It’s Berry Picking Time

Berry_bowl When I was a kid, my favorite part of gardening was harvesting!  I loved digging for potatoes, pulling out carrots and picking blueberries.  Of course, I had to eat a few berries or a carrot as I went along.  They tasted so delicious, freshly picked.  Forget about pies and  jam, in my opinion there is nothing better than a handful of blueberries or one (or two or three) juicy strawberries enjoyed in the garden.  My husband is of the same mind, although I’m not sure that he had much harvesting experience as a kid.  Today, he enjoys picking a few berries, and later on cherry tomatoes, while he mows the lawn.

It is even a small ritual, harvesting the berries together.  Even in our tiny garden, we have 6 blueberries, 50 strawberries, 3 grapes, 3 raspberries and an apple tree.  Also, the neighbors planted a cherry tree and we figure anything that hangs over our fence is fair game.  So right now we are loaded down with fruit.  It is hard for me to know exactly when to stop buying fruit at the farmer’s market and grocery store.  But we are managing to work our way through everything.  Last year, I froze a lot.  I had been planning on having protein shakes for breakfast.  The frozen fruit works great for that, giving them a milkshake consistency.  It seems like I have spent most of my life on a diet.  My husband does well on a low carb eating plan but I have never been able toKid_Orchard make that commitment.  In the last 6 months, I have discovered I can stick better to an eating plan when I allow myself fresh fruit.  Because of my fickle eating plan, I didn’t manage to work my way through all of last year’s harvest, so I still have a lot of frozen berries.  This year I am concentrating on eating all of the harvest fresh.  Freezing is the back-up plan.  I have discovered a most delicious way to incorporate strawberries into the menu: spinach and strawberry salad.  Fresh spinach, strawberries, nuts and onions with a poppyseed dressing.  It is easy to prepare, simple and delicious.  Yum.  Click here for a copy.

Let’s be truthful.  I didn’t get anything fertilized this year.  The strawberries are showing the lack of fertilizer.  They are tiny.  Granted, I have not replanted in years.  Traditionally, Blackberries_Handyou are supposed to remove the original plants after 3-5 years and replant with runners or fresh plants.  I brought home new plants this year but my hubby couldn’t bear to pull the old ones out, so we planted them elsewhere.  I will say that my new ones aren’t very large either.  They got a starter fertilizer but not a follow-up.  Also, the strawberries are competing for water with the blueberries and apple tree.  We have been watering but it has been a dry spring.  The blueberries are extremely loaded with fruit.  The heavy branches are actually hanging into the walkway.  We cannot pass under our grape arbor without brushing the blueberries on either side.  We’re not complaining.  And neither are the birds that are enjoying a small share of the bounty.  We have noticed what could be a lookout bird on bareblueberry the rooftop when we are out gardening.  At least, romantically, that is what we think it is.  Even though there are a lot of birds in our neighborhood, we still have a lot of berries and cherries.  Unlike at the nursery, where the birds stripped the cherry tree before the cherries even ripened.  We do have a lot of pie cherries, however.

Erica and Jim have gotten into fruit/veggie smoothies because of the influence of Jim’s daughter, Mattie.  I thought I would include a recipe for a kale and blueberry smoothie.  I have tasted it and it is palatable.  If you’re trying to get your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (and we are not counting pizza and french fries) by eating them for breakfast or a snack, this is a good way to go.  They use blueberries, kale, strawberries &/or blackberries, almond milk (or coconut milk), Barerootstrawberryalmond butter, chia seeds and unsweetened yogurt.  Erica and Jim don’t use a recipe, but there are numerous recipes on the internet.  I especially liked the one that looked purple rather than green!

Finally, Kathy has assembled some great recipes for our Garden 2 Table classes that we had this year.  Here is a link to them to give you some more ideas for how to use those fresh berries that are in abundance now.

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Hot Trends for Decorating the Garden that make Sense


New Contributor Kathy Weirich-Zane

With the warm days of summer quickly approaching I’m starting to conjure up images of myself relaxing in my yard. Whether I’m entertaining friends or just hanging out with my husband and our four legged companion Sam, I’m envisioning how I want my space to look, sound, smell and feel. Our outdoor living space encompasses every one of our external senses, which is why I think it is so important to make it a place we love to be a part of. In doing that, there are some hot trends for decorating the outdoors which I plan on incorporating into my own outdoor oasis.

Trend #1: It must be low maintenance but look good. Being in the nursery business as a buyer of hard goods for 9 years now and also becoming an avid gardener myself, I love doing some work in my yard but I don’t want to be a slave to it. This means I look for outdoor products such as furniture that will wear well in our wet and sometimes harsh IMG_9918winter environment. I want something that is attractive and can be left out year round without the worry of having to replace it the following year. Some great examples are powder coated patio furniture like the classic French bistro sets by Fermob. Another favorite for wear and tear are the concrete benches which now come in a variety of beautiful colors, textures and styles. And let’s not forget the super sturdy yet very attractive Seaside Casual furniture that is made from recycled high-density polyethylene. All of these items can be left to the elements and still be enjoyed year after year.

Trend #2: Create a “sound” garden. Does the sound of trickling water tickle your fancy and create a sense of calmness, peace and wellbeing? What about the clatter of song birds IMG_9910belting out their best chorus and the mental stimulation that comes along with it. Sound can come in many modes and can be just what is needed to make your outdoor living room complete. There are some wonderful ways I like to create harmonious sound in my yard to enhance my outdoor experience. The sound of water is one of my favorites while I’m unwinding in my garden and there are a lot of options for creating it. The choices are endless whether it’s concrete, glazed or lightweight acrylic fountains. Or maybe you want a pond with a waterfall and fish. You can also create your own beautiful and unique water feature by hand- picking allIMG_9907 the components yourself and easily putting them together. Rain chains are another fabulous audio and visual experience for those who like to sit under a covered porch in the middle of a winter or spring storm. If it’s the birds you enjoy hearing, which I do, then there are very attractive bird feeders and birdbaths to adorn your garden with. There is nothing better than hearing hummingbird’s buzzing right over your head to get to the hummingbird feeder you provided for them. Wind chimes are another option for creating beautiful rhythms while also offering visual stimulation. Gracenote Chimes and Music of the Spheres are wind chime companies that make their product right here in the USA and are tuned to actual music chords. While Woodstock Chimes also made in the USA, are known more for their aesthetically pleasing wind chimes.

Trend #3: Establish a garden with a sense of “smell”. Theirs is nothing more intoxicating than the sweet smell of fragrant flowers being carried along in the IMG_9914evening breeze. However, if you are left fragrantless near your patio area but you still want the aroma experience, candles are a great alternative. Garland Nursery carries my favorite candle brands; Legacy by Root and Tyler candles. Both have an array of fragrances to choose from, and Legacy by Root comes in a rainbow of colors too. Candlelight with an alluring bouquet will most definitely set the mood for a fabulous evening in the garden.

Trend #4: “Light it up”. My husband didn’t nickname me “the Moth” for nothing. This is IMG_9902because I feel lighting in the garden is one of the most important and I seem to be constantly gravitating towards it. For me, being able to enjoy your garden at night is one of life’s greatest delights. There are many selections of lighting to choose from and now-a-days companies have come out with environmentally and economically friendlier options. Companies like Viz Art Glass make these amazing “Chihuly looking” blown glass solar stakes that come in an assortment of bright and vibrant colors. There is also Allsop, which produces solar Japanese lanterns in all colors, shapes and patterns, as well as, cute solar table-top lanterns that can be placed anywhere or on anything and can also be hung. If that isn’t enough to get your garden sparkling with light there are also natural looking twig lights from The Light Garden that can enhance any covered patio area.

When you combine all of the above; the look, the sound, the smell, you get the “garden experience”, which is the over-all feeling it brings you. Don’t hold back, make your garden a sanctuary that you can’t wait to revisit over and over again. Remember, it’s your space and you can make it anything you want it to be. So have fun, see what’s out there, and be creative. However, if you need help making your dream garden a reality, please don’t hesitate to seek out the professionals at Garland Nursery. It’s what we love to do.

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Fabulous Foliage

chamaecyparisobtusananaluteagardenThe longer I have gardened, the more I’ve realized that fabulous foliage is far more important than flowers for long term interest in my gardens. Good gardening involves creating year-round interest by having enough evergreen plants for winter structure along with plants that show the glories of spring, the lushness of summer and the fireworks of autumn.

For the winter bones of the garden, there are many conifers with great foliar texture. Hinoki Cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa) are like living sculpture with their sculpted, fan-like sprays in gold or emerald green. Japanese Cedars (Cryptomeria) can have smoky, billowy foliage or intricate coral-like foliage in dwarf gems to large pyramids. Lemon Cypresses like Golden Pillar and Wilma Goldcrest form spires of chartreuse feathery foliage that are like a ray of sunshine on gray winter days. Broad-leaved plants with great foliage include Hellebores, evergreen ferns, Heucheras, Acanthus,IMG_9884 Pieris, Aucuba and Fatsias for shade and Choisya, Euonymous , Privets(Ligustrum) and Nandinas for sun.
Gorgeous spring foliage is evident on many Japanese maples, Spiraea, ninebarks (Physocarpus) and barberries for your sunny sides while Pieris, Winter Hazel (Corylopsis), the unfurling new fronds of ferns, Brunnera, the myriad colors of Heucheras and Hostas, Astilbes, and Epimediums are stunning in the shade garden.
By summer the full lushness of huge-leaved plants like Gunnera, Rodgersias, Fatsia, IMG_9892Hosta, Bananas, Cannas, Elephant Ears and Castor Bean create a tropical-looking paradise. Colorful coleus in sun or shade are stunning. Ornamental grasses, Phormiums, Cordylines, Irises and Yuccas add spiky texture to complement the rounded forms of other plants.
As temperatures get crisp in autumn, the fireworks begin. Maples, Ginkgos, Persian Ironwood (Parrotia), Sourgum (Nyssa), Raywood Ash and Oaks are some of the best trees for fall color. Burning Bush (Euonymous), Sweetspire (Itea), Smoketree (Cotinus), IMG_9881Barberries, Fothergilla, Sumac (Rhus), Spiraea and Viburnums sport vivid fall colors. For perennial autumn color try Amsonia, Darmera and Muckdenia Crimson Fans.

Great foliage creates a beautiful tapestry upon which flowers can shine like jewels.

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Feed Me!

FeedMeHave you seen the musical (or the 1986 movie version) “Little Shop of Horrors”? Nerdy Seymour works at a florist shop. He buys a plant strongly resembling a venus flytrap, which does poorly until he accidentally discovers the plant thrives on human blood.  The plant in true fictional license, screams “Feed me, Seymour, feed me!”  Each time it needs more and more blood, and finally flesh.  The musical has everything you’d want: catchy songs, a hero you can relate to, and romance.

What on earth does “Little Shop of Horrors” have to do with the topic for the week, fertilizing?  Aside from revealing my slightly twisted mind and love of movies and musicals, it actually has a lot to do with fertilizing.  Erica, my sister, and I were brainstorming about our e-mail for the week.    “Now is the perfect time to start feeding all your plants,” she said.  “The plants and lawn are starting to grow.  They need nutrients and the rain will wash the fertilizer in.”  That information went  to our advertising guru, who came up with the idea of “feed me”.  Of course, my twisted mind obviously thought-”feed me” = “feed me Seymour” = “Little Shop of Horrors”.

Then I started to think about it a little bit more and I realized it is really applicable.  AfterFood all, “Audrey II”, the plant in the musical at first is lanquishing under Seymour’s care.  What Seymour doesn’t realize is he needs to fertilize Audrey II.  Unfortunately, due to a cosmic accident Audrey II requires blood.   The more Seymour feeds her, the bigger she grows and the more demanding she becomes.  What we want to do with our plants is to feed the soil and give them more usable forms of fertilizer (organics are especially good) that nourish them but don’t overfeed and cause excessive growth.  We’re striving for a happy, full plant not an overgrown plant that can’t go on unless it feeds its addiction for high nitrogen, water soluble fertilizer that has to be applied weekly.

Not to worry.  If you fertilize now, with organic fertilizer, your plants will not become blood-sucking super creatures.  They will be happy, healthy, perfectly behaved plants.  I promise!  Here are the products we’re recommending to make everything in your yard look great.

For new plantings of shrubs and trees and plants that were bare-root earlier in the season, give them a one-two punch of Espoma Bio-tone Starter Plus and Fertilome Root Stimulator.  Bio-tone innoculates the soil with mychorrizae that helps the plant aborb nutrients better.  Root Stimulator works great on plants that are struggling after our extremely cold winter, too.  It contains a rooting hormone to encourage roots broken in transplanting or that may have been damaged in the cold. Anytime a plant is stressed, Root Stimulator is a good product to apply.

For acid-loving shrubs, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Heather, and Blueberries we suggest using Espoma Holly-tone. Feed now and again in late summer/early fall for optimal results. For a general purpose fertilizer for all other shrubs and trees, use Espoma Plant-tone. Plant-tone is an organic fertilizer that is safe and long-lasting. It contains beneficial microbes that make your plant and your soil very happy

Fianlly, feed lawns Espoma All-Seasons Organic Lawn Food, lime, and Soil Activator.  All-Seasons Lawn Food is safe to use around children and pets.  A first application now means a lush lawn this spring.  Lime raises the pH of the soil, discourages moss and encourages healthy growth.  A neutral pH unlocks soil nutrients, so your lawn is able to absorb more nutrients.  Fertilome Soil Activator also unlocks nutrients that are in your soil but not able to be absorbed by your lawn or plants.  It feeds and encourages soil microbes making your soil healthier.  Healthier soils = healthier plants.

Many thanks to Sharon, whom I asked to write a few bullet points and I would fill in the rest.  Little did she know!  I’m sure she will enjoy the little twist I’ve brought to the topic.  Sharon is our bug, bird and beneficial specialist and she’s pretty twisted, too.  There are many more fertilizers that Garland Nursery carries, including some specifically for Roses and Tomatoes.  If you have any questions about the best fertilizer for your plants, give us a call or stop in.  We’d love to help you make your plants healthier, without out all that loss of blood.


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Why I Love Sweet Peas

Sweet_peaWhy do I love Sweet Peas?  This was the question I asked myself to stir the creativity in my brain.  I chose the subject for this blog, after all.  I knew we received a good selection of sweet peas in at the nursery.  Sweet Peas are something that can be planted early (like now) from seed or starts.  They are fragrant (most of them at least) and they make a nice cut flower.  I could tell you all of that in about 3-5 sentences, but that doesn’t tell you why I am particularly enamored with this lovely flower.

To find the answer, as always I searched in my memory.  The first thing that came to mind was my grandfather and his garden on the Puget Sound.  He was a farmer by trade. By the time I got to know him he was retired from farming and driving a school bus to bring in some extra income.  Or to keep busy.  He was a slow-moving but very hard-working man.  He and my grandmother had a nice, large yet simple house that overlooked the Puget Sound in the key peninsula of Washington state.  There was a lot of lawn to mow, a few flowers, chickens and a very large garden.  Grandpa

Royal Wedding (Renee's Garden)

Royal Wedding (Renee’s Garden)

Allen loved to fish and dig for clams and oysters.  I learned about recycling first from him.  He loved my grandmother and brought her orange juice in bed every morning.  I could probably write a book about him.  The only things that I remember about his garden are that it was huge, it was fully enclosed by deer fencing (and sometimes they still got in), he had a huge raspberry bed and he always grew sweet peas.  I’m guessing now, with adult knowledge, they were probably the mixed colors of old-fashioned Sweet Peas, possibly Royal Family.

As I was talking this over with my husband (he is often my muse) he asked me why my grandfather grew Sweet Peas.  My answer was I remember him bringing a small bouquet for my grandmother to use on the table.  Very simple, beautiful and fragrant.  Just like my grandparents.

SONY DSCSo that memory, the beautiful photos on the seed packets and the early appearance of plants persuaded me to plant Sweet Peas.  I think I am enamored with their cottage garden style and romanticism.  They are “the Queen of the Annuals” and the flower of April.  Sweet Peas were first discovered in Italy by Franciso Cupani.  Great Britain has wholly embraced them.  They have been bred from the original (what I refer to as Old-fashinoned but also called Grandifloras) into at least two more types: Spencers and Cuthbertsons.  If you want to read more about their history, check out


Queen of Night (Renee’s Garden)

Surprisingly, the original, first cultivated variety,  Cupani Sweet Pea is still available in seed through Renee’s Garden (Renee’s seeds are available at Garland Nursery).  As is the second cultivated variety-Painted Lady (in plant form, too).  Renee’s Gardens has single varieties and a number of lovely blends.  My favorite is Queen of the Night, a combination of: Captain of the Blues, Cupani, Lord Nelson, King Edward VII, and Miss Willmott.  Check out a blog at

The main types available are the Old-fashioned or Grandiflora type, the Spencer varieties, and the Cuthbertsons, which have a sub-category-Early Multiflora Giganteas.

The Old-fashioned varieties are antiques, popular in the early 1900′s.  They keep blooming even in hot weather. They are very fragrant.  Varieties include: Incense Mix Lord Nelson, Old Spice Black Knight, OS Janet Scott, OS Senator, and Painted Lady.

The Spencer varieties have ruffled blooms.  They are the largest flowers.  Their long stems make them the best Sweet Pea for cut flowers and arrangements.  They are usually fragrant. They include: Beaujolais, Blue Velvet, Noel Scott, Old Spice Janet Scott, and White Ensign.

Mammoth Choice (Territorial Seed)

Mammoth Choice (Territorial Seed)

Cuthbertsons and Early Multiflora Giganteas are early flowering varieties often called “winter-flowering types”.  They are often fragrant and are well suited for coastal climates.  In this group are the Royal hybrids, Mammoth Choice and Winter Elegance.

Sweet Peas can be started directly in the garden by seed or transplanted as starts.  Seeds germinate best once the soil is 55 deg F.   Plant your sweet peas in full sun in a garden spot with well-drained soil. If summer weather is hot very early in the season where you live, sweet peas can thrive in a spot with morning sun and bright afternoon shade. Dig deeply to loosen the soil and enrich it with aged manure or compost before planting seeds. Don’t forget to set up a well-anchored trellis, fence or vertical support for climbing varieties before planting seeds. If all your seeds don’t germinate in 10 days to two weeks, don’t hesitate to plant more as they will catch up quickly. Some gardeners like to soak sweet peas overnight before planting them; others never do it and still have good results. If you do soak seeds, be sure you leave them in water no longer than eight hours before planting immediately.Transplants and new seedlings should be protected from slugs and snails.

Happy Gardening to you.  Enjoy the lovely bouquets of fragrant sweet peas you will be cutting in just a few months.

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Hellebores Galore

Hellebore_PinkIn the last few weeks, we have received our biggest supply of Hellebores.  There are 29 varieties.  When they arrive, I am like a kid in a candy store whose parent has told her she may only pick one sweet treat.  Every year I want to buy them all, they’re so sweet, but with the size of my garden, I only allow myself to plant one Hellebore.  What’s not to love about them?  They add color in the winter and are quite charming in appearance.  Plus they do great in containers and my containers always need a pick me up in February.  I can’t resist the allure of these painted ladies.

Hellebore_snow_frillsThis year, I selected one called Snow FrillsSnow Frills is a perky Christmas Rose selection from the Helleborus Gold Collection (HGC).  It is fairly compact at 9-12 inches tall.  The lovely double, white flowers have a light fragrance.  These flowers are not double in the way that Peppermint Ice and Frilly Kitty are.  They struck me as very unique.  The Snow Frills went into a container with Obconica Primroses and a viola.

Hellebore_peppermint_iceI like Hellebores for a number of reasons besides being a winter bloomer and great in containers.  They are hardy for our area, mostly evergreen, and they like dry shade and the slugs and snails don’t seem to cause them too much damage in my garden.  Of course, the slugs and snails may have other more succulent plants to choose from at my house.  Hellebores are deer resistant as well.  My garden tends to be wet, so a couple years ago I planted Jacob Hellebore in a Hellebore_jacob1acontainer. It has done well, even through our December cold spell.  The pot is under the front porch overhang and right next to the house.  Last spring, I planted a variety similar to Painted near my Japanese Laceleaf Maple under the eaves of the house.  It has been a problem area as it gets no natural rainfall at all.  I figured I would remember to water it during the summer or that my husband would get the drip irrigation to it.  No such luck.  It died.  So I can tell you from experience, that although they are drought tolerant, they won’t tolerate 4-5 months with no water when they are Hellebore_painted-2newly planted.  Other than some consistent watering early on, Hellebores are not very fussy.  The only pests I have seen on them are aphids.  Although they can get botrytis, like Peonies do, it doesn’t seem to be a major threat in the garden.

There are so many different cultivars.  Some bloom as early as December and some bloom as late as into April.  There are the Christmas Rose cultivars (Helleborus niger) and the Lenten Rose cultivars (Helleborus orientalis) as well as crosses and a few other significant species, with different foliage.  There have been so many different cultivars introduced in the last few years that I have a hard time keeping track of them all.  I’d rather just enjoy their beautiful flowers.

Here are a few of the 29 varieties we have on hand.  Visit Garland Nursery to see the rest.


Monte Cristo






Pink Frost


Onyx Odyssey




Shooting Stars


Amethyst Glow


Cherry Blossom

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Amazing Conifers


Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

How can you create a garden with 12 months of color that’s easy to maintain and tolerates weather extremes? Conifers are the answer. Conifers are like living sculptures that you can use to accent and create the bones or framework of your garden.

Conifers offer an incredible palette of color, texture and form from which to choose the perfect specimen for any spot in your garden. They are classified in sizes ranging from miniature (less than 1’ in 10 years) and dwarf (1-6’ in 10-15 years) to intermediate (6-15’ in 10-15 years) and large (15’ or more in 10-15 years).

There is an amazing array of colors available in conifers ranging from every shade of green

Cryptomeria japonica 'Twinkle Toes'

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Twinkle Toes’

to blues and silvers, gold, plum-purple and white. Textures add so much character to these plants. There are the sculpted fans and sprays of Hinoki cypresses, bottlebrush needles of spruces and firs, stiff or soft needles of pines, feathery foliage of Japanese cedars and some that look like coral reefs. Forms vary from well-behaved ground covers to low spreaders, globes and mops to narrow sentinels, and broad pyramids to towering spires. Weeping conifers add drama and movement to any garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana'

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’

It’s hard to find words that can portray the incredible beauty and diversity of conifers. For inspiration you can search the web for , one of Garland Nursery’s main suppliers. There you can see individual pictures of the myriad of conifers available and also some gardens incorporating them into the landscape.

I plan to select some of my favorites to plant in decorative pots for spots in my garden where I lost large broad-leaved evergreen shrubs from the freeze we had in December. I grow them in pots for a few years until they have enough size to make a statement in the garden. You can put a single specimen in a pot, plant combinations of conifers, or mix in grasses or colorful annuals for summer color. For combos, the use of an

Tsuga canadensis Pendula)

Tsuga canadensis Pendula)

upright grower (thriller) with a fuller rounded plant (filler) and a trailing plant (spiller) makes a harmonious mix. Pines and spruces seem to be hardy enough to leave out in pots all winter. Most other conifers are hardy if planted in the ground but potted specimens should be moved into a garage or some other protected place when temperatures get to low 20’s or lower. Potted conifers also look great on patios, decks and balconies.

Garland Nursery carries a huge selection of conifers in sizes ranging from 4” starter plants to larger specimens with a knowledgable staff to help you find the perfect plant for anywhere in your garden.

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