A day off!

We’re off today. Our good friend and employee Rob offered to work for us today, so Monica and I could get a day off. I think we will head up Hwy. 49 towards Nevada City. Maybe we will stop by Weiss Bros. nursery in Grass Valley. Other than that we will just enjoy having nothing to do.

With the weather in the mid-seventies it’s a perfect time to be outdoors. People come to the nursery and keep telling me we need the rain. Of course we do! Saying we need the rain in January seems to be a tradition here in northern California, where our rains seem to keep coming later and later each year. We live today! Get out and enjoy yourself, and don’t stress over the lack of rain. Around here it could all come in one month in March (let’s hope not however.)


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Winter at the garden center

I want to thank Angela at Garden Bliss for a recent comment she made at my other blog The Blogging Nurseryman. She basically chided me for not posting enough in this blog. She is exactly right and gave me the kick in the but I needed to get this blog back in shape. Thanks Angela!

delecious blueberries

delecious blueberries

She wants to hear what’s exciting at the garden center right now! First off are the bare root fruit trees and bushes. Apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, pear, pluots, blueberries, etc., are all available right now. The fruits listed are just some of the varieties available. Bare root means plants sold without dirt around the roots. Trees and shrubs that go dormant in the winter can be dug out of the ground and sold just during the winter season, which around here can end in late February. The prices are the lowest of the year! Sure you can buy fruit trees in spring, but they will cost more, and wont get the benefit of early spring root growth. Fruit trees are starting to sell now, and I think you should choose the varieties you want now, before they are gone! Dave Wilson is our fruit tree supplier. They have a great resource for the home fruit gardener. Check out their info on Backyard Fruit Tree Culture. This is a way to maximize your space and get the most out of your fruit gardening. Check it out here.

fragrant daphne

fragrant daphne

The Daphne and Sarcococca are getting ready to bloom. What with the weather being so nice lately they are ready to pop. The fragrance from these two shrubs will remind you that spring is not to far away. I call Daphne The Romantic Plant since it usually blooms around Valentines day and makes a great gift!

Here in The Foothills people often buy plants that are not acclimated to the cold we get in winter. Buy visiting the nursery now you can see plants that live in the cold. This is the time to look at the “bare bones” of the garden, and see how you can improve the winter vista. Nothing helps improve ones outlook than getting into the garden and getting ones hands dirty. When you work in the winter garden you are expressing a positive outlook, since Spring ALWAYS follows winter. This year more than ever a positive outlook is needed. Just getting outside and working with the winter garden will improve you outlook, guaranteed!

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A whimsical world

Harry Lauders Walking Stick

Harry Lauders Walking Stick

I like whimsical plants. One of my favorites is The Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. It is actually a hazelnut that went crazy. During the growing season it has leaves that hide the twisted branches but during winter it’s full whimsy is revealed. Growing very slow it makes a great container plant.

Monica and I actually used one as our Christmas tree last year, and will again this year. It’s different, like us, and the ornaments are visible from all sides. It always gets comments from our visitors.

If your looking for something different as a gift, or Christmas Tree, you might find The Walking Stick right up your alley.

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Liquidambers and fall color, or lack of

I received this question today. Thought I would pass it on to you.


I posted this question to some blog and never got any responses…
Do you know the answer?


Can anyone tell me why some Liquid Ambers have more color than
others? I have one in my front yard which I planted five years ago.
It appears very healthy, but is dissapointing when it comes to fall
color. The pair in the greenbelt behind my house are spectacular. Is
there anything I can give the tree to coax it into a better fall
show? Mark in Temecula CA

Your question is one that is heard all he time when it comes to Liquidambers. There are two basic types of Liquidambers. Ones that are grown from seed, and grafted trees. Trees grown from seed have great variation when it comes to the colors of the leaves in fall. Some turn yellow, others reds, oranges, and pinks. The only way to know for sure is to pick out the tree when it’s turning color.

Grafted trees are supposed to turn the color of the original tree. “Palo Alto”, “Festival”, and “Burgundy” are some of the popular varieties avaiable. Soil, climate, and other variations can cause a tree like Palo Alto to have only yellow leaves instead of the promised red, yellows, and pinks.

Don’t over fertilize the tree. If it’s in a lawn it can get extra fertilizer from the lawn. Maybe feed it a couple of times on the spring. tDont feed from early summer on. Sometimes it just takes years before it finally starts to change color. I have a Palo Alto in my yard that turns yellow. It’s been there for years!

Perhaps it will next fall it will be more colorful.

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Protecting your plants from the cold

We had frost just the other day. It burned the leaves on the figs and finished off the summer vegetable garden. The first frost always surprises and if you not careful you can lose that jade plant you brought up from The Bay Area. Jade plants are not the only plants that need to be protected. Most citrus, tropical hibiscus, bougainvillea, some cactus, some succulents, and houseplants should all be protected from the cold.

The solution for many of these plants is to simply bring them indoors. That ficus tree that you set out side this summer needs to be brought back in before the first frost. Really it should be brought in long before that, as temperatures in the forties can be harmful. Most all houseplant need to be kept in the house during the winter. Keep in mind that when you bring the plants indoors you should not locate them where the heater vents or fireplace is located. The heat may be too much for them.

Plants like citrus or tropical hibiscus do not necessarily need to be brought indoors. They just need to be located out of the direct cold, like on a covered patio. The cover over the patio helps quite a bit in keeping the cold off the plants. This won’t work if they are planted in the ground, of course. That is why we don’t really recommend planting tender plants in the ground. Trying to protect them each winter can be done, but forget just once and they could be doomed.

With both plants in the ground, and container plants, there are some things you can do to help. “Frost Blanket” is a lightweight material that drapes over the plant, making as much as a seven degree difference between the outside and under the blanket. Some people use plastic sheeting to cover their plants, though I don’t recommend that. Plastic, when it touches the plant can conduct the cold to the parts of the plant it touches. Plastic also doesn’t breath, which can cause problems when the sun shines, causing the plants to over heat. “Frost Blanket” breathes, and does not conduct cold to the plant.

“Cloud Cover” is a liquid that is sprayed on the plant itself. The “Cloud Cover” coats the leaves, with an invisible barrier, that prevents moisture loss through the leaves. It is this moisture loss, on cold days that can cause damage to plants. “Cloud Cover” will provide a couple of degrees of protection if applied at least a few hours before you expect frost.

One novel, and pretty way to protect some plants are Christmas lights. Hanging a string of larger holiday lights, not the little twinkling ones, throughout the plant can give a couple of degrees protection. The lights can be used in conjunction with the “frost blanket, to provide even more protection.

Many gardeners love to test the limits of their ability and climate when growing plants. The tips we have discussed will help to prevent some of the disappointment you might experience, when that 20 year old jade plant makes the move with you to The Foothills.

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Hanna’s Tomato Tastings

Over at This Garden is Illegal blog Hanna has started posting her 2008 tomato tasting report. Hanna has been doing this for awhile and hers is one of the best tomato tasting on the web. She lives in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH. In her blog she ” waxes on and off about her garden, the flowers, what she wants to do in her yard and how it all fits into her everyday life”, but it’s her tomato tasting report that you will want to check in on regularly. She reviews the really odd varieties that you just don’t hear much about.

She also asks “If you do your own tomato tasting (which I highly recommend), you can either link to it from the comments here or shoot me an email and I will link to it from within this post. The point of this is to create a real review of all the 100s of varieties of tomatoes available. Life is too short to have to rely on seed sellers descriptions (have you ever heard of a bad tomato from them). Share your tomato love with the world.”

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Train your vegies up.

I like to train my cucumbers, squash, melons, and other vining vegetables up using bamboo tee-pees. As the vine grows I just keep tucking the foliage into the tee-pee. The fruit develops of the ground and withing easy reach. this is a great method for vegetables grown in containers.

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