Blog Archive 2013

Dayton "Dirt"
Weekly Blog entries
by Tom Dayton

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December 20, 2013

Tomorrow is the winter solstice and the beginning of the long winter. We can all look forward to the increasing daylight afterwards and the fact that the average temperatures will begin to rise after the 15th of February. It remains to be seen if Lake Erie will freeze over that might give the northeast lake shore counties some relief from the Lake Erie snow machine.

During last Saturday’s snow I received a call from one of our long time customers that the Canaan Fir we had set up in the stand was leaning and might be unstable. The 9 foot tall and 6 foot wide broadly pyramidal tree had moved slightly due to its great weight. After I had retrieved more help from the nursery, I slightly pulled on the massive tree while Adam from the nursery loosened and tightened the securing bolts. Finally, the tree was straight and secure. My panic to rectify this problem was that the tree was decorated with at least 2,000 white lights and what seemed to be ornaments in the hundreds. Each major branch was wrapped carefully with the white lights with the colorful ornaments hung from the trees branches toward the trunk.

After we had finished with the tree the customer turned on the tree lights that seemed to make the tree glow with a soft radiant light. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful tree anywhere or scarcely could have imagined such a spectacle!

With the season winding down it would be time to clean up and settle down as the nursery will close on December 31st until the 1st day of March although we will be opening on Saturdays beginning February 1st for the winter seminars in order to educate and prep gardeners for spring.

There still are a few trees at discounted prices and we are still making and delivering grave blankets until Christmas Eve to local cemeteries.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tom
 

December 13, 2013
This week the cold weather has returned in what can be called an old-fashioned winter.  The low temps or single digit temperatures will freeze the ground deeply without a generous blanket of snow.

We still have a selection of mostly Fraser fir with 4 beautiful Frasers waiting for a home with a high ceiling in the 10-11 foot range.  Grave blanket construction is still in full swing as customers are still ordering for a pick up or delivery.  The most unusual delivery to a cemetery ever was one to Lakewood cemetery in Akron in which the daughter of the deceased ordered a fruit basket with real fruit, a grave blanket and a small Scotch pine tree decorated with red bows.  The fruit basket, tree and blanket each had a card attached stating that the deceased parents were loved and missed.

The low nightly temperatures made it necessary to cover the stored azaleas with a ” thermal blanket while some of the perennials only require a lighter weight blanket in order to protect the plant roots from a deep freeze.  The azaleas though, do not fare well if the blanket contacts the evergreen leaves so that a metal frame suspends the blanket just above the plants.  That is even more important with mountain laurel.

In a little over a week, the winter solstice will signal the first day of winter only to be followed by even longer growing daylight time peaking with the summer solstice of June 21st.

Some of the cuttings we are rooting in the greenhouse for spring need longer days and more light intensity to root successfully in which the supplemented light is achieved by a high pressure sodium light that also produces heat which will root the various cuttings even faster.

With the sights and sounds of Christmas so near every Ohioan who winters in Florida seems to have returned to enjoy the holiday with friends and family but will return quickly to Florida to enjoy the warmth and to avoid triggering the threshold that would require the payment of the Ohio Income tax.  So much for a Florida reprieve.

 Tom

December 6, 2013
The weather this November and now December is statistically colder then official normal but is still closer to average then the December of 1997 and 2006 when temperatures reached the 50, 60 and even 70F marks for long stretches at a time.  Some customer’s even had the audacity to shop for a Christmas tree wearing shorts.

 The cut trees do seem fuller and fresher than last year from plenty of rainfall and accompanying cooler temperatures.  Some trees that had to remain in the field did not seem to fare well as the severe frost on May 30th this past spring killed the new emerging, tender young growth so that it is still hanging on the trees!  Firs are especially susceptible to frost damage as the new growth flushes earlier than pines or spruces.

 Many of our larger 10-11 foot trees have already been sold, however we’ve recently cut some gorgeous Canaan Firs of a height of 10-12 feet.  These firs resemble the Fraser Fir but without as much as the glaucous shiny coating as the Frasers display.  Canaan Fir will drop few if any needles if the trees are cut about Thanksgiving or later.

 The warm up this past week has enabled us to plant the remainder of our tulips, hyacinths, crocus and narcissus along with over 100 daylilies of various colors on a steep bank along the road in Wolf Creek gardens.  When the weather “goes south” again, we’ll move inside to continue the construction of the self-watering greenhouse benches in the production greenhouses.

 Our replacement white poly on our azalea overwintering hut seems to be holding quite well compared to the plastic we put over the frame in early November.  It was so fortunate that we caught the problem before the poly tore and blew off as the hut is full of azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and hydrangeas that would be outright killed if temperatures reached the single digits or the upper teens with strong winds without being covered.

I’m very excited to view the new Jacqueline series of azaleas next May along with the Proven Winner Bloom-a-thon azaleas that will bloom most of the spring, summer and fall instead of one splash of color in early spring.

 The winter solstice approaches so enough for now about spring.

 Tom

November 29, 2013
This past week turned surprisingly quickly to winter shutting down most (but not all) gardening chores.  At least two necessary items to perform is to apply a wrap or tree guard to young trees with less than a 2” caliper trunk to prevent rabbits from chewing off the tender bark during the winter.  A too soon application of the protective trunk is detrimental to the tree as it creates on warmer microclimate around the trunk resulting in the increased chance of the bark splitting due to it’s being unacclimated to the ensuing cold weather. Experiments performed by Dr. Hannah Mather’s has confirmed that the above can be one cause of bark splitting on trees.

Again, any tree or shrub in areas of heavy deer concentration needs protected.  One method of hanging pieces of soap from the plants works for many gardeners but can be quite time consuming.  Another method would be to apply the concentrate Liquid Fence as directed as soon as temperatures rise above freezing even for just a couple of hours.

Rhododendron, Azalea, fragrant Viburnums, Taxus (yews) among others are susceptible to deer browsing in winter.  The Taxus genus is interesting in that it is poisonous to humans and cattle but is a delightful salad to hungry deer!

The nursery is in full swing now for the Christmas season with poinsettias, greens, deciduous holly, cut trees and our balled burlapped beautiful baby blue spruce.  Many of the grave decorations went out before Thanksgiving but many more are in the works ready for pickup, deliveries or “walk out” sales.  Now that the nursery is set up for the Christmas season, the next item on the table is to prepare for cuttings of annual flower plants and some perennials that come from Central America where the heat and longer days during winter keep the stock plants in full growth so that multiple harvests of the cuttings can be continually shipped to the northern greenhouse operation all winter.

No doubt, just before Christmas we’ll be harvesting cuttings from our stock geraniums to be potted into various size containers and hanging baskets in January that will be ready to sell about May 1st.

Spring will arrive sooner than you think!

 Tom

November 22, 2013
This past week has been somewhat trying with the high winds on Sunday and Monday that could have (but did not) cause havoc at the nursery because of the white plastic stretched over the frames of the overwintering huts.  Even though the plastic is stretched and fastened tightly there is always the danger that a microburst could do major damage as it did in April this past spring when 70-80 mph winds whipped through for only about 30 seconds to a minute.

Since the poinsettias are almost finally “cooked” in the rear greenhouse, we ferried many of them to the annual greenhouse attached to the store in order to start to grace Thanksgiving tables and later on, brighten up dreary, dark December Ohio homes getting ready for the light, sights and sounds of Christmas.

Grave blanket delivery began yesterday so that customer’s wishes are met by delivering the decorations before Thanksgiving on November 28th.  Many customers prefer to pick up their own decoration for their loved ones that have passed on except in the case of some of the larger ones which can weigh more than 75 lbs!

Greens and live wreaths and roping are now available along with poinsettias with the addition of Ohio-grown cut pines and firs this coming Tuesday.

Mulching, flower bulb planting, irrigation repairs, clean up, trimming trees and shrubs, planting and the installation of a new self working water filter continue besides the getting ready for the Christmas season.

Next month, the construction of more self-watering greenhouse benches known as ebb & flow will continue in the rear production greenhouses as most plants thrive and in general are of higher quality with the ebb & flow system with more water being recycled over and over as the draining benches return water to a 1500 gallon tank under the ground.

I don’t think a long winter lull is ever a reality at the nursery as even though the nursery shuts down for 2 months after New Year’s Day, there is always something to do!

Tom

November 15, 2013
Fortunately before the snow of this past week the leaves on most trees have fallen so that trees are not weighed down and broken as they were earlier this year in more northern Ohio.  The one tree that has mostly not lost its leaves is the stubborn ornamental Pear that is prone to damage or complete destruction by an early snow.

Erecting burlap screens for wind and/or salt damage would be in order now especially for evergreen plants near busy roads as a direct hit of salt from snow plow trucks but also salt sprays from passing traffic will burn evergreen foliage and buds.  Deciduous plantings are prone to salt damage too.  A planting of barberry near the south end of Crystal Lake Road in Bath was nearly obliterated from salt damage about 10 years ago while the ornamental Pears in Fairlawn have many of their lower growth buds killed from the salt mist created by heavy traffic on West Market Street when the temperature is above freezing with the salt water on the road.

At the nursery, the grave blankets are under construction and most styles are ready to be picked up or delivered to local cemeteries.  One of the last to be constructed are the mixed greens pillows as the sundry greens will dry out if construction is too early in the season.

A few Poinsettias will be ready this weekend as they are still expanding their colorful bracts above the warmth of our heating tubes on which they sit but most will not be displayed until the weekend of November 23rd as they seem to “prefer” this bottom heat while still in the development stage.

More planting, edging, weeding and mulching is going on in Wolf Creek Gardens to the north as much of the work commenced now cannot be performed in spring because of the business rush.

A somewhat warm December will allow the planting of thousands of flower bulbs on the property but that remains to be seen.

Tom

November 8, 2013
As November marches on, there’s lots of chores to complete before winter. 

November is for:

        Taking a soil test of the lawn and garden

        Applying dolomitic lime if needed to the lawn and/or garden

        Composting leaves

        Spraying persistent perennial weeds with glyphosate (Roundup)

        Applying liquid fence in late November to protect susceptible plants from deer browsing

        Applying gypsum to lawn areas susceptible to road salt burn

        Planting Holland bulbs, most trees and shrubs

        Applying one more application of winterizing lawn fertilizer with a high ratio of potassium to nitrogen ratio to feed the still growing grass and to foster an early lawn green up in spring

        Digging and storing tender rhizomes (Cannas) (Dahlias) before a hard freeze to the ground

At the nursery, November is a great month for sticking cuttings of rhododendron, Juniper and Arborvitae as roots on the cuttings form quickly with the heat from our boiler system.  This “bottom heat” heats the rooting media to about 72 F with an air temperature of about 60-65 F and conifers will root the various cuttings in about 6 weeks.  The conifer evergreens will then be transplanted in spring to containers while the rhododendron will be planted in a bed of pure Canadian sphagnum peat in the greenhouse in January and then replanted to pots in the early summer.

The covering of our overwintering houses last week has been eventful in that already at least 25 hungry mice were caught just one day after setting the traps!

Another project for this past week has been the spacing of the ever expanding Poinsettias as too close of spacing will force the plants to grow upward instead of the more desirable shape of outward.  Poinsettias are very susceptible to white fly insects but so far the fast breeding critters have been absent to the extent not even one can be found!

The only detriment to finishing November gardening chores is the weather and the short days growing even shorter.

Tom

November 1, 2013
With many frosty nights last week, the nursery stock in containers has finally received the “signal” to shut down for a long winter’s nap so that we finished covering the overwintering huts in order to keep the wind and severe cold off the plants roots.  After covering the huts, a fungicide will be applied and then afterwards, at least 100 mouse traps will be baited with a sunflower seed and set to catch mice that will attack perennials and some of the shrubs in the huts as they eat all winter long if not checked!

The color on the poinsettias is starting to intensify with most varieties ready to sell about a week before Thanksgiving.  Now the work begins on cutting branches for grave blankets with the cascading styles made with Scotch pine branches being the first ones ready.  The spruce style blankets are constructed later as the needles on the branches tend to shed if cut too early.

Cut Christmas trees from southern Ohio will arrive in less than a month, just a few days before Thanksgiving on November 28th, but until that time, there’s still plenty to work on to get ready for the Christmas season and the coming winter.  No doubt the weather will be cold but the question is “How Cold?”

Even though predictions are for a severe winter, severe is a relative term in that adequate snow cover will mitigate severely cold temperatures as far as many plants are concerned.  The worst possible scenario is for high winds, little or no snow with temperatures of 0 Fahrenheit or lower such as happened on January 28, 2007 and January 30, 2008 when temperatures plummeted quickly and winds gusted to as much as 60 m.p.h.  I remember wrapping rhododendrons with burlap that were exposed to strong winds so that they would not “burn” with cold, harsh winds and almost no snow.  Some of the same rhododendron are now almost 6 ft. tall and are in no need of wind protection as a spruce hedge to the west has grown to protect the plants from the winter winds that can do so much damage.

 Time to go.

 Tom

October 25, 2013
With snow flurries and the cold of this past week, we have placed most of the container nursery stock away in the winter storage huts and next week we’ll cover the huts with opaque white polyethylene.  Any of the stock can still be sold and successfully planted through November as it is a good month for gardening if not in some ways the best gardening month (except for annual flowers of course).

The Red Sunset Maples and Autumn Blaze Maples at the nursery just keep blazing away in shades of red that support the tree’s cultivar names.  While the Princeton American Elms are lacking in brilliant fall color, the trees more than make up for this deficit with their fast growth and vase-shape silhouette that is unlike any other native tree.

This year will most likely be the last one to view the royal purple color of the White Ash and the clear yellows of the Green Ash trees thanks to the introduction of the Emerald Ash Borer from China that came aboard wood pallets loaded with sewer pipe.  Obviously, there seems to be a lack of money and will in the Government and the general public to stamp out these foreign infestations of pests; however, some are beginning to take a toll on food crops such as the marmorated stink bug.  A future crisis threatening a wide variety of food crops and/or trees may have to occur before our society “gets it” in the need to allocate resources and the man power to keep out foreign invaders. So much for doom and gloom as it’s sad enough that the days are growing so short.

Consider planting a tree this fall that generations in the future might enjoy the shade of its branches, the oxygen it will emit, the carbon dioxide it will store and the runoff water from heavy rain it will absorb.  Trees do matter in terms of dollars and in terms of better living.

Tom

October 18, 2013
Perennial gardens appear “tired” at this time of year and are ready for a fall clean up. Most herbaceous perennials are not fussy about their old stems and foliage being cut back to the crown but there are two genus varieties of note: Delphinium and Chrysanthemums. Delphinium have hollow stems which will retain water damaging the plant’s crown from alternating freezes and thaws. Chrysanthemums are a tender perennial and will benefit if the old dried foliage remains until early spring. The old foliage shades the crown and thus protects it from rapid temperature changes. In the case of Delphinium bending over the dead stems will prevent water from entering as cutting them off would allow.

On trimming of trees and shrubs, the Franklinia does not like to be cut back in fall. A few years ago, some young Franklinias were cut back only marginally and the result was the death of the plants in spring while others that were untrimmed opened with healthy new growth in spring!

A fall feeding now of trees and shrubs will result in a healthy flush of growth in spring. It is now late enough in the growing season that the plants will not be pushed into growth and early enough that root systems are still active.

After 2 years of stress (drought in 2012 and wet soil in 2013) the fall feeding would definitely be of benefit to get trees, shrubs and perennials off to a good start in spring of 2014.

November is still a good time to plant trees, shrubs and Holland flower bulbs as the plants will be fully dormant except for the root system. When planting flower bulbs, a little planning will go a long way to extend the bloom season from late March through early June. The trick is to plan and plant now for a spring that is only 5 months away.

Tom
 

October 11, 2013
No doubt that the trees should have adequate moisture for a brilliant fall display but maybe a crisp frost is missing to brighten the leaf colors as it seems the fall season is not as bright as usual.

Moving our back stock of trees and shrubs into winter storage houses has begun although covering the huts with white polyethylene won’t occur until about the first week of November as covering too early will prevent the plants from hardening off properly for winter.

It’s now digging time for most trees and shrubs as the cool nights and falling leaves lessen the transpiration that would damage or kill the plant with a disturbed root system resulting from digging.

One small tree that is noted for its fall show is Franklinia altamaha, also known as the Ben Franklin tree.  In late September and October, the Franklin’s trees leaves start changing from a medium green to a mahogany color that contrast nicely with the white flowers with their golden yellow stamens and anthers.

Franklinia was found on the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia before 1790 and strangely enough is winter hardy to climatic zone 5.

A search in 1790 for Franklinia yielded no results so that this tree has never been found in the wild since 1790.

All existing Franklinias originate from the specimens collected in the late eighteenth century and planted in James Bartrum’s garden in Philadelphia.  Mr. Bartrum was a friend of Ben Franklin and hence named the newly discovered tree for Ben.

Another small to medium tree of note for fall color is the Serviceberry, or Amelanchier.  With colors of yellow, red and orange sometimes mixed on the same tree, the serviceberry stands out in the landscape.

In Akron, there is a grouping of these trees at the intersection of W. Market St. and Halifax that seems to glow with a mellow orange hue that’s especially beautiful when the sun reflects off the shimmering leaves.

The short days are signaling the poinsettias in the greenhouse to just start setting a hint of color on some of the varieties.  I’m anxious to see how some of our new Dummen varieties fare as compared to some of the older types. One of Dummen’s new creations about 4 years ago was ‘Ice Crystals’ that is a peculiar mix of pink, magenta and muted pink overtones that colors up so much better then the older variety called ‘Monet’.

Don’t forget to take a soil test of your lawn and garden now so you can correct any irregularities before spring. The kits we sell are from Penn State University and are quite complete in the necessary chemical analysis of the soil.

So long for now,
Tom

October 4, 2013
Barberton’s Mum Fest was wildly successful especially since the predicted rain on Sunday held off. 

The nursery mum sales are just starting to wind down but there is no winding down of the other activities that must be completed before winter sets in. Transplanting of our rooted azalea cuttings from the summer has been completed as well as the repotting of many plants to a larger pot size.

Inventory is the big deal for fall as many plants must be kept separate as some are ready to sell now and others won’t be ready until next spring and in some cases until 2015 and beyond! Unrooted annual flower orders with various companies must be completed this week in order to receive shipments in February. One of the newest developments is the proliferation of new petunia colors that are appropriately named Crazytunias. The new rage also is a more tall blue petunia called ‘Heavenly Blue’ by the Suntory Company.

This is the last weekend the Owl Barn market will be open for business before it shuts down for winter and will resume with fresh produce sales not until late June.

Newly dug trees are to arrive the week of October 15th as they are able to be dug then. No doubt the fall color will be near it’s peak October 14th week and soon the leaf raking chores will follow.

Tom

 

September 27, 2013
The cool nights and shorter days are a signal to trees that it’s to prepare for a long winter’s nap. The Autumn Blaze Maple has been displaying its customary scarlet red color for about 2 weeks that will be followed by the more crimson red of the Red Sunset Maple.

The native Sugar Maples are in my opinion, the most spectacular in fall color as reds, yellows and oranges are frequently mixed on the same tree just like Joseph’s Coat. Sadly, at the nursery, Sugar Maples are not popular with the general public which attests to their slow growth rate compared to other trees.

Shrubs with colorful fall foliage include Blueberries (red & yellow), Aronia (red), Clethra (yellow), Itea (dark red) and of course the brilliant red Euonymous alatus or Burning Bush. I’m not thrilled with the burning bush as it can be somewhat invasive as reported by Ken Cochran, the currator of the Secrest Arboreteum in Wooster, Ohio and even the State of New York has banned its importation from other States.

A new development has been the “creation” of a new Igloo mum that is a pink-lavender daisy type that will be in peak bloom about October 1st week so that it will extend the bloom time of the Igloo season with the dependability of this species. This new Igloo has a number and no name as of yet so that my hope is it will be a new release for next year as it did well in trials at the nursery.

The Owl Barn market is still open but sadly the sweet corn season is over for another year so that now the emphasis is on apples, squash, pumpkins, gourds, peppers and still tomatoes, potatoes and garlic.

The fall digging season is starting so that still we are stocking the nursery with gorgeous hemlock and next week with more Spring Grove western red cedar and the nearly uniform and oh-so-blue, Baby Blue Spruce.

Tune in to Ready, Set, Grow on Saturday 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. on 1590 WAKR to hear the interviews with the folks behind the mum madness call Mum Fest in Barberton this weekend. Hope for good weather!

Tom

September 20, 2013
Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox and the start of shorter days with longer nights until the winter solstice. The lower light levels are a signal for winter hardy plants to shut down to prepare for the long winter.

The below ground roots however will keep expanding until ground temperatures reach 40F or below so that fall planting is definitely an advantage because of this root growth which results in an established plant in spring.

The Igloo series of mums has been quite the hit this year because of their dependability of returning without fail year after year. The 3 new colors available added to the pallette of colors formerly available making the Igloos even more desirable.

Last week’s Fall festival had more activities then ever and seemed to be well attended. I found the petting zoo interesting complete with goats, chickens, rabbits, a pig, turkey and a lama. As we all know, animals tend to bite and nibble but fortunately there were not any incidents.

At the nursery, mums still fire in a wide array of colors and the fall sale still goes on with perennials, some grasses, trees and shrubs on a 50% off sale.

The trees are just starting to display their fall colors with the peak of color appearing about October 20th.

Remember the Mum Fest next weekend! Enjoy the good weather while you can!

Tom

September 13, 2013
Tomorrow is our annual Fall Festival complete with a petting zoo, food, music and lots to do for children of all ages. The nursery is loaded with gorgeous mums of all sizes and colors that color the grounds similarly (but not equivalent) to the mum planting at Lake Anna in Barberton for the upcoming Mum Fest.

Another new item for fall planting that I’ve been waiting to bring out into full view are the Cool Wave pansies that are blooming now in shades of white, violet, blue, and yellow with flowers much bigger than the Icicle pansies from a few years ago. Cool Wave pansies as well as all pansies like cool weather and will eagerly bloom in fall and early spring when planted in the fall. Remember what I wrote earlier that the plants will overwinter after exposure to a temperature as low as -20 F.

Another fall crop that will usually last into early winter are the ornamental Cabbage and Kale with the hues of white and purple that will light up any landscape especially when planted in a group of 3 or more.

A slew of arborvitae is now in stock along with some Green Giant Western Red Cedar that make an excellent screen or hedge even in moderate shade. Coming soon are pines and spruces for planting this fall.

The fall sale is still on with a recently updated listing on our website which is accompanied by our entire listing of inventory (sale and non-sale items).

Hope to see you at tomorrow’s festivities!

Tom

September 6, 2013
The “big” fall sale for the Garden Club members seemed to be success judging by the amount of empty space that is visible where once there were plants. There are still some “good” buys to be found as the 50% off sale will continue on some items through October although as time goes on, more and more of the choice stock will be depleted especially since the sale is now open to
non-Garden Club members also.

The garden mums are showing good color now except for the later blooming varieties which seem to be somewhat of a “season extender” to quote a phrase used by the former Yoder Brothers (now Aris) of Barberton as it pertains to the later blooming Chrysanthemums.

Saturday, September 14th is the day for our annual fall festival. This event with the train ride, petting zoo, bouncy house and happy music makes for a family atmosphere for parents and children and for grandparents and grandchildren. The food choices will be supplemented with fresh produce in the Owl Barn along with plenty of sale items in the nursery department. The festivities start at 10 a.m. and go on all day until 5 p.m. Check out the web site section for the festival for more details. The Barberton Mum Fest then will be Saturday, September 28th and Sunday 29th.

This year there were some trials as to growing the mums in the display beds as the heavy rains and especially of July 10th that did noticeable damage to some of the planting. Bill Aulenbach of the Aris company is responsible for the design, selection of varieties and supervision of the growing of chrysanthemum display in the Lake Anna planting. Aris is the horticultural company based in Barberton whose beneficence makes the festival possible with its donation of the thousands of young plants installed in June.

Soon the fall color of the trees will be upon us but I do hope the Seiberling sweet corn and other produce from the farm that supplies the Owl Barn remains available for awhile longer especially since it’s a long wait until the next July!

I almost forgot that we now have at least 100 parking spaces available so that parking should not be as much of a problem as it was last year during the festival.

Hope to see you at the festival!

Tom

August 30, 2013
Today is the first day of our annual fall sale which tends to put an end to the summer doldrums. Fall, as I have written before, is a great time to plant almost anything as the root system of plants expand into the cool moist soil in order to establish themselves before a long winter.

The stock that you’ll find “on sale” is quite diverse and I think of such quality that you’ll find is not “worn and tired” looking due to the fact that our irrigation system renders sufficient water and the fact that the stock is supplemented with our own fertilizer mix of fast and slow release fertilizer that we blend in a cement mixer.

As a “thank you” for any purchase, the cashier’s will be handing out a coupon for six ears of Seiberling sweet corn to be found in the Owl Barn for free and for which there is no need to buy anything else. The times are limited in the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday though in order that we have time to stock fresh corn and do not have to overstock with not-so-fresh sweet corn.

Igloo mums are ready now in 3 new varieties that are different in color and/or flower form. Igloos are dependably winter hardy and tend to bloom twice each year; that is, in early summer and again in fall if the plants are trimmed back by mid-July. Asters too are now showing some rich color in shades of blue, purple, pink and white which supplement the color schemes of the Igloo and “regular” mums.

Although we have been feverishly potting new perennials all summer, more are still on the way from Holland, Michigan to be placed in larger containers to root in before winter. Astilbe, garden peonies, Itoh peonies and a new type of primrose with huge flowers in electrified shades of red, blue, yellow and pink will be arriving through September and then will be ready to sell next spring.

One of our upcoming capital improvement projects is the installation of a new filter for the irrigation system to the tune of $8500 for just the filter alone. This filter has a larger and finer screen area than our present filter and will rid the irrigation water of particles that are greater than 400 microns in size which tend to clog sprinklers and other filters that we use in the greenhouses.

This new filter as with our present filter will wash off the clogged filtering screen when a pressure differential builds up and causes a sensor to operate a small motor that powers spinning jets of water to free the screen of debris.

Water certainly is the key to a nursery operation and so much so that we collect it (rain water and irrigation runoff), filter it, and chlorinate it in order to maintain the health of the plants offered for sale.

On a final word of note. Come early to the sale as many items are sold out or picked over on the first day especially if the weather is agreeable.

disappear quickly as the sale progresses. The sales listing is not updated everyday.

On Friday, August 30th, the nursery will open early at 7:30 am rain or shine with plenty of good looking stock available for the sale.

Join us in the Owl Barn Market for some free coffee, tea and other refreshments if you like.

Don’t forget your planting instructions on your way out!

The sale list will be available on our website the afternoon of August 29th.  The sale will be available to all garden club members only through Monday, Sept 2nd after which the sale is open to every eon.  Garden Club members will then get the first pick of the on sale items! 

Se you at the big sale!

Tom

August 16, 2103
On a recent getaway to Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania, I stumbled on a hiking trail called the Rhododendron trail and marveled not at the rhododendron which were far and few between but at the massive Canadian Hemlocks with a few of them up to 5foot in diameter at chest height!

One tree that had fallen and had been saved up to clear the trail had a 30" diameter trunk with at least 120 growth rings! I deducted them that some of the much larger living trees must be 200 to 250 years old so that some of them were just youngsters even before there was a United States.

Later at the campground, I was talking excitedly about the old growth Hemlock’s in Cook Forest when the campground host related to me that at a meeting this spring with the park officials the inevitable has happened in that the invasive insect, the Hemlock adelgid, originally from Europe has entered the forest on the old growth trees. After this small insect saps the tree for 6-10 years, they will die leaving a decimated landscape where once the great trees grew. Long ago the American chestnut suffered a similar fate and now Hemlock. Black Walnuts, American Beech, Oaks and now possibly Maples are or will come under attack from non-native insects and diseases.

On a lighter note, the bridge construction that has caused the closure of Cleveland-Massillon Road just north of the nursery will be finished August 22nd making navigation a breeze when south bound on the road.

The grasses in the perennial house are plentiful with additions of some more varieties of varying heights and colors such as Pennisetum ‘Burgundy Bunny’ and Panicum ‘Prairifire’ that has a red blush on the otherwise blue-green foliage.

The small Garden Treasure miniature roses have really flushed out saturating the small leaved plants with flowers of red, white, magenta, yellow, amber, orange and a yellow and orange bicolor call Pieces of Eight.

The Seiberling sweet corn is still coming on with that oh-so-sweet quality. Finally the market has sported the small but so delicious doughnut peaches that just explode with flavor with just one bite. Just another reminder. . . time is running out to use your Dayton Dollars!

Tom


August 9, 2013
This past week has been nothing but rush, rush and rush with the potting of Cool Wave Pansies, Daylilies, Hosta, German Iris and sundry perennials all for next spring sales. The German Iris do need a little more prep work in that they must soak in a 10% bleach solution for about 20 minutes and then left to dry in the sun for 1 day before they are potted. The bleach solution kills bacteria that cause the thick rhizomes to rot. The iris will be placed for winter storage in the same overwintering hut as the creeping phlox. This hut has roll up sides for maximum ventilation and will let the winter sun shine on the plants in which many fungal problems in storage are burned off by the winter sun.

Early last spring, we had problems with some of our roses dying back after coming out of winter storage due to downy mildew. After speaking to well known rosarian Peter Schneider of Mantua, Ohio, I was intrigued by his solution of getting rid of downy mildew: spray the plants with water of a temperature of 140F! It seems the mildew organism likes cool damp weather and cannot survive a splash of the somewhat hot water.

The Seiberling sweet corn is going well in the market and I must say that the white corn Chuck Seiberling gave me to try was even sweeter than the yellow or bicolor varieties! I asked him the name of the cultivar; however, he stated that it only had a number instead of a name. Seiberling’s Sweet White might be a fitting name.

The Bloom-a-Thon azaleas that we may introduce in a limited quantity next year, were blooming their heads off until we cut all the flowers off earlier this week! The lavender, white, pink and red flowers are massive with pronounced ruffles that seem too heavy for the young plants. Bloom-a-Thon is rated to be winter hardy to climatic zone 5 and is a repeat bloomer very similar to the Encore brand of azalea.

The new Igloo mums will be ready soon as well as our Kickin series of hardy asters and the new hardy cool wave pansies.

Don’t forget to use your Dayton Dollars as they expire at the end of this month.

Happy gardening,

Tom
 

August 2, 2013
While the nursery has slowed in the sales department other areas are a flurry of activity with the propagation area still going strong along with potting up perennials and some shrubs for next year.  Sedums, Heucheras, Vinca minor, Phlox subulata, Dianthus, Leucanthemum are some of the favorite genuses for fall potting.

Then, another new plant we will have available about mid-September is the Cool Wave Pansy in mixed colors that is winter hardy to -20F!  Each plant spreads to a diameter of up to 30 inches and if planted in the fall will continue to bloom until a hard freeze.  Then in spring, this new pansy will return back again with spectacular bloom until it fades out again when temperatures climb into the eighty degree mark or more.

Finally, the My Bouquet brand of roses is starting to show decent color with the biggest show of color from the variety called First Impression which is a true double yellow.  Normally in tea roses the color yellow is considered a weak grower; however, in the My Bouquet series, the yellow in these shrub roses is quite strong.  I just love the fact that the plants are on their own roots making the extraordinarily winter hardy and disease resistant.

The hydrangeas just keep blooming on and on making for a colorful display.  This past week our new crop of Mountain Laurels became available and are the best looking plants we ever have offered.

One interesting note are the six turkeys that roam the nursery property.  The birds decided to start digging along side the blueberry plants so that every time I see them near the patch I run them off so that they take wing and fly away.  For a species that had an estimated population of 30,000 for the entire United States in 1970, the birds are becoming so common that they are multiplying like rabbits!  It looks as though they may be another nuisance to deal with like the white tailed deer.

Que sera sera

Tom
 

July 26, 2013
What a difference several miles make! While the Marietta sweet corn in the market has been favorably received by the customers as to it’s freshness, the Seiberling sweet corn is even better! At $4.50 per dozen, the sweet corn is definitely a good value for the dollar.

Long gone are the days when I used to sell Seiberling sweet corn for 75 per dozen! Chuck Seiberling definitely was correct when he stated that last year’s crop was not as good because of the extreme heat and drought.

Everything seems to be growing well especially after the large irrigation pump was repaired by Hunnel Electric in Akron and by Brad the maintenance man. How aggravating it was to irrigate with the smaller recycle pump as the water not being filtered constantly clogged sprinklers again and again.

On Wednesday, I spotted a grafted sweet million tomato plant at a friend’s house that was planted in a 16 inch container with tomatoes coming on like grapes on an eight foot plant! The plant had fallen over at least 2 times with some breakage so that it was finally secured with a 6 foot steel fence post!

Today is propagation day as time is running out with the days getting shorter. Azaleas, spiraea, franklinia, hydrangeas, etc. will be harvested for cuttings and stuck into a prepared rooting media and stored under intermittent mist until they are rooted.

I just wish I could obtain a license for some of the Proven Winner shrubs but as of yet no luck.

Happy Harvest!

Tom

 

July 19, 2013
The flood waters have receded and now the summer weather begins.

I’m somewhat surprised by the reported damage to gardens from the sheer force of the down pouring rain. Do be vigilant now for all newly planted flowers, trees and shrubs as the “normal” watering schedule must resume if the plants are not yet established.

Summer color is alive and well with the bloom of hibiscus (Rose of Sharon), myriad varieties of hydrangeas, shrub roses, multiple summer blooming perennial’s clethra and crocosmia. Crocosmia is an interesting perennial in that the blossoms resemble that of a miniature gladiola and are intensely attractive to hummingbirds. In fact, crocosmia sometimes known as Montbretia, grows from a corm very similar to a glad. The variety in bloom at the nursery is a burning red-orange called Lucifer although other colors do exist.

A soon-to-bloom summer beauty is the perennial hibiscus with dinner plate size flowers of brilliant red, pure white, lavender, pink and cranberry red! These popular perennials make a great background for a perennial garden or as a stand alone plant in the landscape.

Only another 2 weeks and the My Bouquet Roses will be ready with a new bicolor called Double Take that sports a red and white flower. The plants are blooming now but just need one more shaping to mold them into beautiful plants.

Remember to place a grub control product on your lawn as soon as possible if you want to be proactive. However, do not use a product containing Dylox as that is only used when grubs are actually active and does not have enough residual to last beyond two weeks after application.

This past week has been the OFA trade show in Columbus that shows off all the new perennials, annual flowers, some trees and shrubs and new technologies for production. I’ll be telling you more about the new stuff as time goes on.

See you soon!

Tom

 

July 12, 2013
In the afternoon of July 10th, the nursery was in the deluge that hit the area with about 3 inches of rain in a little more than an hour. Unfortunately, Van Hyning Run rose 5 feet from its normal water level with the result that the electric motors for the pumps were partially submerged in water so that the next day fans, a propane heater and a small electric heater dried out the motors so that they could be turned on without shorting them out.

The change in the temperature and weather is a welcome relief especially with the Blueberry Festival tomorrow. Music, a bake off contest, hayrides, and for sure lots of blueberries will be centered around the Owl Barn Farm Market.

We’re still depending upon Marietta sweet corn until Sieberling Farms can supply it which will be around the week of the 20th of July. Unfortunately, the supply may not be uninterrupted as the heavy rainfall made it impossible to plant at least 2 patches.

Another problem created by too much rain is that the sweet corn cannot be sprayed for the European corn borer and other insects as the tractor cannot get into the field!

The nursery is doing well as all the plants are growing well along with the weeds! Last year the plants seemed to remain on hold with all the extreme heat and drought.

Our water quality is primo with all the rain and the flushing out of the polluted creek water we we’re forced to use last year.

It’s hard to decide which is worse: to much rain or none like last year. What do you think?

We’ll see you tomorrow at the festivities!

Tom

 

July 5, 2013

Well the market has finally opened with Marietta, Ohio sweet corn before the local Seiberling corn is ready.

Also, now is just the beginning of our blueberry picking that will supply the market this year. The berries are picked from our patch on the other side of the irrigation lake but do not have enough production to open for the pick-your-own crowd. The major reason is that the plants had to be irrigated last year with water from the grossly polluted Van Hyning run that is alkaline and full of salts which resulted in stressed plants. The high coliform bacteria count is countered with chlorine; however, we cannot remove the other impurities from the water that are stressful to the plants. Applications of iron and ammonium sulfate are improving the growth and color of the plants which should provide for a bountiful crop of berries for pick-your-own next year.

It’s amazing, but the application of Methyl anthranilate that smells like grapes has kept the birds mostly at bay including even the geese.

Finally, the flowers that are long overdue are getting planted around the grounds. Next comes the renovation of many of the other shrub and perennial beds that have had no significant work for 8 years.

Sadly the American Elm that was growing profusely on the east side of the Owl Barn was destroyed last Friday by a microburst from a thunderstorm so that an even larger one to start will take its place again.

Just be vigilant about various diseases of the lawn and garden as the humidity is high making conditions favorable for mildews, blackspot on roses, various fungal problems of the lawn and so forth.

The rain has greatly improved the water quality for irrigation and the plants show it. A once weekly rain is really all that is needed but after last year’s drought, I won’t complain.

After a short 1 day delay, the bridge construction near the Norton Middle School began on July 2nd in the closure of Cleveland-Massillon Road which limits access to the nursery when coming from the north.  The easiest way to access the nursery and points south is to take Ohio 21 south to Interstate 76-US 224 east and get off at the first exit (exit #14) or Cleve-Mass Road and turn left to come to the nursery and the Owl Barn Market. The bridge over Van Hyning Run will not reopen until the first week of September barring any construction delays.


~Tom
 

 

June 28, 2013
The produce market in the Owl Barn opens today with Marietta sweet corn! Luckily it became ready right as the market opened!

Last Saturday after the radio program, I visited the home of Harold in the Highland Square area of Akron. To my amazement, Harold’s home was like a farm consisting of 5 small city lots and his son’s house. Goats, rabbits, several chickens, raspberries, grapes and a vegetable garden in the middle of a well kept lawn all gave the property a country atmosphere. The cleanliness and well kept buildings and fencing for the animals is a real asset to the area which is dotted with abandoned property. Harold’s prize garden plants are the grafted tomatoes which are growing like they are supposed to with several already large fruits on a vigorous tall plant of at least 6 feet.

The storms of the past week remind me of the huge storm that moved south from Lake Erie on July 4, 1969 that caused massive flooding in Northeast Ohio that had not been seen since 1913. The day started off beautiful as I hoed rows of sweet corn most of the day until the black rain-filled clouds moved in about 7 p.m. and turned small creeks and streams into rivers!

It seems somewhat sad that the annual flower greenhouse is somewhat empty with only a few geraniums and some small potted herbs and flowers although the hanging basket selection is at least adequate. Color mostly is now from the hydrangeas blooming all under the protection of the shade from the movable roof greenhouse.

What a coincidence or was it Providence that Tom Jefferson and John Adams died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence

Happy 4th!

 

Tom
 

June 21, 2013

This past week with yet another 2 inches of rain in the area has brought the soil moisture back to “normal” levels and has now set the stage for good growth for the vegetable garden now that the nighttime temperatures have warmed.

Timely “to dos” include spraying veggies and flowers with Bi-Carb to prevent powdery mildew, applying a slow-release fertilizer to the lawn, preventive grub control and slug control with the wet weather. I like “Sluggo” for slug control as it’s inexpensive to use and the salt, iron- phosphate is not harmful to domestic animals or wildlife like metaldehyde products.

While spider mites are at bay with the cool, wet weather, it’s still necessary to check for the little devils by shaking a mite susceptible plant’s branch on a white sheet of paper to see if any brown specs “run” on the paper. A miticide such as the Bayer Tree and Shrub protection would be in order for mite control among other insects with non-food types of plants. Sadly, many excellent mite and insect controls are not available to the general public because of EPA restrictions or the fact that the manufacturer will not package the product for smaller consumer amounts because of economic reasons.

Such is the case with “Solve your Bird Problems” or Methyl Anthranilate for crops such as blueberries and sweet corn. The product is available only in a 2 gallon jug or larger for more than $300.00! The chemical occurs naturally in grapes and is an irritant to birds. This EPA, FDA approved product can be sprayed right on the fruit and will not alter its flavor for human consumption. I have applied this product this past week to our ready-to-ripen blueberries in order to repel the ravenous robins and even worse - the geese! I hope it works as the blueberries will be safe and the birds will not be harmed. A small unsprayed remote patch of blueberries would be in order so that the birds could get some nourishment especially for robins, cardinals and blue jays.

Seiberling Farms has 15 gallons in stock to spray on ripening sweet corn as last year one whole field of about 7 acres was destroyed by birds!

Just remember too that it’s great to live in a state like Ohio with its vast water resources as other states have to struggle with low water supplies and wildfires among other weather related problems.

Tom

 

June 14, 2013

Another blessing! A decent amount of rain without too much damaging wind was just the ticket for bringing up the ground moisture that we so desperately needed.

Our summer crops of trees and shrubs are doing well with the cooler temperatures and the good quality of our irrigation water thanks to rain. One crop that just became available is a fresh batch of Maples in the varieties Tamukeyama, Crimson Queen, Virdis and a few others! So lush is the new growth that we were planning to space them better but when we checked the root systems of these earlier transplanted plants, the roots were almost filling the container 1 month ahead of schedule!

Our My Bouquet series of roses are growing nicely and it looks as though they will be ahead of schedule as well so that they will be ready for sale by July 4th instead of August 1st as originally scheduled.

Transplanting of perennials, shrubs and ground covers is still going on as the process is sandwiched between all other duties of selling, mowing, weeding . . .

At the end of June, the market will be open in the Owl Barn beginning with Marietta sweet corn and tomatoes before the transition to Seiberling sweet corn and produce from the farm.

Let us all hope that the summer rains continue so that about one inch falls every week which is ideal for lawns and gardens.

Got to go!

Tom

P.S. Don’t forget to treat squash and cucumbers for mildew with Bi-Carb fungicide.

June 7, 2013

Yesterday’s rain was a real blessing in that as much as 2 inches of needed rain fell most gently all day!

Our irrigation lake has been replenished with fresh water supplementing the recycled water that has collected some salts from the fertilizer leached from the plants. Another exciting piece of news is that more Paw Paws have arrived with any coupons from our garden club newsletter still valid. The back order of these 150 Paw Paws was quite a disappointment even though the trees were ordered in October 2011 for delivery in mid April of 2013! The varieties Overleese, Potomac, Atwood and Taylor are available. Some of these named varieties have been bred and tested by the University of Kentucky for such aspects as taste, vigor, production and quality of fruits and sometimes the longevity of the ripened fruit after picking.

The perennial house is gorgeous with all the plants available now from our early spring production. Especially gorgeous are the shade-loving Astilbe with their feather-like blossoms in red, white, pink and peach colors. Other interesting perennials will come on line in about 6 weeks as we ramp up production for our summer program of perennials.

The perennial house too is decorated with beautiful hanging baskets of verbena, lobelia, calibrachoa and petunias that add to the splash of color.

While the annual flower house is winding down, another crop of beautiful 2 gallon size geraniums just became available for those gardeners that are geranium lovers of the color red.

I’ve got to go as there is trimming, fertilizing and weed pulling are calling!

 

Tom

 

May 31, 2013
The killing frost was devastating last week for many gardeners and bigger operations too. At the nursery the temperature dipped to 32 F at 6 a.m. before it began to rise just a half hour later.

For the protection of the new growth of the plants outside our movable roof greenhouse, a constant washing with water with the irrigation system saved the day. The 20 HP electric pump at full capacity will move 670 gallons of water per minute and deliver 50 lbs. of pressure to the highest sprinklers which are at least 40 feet above the pump level. The water is distributed throughout the property through a system of pipes and electronic valves that one may compare to a spider web. The large delivery pipes of a six inch diameter and four inch are secured by strategic placements of concrete where the thrust of the water flow might break them apart even though they are at least 30 inches under the ground.

Others not as fortunate to have an irrigation system and too much to cover lost many tomato and pepper plants and will have to start over. The scenario is not all dire though as there is plenty of time left to grow as it is still May and not a later frost like that which occurred on June 15, 1972 in many out laying areas.

The nursery has been very busy as the greenhouses still have plenty of nice product except that the selection of plants is beginning to wane especially in some varieties of the vegetable plants.

I am really learning to appreciate our new weed discs on many of the plants as they have reduced weeding to a minimum compared to last year. I don’t mind weeding but it sometimes can be overwhelming.

Pray for some soaking rain.

Tom

 

May 24, 2013

Here we go again with the weather; hot and humid for a few days then cool and cloudy with cold nights! Some rain has fallen but we still need a lot more.

The greenhouses are still well stocked with vegetable plants and flowers of every size and description for the holiday weekend but then after that supplies will start to run low.

The rhododendrons are blooming in the garden and in the sales area which makes for quite a show. The perennial house is especially gorgeous at this time of year as many of the plants are blooming their heads off. I especially like the Summer series of Delphinium with the light blue, deep blue, pink and white flowers on this gorgeous upright perennial.

Soon the sedum on the green roof of the Owl Barn will be blooming giving the appearance of the coat of many colors.

Our next goal is to renovate all the landscape beds and plant flowers everywhere for the summer. At least the flowers outside don’t require the maintenance to keep the bugs and disease at bay as they do in the greenhouse. I’m constantly looking for bugs and disease in order to decide what action I have to take next.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and keep smiling.

Tom

May 17, 2013

The warmer days and nights has finally brought on planting time for heat loving flowers and vegetable plants although vigilance is in order because of the spector of a late frost.

The azaleas are at their peak of bloom in the garden and elsewhere in the nursery resulting in a kaleidoscope of color across the land. The greenhouses are a little too warm and sunny so that today we must put on another layer of white shade compound in order to block and reflect the ultraviolet rays that heat up the greenhouse. It’s so strange that only 30 days ago the sun was a welcome stranger especially after a cold, dark March.

It’s okay now to put down a weed and feed on the lawn as the weather has pushed most broad leaved weeds into growth. Preen is also a good weed preventer for the flower garden especially when just planting annual flowers. After the Preen’s application it’s wise to mulch annual flowers with a thin layer of Sweet Peet in order to keep the plants roots cool and moist and additionally to feed the flowers. Sweet Peet is superior as a mulch as it does not starve plants for nitrogen as mulch does when it decays.

In the greenhouse our Calliope geraniums and New Guinea Impatien hanging baskets are especially gorgeous. The New Guineas thankfully do not contract the lousy downy mildew disease so that they work well in part shade as a substitute for Impatien wallerianna.

Come on in and take a walk around and enjoy the spring show.

Tom

May 10, 2013

Mother’s Day is already approaching and the nursery is at peak inventory for the most part.

May is the most beautiful month in Ohio as the kaleidoscope of color from blooming trees, shrubs, and other flowers is like one big parade marching along.

The azaleas are blooming everywhere in the sales area and on the grounds at the nursery.

Another one of my favorites is creeping phlox that is extremely winter hardy and drought tolerant.

The masses of color the phlox provide along the ground are in contrast to the color show of 20 feet high put on by the flowering crabapples.

Wolf Creek Gardens is coming into it’s prime too with blooming azalea soon to be followed by at least 14 different varieties of rhododendron.

The azaleas I transplanted from my uncle’s house a few years ago are spectacular with the fiery red blooms on the gigantic bushes of 7 by 7 feet!

The sweet smell of the French lilacs and fragrant viburnum is in the air lending to the ambiance of an Ohio spring.

Stop by the nursery and bring Mom too to walk around but be prepared to linger for awhile as there is so much to see you may even lose track of time which wouldn’t be a good thing if you’re on lunch hour at work!

 

Tom


May 3, 2013
With the arrival of May, it’s amazing how everything has “popped” so quickly.

Many of our perennials and annuals that were somewhat behind have literally exploded into growth so that the selection for this weekend will be better then I had originally expected.

The Garden Treasure roses seem to be a hit as we did force some bloom on the plants by placing them in the heated greenhouse.

I especially like the Pieces of Eight variety that opens yellow and then quickly acquires a burning orange edge.

The azaleas are starting to show some color but it’s strange that they seem ahead of the Redbud trees that are only just now coming into bloom.

No doubt everyone will want to get started planting annual flowers but, again, it’s very early for many flowers.

Even hanging baskets should be brought inside when temperatures fall below 55 degrees or more at night.

Tropicals should be kept indoors too on cool nights as most will “shut down” when temperatures fall too low.

Besides the cool weather, vegetable plants such as potatoes, beans, sweet corn, peas and a few others can be planted as long as the garden is well-drained.

Got to go.

Happy gardening.

Tom

April 26, 2013
How drle is the weather? It is cloudy and windy in the day and then clear and still at night only to frost and freeze! The Magnolias took quite a hit and are starting to drop their frosted blossoms. With the daffodils just about done, the early Darwin tulips are in color just as the annual flower house is now open.

The question is: “Other than cold, hardy flowers and vegetable plants, is it okay to plant other items now?” My answer is NO! When the ground warms and nights that should be relatively warm in mid-May it would normally be okay to plant warm-loving plants.

Tomorrow on April 27th the perennial house opens although all the varieties will not be available because of the unusually cool weather of the past several weeks. Many of you with coupons received them too early as the post office mailed the newsletter with coupons to garden club members on the same day the items were dropped off at the post office! Same service for third class mail. The coupons are valid now instead of waiting for the May date and as of now we should have adequate supplies of the coupon items.

I especially like the bright colored blooms of the Garden Treasure miniature roses that sit on the plants like gemstones. Concerning the annual flower house, you’ll notice that not all the hanging baskets are fully grown and that is because we planned them to be primo for around Mother’s Day instead of grown out and then overgrown later.

Be sure to take a look at our recommendations on what to do about the downy mildew problems now facing impatiens. Better weather lies ahead with sunshine and blue skies tempered with a little rain once in awhile is my forecast.

Tom

April 19, 2013
April in the temperature department is fluctuating wildly with highs in the seventies and then back down for the weekend frost!

Next week the annual flower house opens and the perennial house that makes for a hectic pace to get everything ready for the “big” day next Friday. The opening date of April 25th is early for the annual house and yet customers are anxious to plant even items sensitive to cold. Planting cold hardy vegetables and flowers is one thing but tomatoes, peppers, impatiens and the like would definitely be foolish.

The nursery is golden now with waves of daffodils and forsythia blooming everywhere. Especially bright is the north end of the parking area that features a 200 foot hedge of forsythia showing off in a bright yellow cloak. Next will be the thousands of tulips in early May.

Be sure to stop by and see the show!

Tom

April 12, 2013
It was a wild ride this past Wednesday as at least 80 mile per hour winds whipped through the nursery taking plastic off some of the overwintering structures, toppling plants and blowing trash everywhere! I have not seen a wind like that since July 11, 1992 when many of the trees in the woods lost their tops and the big Maple next to the house lost a huge branch that cracked through the roof of the old house creating a foot square hole.

After almost a whole day of clean up, our “regular” chores started again to set up the nursery and greenhouses for spring sales. Unseen to our customer’s eyes are the thousands of hours that are spent to display plants, place signs, tag, clean, trim, fertilize and in general create an atmosphere of beauty.

The perennial and annual flower houses are always the site of some controversy as some customers are anxious to enter before we are set up. To “set up” the houses for sales, the plants must be “ready”, pricing must be finished as well as signage, a few insecticide and fungicide sprays must be performed and the greenhouses have to be cleaned of debris so that they are safe for the public to enter.

It’s turning out to be a “quirky” spring for us as it’s in the 30’s and 40’s for weeks with very cold nights and suddenly sun and 70’s and 80’s. We’re all glad that at least it rained and let us all hope for the spring rains with some sun.

Tom

April 5, 2013
Has spring finally sprung?

I hoped for a slow warm up so that the repeat of last year would not happen of too warm weather and all of it’s ensuing problems but this has been too slow!

The perennial house may open later this year as the cold cloudy days makes for a slow rooting of the plants so that they cannot be sold until later. The few days of sun lately though have jump started the annual flowers in the greenhouse as they’re growing like weeds. More transplanting is still going on with the potting of even more roses, trees and shrubs that will be available later this summer. Remember to do your transplanting of perennials, trees and shrubs this week or next while the plants are still dormant!

Finally I’m seeing some growth on the flower bulbs I planted last November. Last year in Holland, Michigan, the tulips were nothing but stems the first week of May because of the warm weather. This year, the question is will they be in bloom the first week of May? We’ll see.

Tom

March 29, 2013
It seems so strange to experience the flip side of a cold spring as compared to the hot dry March last year! Finally, some taste of spring has sprung and just in time for Easter. Normally crocus flowers are popping out of the ground but I haven’t seen one yet although a bright side to the cold weather is that the aggressive non-native weed, garlic mustard is not proliferating as it was last year as we fought to keep it in check.

The Easter flowers in the greenhouse are a hint of what’s in store for us later in April and May with the spectacular spring show about to begin. The cold March reminded me of the photographs of the old house at the nursery of May 10, 1923 which shows children standing just north of the house in their coats and boots with about 4 inches of snow on the ground. Another photo that my neighbor Mrs. Aura Diehm had shown me 20 years ago was that of her inlaws house across the street from the nursery farmhouse in May of 1924 with at least 6 inches of snow on the roof!

I’m not looking to have a snowy May but you never know. Surprisingly, the flowers in the greenhouse keep marching along even with the long stretches of cloudy cool weather. In less then a month the greenhouses will open with all the colors of the rainbow blazing!

Tom

March 22 2013
At last it’s spring and the weather is back to “normal” compared to last year? On March 24th of last year while we were unloading 3 truckloads of nursery stock, temperatures soared to near 90F in the one trailer as it was the last to be unloaded that day with the outside temperature of an unheard of 85F! Surprisingly no damage was evident on any of the plants even days after they experienced the “sweat box”.

This past week we’ve been receiving stock and pulling nursery stock from our storage houses at a feverish pace. Another operation in full swing is the potting of roses, perennials, trees, shrubs and young plants in the greenhouse that we rooted from cuttings this past month. I have to say that all of us at the nursery are under less stress than last year because of the cooler weather as it keeps customers at bay until we are able to properly display our “wares” and enables us to do the production chore in which timing is so critical.

I must admit, I am tired of winter. A few days of 40 - 50 would have been nice and wouldn’t have pushed out the plants too far ahead. Que sera sera.

Tomorrow on “Ready, Set, Grow” will be Eric Hessel of the Landmark Company that markets and sells Sweet Peet and other innovative garden products. I have used the Sweet Peet product myself and have had excellent results but I must confess that I know little of the other products that the “Sweet Peet” people make. I’ll be sure to grill Eric on the program about their new things.

Start enjoying the spring and remember, April is only 10 days away!

Tom

March 15, 2013
The “What’s New” for 2013 was well attended with curiosity running high about the new Paw Paw varieties that will be available in early May as well as all the new perennial flowers.

With a little break in the weather, we’ve been able to pull shrubs out of some of the polyhouses in the protection of the covered house with the movable roof we call the Cravo House. As always, the shrubs in pots that must go outside will not come out until the first week of April to guard against a sudden severe cold snap in early April which has happened many times before.

The greenhouse is popping with life and some color as the days get longer and are sprinkled with some sun. Our greenhouse transplanting of the small plants that we rooted from cuttings in January and February will be done in about 2 weeks which will result in a wide variety of product in small pots, large pots and hanging baskets.

March and the first two weeks of April are our preparation time for the busy selling season that begins about April 15th. It’s quite a relief that the weather has been more toward it’s normal range as compared to last year when the weeds and especially the hairy bittercress went wild!

Lawn care time is coming up soon and I strongly suggest that those of you who have not performed a soil test on the lawn or garden in more than 3 years do so now. The kits are available in our store and are then sent off to Penn State University Soil Testing Lab.

Get going as the cold weather won’t last.

Tom

March 8, 2013
The lawn seminar was packed with old and new information thanks to Mark Laube of the Oliger Seed Company of Akron. Mark’s knowledge of lawns is amazing and he was able to present lawn care in a rather simple organized fashion that almost anyone can understand and perform.

The focus today is on practices in the home that are sustainable and lawns are certainly an area that in the past have not contributed to sustainability due to multiple applications of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. To me, it was refreshing that Mark addressed some of these unsustainable practices.

Although we’ve been open a week and the store is not really busy with sales, there’s a flurry of activity behind the scenes in the planting of annual flowers, thousands of perennials and bare-root roses. We’ve even received a truck load of balled and burlapped trees and are looking forward to the big ship week of March 18th that is an unloading affair all day!

Our last seminar for the winter series is tomorrow with the topic of “what’s new”. There is not enough time to discuss all the new plants for 2013 even if the photos were scrolled through at a rate of one per minute for 2 hours! There will be a “juicy” door prize for someone if his or her name is drawn out of a hat.

Remember, only 13 days left until spring!

Tom
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March 1, 2013
Since it’s only 3 weeks until the vernal equinox (spring), it will be depressing to some when the late winter cold and snow sets in. Well do I remember the early spring of 1982 when we started to set out our nursery stock only to get hammered by deep snow and cold starting the 5th week of April! Even as recent as 2005, April 28th saw the deposit of four inches of snow. Conversely, the weather that opened spring of 2012 was quite a disaster in that the growth and blooming of plants was forced out too early and, lest we forget, the lack of poorly needed rainfall.

Cynthia Drukenbrod’s program “Made in the Shade” was more informative than her usual wonderful presentation as it included solutions to the demise of shade impatiens due to the nasty disease downy mildew. Cynthia is a spokesperson for the Cleveland Botanical Garden that is well known for its theme gardens, huge conservatory and educational programs all in the heart of what I call the knowledge circle of the east side of Cleveland because of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art .  

Tomorrow’s program will be on lawn care with Mark Laube of Oliger Seed Company of Akron. Mark has been in the turf grass management for years after graduating from the Agricultural Technical Institute in the early seventies.

Join us at the nursery on Saturday, March 2nd at 11 a.m. for a glimpse at the “secrets” of affordable lawn care.

Tom

February 22, 2013
Today marks the 281st birthday of George Washington, surveyor, military man, statesman (president) and farmer. I just marvel when I think that if Washington had his way, he would have loved to spend all his time at his home Mt. Vernon to farm after the war. Washington did experiment with crop rotation and composting manure as he was wise enough to know that the soil needed tending to be productive.

Farmers today know the importance of caring for the land as they now routinely rotate their crops and are active in planting cover crops in order to build the tilth of the productive soil.

Lately, the farms in western Ohio along the Maumee River basin are thought to contribute up to 40% of the nutrient pollution to Lake Erie which is right up there with the overflow of the Detroit sewage treatment. It seems that the runoff from the larger than average Ohio farms contains nutrients which contribute to algae bloom in the Lake. The state government is now working with farmers to reduce the runoff that results from applying chemical fertilizer and manure on the fields frozen over in wintertime. Runoff from the urbanized areas is also to blame for major pollution of creeks, streams, rivers and lakes and hopefully will not escape the reduction of runoff needed from these areas too.

As always, Carol Zeh’s program on Hummingbirds was a smash hit. Just what is it about these amazing creatures by which most of us seemed to be entranced? The wonders of the natural world are all around us that we normally take for granted. Taking time to learn about these wonders and time for reflection would for sure serve us all well.

Tom

February 15, 2013
The “magic” date is finally here; that is the date in which the average daily temperatures begin to rise signaling the beginning of the end of winter and the anticipated commencement of spring.

I’m thankful that at least so far we have had somewhat adequate snow and rain and the temperatures have not been overly warm or too cold placing stress on trees and shrubs as had happened last year with the too warm winter followed by a too warm and dry spring.

Things are popping in the greenhouse full of annual flowers from cuttings we have been taking from stock plants since December and from the cuttings of flowering plants that we had shipped in from Costa Rica and Guatemalan greenhouses.

The light levels of the February sun are increasingly brighter channeling energy to the plants and the longer day length is starting to have a drastic effect too.

Last week’s seminar, Whimsy in the Garden, was well received with the largest attendance in our seminar series so far this year. Michelle Riley, the speaker, demonstrated a variety of ways to accomplish the Whimsey aspect of gardening from the extreme and expensive, to the more suttle and inexpensive, utilizing everyday articles that any homeowner might have on hand that would normally end up in the landfill.

Tomorrow will be our most entertaining speaker, Carol Zeh, with her program on Hummingbirds. Last year we had to refuse last minute requests for some to attend due to overcrowding. Please call before coming to the seminar as many are already signed up and we may fill the limit again this year by today or early Saturday morning.

See you at the seminar at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
 

February 8, 2013
Last Saturday, the presentation given by Denise Ellsworth generated a number of questions from the audience and so much so that the seminar could easily have gone on for another hour!

One fact that I found fascinating was Denise’s statement about honeybees and their communication. It seems that a worker bee that finds a particular kind of nectar and pollen will communicate with her sisters who in turn seek out the same. For example, in an orchard of multiple types of fruit trees in bloom at the same time, one particular group of bees might work the apple trees only with another group working the pears and so on. The exchange of pollen between flower of a particular species is so important that without insect cross pollination, one third of the foods that are so popular today would simply disappear.

It reminds me of one of my professor’s statements in Agronomy class at ATI that without spiders helping to control insects, scientists estimate that food production would drop by one third!

I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s seminar on Gardening with Whimsy by Michelle Riley as Michelle will yet reveal a whole different dimension to the garden and the landscape that will give even more pleasure to the human brain.

Come join us at 11 a.m. in the Owl Barn on February 9th for Michelle’s informative talk.

See you soon!

Tom

February 1, 2013
The first seminar of the winter series seemed to go on without a hitch. The invasive species that I did speak about was more than enough to fill the two hour time slot but so many more I would have presented only if there had been more time.

Greg Snowden of the Davey Tree Company was on hand to elaborate especially on the question of invasive plants as he is an inspector of wetlands monitoring these constructed wetlands to be sure that they comply with the federal standards before they may be sold to an entity needing credits to offset the destruction of a wetland area somewhere else. Greg did mention an invasive species of grass called phragmites australis that is extremely aggressive to the point that shoots will come up through a four inch layer of freshly laid asphalt! In order to check out this monster grass you only have to go to the Interstate 76, Barber Road exit where you’ll see it growing in abundance.

Tomorrow our honored speaker will be Denise Ellsworth, Honeybee and Native Pollinator Program Director of the Department of Entomology at Ohio State University. Denise has addressed many audiences including the Master Gardeners of Summit County about a wide variety of subjects. The subject at the Owl Barn tomorrow at 11 a.m. will be Pollinators - what some of them are and their importance in the natural world and our own lives.

The rooting of cuttings and subsequent transplanting of all kinds of annual flowers just goes on and on especially right now with geraniums and New Guinea Impatiens.

I had stated in earlier blogs, Impatiens are going to be a puzzle because of the high incident of downy mildew that caused the collapse of many plants late last summer and fall. Part of the answer to planting Impatiens in flats (Impatiens walleriana) instead are the Sun Harmony Impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew. Unfortunately the Sun Harmony Impatiens are more expensive as they must be grown from cuttings instead of a seed like Impatien walleriana. The bright side is that the Sun Harmony grow’s well when planted farther apart such as 18 inches on center which would make them more economical then one would think.

Dress warmly and come to the seminar tomorrow!

Tom

January 25, 2013
This past week has been a flurry of activity at the nursery in preparing for the cold blast of winter!

Watering in the plant storage houses is the biggest factor in preparing as some of the plants (especially evergreens) tend to dry out more then the deciduous ones because the evergreen foliage still transpires water.

Almost 35 years ago I remember a conversation with my mentor, Mr. John Ravestein, about working at Klyn Nursery in Mentor, Ohio more than 45 years ago when he observed that his boss watered a storage hut with young Ohio plants before a severe cold snap but neglected to water plants at the far end of the hut because he ran out of hose. Mr. Ravestein observed that the next spring all the plants that were watered lived and those on the dry side that were not watered all died!

Tomorrow the upcoming seminar is on invasive species especially insects that are ravaging our forests, farms and backyards. Hopefully the seminar will illuminate everyone’s mind just how serious the problem is and how it affects all of us. Some of the subjects covered will be the Viburnum Leaf Beetle, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Ambrosia Beetles and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. There will be a segment on past plagues that still exist today such as the American Chestnut blight and Japanese Beetle. The seminar begins at 11 a.m. with an intermission for refreshments.

Hope to see you there!

Tom

January 18, 2013
After the wild ride of spring temperatures late last week, it’s a relief to have the return of the cold weather. Well do I remember the unusually warm temperatures in the early part of the winter of 2006-2007 only to have the temperature fall quickly to below zero with 40 mph winds and no snow cover.

The damage to the nursery stock in containers became apparent early that spring as tender new roots growing all winter were suddenly freeze-dried by the severe, sudden cold.

Some timely “to do’s” coming up are to spray weeds with glypsophate (roundup) when the temperature rises to just above freezing. Taking action at the next thaw will alleviate massive weed problems in spring such as those caused by having hairy bittercress, sow thistle, henbit and, if your unlucky enough to have it, the “invasive” garlic mustard.

Another chore to do is to overseed the lawn when the ground is frozen so that the seed will germinate in spring when April arrives. Frozen ground is the key word as walking on wet ground on the lawn or garden will compact the soil while walking on hard frozen ground with no snow in order to sow grass seed will have no compaction problems of the soil.

Now is the time to plan the vegetable garden in order to ready for spring. Seriously think about trying at least one new vegetable to break up the monotony of beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.

Greens such as collards, kale, swiss chard, turnip greens are great supplements to anyone’s diet as they are loaded with nutrients and lack the empty calories of sugars and starches. Most ‘greens’ flourish in cool weather so that they may be planted in early spring, late summer and early fall and extend the garden season beyond the heat loving tomatoes and peppers.

Get going as winter is flying by.

Tom

January 11, 2013
This past week of entering the so called “depth of winter” has been more like spring which at least will aid the birds and other animals to search for food.

How many times I have watched the birds pick at the small fruit of the flowering crabapples and flowering pears around the nursery.

While watching the bird activity, the thought came into my mind that we humans tend to slow down in winter with the cold temperatures and short days and thus require less food and less calories.

On the other hand, birds and other wildlife would require more food and calories in winter then spring and summer because of their body’s heat loss from the cold temperatures.

Its vitally important to think about birds and other wildlife in the planning of any landscape for winter wildlife food.

Just a few of the trees and shrubs that have berries and/or seeds that are a benefit to the wildlife would be oaks, flowering crabapples, deciduous holly, flowering pears, chokeberries, tulip poplar, certain viburnums and so on.

Many of the wildlife friendly trees and shrubs have ornamental qualities as well which add interest to an otherwise “dead” landscape in winter.

All seasons of the landscape must be considered if one is to maximize the pleasures of nature throughout the year.

As the daylight hours slowly increase, the magic time of February 15th will be here soon in which the average temperatures begin to rise to finally open into a beautiful and life giving spring.

Hope spring’s eternal.

Tom

January 5, 2013
With the snow and cold this past week, deer food must be in short supply as trails of deer tracks are everywhere at the nursery from the north garden, between the winter storage huts and even around the old house.

Last Friday I began inspecting the property for signs of feeding in which I found a few bites taken out of some of the azaleas.

Over the past two years, the animals seemed to prefer feeding on one of the most winter hardy evergreen azaleas called ‘Herbert’ but this time all of the varieties had to endure a taste test.

The garden was sprayed with Liquid Fence around November 20th but apparently has worn off enough with the result of deer feeding.

Luckily around noon last Friday, the temperatures rose to just above freezing with a moderate wind so that I was able to apply 5 gallons of Liquid Fence solution to the foliage and stems of the rhododendron, azalea, mountain laurel and fragrant viburnums.

In about another week, another application of Liquid Fence will do well to prevent more feeding for at least another month.

Liquid Fence is the answer to prevent deer feeding on tulips as they shy away from the foliage that has been sprayed with the product when the foliage emerges out of the ground about 3 inches in spring.

Another chore at the nursery has been the protection of some of the perennials and other plants from extreme cold.

Even with temperatures of 0 degrees and a light wind, a single layer of white polyethylene plastic will maintain a temperature of 20 degrees inside a quonset type storage hut.

For most plants in pots, 20 degrees inside the house is fine except for evergreen azaleas which are only hardy to 27 degrees as far as the roots are concerned.

The other plants that may not fair well in extreme cold are various perennials, excluding hostas, daylilies, creeping phlox and German iris.

In order to mimic the perennials and azaleas being planted in the ground instead of above ground in pots an additional layer of cover called microfoam is rolled over the plants to insulate them from the extreme cold which could be deadly to the roots.

Even though extreme cold may cause problems for everyone, it may cause the death of some of the insects that had survived the mild winter last year.

There is a cloud with the silver lining even when a cold winter is upon us.

Tom