Fall Garden ChoresFall Gardening Chores Made Easy

We made it through the dog days of summer, and now the leaves are changing, and the temperature is dropping. Crisp days and cool nights are upon us, which means it is time to put your gardens to bed and finish up your fall gardening chores before the snow flies!

How to begin fall cleanup

The first thing to do is to take a quick look around your beds and start with a good clean-out. Leave ornamental and wildlife-friendly plants standing. Next, take out any unhealthy plants and destroy the debris to minimize next year’s issues with squash bugs, cabbage worms, and other pests and diseases. Now is also a good time to trim any dead or broken limbs. Doing it now, will save time later.  A hard freeze or heavy snow can break more branches and cause more damage during winter. Gather up and dispose of any dead leaves. Once crumbly after aging in a heap, they make great mulch, or can be turned into beds to add organic matter.

Fall lawn care tips

Take another look around and think about the lawn. It’s best to do heavy raking now as opposed to in the spring. If you notice spots of grass that are bare, throw down some seed and cover it with a half, or three-quarter-inch layer of compost. This will help to prevent weeds later and protect the seed. Now about those weeds, clean them up now! Getting rid of weeds now, means less seeds which translates into fewer weeds when the weather warms up again. This will make your spring weeding faster, and way more manageable.

Fall watering

If you are experiencing a dry fall, be sure to water trees now through the hard frost, so that they enter dormancy well-hydrated. Evergreens (needled ones and broadleaf types like rhododendron, too) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winter burn.

Look for ways to improve your gardens

Thoughtfully take apart the vegetable garden as crops fade, with an eye to improved future performance. Think about tilling less, about cover crops, and about generally boosting soil health. Make sure to protect or store weather-vulnerable pots and the tender plants in them. At a minimum, move pots under cover, where they will dry off to minimize the thaw effects of weather. Finally, look back at the season and see what worked well, and what can you change for next year. Maybe you need to expand your garden and reduce the number of trees and shrubs? Which plants did well, and which one might you trade out for something else next year? Enjoy your last tomato plant while watching old man winter make his way in. Spring will be here before you know it, so relax and enjoy this season of change.  

10 Simple Tips for How to Garden in Small Spaces

If you live in an urban area, don’t want the maintenance of a big garden, or simply don’t have the space for very many plants, your green thumb might need a little help growing the garden of your dreams in the space that you have. With the right design and the proper planning, however, you can do a lot with small space gardening. Here are some helpful tips to get you growing:

1. Decide what to grow

Choose appropriate plants for where you are going to plant them. Some plants must be planted side by side, while others, such as climbing vines, can be planted vertically, giving you color and texture and saving space at the same time.

2. Decide where to grow

If you live in a city apartment, you may only be able to grow plants on your porch or balcony, but if you have a small yard, you may be able to plant directly in the ground. Growing can be successful in either place but location does affect what varieties of plants you can grow.

3. Watering considerations

All plants need water so determine where you will get it from before you plant. Ideally, choose a growing place that is close to an outside water source or not too far from your door if you have to water with a watering can.

4. Decide how to grow

Some plants take a long time to produce either flowers or fruit, while others take less. Decide ahead of time whether you want to plant something that will grow and produce all season, or whether you want to rotate crops. This is true for both flowers and vegetables.

5. Planting budget

Determine how much you want to spend and then find the best price. Sales around holidays such as Memorial Day, Father’s Day, or July 4th are great for saving you a little money.

6. Time and maintenance

If you’re short on time as well as space, choose plants that require less for daily maintenance, are drought and disease tolerant, and can be planted in pots where weeding will be less of a concern.

7. Function or beauty

Before shopping, decide whether you want plants that provide function, beauty, or both. For example, some lilies are beautiful to look at but can also be put on top of salads so you get two-for-one in the same space.

8. Plan for sunshine or shade

Pay close attention to how much sun your chosen garden spot gets every day and at what time of day it gets it. This will help you choose whether you need to buy full-sun plants or ones that are shade tolerant.

9. Use existing structures

Look at how you can add to or enhance existing landscape features. Planting vines that grow up a wall or annuals around an existing lawn statue can provide more color and texture without taking up a lot of space.

10. Have fun

Gardening should be enjoyable so have fun with it! Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time- evaluate what works and what doesn’t and soon you’ll be gardening like a pro!

Now, it’s time to get to work! Following these simple tips will get you growing in the right direction but if you still need a little help, give us a call or stop in to the garden center.    

Choosing Your Lilac

There’s nothing quite like the sight and smell of lilacs in the spring! Along with their beauty and fragrance, they are a low maintenance shrub and really thrive here in upstate NY. With proper maintenance and care, they can last for years in your garden.

Spring or fall is the best time for planting lilac bushes. When planting, you will need to make your hole deep enough and wide enough to accomodate the roots spread out vertically in the ground. You can plant multiple bushes together to create a nice hedgerow, just make sure to space them at least 5 feet apart to prevent overcrowding.

Lilacs need an area with plenty of afternoon sun and good drainage. They do especially well when planted in a slightly elevated area since the drainage tends to be better. Once planted, make sure to water them thoroughly and add a layer of loose mulch for protection. The mulch should be thick enough to prevent weed growth and maintain adequate moisture but not so thick that it holds too much moisture.

The flowers of lilacs range in color from pink to purple; however, white and yellow varieties are also available. Their size can also range from dwarf varieties up to 8 feet tall to much larger varieties reaching up to 30 feet tall. Check out our listing of lilacs to see which one is right for your space.

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Agincourt Beauty
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Agincourt Beauty has deep purple fragrant flowers that are single, and each floret is very large; has the largest florets of all  lilacs. It is one of the best purples available today.

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Albert F. Holden
Height:  8­-10 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The deep‐purple buds open to deep‐violet flowers with a silvery blush on the back side,  creating a striking two‐tone effect. The unusual blossoms of “Albert F. Holden” also have an unforgettable fragrance.

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Beauty of Moscow
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Beauty of Moscow is one of the finest lilacs with fragrant, double, delicate pink flowers. It is excellent as a cut flower and provides years of satisfaction.

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Bloomerang
Height:  4-­6 ft.
Spacing: 5­-6 ft.

Enjoy classic lilac fragrance for months instead of weeks! A revolutionary new kind of lilac, Bloomerang blooms in spring and then again throughout the summer. It  does go through a rest period in the heat of the summer, then flowers.

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Charles Joly
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Charles Joly is a French Hybrid with shiny purple buds opening into double, magenta flowers that are very fragrant and excellent for cutting. It is considered to be the best in its color class.

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Common Purple
Height:  8-­10 ft.
Spacing: 8-10 ft.

One of the most popular lilacs is the Common Purple. This shrub has been a favorite for decades because you can essentially ignore it and it will give you a fantastic spring color show full of fabulous fragrance every single year, without fail. Lovely lavender flower clusters sit against dark‐green, heart‐shaped leaves, and the fragrance is just captivating.

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Common White
Height: 12-15 ft.
Spacing: 8-12 ft.

The Common White is well‐known and loved by gardeners all over the world for its beauty and fragrance; one of the most powerful fragrances emitted by a plant. It has white flowers occurring in clusters amid the dark‐green heart‐shaped leaves.

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Donald Wyman
Height:  10 ft.
Spacing: 8 ft.

Deep pink to almost reddish single flowers that bloom in early June. Sturdy, dense and upright growth. Blooms  2 weeks later than other lilacs. Yellow fall color.

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Dwarf Korean
Height:  4-­5 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

The Dwarf Korean Lilac is known as a compact but spreading, small-foliaged Lilac with showy May lavender purple flowers that are spread over the entire shrub canopy.

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Ivory Silk
Height:  20-­25 ft.
Spacing: 20-­25 ft.

The Japanese Ivory Silk Tree Lilac produces  ravishingly fragrant, creamy‐white panicles.  Landscapers love this plant for its interesting  spreading branches and vase shaped crown, its long June through July blooming season and easy care. Ruddy, cherry like bark and neat, dark green leaves contrast nicely with the creaminess of the flowers.

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James MacFarlane
Height:  8 ft.
Spacing: 6-­10 ft.

The James Macfarlane blooms two weeks later than Syringa vulgaris types. The single true pink flowers bloom freely. It is extremely hardy and adaptable, withstanding moisture conditions fatal to vulgaris hybrids.

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Katherine Havermeyer
Height:  10-­12 ft.
Spacing: 8­-10 ft.

Katherine Havemeyer is an early blooming French Hybrid that produces abundant clusters of double, lavender‐pink, fragrant flowers among dark green, disease resistant foliage.

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Ludwig Spaeth
Height:  10­-12 ft.
Spacing: 6-­8 ft.

Ludwig Spaeth is a French Hybrid with single dark purple flowers in early June that are excellent as cut flowers because of their very fine fragrance.

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Meyeri Palibin
Height:  4­-6 ft.
Spacing: 6­-8 ft.

A true slow growing dwarf. It is a small  leafed cultivar with deep purple buds opening into fragrant violet‐purple flowers in abundance early in the season.

How Flowering Herbs Can Contribute to Your Garden

lavenderIt’s time to start planning your garden! Spring has arrived (even though the snow makes it hard to remember which season it really is) and summer will be here before we know it. It’s time to think about what we want to grow and plant in our gardens and our landscapes this year. We have so many new plants for 2018, and we can’t wait to show you! But one thing we think would be a great addition to your garden are flowering herbs – they’re nice to look at, smell great and are a great addition to a healthy lifestyle!

Considering that we live in a pretty northern climate, you’ll need to do some garden planning beforehand, so you know which ones to choose. Our landscape designers recommend selecting herbs that will complement existing elements in your garden. You’ll need to consider the size of your garden, how quickly your herbs will reseed, when your region’s blooming season occurs, and the color and scent that you’re hoping for.

Cultivating herbs to stand side-by-side with perennials is a tradition going back centuries. It will give your garden that “cottage feel,” by adding a layer of romanticism, interest and freshness.

Our Favorite Flowering Herbs

Lavender is the perfect addition, if you’re looking for some color and fragrance. It blooms mid-summer and can tolerate heat. The most common types are English and French lavender. Lavender is also a natural pest repellent. Consider planting it near outdoor seating to repel mosquitos and attract butterflies. A tough perennial, lavender will last for several years if conditions are right.

Anise hyssop is another delicate and aromatic herb that grows well in gardens. It is a flowering perennial of the mint family, well suited as an ornamental. Experts say that a location with full or partial sun works best. Anise hyssop prefers well-drained soil, attracts butterflies, and is a low-maintenance addition to any garden.

Sage is another great addition for your garden. It is an herb with a pine-like aroma, delicate flowers, and soft foliage. Sage can be a perennial or an annual and comes in both blooming and non-blooming varieties. It can basically grow anywhere and one of the best advantages is that the flowers are edible as decorations on cakes, in salads, or as a garnish!

coneflowerThe purple coneflower is another one to consider. It is bred in a wide variety of colors and this tends to be a very visible plant. They grow, on average, two to four feet tall and need at least five hours of sunlight each day. Coneflowers bloom from early- to mid-summer and will thrive until the first frost. They’re rich in nectar, making them popular with bees and butterflies.

Catmint is another great flowering herb to consider with its slight aromatic scent. Do you have deer in your yard? Catmint is a tough, deer-resistant perennial that’s also drought-tolerant. It comes in a variety of soft colors too.

Lemon verbena is also a great choice in the garden. It is a bushy herb with a sweet, lemony scent and delicate pink or white flowers.

Looking for even more? There’s rosemary, ornamental oregano, lemon-scented thyme – all of which you can use for cooking or boiling for their scent.

These are just some of the best flowering herbs you can add to your garden this summer. Part of the fun of mastering the art of gardening is to try new combination! Try your hand at growing some new plants and herbs and see what other types of things you can utilize as you cultivate them. There’s nothing better than finding success in your own efforts. We can help you with every part of the process. Come on in to our garden center this spring and let’s get your garden plan ready for the summer months.

How to Attract Birds in the Winter

Have you ever spent any time trying to attract birds to your garden? It’s an entertaining pastime, and can even be quite rewarding, to tally up the various species that visit the feeders and bird friendly landscaping in the garden. While many homeowners look for their birds during the spring and summer months, there is actually a great need to help our fine feathered friends during the long cold days of winter.

During the winter months, birds spend most of their time and energy seeking out food, water and shelter. It can be a desperate time for them, especially here in Upstate New York when the temperatures plummet and snow blankets most of their feeding grounds. With a little bit of planning, however, you can transform your garden into a prime location for birds to find both shelter and sustenance.

The selection of trees, plants and shrubs you choose for your landscaping can offer birds both the food and shelter they need to survive. Not only will you be providing a refuge for them, you will be able to enjoy seeing and hearing them all year long. You will also be providing some much-needed color and contrast into your winter landscape as well!

Plant in Layers

Some birds prefer higher trees for shelter and food, while others prefer to be closer to the grounds. So when you look around your yard, consider the differing layers – a canopy of tall trees, an under-canopy of smaller trees, a shrub layer, and various ground covers and/or vines. The more variety your offer, the greater the variety of birds you’re likely to attract.

Provide Adequate Food Sources

Food is the single most important thing you can provide for your feathered friends. Food can be rather scarce during the winter months and trying to find enough food consumes most of their time. By providing a source of seed and nut bearing trees to your yard, you make their hunt much easier.

Consider adding evergreens, junipers, firs, hemlock and spruces to your yard, which will provide both shelter and food. These trees provide a great food source for birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and grosbeaks.

Trees such as oaks, walnuts and hickories won’t necessarily provide much in the way of shelter, but the nuts they provide are an excellent source of food for many different birds.

Don’t forget about fruit-bearing trees and shrubs as well. There are varieties that hold onto their fruit throughout the winter months. Winterberry, holly, bayberry, viburnum and photinia will provide food all winter long. Flowering crabapple trees and dogwoods are also a winter favorite of birds. As an added bonus, they all provide some amazing color and interest in your garden as well.

Go WILD with your Landscape

What we mean by this is don’t immediately cut everything back in the fall. Sure, it will look nice and give you that well-manicured look, but you will be taking away a fantastic source of food and shelter. Native grasses that emerge later in the season will provide flower seeds for your birds to feast on as well as good coverage for them. Many of them also put on a beautiful show of color during the fall and winter months as well. Hair grass, switch glass and bluestem are all great choices.

You can also leave your perennials as is throughout the winter months. Just like the native grasses, perennial flowers produce seeds that provide much needed nutrients. If you can refrain from snipping their seed heads back until springtime, the birds will thank you! Birds love Coneflowers, sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans and Coreopsis for their abundant seeds.

Offer Plenty of Water

It might seem like birds would have plenty of access to water during the winter, but they really don’t. Having access to a clean source of water is critical for survival during the winter. Make sure your birdbath is still accessible during the winter months and that the water doesn’t stay frozen.

There are portable warming devices you can utilize that will de-ice your birdbath during the cold months. You might also want to consider investing in a heated birdbath. As long as they have access to fresh water daily they have a much greater chance of survival.

Even the smallest changes in your landscaping can make a huge impact for the birds in your area. By just adding a few bird friendly shrubs or trees, your garden will soon become a valuable resource for your feathered friends.