Blog Archive 2009

Dayton "Dirt"
Weekly Blog entries
by Tom Dayton

Also check out our Monthly
"Going Green" Blogs

January 1, 2010
Well the bad news first.  We’re still not in the depth of winter as the coldest part of winter is after mid-January through early February. 

The good news is that we’re more than one week past the winter solstice and the day length is increasing by a few minutes each day.

There’s not much growing now except some young Azalea, blueberries and Rhododendron that we took as cuttings last summer.

Many of you have poinsettias that will last into spring as their flower bracts do not abscure easily like the ones sold in the 1960’s and earlier.

January is the month to study all those garden supply catalogues for all the exciting new cultivars of trees, shrubs, flowers and seeds.  Winter is the time to dream away to imagine the possibilities of gardens to come with visions of riotous color from foliage and flowers to a bounty of harvest from your own small fruits, fruit trees and vegetable plants.

Now is the time to start planning your spring garden to get the most from your hard work and not only from what you’ll actually plant but what steps you’ll take to achieve maximum success such as soil testing, soil preparation, spacing of plantings, staggering multiple plantings, etc. 

One thing I keep repeating is the importance of planting your own vegetable garden as a supplement to your food sources for a healthy diet.   I pulled a bag of vegetables from the refrigerator that are to be steamed in the bag.  The taste was mediocre so that when I checked for the expiration date (the bag was well within the date of expiration) I noticed that all the contents of the bag did not come from the United States but also China and Mexico.  I called the well known company to inquire about the use of foreign sources of supply for their product to which they supplied the answer that they have full control of quality.

My thought process is that they want to maximize their own profits even if it means there is a greater chance of something slipping by that has been sprayed with dangerous pesticides or is inferior in quality with these foreign sources.  I do not buy the brand of frozen vegetables now but only another brand which I read “produce of USA” on the label exclusively.

I just wish I had my own canning or frozen vegetables from my own garden like I preach to you to grow and preserve.  Maybe this year I can truly tell you to do as I do and not tell you to do and I do not!

Oh well.

Happy New Year,
Tom

December 25, 2009
Merry Christmas everyone!

The story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with his life-like characters of Ebernezer Scrooge, Bog Crotchet and Tiny Tim changed Christmas forever as Christmas Day was just another work day in Victorian England.

There are other books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe that have changed the course of history but a Christmas Carol did it for the Christmas holiday.

In the not too distant future, you or your children should be able to roast American chestnuts on an open fire as the American Chestnut, or at least 15/16 of it, is starting to be planted on strips near areas and will soon populate the Eastern forests as the great trees once did.

My Slovak grandmother used to say “You be got health, you be god wealth”, to which her then teenage grandchildren thought nothing of it.  Now, being older, I do know that if one’s health is not good, there’s not a whole lot that matters except for maybe food on the table, a warm place to stay, and family and friends.

We’ll be open Saturday December 26th 9:00-5:00 but closed on Sunday the 27th.  Then we’ll be open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm through New Year’s Eve after which we’ll close for the winter except for out winter seminars on Saturday. 

Someone will be here though to answer all your questions on the phone or by e-mail.  We’ll look forward to seeing you at the seminars in our new Owl Barn.

Joyeuox Noel,
Tom

December 18, 2009
It seems so strange that it’s only one week until Christmas. 

We still have a decent selection of Fraser Fir and Scotch Pine and as I stated before, they are all Ohio fresh!  One of the box stores in Wadsworth had an advertisement for inexpensive (cheap) cut trees in which the ad states that the trees were fresh and shipped weekly to the store.  I went to inspect these “bargains” and found they were not fresh at all but instead ready to burn!

I know before I would take a tree into my house like that I would put up an artificial.

We don’t have a cut-your-own operation of Christmas trees but if you really want to cut your own, I would recommend Galehouse Tree Farm in Doylestown as their name has been synonymous with Christmas trees for years and years.

It’s still not too late to take a soil test in your lawn or garden or the spread if you need it to raise the pH of the soil.

I’m very excited about showing off our new barn when those of you coming for seminars this winter will be able to see it.  I think you’ll like everything about it but right now I don’t like the acoustics as the sound is bouncing off the wooden walls and ceilings.

I have to figure out a solution before the seminars begin (at least I hope to work out a solution)

If you come over to buy a cut tree we’ll be happy to put a fresh cut on the trunk if you’re going to put it up the same day.

We’re still making and delivering grave blankets and wreaths to local cemeteries until noon on Christmas Eve as long as the cemetery office is open in case I have trouble finding the grave site.

I must apologize that we sold out of many wreaths and white pine roping early in the season.  When I called for a second, fresher batch of roping on December 3rd, the major supplier for all of Northeast Ohio stated they had sold out and that there would be no more!

Hopefully everyone has all the Christmas shopping done by now.  I am “one of those” that waits until the last minute as I really don’t like to shop.

For unusual gifts, the Christkindl Market in downtown Akron is interesting as some of the vendors are from Akron’s sister city in Germany called Chemnitz where many family industries are busily making high quality Christmas ornaments as they have for generations.

Well, hope to see you soon.

Tom

December 11, 2009
It’s strange but there is a definite pattern to business that only changes slowly over the years.

Our cut Scotch Pine trees are beginning to sell now where as before, only our Fraser Firs were the hot sellers.

Unfortunately, we don’t have Concolor Fir and Douglas Fir this year as a severe frost in May killed the new growth on the trees.  The frosted growth is still hanging on the trees and doesn’t do anything for the saleability of these trees so that we decided to skip a year.

Its not too late to order an artificial or live wreath or grave blanket for delivery or pick up as we will still make and customize the decorations according to your specifications even up to and including Christmas Eve.  If you want one shipped to a distant locality though, it’s best to allow 5 business days.

One of the most beautiful poinsettias this year is called Ice Crystals in which the flower bracts are dark pink with a pale pink to white radiating from the midrib of the bract.  This variety seems to be a favorite of the Cleveland Botanical Garden this year as it is quite unusual as well as beautiful.

For those of you who want to keep a poinsettia from year to year, my advice to you is to throw the plant out unless you enjoy playing with it to get it to bloom next year.  I know that I would never mess with left over poinsettias the next year as to me it’s not worth the hassle.

Be sure not to let your cut tree run out of water as sometimes once a tree runs out of water, it won’t “drink” anymore.

If you haven’t covered your tea or floribunda roses yet, get with it as they do need winter protection.

As the snow falls and doesn’t leave the ground, hungry deer will be chomping on your shrubs such as Taxus, Rhododendron and certain deciduous shrubs so be sure to spray them with Liquid Fence as directed the next dry day that is above freezing.

We had a problem with deer in the Rhododendron-Azalea garden a few years back but the Liquid Fence product has kept them at bay.  It works too on the thousands of tulips at the nursery as were sure to apply the product just as the plants emerge in spring.

If you have deer in your area and have tulips emerging, one day the bulbs will be fine and the next morning they’ll be chomped to bits down to the ground so be sure to mark some required action on your gardening calendar or download our online calendar for your convenience.

Hope for snow!
Tom

December 4, 2009
With the first week of December almost over, the Christmas season seems like its in full swing.

Cut tree buyers are looking for that elusive perfect tree but I always remind myself that a tree that looks “perfect” to me does not to someone else as all of us have our own particular idea of perfection or beauty.

In my opinion, if a cut Christmas tree is too thickly branched, it would look good out in the yard but not as a Christmas tree as ornaments will tend to lay on the tree instead of hanging.

An old-fashioned Christmas would have included handmade ornaments for the tree as well as a garland made from cranberries or popcorn strung together with a needle.

I can remember asking my parents for a Huffy bicycle made in Cleveland that I saw in the Kresge store in the Norton shopping center.

I asked my mother to look at the bicycle and I can still remember her asking me how much it cost to which I replied $19.95.

My mother said “My, that’s so expensive!”

Finally after two and one half years I received the bike as a Christmas present and I still have it!

Fraser Firs are still the favorite cut Christmas tree as they rarely shed needles and are easy to decorate with their soft pliable needles.

Colorado Spruce on the other hand are very sharp needled and generally don’t hold their needles as well.

In some University controlled tests, researchers concluded that the best way to keep your tree fresh is to use plain water.

In fact, many of the different tree preservatives tested actually hastened the deterioration of the tree.

It is important that you make a fresh cut in the trunk of your tree just before you place it in the stand which helps the tree to intake water.

Be sure you do not shave the outer bark from the tree if it won’t fit your stand as the tree for sure will not take up water.

It is best to have the right size stand for the particular tree size but I always liked a stand larger than recommended as it is much easier to stand a tree straight than one that has a crooked trunk.

I have already told you about the Cinco brand of tree stand as it does work extremely well especially when you have a tree with a crooked trunk.

With a Cinco stand, there is no need to upgrade to the next size up as this stand’s design has plenty of room available for adjustment.

As with the past years’, our trees are all from the State of Ohio because I can be sure of the freshness and not worry about the harvesting being done too early as many times it is with big operations farther north.

Happy tree hunting,
Tom

November 27, 2009
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. 

I remember the Thanksgiving of 1970 in which all of our family traveled to Rural Valley, Pennsylvania near Kittanning to finish cutting, bailing and loading cut Christmas trees. There was no turkey and stuffing that year as we got so behind on the work and we just had to work in the field to catch up.

Poinsettias are coloring up nicely as the bracts, which are modified leaves, are just about through expanding and donning their crisp colors of red, white, pink, marble and burgundy.  Poinsettias, like Chrysanthemums, are sensitive to day length in that short days signal them to bloom.

Poinsettias will not bloom if held over from the previous year if they have interruption from a light at night.

In fact, years ago when Yoder Brothers of Barberton used to grow poinsettias along Van Buren Ave., I remember an article in the Akron Beacon Journal in which the city of Barberton shut off street lights adjacent to Yoder’s greenhouse so that the red light emanating from the lamps would not prevent the poinsettias from blooming.

Its okay to hill up your more tender teas and floribunda roses with bark mulch to at least a depth of 10-12” for winter protection of the bud union near ground level.  You will not have to do this mounding with shrub roses such as the knockout series as they are on their own roots and perfectly winter hardy.

Years ago Melvin Wyant of Wyant’s Roses in Mentor, Ohio told me that no matter what you do for winter protection of tea roses, you should expect to lose at least 10% of them.

In fact, his observations led them to believe that yellow roses especially are weaker by nature.

In Wolf Creek Gardens, some of our Rhododendrons are in wind swept areas so that we have put up some burlap screening to break the force of the wind to prevent leaf burning.

You see those big leaves transpire a lot of water and the plants cannot take up water from frozen soil.

It’s not too early to shop for a cut tree as you’re able to get the best selection and we’re able to hold it for you for later pick up or delivery and setup if you’re not ready yet.

I’ve got to go!

Tom

November 20, 2009
Even though everything has just about shut down for winter, our Azaleas, Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel “youngsters”, many of which we propagated last summer, are doing well in a cool greenhouse as they are developing quite a root system.

We give them a low concentration of a liquid feed we mix up ourselves that is a “dark weather” feed as it is high in nitrate nitrogen as opposed to the ammonium form of which is commonly used in the warm growing season.  Your houseplants would do well with a fertilizer low in ammonical nitrogen too at this time of year as there is less chance of root injury.

We’re in full swing now into making grave blankets and I’ll be delivering many to local cemeteries just before Thanksgiving. 

I always call my customer after I deliver their blanket or grave pillow and I remember on one occasion that I delivered one to Greenlawn cemetery in which the customer called me back to tell me that there was no blanket on the grave!

I remember specifically placing the blanket on that particular grave then when I returned to check out the problem, someone had dragged the blanket 300 feet to the east to another grave as evidenced by the snow trail.

Fortunately, the above problem is rare, at least at Christmas time.

This year I’ll miss my uncle George as we traveled together to Burton, Ohio to decorate the graves of my great grandparents Susan and George L. Dayton and then drove south about a hundred miles to Coshocoton to decorate the grave of my great uncle Hughe Dayton.  Unfortunately, my Uncle George will need a blanket on his grave as he passed away in March.

Maybe you have potatoes and some other root vegetables in the ground or stored and some canned goods or frozen vegetables that came out of your garden.  Just think how wonderful it will be when you can show off your own produce to your extended family and friends at Thanksgiving!

Our cut trees will be her next week and will start setting them up for sale the day after Thanksgiving.

Even though for most of us, 2009 hasn’t been that great financially.  Just remember to count your blessings as they almost always outweigh the negatives.

Happy gardening,
Tom

November 13, 2009
I guess it seems foolish to some at the nursery but I am all excited about storing our creeping phlox and German iris in a winter storage house with roll up sides for cross ventilation.  You see, these two types of plants are notorious for getting a rot known as botrytis that is difficult to control when conditions are dark and humid in the storage house.  I’m excited because I’m confident the plants will love it and our customers will benefit from better quality stock.

Another item that we grew are laceleaf maples in a 7 gallon container that will explode in growth in May due to their huge root system.  These maples are grafted at about 30” in height so that their finished height will normally be between 4 and 6 feet and just about as wide.

They’re full and robust and we’ll be able to offer them at less cost than a comparable balled and burlapped size.

Next spring, almost all of our fruit trees will be established in a 7 gallon container with two varieties of apples that are red and delicious tasting called Liberty and Pristine.  What makes these two varieties special is that they are resistant to many pests and diseases that affect other apple trees so that they would be great to plant for you organic gardeners out there. 

Our pick-you-own blueberries are closer to becoming a reality in that we have prepared the ground for next spring’s planting of Patriot, Earliblue and Hardiblue varieties.   Once they get going, we’ll sell them already picked in our new barn with other home-grown produce with plenty of healthy “brainberries” left to pick yourself.

I call blueberries “brainberries” sometimes as scientists have proven by experiment that blueberries help to maintain one’s cognitive abilities.

I think even better is that they just taste so good!

Just a reminder, remember to give any of your plants underneath and overhang a good deep watering, as if they go into winter on the dry side, they may not live until spring because the cold air of winter has a profound drying effect on evergreens especially.

Tom

November 6, 2009
The days have grown short and its time to finish your fall gardening chores before the winter snow sets in.

This weekend is the last time I would put on a winterizer fertilizer on your lawn as putting it on later might negate the beneficial effects of the nitrogen and potassium portions of the fertilizer as they are readily leached through the soil because of falling ground temperatures in which the lawn grasses cannot pick up and store these nutrients.

You still have plenty of time to plant Holland flower bulbs as they will have plenty of time to root in this fall and then produce their promise of spring which is already inside the bulb.

It is still too early to cover tea and floribunda roses with a heavy mulch for winter protection but you can trim any rose now (except climbers) to prevent wind whipping.

A trim to about 2-3 feet is all that is needed for shrub, tea or floribunda types.

We’re now in the process of collecting branches for grave blankets and have already cut scotch pine for our cascading types of blankets.

We use Colorado Spruce for other types of blankets but we don’t like to cut the branches too early as they tend to shed needles when processed inside the greenhouse.

Our Christmas trees will be coming from southern Ohio again this year but will not include any Douglas Fir or Concolor Fir due to a late frost that killed the new growth on these trees.

The dead growth is just hanging on the trees even now and doesn’t make a pretty picture although the trees should look fine next year after a flush of growth in May.

We’re just about buttoned up for winter and planting, mulching and building in Wolf Creek Gardens and our new building is going strong.

Already I’m excited about this coming spring as I know its around the corner once February has passed.

Tom

October 30, 2009
With the generally wet and cool October, it has made it more difficult to get all the fall gardening chores done.

At the nursery, we’re just about done potting trees and shrubs for this season.  Some new plants that we bought and potted in our greenhouse won’t be ready for sale for at least two to three years such as a new red Mountain Laurel called ‘Firecracker’, a compact yellow Rhododendron called ‘Big Deal’ and a deciduous Azalea that is orange and yellow called ‘Arneson’s Gem’.

These items are just the “tip of the iceberg” of what will be new for 2011 and 2012.

Another nursery chore is putting the trees and shrubs to “bed” that we grew this summer for next spring’s sales.  The plants will go into an over-wintering Quonset type structure that will be covered with white polyethylene plastic that will keep the wind and extreme cold off the plants even with no heat in the structures.

Some young stock such as our rooted cuttings from the summer will require a layer of ¼” thick foam to keep them a little warmer so that the bark does not crack on the young plants.

The green roof on our new building has caused quite a stir as many of the persons coming off the street try to figure it out.

I have even heard a comment from the local hardware that some think there are leaves on the porch roof!

Green roof’s are not really that unusual as they city of Chicago has a green roof on city hall as well as scattered green roofs in Columbus and Cleveland State University.

In fact, Stuggart, Germany requires a green roof for projects exceeding certain limits of size.

I’ll be sure to do a more detailed explanation of this roof when I see you at our winter seminars this winter.

Happy Gardening,

Tom

October 23, 2009
The construction of our new barn is going well and I’m particularly excited about the completion of our green roof porch. The multi-colors of the Sedum’s foliage will make the roof appear as Joseph’s Coat, the coat of many colors.

This green roof will reduce water runoff as it will absorb the water and release it slowly.

The other practical aspects of this type of roof is that it evens out temperature extremes on the roof liner which extends the life of the liner.

 


With the green mass, the inside of a building will remain much cooler due to the evaporation of water from the plants and the absence of a baking hot surface as is the usual case.

We’re in full sway of putting away our backstock of plants and will be putting away the stock for sale next week so that we may start covering our storage houses with white overwintering plastic in early November.

We’ve bought and grown a lot of stock for next spring’s opening and have to be very careful to ventilate the houses and to even water them in the depths of winter.

Rodents can be a problem even though we catch many in mouse traps.

I prefer the storage of plants even with all its headaches as I am able to hand pick the best stock in the fall for later spring sales.

Enjoy the fall as soon Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here!

Tom

October 16, 2009
I was very grateful for the soaking rains in late September and early October as it has been over three weeks since we have had a decent rain. 

The rains certainly make it easier for new plantings to get established and that’s what we’ve been doing (planting) in our botanical garden, Wolf Creek Gardens.

Some of the plantings have included a collection of native and hybrid Witchhazels, Dogwoods, the native Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin), various Spruce and Pine as well as multiple shade perennials.

I can’t wait for the mass plantings of white and pink Old-Fashioned Bleeding Hearts to come up.

We had these left over from spring sales as going into summer they have no marketing appeal in that they turn yellow in July as they go dormant and wait for the cool days of April to come up again.

With all of the Rhododendron, Azalea, Mountain Laurel, Eastern Redbuds, Dogwoods, Daffodils and other spring blooming perennial, it should be a glorious show!

Another bed that we planted consists of 25 each of 6 varieties of the large bearded German Iris that will show off their blinding plumage in late May an early June.

Another appeal of interest in spring will be our new daffodil-narcissus planting of at least 20,000 bulbs strong flanked by almost 200 multi-colored creeping phlox that will cascade down the large boulder walls in April and May.

As I have said before, the garden is coming along but it will be awhile before it is at a more finished state due to the constrictions of time and money.

Anyway, I think we’re going to have a spectacular fall show of colors as the rain will actually help with the honing of the various pigments in the plants leaves resulting in this northeastern wondrous show!

Tom

October 9, 2009
Now is the time to be thinking about next spring. I already have mentioned that spring flowering bulbs work great when planted in October and November but if you’re planning to landscape your home or form a new perennial or annual flower bed it is wise to get the beds ready in the fall even if you’re not going to plant next spring.

It’s still early enough to spray existing weeds with Roundup, especially perennial weeds that will go into overdrive at the first sign of spring weather. Also adding soil and/or soil amendments is a good idea in fall as sometimes the weather in early spring is not agreeable as it is sometimes far too wet.

Forming a landscape bed now and covering it with a thin layer of mulch will prevent any soil erosion or mud splash on any structure.

With the beds finished, planting can begin much earlier in spring than if beds needed to be prepared in spring.      

Another advantage of the fall preparations for a new garden works especially well for a vegetable garden is that weeds are under control for the most part and early planting of cold tolerant crops could begin in mid March if the ground is not frozen.    

I’m taking my own advice as we are planning a major planting for an annual flower bed to test new varieties of proven winner annuals.  

Another project that we’ll be working on are getting some raised beds amended with sphagnum peat on the east side of the irrigation lake so we’ll be ready to plant blueberries next spring for a pick-your-own operation that will be ready in a couple of years.

Don’t forget to try sweet peet as a soil amendment as it improves the tilth of the ground and accelerates the activity of beneficial microbes in the soil to give you the results in gardening you expect.

Seriously thinking ahead in your garden planning will make your tasks easier and gardening for you will be much more enjoyable.

Tom

October 2, 2009
With the cool, crisp October days and the brilliant leaf colors, many of you have told me that fall is your favorite time of the year. I prefer springtime with its growing day lengths and everything coming to life.  I’ve always wanted to go to Europe in spring especially to Keukenhof to see the bulb gardens. Unfortunately I cannot get away as it is our busiest time of the year at the nursery.

There is still a lot of weekly chores to do as we are transplanting azaleas that we rooted from cuttings last summer. Another chore is planting more flower bulbs in Wolf Creek Gardens and out by the road. Fall is a good time to landscape your home as a flurry of accelerated root growth occurs when the top growth of plants shuts down so that the plants will be well established.

October is a great month for planting spring bulbs as the soil is warm enough in order for the bulbs to develop roots before winter. If you arrange a planting of bulbs correctly, the cascading bloom will occur from mid March through early June.      

Next month we will be putting up wind breaks for our rhododendron garden. The Rhododendrons did very well this year and seem to have budded very heavy for a spectacular spring bloom.

Already I cannot wait for spring as Wolf Creek Garden will finally be open for your viewing and will be a mass of spring flowers from early April through at least June.

Well, I’ve got to do work in the garden.

Tom

September 25, 2009
It seems that everyone had a good time at our 2nd annual fall festival. I know I did but I must admit that I’m glad it’s over for another year as it takes a lot of preparation and work to put on such a show. And talking about shows, don’t forget about the Mumfest located at Lake Anna in Barberton. Barberton’s own Yoder Brothers has donated and supervised the planting and care of the garden chrysanthemums that you’ll see in the spectacular display on the northeastern bank of the lake.

We in the city of Norton do take pride in the Mumfest too as most of Barberton was founded out of the Connecticut Western Reserve Township of Norton by the purchase of 3600 acres of land by Ohio Columbus Barber in 1891 to found his new town of what else other than Barberton.

At the nursery we have mums too that are ready to plant or just sit on your front porch to enhance the beauty for the fall season.

Don’t forget Norton’s Cider Fest has moved from the old Knecht Cider mill in Loyal Oak to Norton Center at Columbia Woods Park on Sept. 26 & 27.

Many trees and shrubs and shrubs are just starting to change color and will really become bright once they are hit with a few cold frosty nights. Remember in earlier blogs I told you to try to get something in mind for fall color besides burning bush. One of the plant species I spoke about were blueberries. With their shades of gold, crimson, maroon, and orange that are bright enough to rival the color of any burning bush but with the added benefit of flowers in spring and delicious healthy berries to eat all summer long!

We’ve put a few more items on our 50% off sale but be sure to check out the list of sale items on our website and to call before you come over as inventory changes rapidly and sometimes that makes listings outdated that same day!

Happy fall,
Tom

September 18, 2009
Well, tomorrow is the day of the BIG festival!  As I stated in my September 11th blog, I’ll be driving the tractor or RTV to give the hayrides.

You can bring the whole family as we’ll have animal shows, food vendors and other interesting activities for adults and children.

Besides the festival, the nursery will be open for business as usual with a good stock of trees and shrubs many of which are on a 50% off sale.

Please remember that everything is not on sale as much of what is in stock just came from our production areas or we just brought in to sell either now or next spring.

One new plant we have in stock is the new Lilac called Bloomerang.  I’m not kidding that’s really its trade name.

The name is a reference to the fact that the lilac blooms heavy in spring (about May 20th) and then repeats the splendor throughout the summer.

Just be aware that the repeat of the bloom is not as heavy as the spring bloom but still heavy enough to delight the eye (and nose) with its repeat performance.

Many of you brought a mail order clipping to me about a repeat blooming Lilac called ‘Josie’ so that I went out to search for it and found its cousin ‘Bloomerang’.

Bloomerang Lilac is only one of many of a parade of new plant varieties that will be appearing at the nursery next spring. 

Our perennial line will be exploding along with our Clematis varieties and we’re making a big push for new annual flowers that will amaze you next spring.

Now, I just have to figure our where we’re going to display all of the new stuff!

See you tomorrow after I do the radio show!

Tom

September 11, 2009
Unfortunately as I write my blog for September 11th, I cannot help to remember that fateful day in 2001 that killed many of our countrymen at the hands of terrorists bent on destroying us.  Hopefully I think we all wish the terrorist threat will be solved soon.

On the gardening front, the weather is starting to signal that fall is here or at least almost here with all its festivals celebrating the harvest.  Here at the nursery, we’ll be celebrating our own harvest on September 19th and we hope you’ll be able to join us for a variety of activities including hayrides.  Check out the entire schedule on our website.

I will be pulling two wagons filled with straw bales and people around the nursery and showing off what we’ve done so far in our Wolf Creek Botanical Garden. I do have a license so don’t be afraid to pile on the wagon!

We’ve been busy working diligently on getting the roadways in shape, creating huge boulder walls to contain high slopes, expanding waterlines and doing various plantings to enhance the garden.

More than one of the customers has asked me when I think the garden will be finished and my crafted answer is that “when I am dead” as to me a garden is a work in progress in which changes occur every year.

Construction on our new barn has started that will sit high on a hill above Wolf Creek Gardens but I don’t expect it to be finished until sometime in November.

September 19, 1890 is also my grandmother’s birthday (my mother’s mother) who just loved vegetable and flower gardening.  I can still see her pulling weeds, canning and sitting with a bowlful of beans on her lap that need to have the strings broken off.  I can remember asking her why she was digging and replanting Creeping Phlox when I was about 7 years old and her telling me how the old clumps die out and how you must dig up some of the younger ones to replace the old ones. 

It’s funny but I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

I don’t mean to nag but remember that September is lawn chore time as its cool nights, warm days and generally moist soil conditions make it an ideal time to start a new lawn or “play” with an existing lawn to get it closer to that elusive state of perfection.

Hope to see you at the festival!

Tom

September 4, 2009

Where did the summer go?

With the cooler days and nights of late summer, September is an ideal time to sow a new lawn or do lawn chores such as repairing bare spots, thatching, fertilizing, weed control and so on.  In fact, university studies have concluded that fall fertilizing of lawns does more good to get them in good shape then in the spring. 

Fall is a great time to plant just about anything so the plants become established before the next hot summer.

Garden Club members will want to take advantage of our fall sale as we have many desirable perennials, roses, trees, shrubs and some hard goods on sale that are really a great deal.

The fall sale is open to everyone after September 7th but we want to be sure our Garden Club members get the most advantage to get first pick. 

Be sure to check out our online inventory to see what’s on sale and what’s not.

Not everything is on sale as much of what we have is actually our production meant for next spring that is actually ready now.

While our blueberries are not on sale, I think they’re the best crop we’ve ever grown! 

With three trimmings to make the plants bushy, our plants are full and beautiful and ready to plant so that you’ll at least get a few healthy bowlfuls of blueberries next year.

Check out our garden mums too.  We have mums in a large 14 inch decorative pot that’s great for sitting on the porch or patio for some instant fall decoration. Better yet, these mums are only $19.99!

Labor Day has changed over the years as I can still remember seeing Vice President Hubert Humphrey and later Senator Howard Metzenbaum at the huge crowds in Barberton at the Labor Day parade!  Speaking of Barberton, remember to mark your calendars for the Mum fest on September 26th and 27th with all its other activities and the special centennial celebration of O.C. Barber’s Anna Dean Farm.

For more fun, be sure to stop by our Fall Festival on September 19th.  We’ll have plenty of activities for the whole family including a hayride through the ever-expanding Wolf Creek Botanical Garden!

Happy Labor Day!
Tom

August 28, 2009
By now, many of you that are Garden Club members have received a post card via snail mail about our upcoming fall sale. 

The sale is open to everyone after the expiration date on the postcard but is open only to garden club members first so that our members get first choice of the plants they may like to buy during the sale.

Be sure to check our online inventory for what we have in stock and what is on sale.

Inventory changes so rapidly during the fall sale that we advise you to call ahead before traveling a long distance as the online inventory is not perpetual.

We will gladly deliver and install your plants if you wish but remember that delivery and installation charges are not discounted from our normal rates.

Also good to remember is that we’ll be happy to help you with design questions or do a quick sketch for you free of charge in order that you may take fuller advantage of our plant sale.

Our Holland flower bulbs are just about ready to arrive from the Netherlands.

Its best to browse the selection or purchase them during September in order to get the best selection and then to plant them in October through November when the ground is cooler.

You must plant these types of bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth) in fall as the cooler temperatures cause root growth and a chemical change in the bulbs after a 13 week cold period to “tell” the bulb to “wake up”, grow and then bloom in spring.

If you get busy, you still can plant bulbs until about February 15th with good results.

Get busy and prepare your bulb planting beds now!

So long,
Tom

August 21, 2009
Fall is a great time to plant most trees, shrubs and perennials as roots will grow until the ground temperature falls below 40 degrees F.

Fall planted plants will act as if they have been established an extra year when they break growth in spring because of the massive root growth that occurred the previous fall.

Our garden chrysanthemums are ready and starting to celebrate the coming of the cooler fall.

Whats the scoop about garden mums?  The truth is they are a somewhat tender perennial and will sometimes not survive the winter.

In order to get them better through winter, do the following:

1.      Carefully loosen the outer root system of the mum to encourage roots to grow into the new soil and be sure to keep the plants well watered until they establish themselves

2.       Plant the plants in a raised well-drained bed of soil as soggy soils in winter will encourage more soil heaving that will damage the plant crown

3.      If possible cover the plants lightly with evergreen boughs after the ground begins to freeze

4.      Do not cut the dead stems off the plants when blooms are spent.  The old dead crown will help shade and protect the live crown near the soil surface.  Cut off the old foliage about April 1st.

5.      Protect new emerging growth of mums from severe frosts in early spring.

While doing all the above is no guarantee that you will be successful, chances are good that your garden mums will come up in spring especially if snow cover is adequate all winter.

Another way at looking at garden mums is simply to enjoy them in a pot or in the ground and take the attitude of Que sera sera.

A great way though to get them established is to buy them in spring as young plants.

In this way the root system will be massive and deep and not as prone to the fluctuations of winter temperatures. 

Happy gardening,
Tom

p.s. I’d like to remind our Garden Club members to use their Dayton Dollars as they will expire near the end of August!

 

August 14, 2009
Even though many of us are wondering “where did the summer go?” there is still plenty of summer left as autumn does not officially start until the autumnal equinox in late September.

Those of us with vegetable gardens are enjoying a bountiful harvest of heat-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, beans, melons and so on.  Sometimes the harvest becomes too bountiful in that there is too much food to use as fresh vegetables.

I still remember my grandparents and parents making ketchup with excess tomatoes, freezing beans, corn, and medium hot peppers.  My mother would core the peppers and then stack about a one half dozen inside one another and place them in a freezer bag before freezing.

When using the peppers for a meal to make stuffed peppers, she would thaw the stacked peppers just enough to get them apart to stuff them.  Waiting too long for the peppers to thaw would result in mushy peppers caused from the freezing.

I always marveled at the taste of the peppers as it was hard to tell if they were frozen or fresh from the garden!

Sometimes my parents would boil jars and vegetables for canning in the kitchen but it made the whole house hot and humid.

Later, we used an old cast iron stove in the back yard and fed it with seasoned wood.  Now I know why years ago summer kitchens were in vogue.

In about 10 days to two weeks, start checking your lawn for grub damage, especially if you did not do anything to kill them earlier.  Digging by skunks, crows or a discoloration in patches of the lawn can indicate grubs.  Check to see if the turf pulls up easily where upon you should see several of the root-eating critters.  If you do see them spread Dylox on your lawn and water it in as it will kill the grubs within one to two weeks after application.

Dylox breaks down quickly so do not apply it until you know you have a problem.  The quick breakdown of Dylox is an advantage as this trait makes it very unlikely that it would contaminate ground water like Diazinon did.

Except for the two recent hot spells, august has been moist and cool making for a good growing season.

Our garden mums are almost ready with the early blooming varieties starting to show color and I expect them to be ready for sale around August 20th.

Hope to see you soon.

Tom

August 7, 2009
We just go through potting up our Hostas, Daylilies, German Iris, Hibiscus and Clematis for next year. Many of the varieties will be new for next spring as we constantly add to our selection.

This month too is the month that I scour the internet and travel to find new plants that I think will “flip-the-switch” of our customers.  Its difficult to tell as I think I know what our customers will like but once in a while, I’ll pick a real dog that doesn’t sell very well.  I get so excited sometimes about a new plant variety that I have even gone to the length of ordering it 3 years in advance to be sure it is available!

We’ll be sure to show off our new waves at our winter seminars in our new facility.

Many of you wrote in our seminar surveys that our building was too cold on cold winter days.  The new building will have much more insulation with in floor heating that will keep everyone warm even when the temperature is well below zero.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see all the new stuff for next spring!

Tom 

July 31, 2009
Work is finished on our site preparation for our new building that will rise high on a hill when approaching the nursery traveling south on Cleveland-Massillon Rd.

The “barn” with a gambrel roof will be used for a meeting area for seminars, or a wide variety of gardening types and for flower shows such as those for roses, german iris, dahlias and such.

I’m really excited as the building will be heated with an in-floor heating system with hot water being pumped from a boiler with a series of tubes under the floor.

Many aspects of the building will be “green” with an R-60 insulation in the ceiling, R-25 in the walls and a special “E” glass that will keep out cold in winter and heat in summer better than ordinary glass.

A wrap around porch will have a green roof in which multiple varieties of Sedum will grow on the roof reducing runoff and absorbing the hot rays of the sun.

Another “eco-friendly” aspect of the new building is that I plan to use LED lights instead of fluorescent or incandescent as LED lights are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent.  I don’t know for sure if LED lighting will become a reality this year as the technology is not yet quite there.

The runoff from the huge roof area will drain back to our irrigation lake so there will be no additional runoff to Van Hyning Run to contribute to flooding during heavy rains.

Even though our new building has all the modern construction and conveniences, it will appear to be in a style reminiscent of large dairy barns of 150 years ago and more as I wanted it to fit in with the home that was built about 1870.

Construction will start in the next 30 days and we hope to move in by Christmas

Come by later and take a look.

Tom

July 24, 2009
As I mentioned before, our new crop of blueberries are now available including the late bearing Elliot, the early bearing Earliblue and the half-high varieties that grow low and compact.

Some scientists have coined the phrase brainberries when referring to blueberries as experiments using mice show that the brain’s cognitive abilities are enhanced with the gradual aging of the mind slowing down.

Its still not too late to spread Merit on your lawn to control Japanese beetle grubs but time is running out as the product will not be effective if put down too late (after Aug 15th).

The botanical garden, Wolf Creek Gardens, is shaping up with the construction of boulder walls to contain a hillside planting of dwarf conifers.  Many of the boulders weight two to two and a half tons each!

A large island of topsoil with Sweet Peet was formed last fall for a perennial planting and will include coneflowers, Shasta daisies, German Iris, grasses, Happy Returns daylilies and Geranium Rozanne planted in masses in order to project a bold statement.  This planting is just west of the shady Rhododendron-Azalea planting to which we added a few more varieties this summer.

Be sure to take advantage of the coupons available on our website for special “deals” on many different things.

We’re just finishing up on cuttings of different shrubs and will be waiting for them to finish rooting in about 4-8 weeks depending on the type.  Some plants will over- winter fine without any heat but others such as Azaleas, Rhododendron and blueberries will require a minimum heat (above 40 degrees) in the greenhouse where they will grow roots all winter and then will explode into growth beginning in February.

Well, so long for now, I’ve go to get planting.

Tom

July 18, 2009
In all of my recent blogs, I have been silent about the progress of our botanical display garden called Wolf Creek Gardens.

The reason for my silence is that while we have made much progress in the plantings, installation of water lines and road building, there is still more to do.  More plantings are going on right now in our dwarf conifer garden and Rhodoendron-Azalea garden. Another planting underway is a large island of perennials and shrubs to display ribbons of color in the summer!

Perhaps the largest project is the construction of a barn to be used for offices, produce market and a seminar room as a gateway to the garden.

The barn will be of a style of a Wisconsin dairy barn with a gambrel roof similar to the one that stood on the property for almost 100 years on the same site before it burned in 1963.

My hope is to open the garden by the spring of 2010 even though much work will still be in progress.

Much of the planting has been going on for 3 years so that some of the plants are becoming well-established.

The established plants include a collection of European Beech varieties, Dogwood cultivars, Eastern Redbuds, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, numerous pines, firs and spruce as well as a hedge row of tall western red cedar.  The purpose of the garden will be foremost educational but my hope is that many of you that come to visit us will simply enjoy walking through the garden,

Back to work for me.

Tom

July 10, 2009
I wonder how many of you have gotten the first ripe tomato of the season.  I know I’m just about ready because my Earth Box tomatoes are growing like crazy!  The scientifically designed box allows for maximum growth and production of the fruits due to its great soil mass and water reservoir below it.  Its amazing how much food can be grown in a limited amount of space!

If you have not done it yet, trim back your shrub roses and spireas now to get spent flower heads out of the way of new growth to allow for more flowering a little later.

This “trick” will not work with spring flowering plants as they are “programmed” to bloom only in spring.  However, removing spent flowers or a light trim will mean more new growth and thus, more blooms for next spring.

Right now, we’re taking cuttings of Azaleas, Blueberries and many different shrubs that will start to be available two years from now.  It’s a long process from a cutting to a saleable plant, but one that’s rewarding and enables us to control the production process.

For example, years ago I attempted to purchase small Azaleas to sell but the plants always seemed to be pot bound.  Other items that I tried to purchase were not trimmed to my liking.

Also, many new plants that we introduce are patented and are not available in a larger size from local wholesale nurseries.  In this case, we buy the plant liners from licensed growers and grow them on to a saleable size.

Another advantage to our propagation and growing operations is that we learn what production techniques make the plant “happy” and then we can pass along what we’ve learned to our customers.

Later on, I’ll let you know what new things were working on!

Tom

July 4, 2009
Happy July 4th! I’m sure we are mindfull of what this birthday celebration of our nation really means. July 4th too reminds me of fireworks, family picnics, fishing, boating or whatever else you may enjoy.

I’m sure many of you will be harvesting vegetables right out of your garden for your family picnic.

This day for me was also the last day to plant warm season vegetables from seed as any later planting may or may not “make it” because of the declining day length and cooler nights.

In the flower or vegetable garden, July is a good feeding time for various types of caterpillars from the insect order called Lepidoptera. These little critters can eat up a tomato plant, perennial Hibiscus or Hollyhock in no time. A good organic control is to spray with a bacteria known as BT (Bacillus thunbergiensis) or Spinosad. These organic products are safe to use for you and the environment.

If you have not applied a grub control to your lawn and have had trouble before please do it quickly by using a product containing Merit. This product must be applied soon to achieve the maximum effectiveness to kill the lawn killing grubs that will hatch out around Labor Day resulting from the egg laying activities of Japanese Beetles and European Chafer adults.

Now would also be a good time to fertilize, stir and water your mulch beds to prevent the colonization of the shot gun fungus which can shoot its resin to stick on the siding of your home.

When bacteria are active in your mulch from moisture and nitrogen, they out compete and prevent the formation of this nuisance fungus.

Another application of Preen Weed Preventer to your landscape would be wise if it has been 3 months or more. Remember, Preen is a weed preventer and not a weed killer.
Also, Preen will not control the common ragweed or Canada thistle. There are other herbicides that will control these two nuisance weeds but these herbicides are not safe to use on many plants.

Oh well, I guess we can’t have everything. I’ve got to go, I’ve got lots of weeds to pull.

Tom

June 26, 2009
Now that the summer solstice has come and gone, it seems a bit sad that the days will become shorter day by day.  The good news is that for at least the next two months, the temperatures and day length will be agreeable to the growth and thriving of gardens.

I’m looking forward to July 4th in the celebration of our democracy allowing for our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, and while our democracy is based on majority rule,  our enlightened forefathers were wise enough to put into place the protection of minority rights.

Many of our forefathers were gardeners and farmers and no more than Tom Jefferson with his orchards, vegetable and perennial gardens at this Virginia home, Monticello.  Jefferson was so interested in botany that he spread plant samples sent by Lewis & Clark from the Louisiana purchase on the floor at the White House so that he could study these more easily.

Right now you should be enjoying some of the “fruits of your labor” from your own garden.

Another item to watch are your first early blueberries from a variety called Earliblue that you may have planted.  When the berries begin to ripen, you must net the bush as the birds will out maneuver you to help themselves to the fruit!  Be sure to peg down the net to the ground as the birds can become quite aggressive to feed on the berries.

Look on our gardening calendar and there you’ll find lots of things to do with your blueberries on our web link to allrecipes.com.   

Japanese beetles can be a killer for July and sprays or dusts of Carbaryl (Sevin) are usually effective to keep the eating machines off your plants. 

Don’t let the weeds get ahead of you.

Happy Gardening,

Tom

June 19, 2009
Right now you should be thinking about planting another patch of vegetables especially beans, corn, cucumbers and squash to get the garden “going” later into the summer and early fall.

I was surprised when an organization in Wadsworth to which we donated tomato plants for planting and harvesting by economically disadvantaged families had said that the man that would plow and prepare the ground was concerned about the “late” planting (June 15th) as it was already June!

I laughed when I heard this statement as I have planted many vegetable gardens between June 1 and June 21 with great success.

Again, it is some ancient mentality that some of us have that everything should be done by Memorial Day in the garden.

A the nursery, we’ve been transplanting trees and shrubs for a while now but next to be transplanted are our “starts” of Azalea and Rhododendron from our greenhouse that we rooted from cuttings last summer.

These transplants will be ready to sell in a small size next spring after they have over wintered at the nursery.

Again, please perform the root wash on Rhododendron, Azalea, Pieris japonica and Blueberries (just as we do when we transplant them) as it is a sure way to foster good root growth of the plants.

For more detailed information as to what a root wash is, take a look under gardening tips and look up the instructions for Rhododendron-Azalea planting.

I’m excited too as our new crop of blueberries that we transplanted in March is growing like weeds!

These plants still need time to root out into the new soil and to branch out again after a final trimming we will give them in late June.

I recall my early years of gardening of hoeing, weeding, hilling up the rows of potatoes and waiting for the first harvest of warm season vegetables.

One of my fondest memories is when my grandmother and her friend from Barberton, Mrs. Postek were digging in one of my rows of Pontiac Red potatoes and started screaming.

When I ran to them to see what was the problem, they had dug out a huge potato that weighed in at 2 ¾ pounds!  My grandmother was no novice at gardening in that her city lot was like a food factory providing many meals of fresh and canned vegetables for the family table.

Its no wonder with the money she was able to save that she had $5,000 in the 1930’s to lend a close neighbor in order to keep the neighbor’s house out of bank foreclosure.

Tom

June 12, 2009

Now that the spring blooms have ended, June opens up with the splashes of color from the perennial garden which include Salvias, Shasta daisies, Dianthus, Delphiniums and so on.

A well-designed perennial garden will “move” with the seasons just as flowering shrubs will when properly arranged.

The well-designed perennial flower garden has a certain rhythym in which colors, textures and foliage all compliment each other in a kaleidoscopic display.

Perennial gardens can have many functions from attracting birds and butterflies to providing a fresh bouquet of cut flowers for the dining room or kitchen table.

In order to achieve success with a new perennial garden, preparation is everything:

  •  The area should be free of weeds before any preparation should begin.
  • The perennial bed should be planned so that the area will be well defined whether it is a rectangular bed or irregularly shaped island.
  • Raised beds of soil are excellent to provide drainage especially in winter when a too wet soil can cause damage to plant crowns.
  • Incorporation of a compost of material such as Sweet Peet will greatly improve soil tilth and microbial activity so necessary for good plant health.

Sweet Peet in addition will supply the plants with an organic source of nutrients and is beneficial to use as a mulch when finished planting.

With these important initial steps completed before planting perennials and of course a well-designed plan, your enjoyment and success is all but guaranteed.

If you need help, come in and ask to see Maggie, our perennial expert, or better yet call ahead with an appointment if you need some extra help so that she can set aside the time for you exclusively.

June’s alive too with flowering shrubs from Weigelas, roses, Endless Summer Hydrangea and Maximum types of Rhododendron.

Again, when proper planning is involved, the landscape will move seamlessly from spring to summer to fall with sights that will delight and stimulate the mind.

June 5, 2009
It’s been quite cold for this time of year and the cold nights will temporarily slow down the growth of annual flowers and heat-loving vegetable plants.

The good news is that rainfall is adequate to keep these growing and lawns lush and green. 

Just a reminder:

*Apply a weed and feed to your lawn now if you have not done it

*Spray the lower branches of Dogwood and Rhododendron for borer now if you did not do it at the end of May

*Apply Merit to your lawn in mid-June through July to prevent grub damage this fall

*Deadhead spent blooms of Rhododendron by removing the whole stalk with your thumb and forefinger

*Trim spring flowering plants to shape such as Azalea, Rhododendron, Lilacs and fragrant Viburnum

*Keep up sprays of fungicides such as Bi-carb on tea roses to prevent black spot

*Use Osmocote fertilizer on your annual flowers for a constant feed all summer

*Use Neem Oil to combat bugs on flowers and vegetable plants

*Plant cucumbers and squash from seed until July 1st in order to get a continuous harvest as late as possible

*Watch out for slugs on your flowers and especially Hostas with the wet weather.  Sluggo, which is a nothing more than a salt, iron phosphate,  is safe for pets and the environment. 

Get going because June is the best growing month!

See you soon,
Tom

P.S.  Checkout our Knockout rose selection and the Knockout rose bed that we planted in November in our parking lot island.  Even though I only threw them some fertilizer and trimmed them in March, they’re blooming their heads off!

May 29, 2009
With Memorial Day this Monday on May 25th, it almost seems too early as the traditional Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was once known was celebrated the 30th of May.

You should be in full swing in planting your garden now, although it’s a good idea to think about gardening extending much later in the year by planting cool weather crops such as swiss chard, parsnips, turnips, lettuce and kale among others in mid to late August to harvest late in the fall and even in winter if the plants are covered with straw to keep their crowns from freezing such being the case with parsnips and carrots.

If your going to the cemetery to pay respect to your loved ones who have passed on, we have potted combination pots or potted blooming plants such as roses that you can take home later and plant. To save some money we’ll even show you how to make your own container of mixed flowers so that the combination has a center, a filler and a spiller!

We still have some vegetables and herbs that you may want to check out that includes the herb stevia that is a natural substitute for sugar and one that per unit of weight is much sweeter than sugar so that you use much less.

Stevia derivatives have now been approved by the Federal Government for use as a sweetener in soft drinks!

It’s still not too late to plant your favorite trees or shrubs as we have them already dug up or potted and ready to go so that their root systems are not disturbed by digging out of the field.

The Korean Lilacs are still in bloom with their heavenly fragrance permeating the whole nursery so that they are the tail end of the strong, sweet fragrances of spring until the Sweet Bay Magnolias come into bloom with Clethra, known as the Sweet Pepper Bush, making itself known in July with its heavenly scent.

Stop in to look around and to say hello.

Always gardening,

Tom

May 22, 2009
It’s time or just about time (depending on your local conditions) to set out your frost sensitive plants from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and annual flowers.

You may not know it but some flowers such as petunias are resilient in that they can actually survive and soon thrive after being exposed to temperatures as low as 28ºF. Other annual flowers such as Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens and Coleus would never survive such a freeze or repeated cold nights so that you need to plan accordingly as to what to plant first.

In the garden you can use Preen for Vegetable Gardens Weed Preventer but in the landscape, including your annual flowers, the original Preen works great especially if you slightly work it in or water it in well as you water your newly set out plants.

You can start putting out pots of tropical plants as long as you can keep an eye on the weather for cold frosty nights which will require some action on your part. Just be sure to place them in partial shade for a week before putting them in the bright sun.

Osmocote 14-14-14 works well as a fantastic slow, easy feed for annual flowers in pots, the ground or hanging baskets. In fact, our rose expert, the rose lady, loves to use osmocote on her roses to push growth and blooms.

Our next batch of perennials will be ready soon that will include a new bright yellow Coneflower called ‘Mac-n-Cheese’ that can be planted next to it’s bright red sidekick ‘Tomato Soup’! Where do "they" come up with these names?

However, as I have previously stated in earlier blogs, the Rhododendron alleé is my favorite area of the nursery with ironclads like ‘Boursault’, ‘Nova Zembla’ and ‘Boule de Neige’ displaying large flower trusses that look like jewels sitting on top of an whorl of leaves.

Come on in and get some ideas for your home and we’ll do a quick sketch for you to scale so that you know what to put where. We do ask that you try to come in on a weekday if possible and set up an appointment with one of our designers so that we may give you our undivided attention.

For the most part, the weather now reflects the Goldilocks Principal: not too hot, not cold, it’s just right! Enjoy!

Tom

May 15, 2009
Mountain Laurels, Rhododendron, Azaleas, Enkianthus and Blueberries are all of the same ericaceous family that we grow right at the nursery in Norton!

I’ve been hooked on rhododendrons since I’ve been 12 years old when I remember seeing in Pennsylvania, a border of rhododendron with azalea in the foreground that just seemed to meld together so beautifully that it would almost be impossible to imagine such beauty.

I think our perennial plant varieties expanded by at least another 30-40 varieties in addition to our standard fare.

In our annual greenhouses, hanging baskets, combination pots, flats of flowers and heirloom vegetable plants abound.

I can’t quite figure it out but spring has a certain smell that excites the mind even if one were unable to see all its radiance of color and life.

When you plant your heat loving plants such as tomatoes and peppers in your garden, I want you to try a newer product called Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer as it definitely helps with those pesky weeds. Make no mistake, this is not the regular Preen that I have advised you to use in your landscape and around annual flowers but a Preen product that is made with corn gluten!

Organic and safe, this vegetable garden Preen prevents weeds in your garden by inhibiting the root development of a germinating weed seed - the little devils just don’t have a chance!

Not only do we market things like organic Preen but we have organic insecticides that will kill aphids, spider mites, thrips and well, you get the picture. Don’t forget to do a second spray of the organic Spinosad on the trunks and lower branches of your more mature rhododendron and dogwoods to kill the borers trying to eat the live bark of your treasured plants. A third spray at the end of May is all you should need to finish up.

It’s time to start working hard in the garden so get off your computer and get going!

Tom

May 8, 2009
This time of the year in the state of Ohio is truly breath taking!

Trees in the woodlands, wildflowers and landscapes around houses have finally shed winter’s dormant cloak.

Around the nursery, the Azaleas are radiating their beauty in shades of red, purple, pink and white to be followed a little later by the exbury azaleas and catawbiense hybrids of rhododendron in even more of a kaleidoscope of color including orange, yellow and melon colors in addition to the colors of the evergreen azaleas.

One of the newer flowering trees you have to see is the eastern redbud called ‘Appalachian Red’ in that when it blooms beside the naturally occurring Redbud, the Appalachian variety seems to be electrified as it is a glowing neon pink!

You may have even picked out a gift already for your mother but in case you haven’t, you’ll be sure to find something on the grounds or in our greenhouses full of annuals and perennial flowers just waiting for a new home. Be sure to check out our roses too as the rose lady will be here (if the weather’s nice on Saturday) to give you her advice from her many years of gardening.

If you have ruled out a living gift for mom, bring her to the nursery to just look around as our selection is vast and she may just enjoy walking around to breathe in a deep sense of spring.

Because of the large number of customers in our nursery in May, it is very difficult at times to make sure everyone has his or her questions answered. That’s why we have an item called auxiliary signs on many of our tree and shrub basic signs that give you more in depth details on the plants you should know.

Every year my goal is to write 100 additional auxiliary signs to add to our library of 300 already so that hopefully many of our customers questions are answered if we are unable to serve them right away.

I’ve got to check the watering in the greenhouses and scout for bugs. As with any job not all things about it are glamorous, just a lot of hard work!

Happy Spring!

May 1, 2009
Our annual greenhouse is finally open for your inspection.

This year we’ve added a new line of tropicals, bouganvilla that can be aggravating to sell as the flowers drop and some leaves in their transit from Florida; however we received the plants early enough so that they could regenerate some of their buds and foliage as well as having time to quarantine all of the tropicals to make sure there are no bugs from Florida to contaminate our other greenhouse product or your plants at home.

Our thousands of azaleas are just starting to pop out into color along with my favorite fragrant Viburnum called ‘Cayuga’ that blooms just before the May 10th, fragrant blooming French Lilacs.

This is the best time to get an idea for a Mom’s Day gift as everything is or getting ready to burst into bloom.

Some of my favorite easy to grow evergreen azaleas are ‘Herbert’ (dark double purple), ‘Boudoir’ (watermelon pink), ‘Snowball’ (bright white), ‘Karen’ (bright purple) and ‘Girard’s Crimson’ ( rosy-red).

Our registered trade name that I chose for azaleas years ago is "Bloom and Grow" since we propagate and grow all the plants at the nursery. I got the idea from the song Edelweiss, written by Rogers and Hammerstein in which the lyrics portray the flower as one that may "bloom & grow". This part of the lyrics fits very well with the types of the plants we grow (azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and blueberries) as that’s just what they do: they bloom and then grow.

Soon our garden club members should be receiving our spring newsletter and some valuable coupons by mail. You can still join the club at anytime but we will require your e-mail address as we want to periodically e-mail you information and coupons you can use as all of us know it’s so much less expensive to do an e-mail than snail-mail!

Come on and take a look around but reserve plenty of time for the 14 acres as you’ll see something different and exciting around every corner.

Tom

 

April 24, 2009
Today is Arbor Day so don’t forget to do your part in the "greening of America".

If your ground is of good tilth and drained well many vegetables can be planted this week as long as the garden is workable such as lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet corn, beans, potatoes, radishes, carrots, kohlrabi, collards and so on.

I know we’re all anxious to plant tomato and pepper plants but forget it as it’s still too early no matter what the forecast is like for the next couple of weeks.

Our perennial house opens tomorrow, April 25th so that you’ll be able to look around for your old favorites as well as some of the newest perennials on the market.

Two of the most interesting of perennials are the new Heuchera called ‘Plum Royale’ that I spotted at a nursery last fall and a new red coneflower called, of all things, ‘Tomato Soup’! These perennials will be available a little later about the first week of the merry month of May.

A new variety of coneflower from last year that is ready now is ‘Tiki Torch’ that is a bright electric orange.

It seems that Heucheras and Coneflowers have been "bred to death" but other note worthy perennials are the newer pink Lily-of-the-Valley, Yarrow ‘Sunny Seduction’ that is a clear yellow and more Evison Clematis varieties that bloom and bloom and bloom!

We know that some of you are antsy to get into our annual house, but we won’t let you in there until May Day as it’s still too early and were still preparing the house for your viewing.

On another note, some of you have said that you rarely see me. I am somewhere here at the nursery as you may at times hear my voice on one of our two-way radios answering the salesperson’s or customer’s questions. Sometimes I choose to stay in the background because of my lack of sleep and the long hours.

However, be assured that I’m always glad to see all of you even though you might perceive I am not because it’s possible that I’m half asleep!

Happy Planting!

Tom

April 17, 2009
Remember coming up on April 22nd is Earth Day that has been celebrated every year since the first one in 1970.

Arbor Day has been celebrated nationally since the 1880's but was actually founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska. Mr. Morton was originally from Detroit and wanted the treeless prairie in Nebraska to have trees like his native state of Michigan.

Soon tree planting celebrations were common all over the state with the last Friday in April being recognized nationally as Arbor Day.

This year just like last year, I am asking what kind of a tree you’ll plant to commemorate these important dates.

Trees do matter in that they shade us, provide us with lumber and other wood related products, prevent soil erosion from wind and water, take in CO2 and give us oxygen.

Consider planting a tree that later on you, your children and possibly succeeding generations can enjoy the shade under the branches of the great tree.

The old house at the nursery was built in 1870 and I have a photograph of the original owners, the Wertman’s, from about 1890 standing in front of the house with their grandson Fred Harris. In the photograph is about a 10 foot maple tree on the south side of the house. That little maple is now about 80 feet tall and still shades the south side of the house to keep it cool in summer!

Tell us how your going to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day! Click here

Oh, I almost forgot, you’re all invited to come see the thousands of daffodils in bloom at the nursery that we’ve planted over the years. And no, you don’t have to buy anything as I have said before, if your gazing at the flowers and anyone asks you what you’re doing, tell them it’s none of their business!

Tom

April 10, 2009
Formerly, I had advised you to treat your azalea, pieris japonica and lepidote (small-leaved) rhododendron such a ‘PJM’ and ‘Aglo’ with imadicloprid about April 15th to prevent damage from lacebugs which turn the leaves a sickly bronze color later in the season and will weaken the plants overtime.  Now, I want you to treat the plants instead about May 30th as that is about when the critters become active.

You see, the April 15th date was so that this slow moving systemic insecticide found in Bayer Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia Insect & Disease product could enter the plant in time to kill the lacebug. However, there is some evidence that this product is deadly to bees such as bumblebees that pollinate these plants.

The goal is to apply the material late in May in order that there will be none of the material in the plant until bloom drop in late May and early June thus, keeping it out of the system of pollinating bees and yet timely enough to kill lacebug anyway.

Again, it is an ideal time to apply a crabgrass preventer to your lawn and coming very close to the time to apply Espoma’s Organic Weed & Feed that contains corn gluten to suppress weeds.

Another plant line I told you about in my February 7th seminar and in an earlier blog is blueberries. Because of the beautiful flowers from hot pink to white, different plant habits and ultimate growing sizes and spectacular fall color, if you don’t consider planting some blueberries in your garden or landscape you are a fool!

Why pay for the high-priced berries in the store that you don’t even know with what they’ve been sprayed or how they were handled? In fact, during a recent radio report a Cleveland area doctor claimed that in 2007 the FDA performed no inspections on food processing operations in China that export food to the United States!

Blueberries are a member of the rhododendron-azalea family which is right up our alley so that we can help you select and successfully grow these jewels of plants.

Come on in and take a look around. We’re not all set up yet but it’s getting close!

Adieu!

April 3, 2009
April showers really do seem to bring May flowers and weeds galore.

It’s time now to start your lawn program in applying a crabgrass preventer and feed. I like the Greenview’s program and so do most customers from almost 20 years of selling this line.

Another program to consider though is the Espoma company’s organic lawn care products that contain corn gluten which proven by experiments will control 60% of weeds in lawns when used the first year and up to 90% of weeds the second successive year of use.

The other advantage of this organic product is that the organic fertilizer is enhanced by inoculating it with various microbes under Espoma trade name of Biotone. The microbes release the nutrients slowly overtime so that they won’t give your grass a lush, quick undesirable spurt of growth making it more susceptible to insects and disease.

The disadvantage to the organic weed & feed by Espoma is that there is only a narrow window of time in which it can be applied for maximum effectiveness. The ideal time to apply this product is between April 15th and May Day.

Another fertilizing chore is your landscape in which Holly tone ( for acid-loving plants) and Plant tone for all other trees, shrubs and perennials can be applied.

I like these products very much as they are low in salts so that they are not likely to burn your valuable plants and just as important, the low salts means that valuable microbes such as mycorrhizae and rhizobacteria among others are not destroyed so that the soil remains healthy and vibrant.

It’s funny because when I think about all the talk about being green and being sustainable environmentally, I think back how we designed our irrigation system at the nursery to collect the runoff water back to our irrigation lake from our irrigation of the plants and rainfall. The water must run through a series of vegetated channels and settling ponds filled with all kinds of naturally occurring water plants that filter the water.

Our system functions like one big rain garden although I didn’t know back then what it was called!

Sometimes, it’s not easy being green!

Tom

March 27, 2009

It’s time for you to get off your "you know what" and get to work in the yard and garden.

When it’s above freezing, cut old dead wood out of your roses regardless of the type and spray tea roses, floribundas, and grandiflora types with lime-sulfur as directed.

Lime-sulfur is your first defense against the black spot fungus as the spores of this disease on the plant and surrounding ground are killed when the solution contacts them.

Fertilizing your shade and flowering trees with a garden or lawn fertilizer spread under the tree drip line is ideal to invigorate the tree to keep it healthy and more resistant to insects and disease.

I like Greenview’s Wintergreen Fall Fertilizer with a 10-16-20 analysis than can be safely spread at the rate of 1 pound per 100 ft² so that a 10'x10' area under your tree would receive one pound of the fertilizer applied as evenly as possible.

A good raking of your lawn will help to relieve any snow mold pressure in addition to cleaning up winter’s debris.

While a crabgrass preventer can be applied next month, be sure to use Greenview’s Crabgrass Preventer & Seed Starter if you did some reseeding late last fall or earlier this year. See our March 6th blog.

The time for sure has come to plant peas and onion sets as long as the ground is workable. I know that many old timers like to plant on St. Patrick’s Day but the ground rarely has been ready to plant that early as there is still snow on the ground, or it’s frozen, or it’s too wet in which case I believe the worst thing for a gardener to do is to try to work the garden.

Don’t forget to plant asparagus roots, rhubarb, horseradish, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries bare root before temperatures get too warm.

I better get back to work now.

Tom

March 20, 2009
I almost thought we would never get here but we did!  Today is the vernal equinox and the first day of spring. I always thought it was strange that the extreme northern and southern latitudes receive a longer day in their summer and a shorter day in their winter while in the middle latitudes of the globe, the differences in the day length and night are not as pronounced.

With the day length equal all over Earth during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, it works out that no area on earth receives more or less total hours of daylight than any other over the course of the year!

The lengthening periods of daylight will soon signal the landscape here in Ohio to come alive as soon as the temperatures increase.

Trees and shrubs know not to be "fooled" by a January thaw as they have not had enough chilling hours to break their chemical induced dormancies. Others simply won’t begin to grow until the daylight advances more.

Our dahlias have been growing for 3 weeks now and lighted with incandescent lights to break up the darkness at night to "fool" them into growing instead of forming tubers. The cut off date for lighting our dahlias is April 24th which will insure that they will start to bloom for Mother’s Day.

It’s just about time to pull our azaleas, blueberries and other plants out of their winter storage quarters although I never get too anxious as I well remember early April of 1982 when spring had started early only to have temperatures fall into the single digits Fahrenheit for three consecutive days in a row with about a foot of snow.

I remember calling Bill Yoe Sr. Of Madison, Ohio as I had a pickup scheduled for April 10th and I didn’t think I would be able to pick up our order. Mr. Yoe’s reply was that I shouldn’t worry about it because as of right now he was looking out his window at a five foot snowdrift!

In other words, it’s getting close to walking around the nursery just to look around but not yet.

Happy Spring!

Tom

March 13, 2009
Only about a week remains until spring! Soon the Galanthus snow drops will be coming up followed by crocus, botanical tulips, daffodils, narcissus...

Things at the nursery are getting quite hectic as we’re in the time of getting ready for the spring season with the finishing of the bare-root rose potting, perennial potting, annual flowers, potting of bare-root trees and shrubs and the receiving of nursery stock.

Whew! It’s so hectic in fact and I’m moving around so much that I must eat even when I don’t feel like it just to maintain my weight.

I think almost everyone will agree that there is just something about spring that invigorates the soul especially after a long hard winter.

Spring reminds me of the opening line in Alexander Pope’s poem, "From an Essay on Man", "Hope Springs Eternal ..."

Former Ohioans who have lived in Florida and California for years have told me that one of the things they miss about Ohio are the changing seasons as most parts of these other warmer weather states cannot match the rebirth of this state with all its glory in the spring.

And for those of you who complain about the sometimes lousy weather of Ohio, remember that Ohio has one important factor in its favor that many states do not - water and lots of it.

Get started on potting up your dahlias, begonias and canna’s to get a head start on spring if you haven’t done it already.

You can sow pepper seeds and tomato seeds too but be ready to place tomatoes in larger containers such as a 4" pot or larger as they’ll be quite unruly by the time you can place them out in the middle to late May.

Unfortunately for me the spring days whiz by as I am so busy that I cannot enjoy the time.

Oh well, I like the work anyway. See you soon.

Tom

March 6, 2009
Remember a year ago when it seemed like it would never stop snowing! Anyway, when the snow does leave and the ground is yet frozen it’s an ideal time to overseed your lawn as you won’t be compacting wet soil and the constant freeze-thaw cycle will naturally work the seed into the ground so that it contacts soil to emerge in April when soil temperatures warm up to 55º F.

Just before seed germination, about April 1st, it would be a good idea to apply a starter fertilizer like Greenview Wintergreen Fall fertilizer as it is high in phosphorous and that’s just what germinating grass seed needs to get established quickly.

Another Greenview product with which you can customize your lawn program is Greenview Starter Fertilizer & Crabgrass Preventer as it "knows" the difference between germinating grass seed and crabgrass seed.

Do not use the regular crabgrass preventer such as Scotts Halts or Greenview Crabicide Green as these products will kill grass seedlings as they emerge making your previous efforts a waste of time and money.

If you haven’t checked out the rest of our website, try a "walk" through the plant encyclopedia as it’s newly expanded to include lots of information on our new line of blueberries and an expanded "palette" of conifers - dwarf and not so dwarf.

We are open for the season now, except for Sunday’s but as the sun grows higher and longer in the sky we’ll adjust our hours for your convenience so that you can get most of your planting and spring garden chores accomplished when the time is ripe.

See you soon.

February 27, 2009
Tomorrow is the last day of February and our last seminar in our winter seminar series.  megan Vance of Suzanne Jardin Garden Design will be presenting her program on perennial design and culture as well as all the new "stuff" in perennials for 2009.  Just be sure to call us to reserve your seat for this interesting program.

Another way to get a sneak peek at spring is visiting the Home & Garden Show at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron from February 27th through March 1st.   The newest products in home improvements and the lush display gardens will remind us of the more verdant days of spring.

I’ll be broadcasting our radio show Ready-Set-Grow live from the Home & Flower Show on Saturday, February 28th beginning at 8 am.

I won’t know who I will be interviewing as of yet as it’s always a surprise until I arrive at the set. I’ve interviewed homebuilders, landscapers, garden center managers, orchid growers and even cable television celebrities whom I’ve never even heard of since I don’t have and don’t want cable television!

As I stated in my earlier blog, I just find my guests so interesting that the time just flies.

Now I know why Dorothy Fuldheim of the Cleveland station WEWS enjoyed interviews with her many guests over the years.

Other happenings at the nursery is that we’ve just received our bare root roses to pot up and grow on to get them ready to sell for Mother’s Day and beyond.

Our first shipment of perennial plugs, (small plants) are arriving from Holland, Michigan next week to pot up and grow on.

To say the least, we’re starting to get very busy behind the scenes.

More talk later, I’ve got to go.

Tom

February 20, 2009
My guest on the radio program will be Megan Vance who is a Master Gardener and owner of her own business, Suzanne Jardin Garden Design.

Megan’s expertise is that of the perennial flower realm in which she’ll be giving tidbits of successfully selecting and growing a pallet of perennials to create excitement and a multifacet of color and texture in your garden all season long.

Our program, Ready-Set-Grow is broadcast live on WAKR 1590 am radio every Saturday from 8 am to 10 am so that on February 21st you’ll have plenty of time to call in to ask Megan your perennial gardening questions by calling 330-370-1590.

I thought that a two hour program would be too long but it seems there’s always so much to talk about and so much that I learn from our listeners.

I especially enjoy my interviews with my different gardening guests and so much so that I forget the time with my questions as I’m trying to absorb all the knowledge that I can before the short two hours is up.

For a more detailed perennial talk you’ll just have to sign up for our seminar on February 28th at 11 am at the nursery.

Megan will reveal her tips for perennial success and take a peak at all new stuff that will be available in spring with a power point program.

This last in our series of winter seminars is $10 with a discounted rate of $8 for our garden club members. We do ask that you call or e-mail us in order that we can be sure to have enough seating and refreshments as "it’s not pretty" if we run short on either of the two.

I can’t wait for her seminar as I’m anxious to pick up some tips myself.

Tom

February 13, 2009
We developed the Dayton Nurseries calendar to make your gardening chores easier to remember so that growing that lush garden you’ve always wanted has just become easier.

Print a copy for your friends as the schedule of gardening events is particular for the conditions that exist here in northeast Ohio.

We’ll be placing the current month’s calendar on line as well as next month’s so you can peek ahead while you’ll have to visit the website as time goes on to view subsequent future months.

As you "flip" through the calendar, note that many local events are listed such as happenings at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and it’s adjoining Secrest Arboretum in Wooster, Ohio.

Right now the nursery is only open at seminar time on Saturday but we plan to open on Monday, March 2nd unless the weather dictates otherwise as it did last year with March 7th’s snowfall of almost 2 feet.

Let’s hope for a slow, easy warm up this spring like last year so that we can have a beautiful spring as we did last year with the slow warm up and cooler temperatures in May.

That’s enough for now.

Tom

February 6, 2009
Tomorrow February 7th I will be presenting a power point program on blueberry selection and culture at 11 a.m. at the nursery.

I became fascinated with these lovely shrubs first because of their delicious fruit and later when I noticed their spectacular fall color of yellow, orange and reds.

The more I began to read about blueberries with their different plant habits, varying fruiting times, hot pink or bright white flower colors and the diverse nature of tastes and fruit sizes, I became hooked.

With the new varieties that have come out of breeding programs for the last 25 years, blueberries are now a great plant for your landscape as well as in the garden.

We’ve been stepping up propagation and production as they compliment our other long standing production line of rhododendron and azaleas.

Don’t forget that Mary Ann Ferguson-Rich will be giving pointers on growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Mary Ann is an accomplished gardener and member of the Akron Men’s Garden Club.

To join us at 11 a.m. on February 14th just call or e-mail to sign up for Mary Ann’s seminar.

This seminar to me has great value in that everyone has capability to grow many plants from seed that not only saves money but gives pleasure too.

I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two as well.

Mary Ann will be my guest on our radio show Ready-Set-Grow on

WAKR 1590 am on February 7th starting shortly after 8 am. Call 330-370-1590 if you would like to speak to her regarding your seed starting projects.

Remember the word for Saturday, February 7th is blueberries.

Tom

January 30, 2009
I can hardly believe January is almost over and the days are noticeably getting longer.

Don’t forget the certified arborist Ernie Brinker will be here at the nursery tomorrow on January 31st for the presentation on trees beginning at 11 a.m. There’s still some room so make your reservation by phone so that we know your coming.

You can pay at the door if you like as the cost of the seminar is $10 and only $8 if you’re one of our garden club members.

On February 7th I will be presenting a program on blueberry shrubs as they have become one of my favorites because they are relatively easy to grow, produce luscious fruit and have so many ornamental landscape attributes.

Mark Roesner from Copley Feed will be my guest on our radio program, Ready-Set-Grow on Saturday January 31st so be sure to tune in as the subject will be on birds such as feeding them, planting shrubs and trees to attract birds and shelter for birds. Be sure to tune in to WAKR 1590 am at 8 am. Call 330-370-1590 to get answers to your questions.

Between the seminars and the radio program, my belief is that these are only two of many avenues of educating our customers about horticulture.

In addition, these many weekly blogs, plant encyclopedia and other types of product information on our web site we believe educate our customers well.

In as much as the radio program has been helpful to our business, I do not believe in "tooting" my horn too much as turning "Ready-Set-Grow" into a solely advertising vehicle would essentially destroy the integrity of the program.

Like you, I’m anxious for spring to arrive but I don’t want to be the one to "watch the pot" until it boils so that I’ll stay busy everyday in order that the remainder of winter passes quickly.

Hope to see you at the seminar.

Tom

January 23, 2009
I must apologize in that I have written no blogs since December 5th as there has been a problem with our website that we have just gotten fixed.

Right now things around the nursery outside are dead as we hunker down for winter being thankful for the abundant snow blanketing plants and our polyhouses with next springs’ stock in storage. 

Inside though is a different story as we are receiving hard goods for inside the store and cleaning walls, shelves and the floor reaching every nook and cranny.

Other wintertime activities are training sessions in which employees learn about new products, new plants and new procedures for the coming gardening year. 

Some of the subjects include the new formulation of Espoma garden fertilizers, new perennials, dwarf conifers and blueberry shrubs.  We want to have everyone here “on the same page” so that our customers get the right advice and assistance that they expect.

Another aspect of wintertime duties is preparing for seminars beginning January 31st with certified arborist Ernie Brinker’s program on selecting, planting and the maintenance of trees.

This week’s radio program will feature my interviewing Ernie about his work with trees and some highlights on his program at the nursery on Saturday, January 31st from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Be sure to tune into WAKR 1590 AM at 8:00 am this Saturday January 24th for Ernie’s interview or call 330-370-1590 to ask your particular question.

See you at the seminar
Tom