse. Not every deer tick is a carrier of Lyme disease but it is wise to always take precautions to prevent potential infections.
Protect yourself and your family by:
- Wearing light-colored clothes to help spot and identify deer ticks before they attach to spread the infection.
- Wearing long sleeves and pants to minimize exposed skin that can attract deer ticks. Tuck your pants into your boots or socks. Include a hat for added protection.
- Spraying exposed skin with a product that contains at least 20 percent DEET and spraying clothing, and all other cloth gear, with a product containing Permethrin. Always follow the product label when applying repellents.
- Removing clothing and immediately laundering it when coming back indoors. Dry clothing at a high temperature for at least 30 minutes, since ticks are sensitive to dryness and will die quickly without appropriate moisture.
- Showering immediately and thoroughly after being in a tick-prone area. Inspect all skin surfaces, especially hard-to-see areas like behind the knees, the back of the neck and in arm pits. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are very small and therefore hard to see. Ticks must be attached for at least 18 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.
- Protecting pets from ticks with appropriate collars, drops, powders or dips, and inspecting pets’ fur regularly for ticks or other pests.
Protect your yard by:
- Mowing the grass regularly. Ticks thrive in longer grasses with moist soils, but are not as abundant in groomed areas.
- Keeping leaves raked and keeping the yard free of refuse that can create moist patches in the soil where ticks will thrive.
- Creating a protective barrier, at least 3-4 feet wide of mulch or stone, between yard and wooded area. Ticks are not easily able to cross these open areas.
- Stacking wood neatly in a dry area where it is less likely to harbor a tick infestation.
- Spraying your yard with a tick control product like bifenthin. Always follow the product label when applying pesticides.
- Taking steps to discourage deer and mice in your yard, such as choosing deer-resistant plants and using traps responsibly to eliminate rodents.
By taking appropriate precautions to protect you, your family and your yard, you can minimize any risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Periods of drought, heat waves and rising water bills can make any gardener more interested in saving water. Fortunately, there are many ways you can be water-wise without skimping on the moisture your plants need to thrive.
- Make the Most of Mulch
Mulches not only make plantings look more attractive, but their most important function is to help retain soil moisture. They keep the ground cool to reduce moisture loss and prevent growth of grasses and weeds that would otherwise compete with plant roots for soil moisture. The recommended depth is 2-4 inches, and there are many mulch types you can choose from to complement your landscaping and garden design.
- Improve the Soil
Prevent soil compaction and aerate regularly to improve the efficiency of how the soil absorbs and retains water. Test the pH and make sure the levels are correct for the plants you are growing. Till in several inches of compost each year and amend with Profile soil conditioner.
- Plant Wisely
When deciding what to plant, consider native species as they are adapted to the area and can withstand the local moisture conditions, including periods of low rainfall or drought. Also consider plants that have been specifically bred as drought-tolerant, particularly for more at-risk areas of your yard. Ask one of our staff for recommendations of native plants.
- Design Thoughtfully to Save Water
A good landscape design can help minimize water use. Start with graph paper and sketch your home, property lines, water faucets, existing trees and other permanent features. Plant large deciduous trees to maximize summer shade on the hot sides of your house. Combine groundcover in your plantings. This can reduce surface temperature up to 20 degrees. Plant a dense windbreak to cut down on drying winds. Group plants together by water needs and concentrate high water demand plants into one area. Plant rock gardens, native shrubs or drought-tolerant wildflowers on southern exposures.
- Use Water-Saving Watering Techniques
Install a drip irrigation system and use other water-saving devices like soaker hoses to minimize water loss. The system of “drip watering” that was originally designed for commercial use is now available to the home gardener. It has become very easy to use and quite effective. Drip watering applies water slowly and steadily directly to root zones in proper amounts. This saves time (less time watering and weeding) and money (less water). It also puts water where it’s needed without runoff or evaporation.
- Choose the Proper Watering Tools
You will want to look at our various styles of oscillating and pulsating sprinklers and choose the sizes and styles that meet your unique landscaping needs. Other assorted nozzles and wands can also make watering easier and more efficient. The Four Channel Water Distributor allows several watering accessories to be used at the same time.
It doesn’t take much to get started watering wisely, and not only will your plants thank you for providing adequate moisture, but you’ll love how much your water bill dries up!
Daniel’s Lawn and Garden Center, 1457 Sumneytown Pike, Harleysville will be hosting a Pink Day to benefit Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in their fight against breast cancer, on Saturday, June 8 from 10am to 4pm. This is our seventh year, and this year’s event is bigger and better than last year’s. Last year we raised over $2000 for breast cancer research.
Beginning at 10am, the public is invited to dress in pink, and enjoy free children’s activities and participate in raffles to win pink prizes. Pony rides will be available from 12 to 2pm.
Daniel’s Garden Center will be decorated in pink and will be having special pink items available that day with proceeds benefitting breast cancer research. Additionally there will be special Pink Day Only sales on selected items throughout the store, including propane tanks for $11.99 and 50% off pottery and 50% trees and shrubs.
Come out on Saturday, June 8 and support Daniel’s Garden Center’s efforts to help find a cure for breast cancer, a cancer that affects way too many Moms, sisters, wives, and friends. Any questions about this event, please call us at 610.287.9144. Think Pink!!
It is an awesome sight to capture a glimpse of a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering over the flower garden on a sunny summer morning. One or two a year may be seen seeking food in the landscape, sampling everything in their path. Unfortunately, they leave as rapidly as they arrive. This season, attract more of these miniature avian anomalies and keep them returning year after year.
You can charm hummingbirds to your yard with a selection of their favorite nectar producing flowers. Hummingbirds are not attracted by scent but by color. Red happens to be their favorite, however, pink, purple, blue, orange and yellow will also catch their eye. Tubular flowers accommodate this bird’s long, narrow beak. Select a wide variety of plants that bloom at different times to keep hummers well fed all season long. Refrain from using insecticides when attracting hummingbirds, they rely on insects for protein in their diets.
Hanging a feeder is another way to encourage these visitors. Choose one with red parts to resemble the flowers that they prefer. Fill the feeder with a mixture of one part sugar to four parts hot water to help the sugar dissolve. Fill the feeders after the mixture has cooled. Easier yet, fill with instant nectar purchased at our store. Clean feeders every 2 – 3 days and daily in hot weather.