Blog Archive 2011

Dayton "Dirt"
Weekly Blog entries
by Tom Dayton

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December 30, 2011
Every year as we are about to turn the page on the new year, the age old question is “Where did the time go!”

So it goes at the nursery in that once spring has come and then gone it seems as though we’re planting for the next spring! With all the transplanting, sticking of cuttings and other work of the greenhouses, we’ll be plenty busy in January and February. The new busyness from the additional greenhouse duties will make winter seem to end more quickly.

Another busy endeavor is the preparation needed for our winter seminars that begin on February 4th. The seminars will continue through March but there are some in April which will include Debra Hardwick’s seminar on Clematis that last year drew such a crowd that I was thinking that we would have to turn some folks away! I have said many times, please notify us beforehand if you want to sign up in order that we are able to do planning for adequate refreshments and seating. I think for $5 most participants will agree that they are getting a good value for the dollar.

The word at the nursery in January is “watch” as I must constantly be on the lookout for mice and vole damage in our overwintering structures and on the outside, deer and rabbit chewing.

Just keep busy and you’ll wonder whatever happened to winter as spring begins spring forth.

Tom

December 23, 2011
The 23rd of December has brought us some surprises in that we don’t have many cut trees left as in some past seasons.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, researchers at North Carolina Statte University are searching for the elusive perfect Christmas tree in hopes to revive the industry. According to the article, as recently as 1991 40% of US households bought a live Christmas tree with the percentage of households with a real tree shrinking to 23% by 2010.

The Fraser Fir seems to be the favorite Christmas tree of most consumers but the Fraser can be somewhat fussy to grow in some areas of the country. Research work and testing is going on right now to determine if a hardy Turkish Fir Tree can be used as a root stock onto which can be grafted Fraser Fir in order to achieve a more disease resistant and easier to grow Fraser Fir.

Another development in North Carolina a few years back was the discovery of a more white Fraser Fir mutation in a grower’s field. The new tree dubbed with the name “Frosty” could be brought to market in quantity with advances in the ongoing research.

The most missed quality of a real tree that I am told by customers with artificial trees is the smell of a pine, spruce or fir. Some of the smell can be achieved by live greens, roping or wreaths but unfortunately, they don’t last as long and are not as effective as a live tree.

In two days Christmas will be upon us and then begins the descent into the long winter. Can spring really be that far behind?

Tom
 

December 16, 2011
In early December, the sun sets even before the sunset of the winter solstice on the 21st making the days appear even shorter than the shortest day of the year! No wonder that Christmas is all about lights and evergreens during the cold dark winter days.

We’re still fabricating more grave blankets and custom decorating many of them. In fact, I thought last week that we had plenty of spruce and pine branches to finish the season but instead we had to cut more this past week to insure a supply of blankets through the Christmas season.

Poinsettias have sold surprisingly well which I think much of the better sale is due to the high quality of the plants since we began growing our own.

The rain this past week has been no surprise as it’s been raining consistently every few to several days since the first of March!

We still have a decent selection of all Ohio grown Fraser Fir which will easily last past the New Year when the tree trunk is set in water.

Christmas was always a big baking extravaganza at our house when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was alive in that cookies, nut rolls and poppy seed rolls would seem to breed in the oven.

I’ll be decorating my own tree soon but I think not until Christmas Eve as I’m somewhat tired after a long day at work.

Hope for snow!

Tom

December 9, 2011
In early December, the sun sets even before the sunset of the winter solstice on the 21st making the days appear even shorter than the shortest day of the year! No wonder that Christmas is all about lights and evergreens during the cold dark winter days.

We’re still fabricating more grave blankets and custom decorating many of them. In fact, I thought last week that we had plenty of spruce and pine branches to finish the season but instead we had to cut more this past week to insure a supply of blankets through the Christmas season.

Poinsettias have sold surprisingly well which I think much of the better sale is due to the high quality of the plants since we began growing our own.

The rain this past week has been no surprise as it’s been raining consistently every few to several days since the first of March!

We still have a decent selection of all Ohio grown Fraser Fir which will easily last past the New Year when the tree trunk is set in water.

Christmas was always a big baking extravaganza at our house when my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was alive in that cookies, nut rolls and poppy seed rolls would seem to breed in the oven.

I’ll be decorating my own tree soon but I think not until Christmas Eve as I’m somewhat tired after a long day at work.

Hope for snow!

Tom

December 2, 2011
Last Friday, the so called Black Friday was busy at the nursery with sales of wreaths, roping, poinsettias and cut trees in full swing.

At the nursery our “Black Friday” is the month of May as that month pays for all our expenses for about the entire year when there are fewer sales or no sales such as in winter. 

Predictably, the large trees of 10 feet and taller are about all sold but we do have a good source of Canaan Fir which can be cut for $100 retail.  The trees are gorgeous with some approaching 12 feet.  Canaan Fir is similar to Fraser Fir and has the same needle-holding capability when they are cut around Thanksgiving or after.

This week for us has been a real crunch time as our cuttings of flowers from Guatemala arrived and must be stuck quickly in the rooting media.  These plants will be potted up to hanging baskets in late January and will grow on until May before they can be sold.  Our next batch of cuttings will arrive in late January for more hanging baskets and smaller pots.

The months of January and February are only a brief interlude at the nursery before full production starts in March.  I’ll be giving you some insight on what’s new for 2012 as soon as the holidays are over.  

Remember Santa Claus will visit the nursery between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on December 3rd and 4th so that you’ll want to bring your camera, children and/or grandchildren for a photo opportunity.

It’s been wet enough this year so that the cold rain might as well change to snow.

Tom

November 25, 2011
With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to get in the swing of the Christmas season. Our poinsettia crop turned out better than expected with almost all of the varieties having large colorful bracts of red, white, marbled and pink.

I am so thankful too that our Christmas tree grower is very fussy about quality as he hires extra labor to harvest the trees late in November in order that they remain fresh for our customers. In the past two years I have inspected the cut trees at some of the home improvement stores and was shocked that they would ever sell as most of the trees were so dry! In fact, I was in one of the stores buying plumbing supplies on Christmas Eve two years ago when a young couple with a baby bought one of the last three cut Douglas Firs for $5.00 in which the bottom one third of the needles had fallen off!

I will be doing my inspection of at least 5 stores this year to see if the quality has improved at least in the freshness department but I’m not setting my expectations very high. Cutting your own tree can be a fun family experience which will sure insure that your tree is fresh but if you don’t want to bother with cutting your own, we’ll have the next best thing which is a ready-cut fresh tree from Ohio.

Wreaths, roping, greens and our grave decorations that we’ve been making for almost thirty years are ready for pickup or delivery. We can even custom decorate the blankets to fit your own personal taste.

Tom

P.S. Don’t forget that you can tag your cut tree if your not ready for it and then pick it up or get it delivered when your ready. Keep in mind that we will even set it in the stand for you if you prefer.

November 18, 2011
Thanksgiving, the holiday that President Lincoln proclaimed should be celebrated on the last Thursday in November is upon us.

At the nursery, we’re still collecting branches for our different styles of grave blankets and tomorrow we bring up our poinsettias we’ve been growing in our rear greenhouse as they are now showing lots of color.  The variety Polar bear is a gorgeous pure white that benefits polar bear preservation when this variety is purchased.

Live wreaths, white pine roping and greens will be ready on Saturday afternoon as well as all styles of our grave decorations.

Other things going on at the nursery are a general clean up, propagation of geraniums for our spring crop and the finishing of construction of our new greenhouse for the production of perennials.

In Wolf Creek Gardens we’ve planted more Hemlock, White Pine and Dogwood varieties in order to enhance this ever expanding botanical garden display.  Another chore I’m tiring of is having to erect a 6 foot windbreak on the west side of the rhododendron-azalea portion of the garden.  The Norway Spruce screen that was planted 4 years ago should be big enough to do the job in another 2-3 years so that the windbreak job will be no more!

Next week our cut Christmas trees come in from southern Ohio of which the varieties will include Fraser Fir, Scotch Pine, White Pine and Douglas Fir.  I’m impressed especially with the Fraser Fir as Frasers do not like to grow too far out of their native range which is the Appalachian Mountains at elevations of 2200 ft. and up!  In fact, our Frasers from southern Ohio are superior to the normal North Carolina Frasers as they are so much fresher!

Tom

November 11, 2011
On this Veteran’s Day of November 11th, we remember the Americans that are both dead and living who have secured our freedom and the freedom of our friends and allies around the world.

Unfortunately, the armistice that was signed on November 11, 1918 that ended World War I was suppose to be the finish of the war to end all wars.

November’s weather is still overall quite pleasant enabling many of us to finish yard work such as raking leaves, planting flower bulbs and mowing the lawn one last time.  Below is a brief list of garden chores in November:

  1. Take a soil test and apply lime if necessary to the lawn or garden to elevate the ph to 6.5 - 7.0.

  2. Apply the last fall feeding of the lawn to insure a quick green up next spring to crowd out weeds.

  3. Dig and store any tropical bulbs such as Dahlias or Cannas.

  4. Finish planting any spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and such.

  5. Water shrubs deeply under house overhangs to prevent winter burn or death of the plants due to dry soil.

  6. Protect valuable plants from deer browsing or rabbit gnawing by spraying them with liquid fence.

  7. Erect wind screens on the west side of broadleaf evergreens that are susceptible to winter wind burn.

  8. Plant the tree now that you have been thinking about planting in spring so that the tree can root in this fall and very early spring

I was relieved that we finished planting and mulching our blueberries last week as the planting would normally have been completed a little earlier this fall but was delayed because of the wet October.  While tilling in the sphagnum peat for the blueberries, the nursery’s 37 year old walk-behind rototiller finally “died” when its Wisconsin engine had a bearing failure.

Many of our cascading grave blankets and pillows will be ready for delivery or pick-up this weekend with our spruce decorations ready toward the end of next week.  Don’t waste the weekend as the weather will be sunny and mild.

Enjoy November.

Tom

November 4, 2011
The weather has been almost perfect this past week which has given us the opportunity to plant our blueberry plants.

The blueberry field is just on the east side of the irrigation lake on high ground and will be a future patch for a pick-your-own type of operation.  The varieties include the old time favorite Bluecrop, along with Patriot, Elliot and the early type called Duke.  It may seem strange to some of you to plant in November but as I have been preaching for years, fall is for planting.

We’ve harvested are first batch of pine branches for our cascading grave blankets and pillows and we’ll harvest the blue spruce branches we need about a week from now so that they remain fresh when we store them outside.

Again, trees and shrubs for planting are still available with some of the trees at a good buy on the 50% off sale until mid-November.

Other happenings at the nursery include the installation of a new roof on our store building, the replacement of our worn out main sidewalk and the continuing construction of our new movable roof greenhouse for producing more and higher quality perennials.

So it’s been a busy November!

Tom

October 28, 2011
Needless to say, the freeze last night put an end to the 2011 growing season.

The gradual cooling in fall is beneficial as trees and shrubs are able to adequately harden off in order to survive the long winter that is ahead.

At the nursery, the only plants we like to protect from a heavy frost in fall are the evergreen azaleas as sometimes the flower buds that formed in summer are not quite ready for a freeze and will be killed inside the bud sheath so that the bloom in spring would be limited.

With all the constant rain, we had to move our German iris from outside to an area under cover as a too wet German iris begins to rot if drainage is not adequate.

This year has been so incredibly wet that it gives new meaning to the phrase “well-drained soil”.

In fact, a customer bemoaned the death of a Royal Red Norway Maple as he planted it in a too wet area that maybe in normal weather would have been just fine.

At the nursery, the sales yard is almost empty except for some trees athough we sill can retrieve trees and shrubs from our storage area.

Our selection of trees includes Sugar Maples, Red Sunset Maples, Cleveland Select Pears, Autumn Blaze Maples and some Dogwood varieties.

Soon we’ll be cutting branches for our grave blankets and then getting ready for Christmas trees.

The Owl Barn is already somewhat decorated for Christmas with a good selection of apples, pears, cider and fresh backed goods from a local baker all along side the artificial decorated trees.

Even the poinsettias in the greenhouse are echoing Christmas as they are now showing a significant red hue in the flower bracts.

A few sunny days would be nice or maybe an Indian summer before we rush into Thanksgiving and then Christmas but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Tom

October 21, 2011
What a change from last year! 

Last year it was so warm and dry as it had been all summer that many established plants were suffering from drought that lasted well into November.

Now this year we all wish it would just stop raining for just a few days a week!

A least this weekend the sun is supposed to come out but with the weather forecast, my thoughts are that there indeed may be some frost in low lying areas if the sky is clear at night and the air is still.

In fact, the first frost date for northern Ohio is usually about October 10th although some years it can frost as early as mid-September and as late as November 10th!

This weekend is the last weekend for our fall sale although there will be a few trees that will still be on our 50% off sale.

In a little over a week from today, we’ll be covering our over-wintering structures for the small trees and shrubs as they cannot take the full blast of winter when they are in a pot above the ground.

Even with the end of the growing season, our greenhouse is still growing poinsettias, geraniums to use for cuttings and the plants of azaleas and blueberry we rooted last summer as these must be kept on what I call minimum heat, that is about 45 degrees.

For about another month, tree and shrub plantings can still go on along with the “planting of spring”, that is, Holland flower bulbs.

Hopefully the remainder of the fall will yield a significant number of sunny days as I have had enough of the cold rain although we should count our blessings as we could be in the same sad situation as Texas that has been hot, dry and burning.

Tom

October 14, 2011
The progression of fall and then winter reminds me of the problem that many of us experience caused by grazing deer on a variety of plants especially certain evergreens.

Taking a proactive approach is the best way to avoid major deer damage by spraying valuable plants with Liquid Fence.  Spraying the product about mid-November and again a month later will teach the deer that their food is elsewhere.

One evergreen deer love to chew is the Taxus (Yew) genus that otherwise is a wonderfully sturdy group for sun or shade.

I think it’s utterly strange that all parts of the Taxus plant except the red aril (berry) are poisonous to humans and cattle when ingested and yet the plant is a deer salad.

Another evergreen deer love is Arborvitae.  They will strip the foliage as high as they can reach.

At the nursery, we are suggesting to customers that have deer problems to plant the Thuja plicata species or more commonly known as the Western Red Cedar.

This evergreen is perfectly winter hardy to climate zone 5 and has numerous advantages over the similar looking Arborvitae genus.

The benefits of using the Western Red Cedar as a hedge or screen are:

  1. As stated before, deer won’t browse the foliage.
  2. The plant has a single leader so that heavy snows or ice do not split it apart.
  3. Western Red Cedars grow much better in moderate shade than Arborvitae as well as growing well in all day sun.
  4. Growth on Cedars is rapid sometimes as much as 3 feet per year depending on the variety.
  5. Plants for a screen can be planted 5-6 feet on center making the planting cost effective.
  6. For a shorter hedge or screen without the burden of trimming the variety, ‘Can Can’ grows only to 8-10 feet.
  7. Although the two conifers Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar are similar they are different in that the cedar will grow again from older mature wood when trimmed while the Arborvitae will not re-grow from old wood if trimmed hard.

Right now at the nursery we have the variety Green Giant in stock that will grow to about 20 feet in 5-6 years when planted at the beginning 5 foot hedge while only gaining a width of about 6 feet.

As I have stated many times before, fall is for planting about any tree or shrub as well as many perennials but Holland flower bulbs must be planted in fall so the cool moist soil will foster root growth so that the flower bulb can fulfill its spring promise of a flower.

See you at the nursery,

Tom

October 7, 2011
In my last blog I touched on the beauty of nature with the changing of the leaves of the trees with their different hues of red, yellow, orange and gold..

 In the landscape, vibrant colors of Autumn are easy to create by the addition of native plants.  The maples seem to be the favorite for brilliant reds such as the Autumn Blaze hybrid maple and red maples or the multicolored Sugar Maple that displays colors of red, orange and yellow frequently mixed on the same tree.

Red oaks have a more subdued red hue in fall than the maples although the Ohio and Pennsylvania forests come alive with the massive fall displays of so many oaks.

One of my favorite native trees for fall color is the Oxydendron arboreum or Sourwood tree in that its Lily of the Valley-like-flowers hanging on the tree in clusters in August through early October while the rhododendron-like leaves begin to change to shades of mahogany and finishing up in a brilliant red display.

The Aronia brilliantissima or Chokeberry shrub is noted for it’s white bloom in late April and early May and the rich dark green leaves of summer giving way to a brilliant red and yellow glow in October.

As I have stated many times, though the various blueberry varieties are brightly colored in red, orange or yellow leaves in fall depending on the variety.  The clear yellow is well known from the compact variety called Bluegold which will attain a height of about 4-5 ft.  I’m sure the advantages to using blueberries are evident as they bloom with clean white flowers in spring, have handsome foliage in summer, brilliant fall colors, winter-colored wood and lastly if not most important, delicious and nutritious berries to eat!

The non-native Euonymous alatus Compactus or Burning Bush seems to be on the wane as a favorite of fall color in the landscape.  How many times have I heard the complaints of homeowners fighting to keep the size of this plant in check or fighting spider mites that defoliate this euonymus.

With a little research and planning, you can create another season of interest in your landscape using all native plants which for years have been undervalued and neglected in the landscape.

Tom

September 30, 2011
The short days and cool nights are the signal to the trees to start shutting down for winter.  After the first hard frost the colors of the leaves will become more vibrant.  In the Pacific Northwest, the season for brilliant Autumn leaves is muted due to a lack of frost until November when leaf drop is already occurring.

No where in the country are Autumns so brilliant as in the Midwest, Northern Atlantic States and New England.  

Although it is still not too late for lawn renovation: thatching, reseeding and repairs, time is running out so that lawn chores should be accomplished as soon as possible.  Other garden chores such as mulching to protect tea roses or digging up dahlias and cannas for winter storage are still a long way off.

On the subject of Chrysanthemums, the Mum Fest in Barberton was a huge success as the festivities were not spoiled by rain last weekend.  Mums in bloom are the final hurrah before the perennial garden edges close to it’s winter slumber.

At the nursery, many varieties are in peak bloom while others will not be at their peak until the second or third week of October.

Don’t forget that Autumn is a great time to plant your favorite type of shrub as well as most perennials.

I am finished with my new plant “hunts” now which will result in dozens of new varieties of dwarf conifers, trees, shrubs and perennials being introduced next spring although I will give you hints of what’s to come in future blogs and on our radio program.

So long for now.

Tom
 

September 23, 2011
The fall festival last week seemed to be a success in that there was plenty to see and do for adults as well as children.  The chef carving food into beautiful shapes and the making of carmel apples seemed to be a big hit with adults while the Bouncy House, balloon man and animal show was a hit with children.  The hayride was equally liked by young and old.

The mums at the nursery are just gorgeous including the reliable Igloo mum types.  We’ve just received shipments of more nursery stock so that if your landscaping your home we’re sure you’ll find a good selection of trees and shrubs with many at 50% off.

Remember that tomorrow and Sunday are very busy days with three events:
The Cider Festival in Norton
Mum Fest in Barberton  
Horticulture show at the Akron Art Museum featuring Horticulture as an art.
With all the events going on, you’ll have to get an early start or you may not have time to go to all events!

On our program Ready, Set, Grow on Saturday morning beginning at 8 am on WAKR 1590 AM, I will be conducting interviews with the Barberton Mum Fest organizers and a representative from the Barberton Historical Society.  Tune in to find out about the chrysanthemums and some of the behind the scenes activities that go on to put on the show.

Fall decorating is here with pumpkins, corn stalks, and gourds to make your home more festive.  Be sure to check out everything on the market web site.

Happy Fall,
Tom

September 16, 2011
The crisp cool nights have made it ideal for fall festival time.  Tomorrow is our big day for family fun from hayrides, crafts, animal shows, live bands, balloon tricks, etc.  I will, as always be driving the hayride around the nursery and Wolf Creek Gardens.  Our annual fall festival is an extra incentive to keep the grounds clean and neat as many of you will be able to view the “behind the scenes” areas of the nursery.

I don’t want to forget the food that will include various hot sandwiches, hot dogs and my favorite, roasted corn on the cob that in my opinion tastes so much better then boiling the corn.

The Owl Barn will be open for business as always with local produce from the Seiberling Farms, Bauman Orchards and other local growers.  The other addition’s are ‘fall things” like gourds, pumpkins, corn stalks and mums, mums and more mums.

Entrance to the festival is $10 that will buy tickets that may be used at each particular event and should cover all events.  I’m excited about Bobbie that will play in the Celtic music band as she is the moderator on our radio show Get Ready, Set, Grow that airs live every Saturday morning from 8 am - 10 am on WAKR 1590 AM.

The nursery still has a good selection of trees and shrubs in which many are on sale for 50% off the regular price.

If you don’t want to join in the festivities and just want to shop the nursery or Owl Barn that’s fine but you might find the hayride enjoyable and don’t have to buy the whole package of tickets and of course it costs nothing to enjoy the music from the Dulcimer Band or Bobbie’s Celtic Music Band.

The festival begins at 10 am and I’ll be there as soon as I can drive from the Akron Radio Center on West Market Street in Akron.

See you at the nursery!
 

September 9, 2011
Our Labor Day sale was success even though on Friday I was wondering if it could get any hotter and more humid!

Now with the sale open to everyone you don’t have to belong to our garden club to receive the sale prices but I think it is to anyone’s advantage to be a member in order to be informed about special events, sale promotions or products before non members.

View our website for all the items in our sales listing.  Our specialty, blueberries,  are quite numerous in a 1 gallon or 3 gallon size and make a nice addition to the landscape especially with the coming fall colors of reds, oranges and yellows frequently mixed on the same plant similar to a Sugar Maple.

We still have some large Maples and Flowering pears as well that are on a sales price of $40-$75 off the regular price.

This fall is starting out very moist.  Seeding a new lawn soon as possible would be a capital idea if your thinking about it.  Just make certain that the type of seed you use fits your situation as far as shade or sun, amount of wear the lawn might incur and  whether a fine texture of a mainly bluegrass lawn or the more coarse texture of a tall fescue lawn.

Our chrysanthemums are mostly tight in the bud but many are showing color and will open beautifully as September progresses.  The Mum Fest will be here soon on the weekend of September 24th and 25th with various vendors of arts and crafts, artists, food and even the display of mums around Lake Ann.

Years ago I remember seeing the Governor of Ohio, Bob Taft walking around the lake quickly to view the mums on a Saturday morning but I never even got the chance to just say “hello”.

Our own fall festival is Saturday, September 17th so of course we’re hoping for good weather.

We’re still bring in stock for fall in order that our selection is good of you’re considering landscaping or just planting your favorite tree.

Remember, fall is for planting!

Tom

September 2, 2011
Today is the start of our annual fall sale for garden club members only before we open the sale to everyone after Labor Day, September 5th.

One of the benefits of being a garden club member is that coupons, notices of big sales and other good buys are always relayed to members first.

Please remember that not everything is on sale as some stock is meant for spring sales but can actually be sold now.

Be sure to take a look at our extensive listing of trees, shrubs, roses and perennials on our website.

Even though some items are numerous, inventory changes rapidly and you might want to call ahead before traveling a long distance only to find the plants are already sold out.

Mum is the word too at the nursery as they are in plentiful supply from 8 1/2" pots to large 14" pots that will dress up any deck, patio or front porch.

Note too that we have a good supply of Igloo mums that will display flushes of color in June and again in September when the plants are cut back severely in mid July.

The nursery will be open on Labor Day from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and we open the doors early at 7:30 am on Friday, September 2nd for the start of the big sale!

See you this weekend!

Tom

August 26, 2011
I just can’t believe that we’ve come through August without the usual hot, dry weather like last year!

The fresh produce just keeps coming and the nice rains are resulting in sweet corn filling out to the very tip of the ear.

The asters and garden mums are ready now but remember that only the asters and Igloo mums are dependable to return year after year.  You may ask “Why use garden mums instead of Igloo mums?”  The answer is that right now, the Igloo only come in six different colors while garden mums come in almost an infinite number of shades of colors and many different flower forms too.  Garden mums are useful to decorate porches and decks as they will brighten up any home.

The weather is good now for planting trees and shrubs and even dividing perennials such as hostas and daylilies.  Just mow or cut the plants back to the ground, dig them up, divide them and then replant!

Again, just a reminder to use your Dayton dollars as the coupon will be good only through August 31st .

Our big annual fall sale will start on Friday, September 2nd as we will open our doors early at 7:30 a.m.  Only garden club members can take advantage of the sale price through Labor Day but after Labor Day the sale is open to everyone.  Anyone who is not a member of our garden club can sign up and can take advantage of the great sale prices the same day.

Mark your calendar for our fall festival on Saturday, September 17th as it’s fun for the entire family with music, animal shows, hay rides . . . .

I’ve got to go.

Tom

August 19, 2011
With the blueberry crop done on our patch in Wolf Creek Gardens, we’ll e concentrating soon on developing more plantings of blueberries in the back field so that there will be plenty for a pick-your-own operation.

My favorites are still Bluecrop, Toro and Duke although I am very impressed with the variety Bluejay as it is a compact upright plant and just loaded with medium to large sweet berries about July 15th.

I like planting the blueberries in the early fall as they have time to root in before winter in order to get a head start in spring.

This week and next week is the time to kill out unwanted invaders from your lawn such as tall fescues, bent grasses and any others that must be killed with a non-selective herbicide such as Remuda or Round-up so that these weeds have time to die and deteriorate in order to re-seed the area in early to mid September.

Fall planting of trees and shrubs will soon start with the cooler temperatures and adequate moisture although the summer has been adequately moist for the most part.

Chrysanthemums may be showing color a little later this month as abnormally warm nights will cause a heat delay although we do have reliably hardy Igloo mums that seem to be budding up nicely.

Another problem that I have seen driving down the road are the bronzing of leaves of Azalea due to the sucking of the lacebug nymphs on the Azalea foliage.

Treatment is easy though with a spray of an insecticide containing acephate and then repeated in 10 days or the Bayer Rhododendron, Azalea and Camelia Insect & Disease Control works well too.

Mark your calendar for our annual Fall Festival on September 17th which is mainly a family event for all ages.

Remember to use your Dayton Dollars by August 31st as they expire after that date.

For those of you that are frequent shoppers, the points do add up!

Tom

August 12, 2011
Mid-August is the time to finish ordering our perennial “starts” for planting next spring.

It’s amazing how every year more and more new varieties are available from the grower and breeders of this product.  The breeder of plants are sometimes quite an odd bunch as they cross and recross plant varieties to come up with something novel.

I remember some years ago watching a National Geographic documentary on tulips and the story of the boom and then bust of the tulip bulb market in the Netherlands with a continuing story about the long quest for the elusive black tulip.

The breeder accomplished this feat of the black tulip and held a news conference to announce his creation.  All the while, I’m thinking why anyone would want a black tulip as the flower would not be very showy and difficult to see from a distance!

Plant “finds” come from all over the world and must be tested before marketing as to whether the new plant will do well when exposed to factors such as local climate and soil conditions.  For example, plants that are rated for our climatic zone 5 may very well tolerate our cold winters but may not do well in our hot, humid summers.

I remember talking to a young woman in a garden center in France about the French climate just southwest of Paris.  Even though my French was rusty, I was able to communicate that I was jealous since normally that area of the country does not get nearly as cold as Ohio in winter and not nearly as hot in the summer.  She just laughed but agreed that most of France is fortunate to have such agreeable weather with much of it due to the Gulf Stream current from North America!

Don’t worry, they’ll be plenty of new stuff for 2012.

Tom

August 5, 2011
Even with the dog days of summer just beginning, the nursery is abuzz with activity getting ready for next spring.

The grading for our new movable roof greenhouse is underway so that we may produce high quality perennials all spring and summer long.  The construction of this new greenhouse will allow another of our existing houses that we used for perennials now to be used for annual flowers that will be sold in May.  The other addition to this greenhouse will be a rooting station that includes an automatic mist system to root flowers for our hanging baskets and pots.

Right now though, we have just completed the potting of about 1000 small clematis of 40 varieties that will develop roots this summer and fall in order that they can be sold in the spring with a healthy, vigorous root system.

Another project for next week is potting thousands of Daylilies, Hostas and German Iris.  These plants, just like the clematis must develop roots in late summer and fall to make healthy, robust saleable plant in spring.

The Owl Barn farm market seems to be in full swing now with some Amish produce but mainly produce from the nearby Seiberling Farms.  I want to repeat again that while much of our produce is grown organically, we cannot state that it is organic as the produce and farm would have to be inspected and certified by an organic farm inspector.

Outside the Owl Barn are two picnic tables with umbrellas for shade should you decide to relax at the summit of the hill overlooking the waterfall.

Happy Summer,

Tom

July 29, 2011
The weather, although a bit on the hot side, has been ideal for growing because of enough timely rain and warm nights.

I’ve noticed in the farmer’s fields that the soybeans and field corn seem to be making up for some of the lost time from the cold wet spring.

The nutsedge and crabgrass seems to be abundant in lawns with the ample moisture.  The Ortho company does offer a crabgrass and nut grass or nutsedge killer that works as a post emergent to kill the unwanted invaders.

Spider mites are going to town with the extreme heat which they love.  Unfortunately, some customers are coming into the nursery are using carbaryl or Sevin as an all purpose spray .  Sevin will actually cause spider mite populations to explode as the mite’s predators are killed of with no effect on the mites themselves.

A control for mites is a drench or a spray of Bayer’s Tree & Shrub Insect Control which contains a miticide.

Lawn diseases are popping up too which include dollar spot, brown patch or rhyzoctonia and more rarely pythium which rots the crown of the grass.  Almost all lawn diseases can be controlled by a broad spectrum fungicide by Bayer.  However, pythium is a special case and can be controlled by a sprench with Agri-Fos which is mono and di-potassium salts of phosphorus acid.

In the Owl Barn market more and more produce is becoming available.  I just picked 5 bushels of tomatoes from our early patch planted on April 28th.   The early sweet corn ‘Ambrosia’ is still “in” while my favorite bicolor, ‘Temptation’ is not far behind.

Construction on our new perennial plant production house starts in two weeks and will be finished about Thanksgiving which right now doesn’t seem so far away.

Tom

July 22, 2011
Last week’s Blueberry Festival and opening of the Owl Barn seemed to go smoothly except for the fact that we picked and sold all the blueberries that were ripe in the patch!

Sweet corn is always a big draw at a produce market but the cool, wet spring delayed planting and thus the harvest until today.

The Seiberling Farm is our source for much of the fresh produce in our market including sweet corn.

The farm is 125 acres of very productive land with almost 100 acres dedicated to sweet corn.

Some of the varieties we will be offering are Bodacious, Ambrosia and Temptation.

These newer varieties have a sugar enhancing gene which slows down the conversion of sugar to starch in the picked sweet corn ear.

It used to be that sweet corn had to be eaten quickly or it would have a flat, starchy flavor.

With the new varieties, freshly picked ears will still be sweet after 3-5 days if kept in the refrigerator.

The hot weather has made it rough on everyone including plants.

It’s no exception at the nursery as we’ve been watering in the middle of the day to cool them off.

The rain was welcome on Monday night although we did not need all of it at once.

It has been a strange year for weather indeed!

The nursery looks good and so does produce for the market!

See you soon.

July 9, 2011
As if there’s not enough to do already at the nursery, we’re building yet another greenhouse.

The greenhouse is one similar to the one we have now that we call the Cravo house as it is made by the Cravo Company from Ontario, Canada.

This greenhouse is different in that the movable roof allows for maximum ventilation and yet can be partially closed in summer to create 30% shading on any crop grown which keeps the from “baking” in the hot summer sun when black pots are above ground.

We expect the house to be finished in early November in order that perennials can be planted inside beginning in late February to be sold in late April through spring.

The Cravo with its ideal ventilation and shading will enable us to grow higher quality perennials than in an conventional greenhouse.

Another aspect of the Cravo house I do like is the ability to open the roof fully to let the rain come in when necessary.

The falling rain and general greater openess of the roof and sides will inhibit the prolification of spider mites and other insects as they sometimes can get out of control in a conventional greenhouse.

The never ending work is still continuing in the Wolf Creek Botanical Garden with the planting of some new trees and five gigantic Boursault and English Roseum Rhododendron.

The shade perennials are increasing along with the extension of one of the trails to the northeast toward Van Hyning Run.

Don’t forget about our Blueberry Festival on July 16th that will coincide with the season opening of the Owl Barn Market.

Its time for me to go.  See you at the festival!

Tom

July 2, 2011
The long 4th of July weekend is just about the latest to plant heat-loving vegetables such as cucumber, squash, sweet corn and beans to continue a plentiful harvest in late summer and early fall.

Another timely “to do” is to trim all Chrysanthemums including Dendranthemums which include the Igloo series of mums in order to make them compact for fall blooming.

Early July is a great time too to trim various evergreens including Azaleas in order that they can form flower buds this summer for their spring show.

In about 3-4 weeks, the first ripe tomatoes should be coming on line but it looks as though our “tunnel tomatoes” that were planted in late April will be ready in about 1-2 weeks.

We planted the tomato plants in a fabric pot called a smart pot that tends to root prune the root system as it grows outward which results in a more extensive root system to promote growth.  The size of the pots are the equivalent of a nursery trade 10 gallon size that’s about 13 inches wide by 13 inches deep.  The potting soil is our own tree and shrub planting mix that can be supplemented with more calcium from gypsum or calcium sulfate.  Finally, the nutrients and water are supplied by a drip irrigation system that we must turn on every day regardless of the weather as the plants require large amounts of water.

The smart pot system is one you can use at home to grow plants on the patio or deck as long as you are willing to fertilize and water them regularly.

Most of the annual flower greenhouse will be closed after this week; however, we will still be supplying liquid fertilizer for free for flower and vegetable plants as long as you bring your own jug.

Happy 4th of July.

Tom

June 24, 2011

With the passing of the summer solstice on June 21, the long days of summer begin.

I’m hoping for a good growing season, at least one that is better than last year’s summer of extreme heat and dryness.

Surprisingly, I spotted a cache of Earliblue blueberries almost ripe on June 18th when normally the first pick date is not really until the tail end of June.

It does not seem like the cool rainy spring caused them to be behind.

The flowers in the greenhouse are growing better than ever although the pickings are getting slimmer with the exception of our late planting of wave petunia hanging baskets.

With the weeding under control this past week has been a pitch  for sprucing up the botanical garden and the planting of flowers all over the nursery.

After the flower planting, the first wave of transplanting shrubs is followed by our taking of semi-hardwood cuttings of various trees & shrubs.

While the nursery seems to have its continuing share of work, the Owl Barn Market will be open in mid-July although I’m still wondering how far behind will be Seiberling’s sweet corn which is our main supply of fresh home-grown sweet corn.

The rainy spring weather placed farmers in a questionable position whether to plant or not because of the necessity of planting soo late.

Apparently, on a trip recently to north central Ohio along US Route 224, I observed many farm fields lying fallow apparently due to the wet spring.

At least there will be plenty of blueberries and other earlier crops to start out the market for the season.

Happy gardening,
Tom

June 17, 2011
This past week has been one of welcome relief from the 90 degree days of last week.

With the drier weather it’s easy to forget to water newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials that have not had a chance to root in yet.

As always, I recommend a twice per week watering for container-grown plants and at least a once per week waterings for most balled and burlapped plants regardless of the weather.

Balled and burlapped acid-loving plants such as Rhododendron though like to be watered at least twice weekly just as a container-grown plants until establishment about a month later.

The second half of June is a good time to sow some more beans, sweet corn, cucumbers and squash, tomatoes and peppers will do very well if planted now with the long warm days.

The response was overwhelming for our free liquid fertilizer that can be used on your hanging baskets, vegetable plants and flower beds.  The fertilizer is an analysis of 20-10-20 and can be used once each week to fertilize outdoor plants.  We’ll continue this free fertilizer until October so that all summer you’ll be able to take advantage of it.

The weeds are finally getting under control at the nursery and we’re beginning to pot up our liners (rooted cuttings from last summer)

We’re growing a batch of the new compact “buzz” butterfly bush that do great in the ground or in a container.  These should be available about September 1st.

Don’t’ forget that our food preservation seminar is tomorrow, June 18th at 11:00 AM.

The cost is $5.00 with refreshments for the informative seminar.

See you soon,
Tom

June 10, 2011
Father’s Day is coming up on the third Sunday in June.

It wasn’t until President Johnson made a proclamation designating the day of the third Sunday in June that Father’s Day became “official”.  President Nixon signed a bill in 1972 making the day finally sanctioned by the Congress and executive branch of the Government.  
                                           
Dad’s favorite tree and shrub can be planted successfully as long as there is a designated waterer that will follow a watering regiment for about a month so the plant grows roots into the surrounding soil.  Download our detailed watering info from our website under Garden Tips and then click on the watering schedule that is very easy to understand as far as what to do.

Our tomatoes in the greenhouse tunnel are coming along nicely and should be ready with the homegrown fruit about mid July.  We used the 10 gallon smart pots as the fabric root prunes the plant’s roots and makes for a “happy” tomato plant with lots of fruit.  We’re hoping to corner the market with homegrown tomatoes when the Owl Barn market opens with sweet corn.

Watch your email for the opening of the Owl Barn Market in July and of course with Seiberling Sweet Corn and our own home grown tomatoes coming from the back greenhouse.

You can still plant tomato plants in these smart pots and still get juicy ripe tomatoes by early August.

See you in the garden!

Tom

June 3, 2011
The days are so long and warm it is as if you gaze at a plant long enough you will see it actually grow.

It’s important that you supplement your containers or hanging baskets of flowers with a liquid feed because of this rapid growth and constant watering, nutrients will leach out of the container mix and the hanging baskets or pots of flowers will “run down” and for sure you will be disappointed.  I like to use Osmocote slow release fertilizer on the plants but even then they will need a liquid supplement about every 10 days to keep things going.

Remember that I told you about our free liquid fertilizer in the greenhouse that you don’t need to dilute for outside plants.  Just please bring your own container as we cannot supply enough for the demand.  Your welcome to come in anytime during our hours of operation.

Another important chore is to deadhead your flowers (at least those that require it) so that they keep blooming as spent flowers get in the way of new growth that will keep the flower parade coming.  If you think your having bug problems, just bring your samples in a plastic bag and we’ll identify the bug or disease and can make recommendations on the control of the malady.

Remember June is perennial gardening month and a good time to select and plant some of your favorite perennials and you’ve got to come over and see the roses in bloom!

Happy gardening!

Tom

May 27, 2011
Wow!  Monday, May 30th is Memorial Day that is the same day as the traditional Decoration Day.  

While it’s traditional to “finish” planting the garden on Memorial Day, June is a great time to continue planting succession crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans and sweet corn.  The heat-loving crops will keep the bounty of the garden coming if succession plantings are installed every two weeks up until about July 4th.

Cool season vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts don’t work well with the heat of summer and long days but I have had good luck planting cabbage for a late crop in fall.  Potatoes will do very well when planted in late May and June as they will be very productive.  The tubers can be harvested after the killing frost and then stored for winter use.

Be careful of thrip attack on your Roses, Dahlias and Gladiolus as these insects are very difficult to control once established.  Thrips have piercing mouth parts and extract plant juices from growing points and flowers which tend to reduce bloom or make it non-existent.  I recommend Captain Jack’s Bug Brew which has the active ingredient Spinosad.  Two sprays with this product at 5 day intervals should get the bugs under control.  If your not sure, bring a plant sample in a plastic bag and we’ll do a diagnosis so that you don’t use the wrong product because of an incorrect diagnosis.

Come on down to check out our “killer” clematis as many are blooming right now.  We have the old and the new Evision Clematis that will make your garden glow.


Tom

May 20, 2011
Finally, this week it’s safe to plant about anything in the way of flowers and vegetable plants as long as you still are wary in case of a light frost.

 For flower beds, whether perennial or annual, I like to mix in the product Sweet Peet into the ground just before planting.  An application of about 2" of Sweet Peet is all that is needed to work into the top 6 inches of garden soil.  In addition, the plants will thrive when about a inch to 1 inch layer of Sweet Peet is applied as a mulch.  Sweet Peet will “feed” new plants and not rob them of nitrogen as would bark or wood mulch.

Peat Moss is not a good garden mulch for most plants because of its extreme acidic nature and the fact that when it dries completely, it is almost impossible to wet which causes water to runoff on the soil instead of the water being absorbed by the soil.

Remember too that when you buy your flower and vegetable plants from Dayton’s, if the plants do not originate from seed but from a cutting to make for more identical plants, they are virus free in that the plants are virus indexed to be sure all viruses are out of the plant. Viruses which can build up in plants overtime can cause lack of vigor, lack of flowers and just plain poor growth.  These harmful viruses do not pass from the parent plants to its progeny when the young plants germinate from seed.

We still have product staged for selling through this month and the first half June but after that the annual greenhouse will begin to wind down.

Be sure to come in to see us while the selection is still good.

Soon, those of you in our garden club will be getting your summer newsletter that will have some coupons that just might interest you!

Tom
    
P.S.  Don’t forget we have free liquid fertilizer in the greenhouse.  Just bring your own jug!

May 13, 2011
Is now a good time to plant?  My answer is “it depends”.  If the weather outlook looks safe from frost for at least the next week and temperatures look somewhat “normal” without an extended cool to cold period the answer to the “time to plant” question is yes.

If your property is out in the open in the country or subject to frequent spring frosts then the answer is no and, it depends on what your planting.

Trees and shrubs, perennials, roses and such are always “plantable” although a covering of a sheet or frost blanket may be necessary on frost susceptible blooms like azaleas.  Flowers on dogwoods, flowering crabapples and most other shrubs are frost resistant so generally you never worry about these hardy garden and landscape companions.

I think you’ll notice that our perennial guru, Maggie has selected numerous new perennials for your review that will be easy to spot in the perennial house by signage that of course, states that it is new! It seems these days everyone is looking for new and unusual plants.

When having lunch with my dad several years ago and about one year before he died at the age of 79, he stated that in businesses you have to change things as the customers get used to the same old stuff and that the same old              doesn’t fly anymore.  I’m sure you can fill in the blank with the four-lettered word he actually used.  When he told me this, it hit me that the stereotype of “old people” not wanting change really is not accurate.  Whether it’s electronics, automobiles or other new gadgets or plants.  Change is all around.

Tom

May 6, 2011
With Mother’s Day just two days away, many of you will be hunting for that “special gift” for mom. Most moms love flowers and jewelry but with my being in the “flower” business for so long it’s really not a Mother’s Day gift if I give my mother some type of flower.  The other problem I have is that my mother likes jewelry ok but rarely, if ever will wear it as she really doesn’t get that excited about it which every year places me in quite a pickle.

I hope that all of you will notice the decrease in pricing of many of the plants throughout the nursery especially in the greenhouse.  Hanging Baskets and the 4 inch “Proven Winner” type plants such as Cascading Petunia, Verbena, Bacopa, etc. have fallen by as much as 25% from last year due to our new production facility that enables us to produce more and eliminate the “middle man”.

Although we always did grow our own greenhouse product, space was limited.  Now with all the extra space, we’re able to offer more in the way of new and unusual stuff too that the “big” growers don’t like to grow.

Be sure to take a walk or better yet bring mom to take a walk through our Azalea allee just east of the main entrance to the store as thousands of Azalea’s are coming into bloom.

Wolf Creek Gardens that is north of the nursery property is accessible on foot with Dogwoods, Azaleas, Redbuds and shade perennials starting to pop and show off their “skills”.

It’s a good time to be alive!

Tom

April 29, 2011
The weather has been really depressing with the cold and non-stop rain.

It seems though that things are looking up with the sunny forecast this weekend.

Our perennial house and annual flower greenhouse are loaded with lots of the old and lots of the new.

In perennials, we have over 100 new varieties as well as new annuals and tropicals in the annual flower house.

The outside sales yard is overflowing with trees and shrubs but many of our tea roses and climbers are not due to the extreme weather of the past month.

Without a doubt our selection of new Japanese Maples and dwarf conifers is astounding.

Maggie, our perennial expert, is in the perennial department while Melody is in the annual flower house.

Sometimes the people that work in each section don’t see each other for days so that its like working in 2 parts of the United States!

Our new greenhouse for flower production is in full swing now so that this “factory” is rolling out the flowers from 4” pots to large hanging baskets.

Come on over and take a walk around.

The tulips we planted last fall and winter are just starting to bloom and I think it will make you feel as you have just stepped into Holland!

Hope for some sun with rain once a week….

Tom

April 22, 2011
It’s strange that Easter is this Sunday on April 24th in that it seems incredibly late and nearly time to plant annual flowers and heat loving vegetable plants like peppers and tomatoes.

The greenhouse of annual flowers and vegetable plants will be open tomorrow on April 23rd but please don’t expect everything to be ready as you must remember that it’s still too early in the season.

Much of flower production is aimed to mid-May availability as it should be because of the increased likelihood of favorable weather.  I hope you like our new display of Easter flowers and tropicals in the first bay of our greenhouse as it was time for a change.

Don’t forget today is Earth Day as it’s been celebrated every April 22nd since the first Earth Day in 1970.  Earth Day is a reminder that if we don’t take care of our environment, it won’t take care of us.

In the book Wilderness Warrior about Theodore Roosevelt, it’s quite amazing that one of our most fascinating President’s was able to set aside vast tracts of land for future generations of Americans as he swept aside a landslide of dissent because of mining, logging and numerous other commercial interests.  In the early 20th century, he was truly the environmental President.  To celebrate Earth Day, planting a tree for you and future generations to enjoy is a capital idea.

While in the news it is popular to discuss environmentally friendly ways for more energy production it is less common to hear that the planting of trees is a method of combating all kinds of environmental ills from excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, soil and water erosion, flooding, destruction of wildlife habit and declining clean water supplies.

For more about the benefits of trees you have to check out the Why Trees Matter Program that Jim Chatfield , the Ohio State University specialist has championed.  The poem that begins “ I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree” by Joyce Kilmer is figuratively and literally true.

Tom

April 15, 2011
The mid point of April is usually so nice even if it is D-day or the last day to file individual income tax returns on time.

We’re just about set up now with all our outside stock and very soon the perennial and the annual houses will be open for your inspection.  Traditionally we have opened the annual flower and vegetable house not before the first of May which even is too early except for the cool season vegetable plants and flowers like violas and pansies.

This year if the upcoming weather period looks decent we’ll actually open the annual flower house a week earlier than normal as many of you are ready to plant already.  If anyone asks in our greenhouse if it is safe to plant out tomatoes, peppers and all the flowers our answer will be an emphatic NO!   The only reason the greenhouse will be open earlier is that many customers have demanded it even though it is against our better judgement.  Well do I remember talking to my mentor John Ravenstein about certain plants that I thought should not be sold because of their lack of sufficient hardiness or difficulty in growing.  His reply to my concern was that “Who are you to determine what the customer should have or shouldn’t have?”

Later, I’ll see you in the greenhouse.

Tom       

P.S.  Remember to put traditional crabgrass preventer on your lawn this week and an organic weed & feed plus crabgrass preventer such as Espoma’s brand this week too.

April 8, 2011
We’re just now starting to pick up and to receive shipments of trees and shrubs from Lake County, Ohio.  This huge nursery belt exists because of good soil and the effect that Lake Erie tends to moderate sudden and quick changes in the weather.  The cool lake in spring slows down the plant’s growth so that there is a longer period in which to dig and harvest the plants and new growth is usually not sacrificed to hard frosts as Lake Erie’s effects on preventing or mitigating spring frosts is effective from the lake shore inland 2 to 5 miles.

This area of Ohio is placed in a climatic zone 6 instead of the colder zone of 5 like the rest of northern Ohio.  For most part, we should be set with most of our nursery stock by April 15th although you never know what the weather is capable of in early April.

The thousands of daffodils are blooming everywhere around the nursery so be sure to come check them out.  Take a virtual tour of the nursery from the photos that we took of the nursery and blooming grounds last spring as the virtual tour will give you an idea of what you will see (plus the additions we made since then) if you walk around the nursery.

Come on down!

Tom

April 1, 2011
April showers are suppose to bring May flowers but if this April is anything like last year’s April, April showers will be non existent as it was warm, even hot & dry last April.

I’m rooting for a cool, wet, “normal” April that will let the spring advance more slowly so that later spring frosts don’t beat up new growth and flowers that have been forced along earlier than normal by a too warm April.

Another problem at the nursery is that all our plants, at least those on the outside are not all available until at least mid-April as we don’t receive many items or pull them out of our winter storage houses until we’re sure the severe cold is done.

Well do I remember the spring of 1982 when we started to bring plants from our polyhouses at the end of March only to have to put them away again because of the severe single digit temperatures coming on April 5th, 6th and 7th of that year!  So remember, if the weather is exceptionally nice very early in April we may not have everything on display that you think we should have out already.

The tulips we planted last October are coming out of the ground so that they will need a spray of Liquid Fence very soon as I have no doubt the nursery deer herd has spotted them and is waiting until the plant’s leaves grow a little taller so that the tulip’s foliage will become a salad ready made for deer.

The days are almost long enough that the incandescent lights over the non-stop begonia and dahlias can be turned off.  We use the lighting in order to “fool” these plants that the day length is actually 14 hours or more so that they will produce growth and flowers instead of tubers in which the tubers would only be beneficial when the plants are ready to go into winter dormancy.

See you later.

Tom

March 25, 2011
The plant business is quite similar to the electronic’s business in that developments come at lightning speed.

The list of the new tree and shrubs seems to grow longer every year in that much of the behind-the-scenes work is just now coming into view.  And so it is at Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio.  Willoway is a national leader in adopting new plants that will work in a climatic zone 5 such as our own and in efficient and innovative methods to bring such plants to market.

The other aspect of Willoway’s new plant introductions that I particularly like is that the new introductions are actually planted in a display garden adjacent to the nursery office.   The garden is full of newer introductions from the past several years which is a true test of the plant’s worthiness if it  still thrives in the garden that is.  Many of the new introductions that Willoway produces have a patent which means they cannot be reproduced without the permission of the patent holder for 17 years.  Willoway or any other grower for that matter must possess a license from the patent holder.  In this way law suits due to patent infringements are avoided and the plant breeder can rightfully collect royalties on all his or her years of hard work.

Danny Gouge of Willoway Nurseries will be our speaker and has a vast knowledge of new plant selections that will be coming our way.

This is the last in our seminar series as it’s already about time to start working in the yard and garden.

Isn’t it great to have the sun set so late with the longer days and Daylight Savings Time!

 

I also wanted to welcome the newest member of the nursery staff Lori Shed.  Lori was a mainstay in the garden center from 2003 through 2006 but left the nursery to pursue other career opportunities.

 

Lori is knowledgeable about plants, pest control and fertilizer use but most of all, she likes people and is very friendly.

 

Sometimes you’ll see her in the store, the market, the perennial house or the annual house as she’s going to “float” around.

 

Lori will be a welcome supplement to our customer service area and I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting her – again!

Happy Spring!

Tom

March 18, 2011
With only three days left until the Vernal (spring) Equinox, the “smell” of spring is in the air!

On March 19th, Michelle Riley, an accomplished landscape designer will be our speaker on the smell of not only spring but the remainder of the growing season as well.  A great landscape involves all the senses and not just the sense of sight.  One of the most overlooked is the sense of smell which when incorporated into a mostly visual appealing landscape heightens the pleasure interceptors in the brain that much more.

Most of us are familiar with hyacinths, fragrant viburnums, certain roses and of course lilacs that are frequently used for their delicious perfume fragrance.  Michelle’s program will include these plants but cover a wider variety of items that you would be able to use to make any landscape more exciting.

Timing is everything as fragrance is not just a “spring thing” but with proper planning can be carried on throughout the season.  Since Michelle’s experienced in a wide variety of plant material she will be able to easily “travel between” plant groups such as bulbs, trees, shrubs, vines, annual flowers and herbaceous perennials.

The nursery is all ready ramping up for the coming of spring in that our new greenhouse is in full swing as to production of potted flowers, perennials and hanging baskets that will be ready in a little over a month.

It’s a fast pace too outside the greenhouse as we’re beginning to receive major shipments of nursery stock soon to be followed by the emptying of our winter storage houses that are full of plants.  I think everyone will like our new selection of flowers in the greenhouse and perennials as well.  I don’t mean to leave out all the new trees and shrubs so that’s why Danny Gouge from Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio will be giving a program on March 26th on new “stuff” in the tree and shrub realm beginning at 11 a.m..

See you then.

Tom

 

March 11, 2011
With the first day of spring a little more than a week away things are getting ready to pop.  Already the witch hazel cultivars are blooming in Wolf Creek Gardens as well as the two large Cornelian Cherry Dogwoods, Cornus mas,. with their clusters of radiant yellow blossoms.

I always have thought blooming crocus to be the herald of Easter time but this year is strange as Easter arrives nearly at the end of April when the crocus will be long out of bloom.

Now is a good time to sow pepper seed indoors but I think it’s still to early for fast growing tomato plants.  

Tomorrow March 12th, our own Maggie Bell who is the perennial guru at the nursery will be showing off all the new stuff for 2011.  The power point program will take up most of the hour and a half seminar but there will be plenty of time for a question and answer session.

The new plant’s that will be offered this year will be the ones that Maggie has thoroughly researched and believes will satisfy the most discerning of our gardeners.  The sources of new perennials as well as other varieties of ornamental plants is endless as breeders from all over the world are working to breed more new plants.  The plant breeder’s themselves must be a special breed as many times patience is the rule in that it might take several years before a new item is determined to be worthy to come to the market.

I would describe many of us in the plant business, including myself, as somewhat a geek as our passion for our work is like a fever that we just can’t seem to shake even if we wanted too!

I will join Maggie in her presentation although she will be the main go to person for questions as she has spent many hours of research on the new perennial topic.

Fragrance in the landscape is coming up next Saturday on the 19th.

See you tomorrow.

Tom

March 4, 2011
Local foods seem to be all the rage today with more homeowners growing more produce and fruits and the proliferation of produce markets.  Gardeners are learning once again that they can take control of the family’s food supply by growing and preserving fruits and vegetables right out of the backyard.

I remember my mother and her mother making pickles and the two of them arguing on the correct amount of  ingredients to make the pickle’s while the quart jars boiled in a canner filled with boiling water on the stove on a hot August day.  The argument between my mom and grandmother was solved in that each of them made their own batch.

Well, it didn’t take long to find out that my grandmother’s batch was crisp and delicious even though she never measured any of the ingredients except with her eye.  Mom’s batch of pickles was soft and mushy and had to be thrown out.  I guess it pays to spend some time in the kitchen with your mother as you might just be surprised what you might learn.  Sorry mom.

Tom

Oh, I almost forgot, one of our most popular seminars over the years had been what’s new in perennials and this year there are more new plants as ever.  Come join us for the perennial seminar at 11 a.m. on March 12th.  


February 25, 2011
The seminar tomorrow on water conservation will be of particular interest to me as the nursery uses up to 100,000 gallons of irrigation water on a hot summer day.  The water from overhead irrigation is recycled over and over again.  The resulting runoff is channeled through a series of ditches and holding ponds that are full of wetland plants that tends to remove sediments and unwanted salts from fertilizer use that would build up in the water and then burn plant roots.

Capturing rain water is another requirement of our water system to insure our supplies are adequate.

Sandy Barbric, an expert about water conservation at home will explain what any one can do to save and capture valuable water for use at home.  I always have preferred rain water to a well or city water as it’s nearly pure state doesn’t contain the chlorine or fluorides in city water or the bicarbonates in hard water from a well that can damage plants over time by adversely increasing the ph too much.

Come join us at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 26th for this amazing program.

Enjoy the winter as it’s going to end soon.  I remember years ago when I had a sever case of poison ivy.  Dr. Snyder of Barberton would not give me a cortisone shot to alleviate the symptoms as he believed this steroid to be detrimental to long term health.  His answer to me was to enjoy the malady and that it would seem to go away faster!  So for those of you that are tired of winter, learn to enjoy it!

Tom

February 18, 2011
I’ve been very busy studying for my presentation on February 19th about Japanese Maples.  I thought I knew a lot already but did I get an eye opener on what is available today as breeders have been very busy ones the past few years.

It used to be that the standard upright Japanese Maple variety ‘Bloodgood’ was the standard along with either the red or green foliaged lace leaf type maple.  Now there are those with huge palmate leaves to extra small leaves giving the plant a fine texture and petite stature.

Plant forms from small and upright, large and upright, spreading, weeping shaped and so on provide endless possibilities of using these unique species and cultivars.

I remember my friend and mentor, John Ravenstein showing me his freshly rooted Bloodgood Japanese Maples by pulling a group of them out of the propagation bed filled with sand and telling me to “look at the roots!”  I believe that Mr. Ravenstein, now deceased, was so skilled that he could put roots on a piece of firewood!  His grafting skills were legendary also in that laceleaf types of Japanese Maples will readily root but they never grow without a graft onto a seedling root stock of acer palmatum.

I’ll discuss the uses of several cultivars in the landscapes as well as a  power point program.  Although the program will highlight several Japanese Maple cultivars that are suitable for northeast Ohio, it will emphasize only those that are readily or somewhat available on the market today.

Remember February 26th at the nursery is water conservation with Sandy Barbie.

Tom

February 11, 2011
Even though we still have a way to go with winter in Ohio, in a few days the average temperature will begin to rise at least according to the long time weatherman, Dick Goddard on the Cleveland news cast.

The daffodils and crocus are already peaking above the ground to add to Ohio’s spectacular display of spring.  

The nursery seminars continue with Cynthia Druckenbrod’s program on attracting butterflies to the garden.  I think all of us know the usual fare for attracting butterflies such as the Buddleias (butterfly bush) and Asclepsis (butterfly weed) but our guest will greatly expand your knowledge in the butterfly field.

If you remember from your high school days, butterflies belong to the insect order, Lepidopthera that has the four life stages of the egg, larva, pupa and finally the adult.  In this scenario, the larvae stage of the adults we admire so much can strip the leaves from some of our most cherished garden plants!  

One Lepidopthera insect species that is not so pretty is that of thrips that can attack a wide variety of flowering plants.

In the greenhouse, thrips can be difficult to control as they’re quite small and tend to hide in flowers hidden away from the reach of insecticide sprays or other predatory insects.  This is one genus of Lepidopthera we can do without!

Have your questions ready as our guest speaker has the answers.  See you at the seminar on Saturday, February 12th at 11 a.m.

Tom   

February 4, 2011
Tomorrow, February 5th our seminar will be on the Queen of flowering vines, Clematis.

Clematis always seems to create excitement in the garden due to their wide ranging colors and flower sizes displayed vertically on a trellis or other similar device.

Again, many of you expressed a desire in late April and May last year for us to conduct a clematis seminar when in fact we already had. I hope you won’t miss this one because Deborah Hardwick from Delaware, Ohio is quite the expert. She’ll explain in detail what it takes to make these marvelous vines thrive in your garden.

Ms. Hardwick’s knowledge comes from not only reading and studying about the clematis subject but by doing as well with over 300 cultivars and over 600 plants in her garden here in Ohio.

At the nursery, we grow quite an extensive pallet of clematis that are well established with large root systems that should give most of you the success with clematis you’re expecting instead of the relatively tiny pots and/or clematis in a box that frequently show up in the home improvement stores.

Join us at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 5th for Deborah Hardwick’s presentation. Don’t forget that our seminar on how to attract butterflies to your yard will be the week after that on February 12th.

On another note, this past January I’ve been noticing a fair amount of robins hanging around the nursery this winter as they have been sitting in the flowering crabapple trees eating the half-shriveled apples that normally fall off the tree in April. I can’t help remembering the words that Jesus spoke as written in the Book of Matthew in the King James version: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.”

Tom

January 28, 2011
With the end of January and the beginning of the end of the dark days of winter, our winter seminars series heats up.

Tomorrow on Saturday, January 29th is our first in a series of educational seminars about gardening beginning at 11 a.m. While we request advance registration in order to accommodate our guests as far as refreshments and seating, we usually have enough to satisfy those of you who want to walk-in on the spur of the moment.

I’m hoping that the program will create some interest in using some alternatives such as dwarf conifers as opposed to the “same old stuff” that is common now in every landscape. Much of the ordinary landscapes of new homes are the result of builders’ packages that include landscaping.

In the above scenario, landscaping takes a back seat to granite counter tops in the kitchen and luxurious bathrooms. The resulting landscape is then filled with Arborvitae, Spiraea and a few Stella d’or daylilies which are relatively inexpensive and yet are able to give the new home some curb appeal. Fortunately, some new homeowners reject the builder’s landscape package in favor of a cash rebate in order that they may plan and plant a landscape that incorporates their individual tastes.

Our program tomorrow will present ideas for new landscapes or renovation of existing landscapes that are out of the ordinary and exciting.

See you at the seminar.

Tom


January 21, 2011
I've been busy preparing for my seminar on dwarf conifers on January 29th.

This fascinating group with its diverse Genera and species gives a landscape a look of uniqueness in an otherwise cookie cutter world of the type colored suburban houses with the spirea and gold thread false cypress as highlights of the landscape.

The vast selection of dwarf conifers is not well known but to only a few who are probably members of the American Conifer Society.

The deserving adoration of these unusual plants is displayed first and foremost with vibrant colors of either the mature foliage or vibrant colors of the new growth.

Another aspect of interest is the myriad shape and texture of the plants from the extra long needles of the Himalayan Pine to the minute needles of some of the dwarf Hemlocks.

The ease of growing dwarf conifers is another good reason to implement them in a landscape.

Most are winter hardy to at least zone 5 and are well suited to the rigors of the harshest of Ohio winters. 

The winter seminar series begins with dwarf conifers on Saturday, January 29th. 

The cost is $5.00 each for garden club member or $10.00 each for non-members.

Hope to see you soon!

Tom

January 14, 2011
Finally our new greenhouse is in its last stages of being finished.

The contractor didn't take long to set up the main structure but as they say "the devil is in the details"

Those details include the fabrication of the drip irrigation system for hanging baskets, installation of the ebb and flow benches (self watering tables), set up of the boiler system, hanging and hook up of the air circulation fans and the set up of an automatic mist system for the rooting of cuttings.

I'm very excited to start production in the new greenhouse as it is so much more efficient than the older and smaller structure it replaced.  The much greater efficiency will enable us to produce more of our usual fare and more unusual fare now that we have not only more space but a much better growing environment as well.

Right now, I'm like a kid in a candy store looking at all the new annual flowers and trying to decide what to grow.  The combination of annuals and even perennial flowers seems limitless.

What I like too is that the new structure has a low energy use with the new heat curtains that close at night to retain heat, as 80% of the heat needed for greenhouses in northern Ohio is used at night.

The boiler system, with its hot water tubes, will help to heat near the roof where it can escape to the outside.

A "blessing" too are the self watering benches for plants that will aid in less water use and water runoff from the production of the flowers.

I can hardly wait until spring.

Tom