Get Your Garden Growing

IMG_1050Apple Sox to the Rescue

Tired of wormy apples?  Wish there was a non-toxic way to treat them just once time per year and not have to worry about them again?  Well now there is!IMG_1051

Apple sox are here and now is the time to put them on.

When your young apples are the size of the end of your thumb, thin the clusters of apples to the “best of the bunch”, slip an apple sox over it, twist the open end a little to close the gap and you’re done. (For redder varieties, remove the sox a week or so prior to picking.)

Don’t like wormy apples?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

MicromeshMicromesh tunnel of protection

Imagine a chemical-free garden where broccoli and kale have no aphids. Where spinach and chard aren’t riddled with leaf miners.  Where you can watch the pretty white butterflies flit about without fearing for the safety of your cabbages!

Now that can be your garden.  Simply place a micromesh Easy tunnel over your vegetable row when you plant.  It’s a quick, simple, and best of all-chemical free way to protect your plants.  Air, light and water get in-pests stay out.

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Growing Little Gardeners

  • Last week my husband and I enjoyed a visit from his daughter, her husband and two children. We love all of them and enjoy the limited time we are able to spend with them.  Being a grandparent is a joy. I especially enjoy sharing those activities that are also my favorites: coloring, making up stories and taking walks. This visit I shared the love of gardening. It wasn’t the first time I realize as I write this. We pulled weeds together when we visited them in Italy last summer. However, this was the first time we planted something together and I had their undivided attention. We planted lettuce and then watered it in. It didn’t take long and I didn’t share as many lessons as I could/should have shared. My grandson, Maxton, is 2 1/2.  He found something else to do after the lettuce planting. Mia, who is 5, stayed with me for quite a while.  We pulled weeds, watched a bee buzz around and caught a worm burrowing into the ground. I’d like to say it was some magical, important event but it wasn’t. That’s okay. It also wasn’t watching videos on the phone or being glued to any other electronic device.  No one fought.  It was peaceful and simple. It was a pleasant afternoon and I was glad to be doing something I loved with someone I love.  Thank you, Mia.
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Incorporating Edibles into Your Landscape

Edible_bedGrowing fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs brings the wholesome goodness of these tasty treats right to your table. Many of us don’t have time or space for a full-fledged vegetable garden and orchard but we can still incorporate our favorite edibles into existing gardens or containers on balconies, decks or patios.

Several culinary herbs are as attractive as they are flavorful. Consider the beauty and fragrance of lavender, rosemary and lemon thyme. Also striking in borders is the smoky, filigree foliage of bronze fennel, the pebbly-textured, aromatic foliage of sage in green, purple, tricolor or golden hues and the glossy purple foliage of Red Rubin or Purple Ruffles basil. Parsley and cilantro, so tasty in many Basil.RedRubinrecipes, make lovely clumps of finely-cut green foliage with interesting texture. Chives bearing fluffy purplish-pink flowers above grassy-looking foliage and garlic chives, sporting starbursts of white blooms in late summer, can provide lovely cut flowers as well as flavor to many dishes. Mints of many varieties are great in pots, keeping their spreading tendencies in check. All of these herbs look fabulous in pots or as deer-resistant accents in your gardens. Try a few pots of your favorite culinary herbs near your kitchen to snip as needed.

Vegetables can also be visually appealing. Plant a pot of colorful lettuces of lime green and red shades or add as edging to gardens. Rainbow chard bears bold foliage with strikingly colorful stems in pots or garden beds. Kale is a super nutritious and tasty vegetable with often ruffled or textured foliage in blue-green to red tones. Plant bold silver-leaved artichokes with architectural paste-tomatoes-on-red-benchfoliage as accents in a border. Add vertical interest by growing peas or pole beans up teepees of bamboo stales. Grow squash, cucumbers, pumpkins or melons over an arbor or trellised on a wall or fence. Determinate tomatoes can be kept smaller than indeterminate ones so are your best candidates for growing in pots if your space is limited. A pot with a paste tomato, your favorite pepper and basil could be the start of many tasty meals. A raised bed or galvanized feed trough can let you try all kinds of healthy fresh vegies. Check out square foot gardening in books or on line for lots of great ideas.

espalierFruit trees, pruned well, can be very attractive, bearing beautiful flowers in spring followed by delectable fruit in summer or fall. If space is limited consider espaliered fruits along a fence or wall. Columnar apples like Golden Sentinel, Scarlet Sentinel or Northpole form vertical accents in gardens or containers.

Blueberries  are very ornamental, offering white or pink flowers in spring, followed by bareblueberrydeliciously nutritious blue berries, stunning red fall foliage and colorful gold or red stems in winter. Many can be grown in containers, including the Brazelberry collection (Jellybean, Pink Icing, Peach Sorbet, Blueberry Glaze and their newest introduction, Perpetua, a shrub that bears once in summer and again in fall) Also in this collection is Raspberry Shortcake, a compact raspberry perfect for containers.

Think vertically, growing grapes or kiwi vines on an arbor, fence or trellis. Gooseberries, currants, goji berries, raspberries and blackberries bear abundant, tasty, nutritious fruit along a fence or trellised on a wall.

Strawberries, so sweet and good for you, are easily grown in pots, window boxes, raised beds or as ground cover in existing beds.

If you have sunny rooms or a sun room or greenhouse you can grow a wide array of sweetly fragrant citrus plants (lemons, limes, oranges, kumquats, etc.) in pots that move in during winter andedible-garden out for the summer.

We all know fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and are such a big part of creating the most delicious meals. All of us can find a way to experience the delight of harvesting at least a few of our favorite edibles.

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How to Create a Low Maintenance Garden

dreamstime_xl_63837083For over 30 years I have been a passionate gardener, spending every weekend and evening creating a huge perennial garden of jungle-like proportions. I loved every minute of it for most of those years, but as I approached 60 years of age it started to take more time and energy than I had to give. So many people I have talked to, young and old, are also ready to create a low-maintenance garden — beautiful spaces they can relax and entertain in, have room to dine outside and grow a few fresh fruits and veggies, yet not be slaves to their garden.

                The key to creating a low-maintenance garden begins dreamstime_xl_41638536with design. Think of how you want to use your garden:

-Patios and decks where you can relax, dine and entertain

-Walkways to comfortably get around your garden

-A welcoming entryway

-An area for kids and pets to play

-A service or work area for compost bins, trash bins, wood storage and chopping area,  garden shed for tools

                Once you know what you want, you can plan your own 61eEzrm2V1L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_layout of how to fit those things in or consult with a designer who can help you with a plan. There is an excellent book by Valerie Easton called ‘The New Low-Maintenance Garden’ that can give you lots of inspiration but also magazines, garden design books and Pinterest can give you good ideas. Considering lawns are very high- maintenance, taking continual mowing, edging, watering, fertilizing, and weed control, minimize lawn areas by replacing some with generously-sized patios and decks, seating areas, walkways and raised beds. Replace lawn below the dry root-filled shade of trees with wide swaths of low-maintenance groundcovers.

                Evaluate the plants in your garden. Remove any plants that are creating problems. If a plant requires spraying for insects or disease every year, take it out. Do you have plants that are too big for their allotted spot, that you have to continually prune? Is it attractive or more of an eyesore? Once you have a clean slate, select plants that are easy to maintain and happy in the conditions in which you want them to grow. There are many beautiful NW natives well adapted to our drydreamstime_xl_5767342 summers and wet winters. Dwarf conifers in a wide array of colors, forms and textures require very little fussing. Many trees, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses can be low-maintenance. See sidebar for some suggestions or see us for more options.

                Very few plants grow well in concrete-like soil so it’s important to improve the soil in whole beds or large planting holes for new plants to get a good start. Right plant, Right place means putting sun tolerant plants in mostly sunny spots and shade lovers in full shade or afternoon shade. Put wet tolerant plants in boggy spots and stick to drought tolerant plants in roasting hot areas, where it’s difficult to water or where you don’t want to water for years to come. Even drought tolerant plants need regular watering for their first year or two. We have many handouts with wet-tolerant, drought tolerant, NW natives, etc. to help you find plants for your situation.

                To lower water use, group plants with similar water needs together in beds. Use drip or soaker hoses to save water and reduce weed growth between plants. Mulching between plants conserves water, cuts down on weeds and keeps your soil in good tilth. Using weed barrier or a layer of card board or newspapers below mulch can cut down on weeding. If you have an automatic watering system turn it off on days we get sufficient rain and adjust  the amount of watering time as seasonal temperatures change.

                There is no doubt that vegetable gardens are much easier to maintain in raised beds. You can concentrate on improving the soil in beds instead of paths and better soil grows healthier vegies. Use drip irrigation to conserve moisture, lessen disease and discourage weeds between plants. Floating row covers of Harvest Guard placed over vegies like kale, broccoli, cabbage and other brassicas and spinach, chard and carrots keeps them totally insect free with no sprays. Close planting for complete bed coverage keeps weeds from moving in. Be sure to rotate your vegetable crops to prevent disease and insect problems.

                Gardening is such a sensual, life affirming pleasure when it’s not overwhelming. Whether you revamp your whole garden or take on a few improvements each year, you can reach the goal of a beautiful yet low-maintenance garden.

Here are some suggestions of plants:

Low-Maintenance Plants:








Hardy Geranium(avoid self-seeders like Claridge Druce)








Solomon’s Seal

Also most ferns and ornamental grasses (avoid self-seeders and running types)





Fine Line Buckthorn

Flowering Currant



Japanese holly varieties



Osmanthus Goshiki


Winter Hazel

Witch Hazel


Also most dwarf conifers

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Gift Ideas: Christmas 2015

IMG_1379Let me be honest from the start, gift buying is not my favorite activity.  I either spend too much time trying to come up with the perfect gift and I get frustrated and buy a gift card or I wait until the last minute and what I want is sold out.  Not to mention that I find one thing for me for every gift I buy for someone else.  I really need a personal shopper.  So why am I writing a blog with gift giving suggestions, you ask?  Well, I am a gardener and a cook.  I know what I use and like.  I’m one of the owners and co-buyers  at Garland Nursery.  Plus, my sister, Erica, is helping me out.  She’s a great gift giver and she doesn’t hesitate to offer her opinion on our products.

Following are a few of Erica’s and my gift ideas from Garland Nursery.  (At the end of the article is a link to the complete list on Garland Nursery’s website.)  If you’ve been a customer for a while, you’ll notice that many of the items have appeared on our gift list for a number of years.  We like to call those “Tried and Atlas_glovesTrue”.  Just because you’ve seen them before doesn’t mean they’re boring or shouldn’t be included.  A good example is gloves.  Most gardeners use gloves.  Most gardeners own gloves.  Depending on what kind of gloves they own, most gardeners can always use a new or extra pair of gloves.  Think of gloves as the gardening equivalent of socks.  I am astounded at how many people get up at 5 in the morning on Black Friday to buy socks for Christmas presents.  (Maybe they are stocking stuffers.)  If you or your recipient are sick of socks (and gloves) move on to the next idea.  If not, think about giving a new pair.  They could be inexpensive, colorful, fit for a specific purpose like rose pruning, or a more expensive pair of leather or leather-palmed gloves.

Dramm-Compact-ShearsAlso on the tried and true list are pruners, sickles, and the hori hori japanese soil knife.  My take on pruners is that every gardener should have an excellent pair of pruners and possibly a cheaper pair that they can stash closer to the garden, that they won’t regret losing or running over with the lawnmower.  The excellent  brand, in my opinion, is Felco.  They’ve been made in Switzerland since 1945 with high quality materials.  They are built to last.  For most models, all parts are replaceable.  You can sharpen the blades.  There are holsters to hold them that attach to your belt.  Their models include ones for small hands, left-handed people, and rotating handle pruners that ease the strain on the wrist.  Sickles are a small tool that are a huge seller.  This is one that I started using only recently.  Erica raves about them.  When I realized that some of the garden club members I know bought them in multiples, I decided I better try using one.  Sickles are great for pruning down perennials and grasses with a multitude of soft, fleshy growth.  I use mine on Iris, daylilies and small grasses.  We have a Maiden Grass  that is 5Sickle feet wide.  I will sheepishly admit that my husband cuts that one down with an electric hedge trimmer, although a sickle would definitely work and be easier than pruners or loppers or even shears (which I find difficult to use).  The hori hori japanese weeder knife is a tool that does multiple jobs.  It works as a trowel, a scoop, a weeder, a bulb planter, and for cutting roots.  I like it because it is super cool and makes me feel like a ninja.  If my husband gets to have all the tools he needs to feel  like Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, then I ought to get to feel like a gardening ninja.

SloggersThen there are the “Tried and True” items with a new design or a new brand.  Gardening shoes are a must.  I have a pair I can easily slip on by all three of the outside doors of my house.  I’m more of a solid color girl, but colorful, patterned shoes and boots are popular.  This year, Sloggers introduced the chicken pattern in either a yellow or red background.  These are the cutest shoes and boots  I’ve seen in a long time and they’re Made in the USA.  For about a year, we’ve been carrying a new brand of tools, DeWit.  Handmade in Holland since 1898, they are guaranteed for a lifetime.  They are quality tools with a price to match.  We carry the most popular of their extensive selection.  Things like:  sporks,  T-grip spades, half-moon pull hoes and a disc weeder.  In the category of

wind chimes, we have bamboo wind chimes from Cohasset Gifts.  There are some with funny bobbing birds on top, beach themed chimes and simple ones.  Bamboo chimes  offer a softer, more natural sound.  The sound is soothing and bamboo is eco-friendly.

New items to make the gift giving list include an herb stripper, terrariums and recylced plastic Adirondack chairs.  I enjoy cooking and I love to use fresh herbs.  I’m a slow, zen chef and I lack knife skills.  (Actually there are two non-nursery gift ideas: cooking classes focusing on knife skills and Hello Kitty band-aids).  Back to topic:  the herb stripper from Chef’n is efficient for getting those little-leaved herbs like Thyme and Rosemary off the stems.  The receptacle is a measuring device.  So now when the recipe says I need 2 tablespoons of fresh Thyme, I know when I have the needed amount.  I know most cooks just eyeball it.  Not me, I prefer to be precise.  That’s a curse unless you’re a baker, but I figure I’m not the only one that herb_strippermeasures when they cook.  Chef’n has a lot of other cool cooking gadgets.  We sell quite a few of them.

Terrariums are hot this year.  There are so many styles to choose from: hanging, sitting, cloche, jar lid, retro, and molded glass on wood.  You can plant them up or set an air plant inside.  If you wanted, you could even create a non-living, miniature garden in one.  That would be perfect for someone with a black thumb that still wants to garden.  For the DIY person, there is a kit to build your own.  Just add plants.  We looked for quite a while for a high-quality, good-looking, non-wood adirondack chair from an easy to work with company.  This year we finally found it.  CR Plastics out of Canada makes beautiful, comfortable chairs from recycled plastic in a range of UV protected colors.  Kathy4They’re awesome.  They have other furniture, too.  We have a good selection of chairs in stock for Christmas gifts.  Thinking ahead to next year, we can special order anything in any color.

There are so many more ideas and I didn’t even mention plants, bulbs and seeds.  Check out the complete list on our website: Still stuck or have someone on your list that is particular?  I can relate.  A gift card still works.  Attach it to an inexpensive pair of gloves, a bar of soap, a package of seeds or a hand tool and it’s just a little bit more the card alone.  Or create a fun gift wrap with kraft paper, fresh leaves, and/ or flower stencils.  Write a poem about nature and include it with the gift card.  Not a poet?  Find one you like that someone else wrote.  Whatever you do, have fun and be at peace.  Life’s too short, gardening should be enjoyable and Christmas is about love.

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Avant Garden

Kathy6Wow, what a year we’ve had so far. More sun than rain which means more time to spend outdoors in our beautiful gardens. Now that most of the labor intensive work getting the plants in the ground is almost over we can start focusing on enhancing our outdoor spaces with eye catching and unique garden décor. I find nothing more uplifting and gratifying than relaxing in my own outdoor oasis filled with endless colors and textures. Todays’ gardens are all about personalizing your private outdoor abode with adornments of all kinds. There are some things like furniture and umbrellas that are a must in our garden space and then there are other things like outdoor wall art, solar art, statuary or unique pottery that really make it spectacular! Lucky for us, Garland Nursery is the perfect place to find such one-of-a-kind treasures.

Even though outdoor furniture seems like one of those more practical purchases it doesn’t Kathy4have to be. It can have function and fashion all wrapped into one. This year Garland Nursery brought in a new furniture line called C.R. Plastics. They are extremely durable, extremely swank, very comfortable, come in a multitude of colors and styles, and are made from recycled plastic. What more could you ask for? Well how about a ten year color fade warranty! If you want a product that is going to stand the test of time then this is the product for you. They even have head rests for the chairs that come in a variety of fun chic prints and can be purchased separately. Of course, you’ll need to be shaded while sitting in the comfort of your well-made C.R. Plastics furniture, so how about being shaded by one of Treasure Gardens well-made umbrellas? These are without a doubt one of the best made umbrellas on the market. How many times have you purchased an umbrella and had fading of color within one season, or had poles warp and bend? Not with these babies. They are made with Sunbrella™ fabric and have a 4 year warranty against fading. The frame is made from extruded aluminum which makes them light weight but incredibly durable. Now that’s my kind of umbrella!

Kathy5So let’s say you’ve already got the basics for your home’s exterior, but it just seems like something’s missing. Well that’s because maybe something is missing, something that can turn your garden from drab to fab. When it comes to outdoor wall art, Garland Nursery has done its homework to bring consumers original, unique, and inspiring pieces. One of my favorites is the recycled oil drum art from Haiti, where each piece is hand-carved and designed by the Haitian people. There are many designs to choose from and what’s best of all, is that they withstand the elements all year round. I personally have a couple of these pieces and have had them for quite a few years now with no sign of weathering at all! Now that’s the kind Kathy1of art I want to invest my money into. Another one of my favorites, adding drama to the outdoors at night, are the hanging solar lanterns from Allsop. They have a Japanese influence in their design and come in several colors and styles. I recently purchased a couple for my own yard and couldn’t be happier with them. At night they look like amber floating globes and the light lasted for several hours after dark. They are definitely one of those items that will wow you and your guests.

Statuary is so fun in the garden! It makes a great conversation piece and invokes inspiration and happiness in the gardener. Garland Nursery has a plethora of statuary to choose from, but one of my favorites are the stone carvings from StoneAge Creations. They come in the form of owls, hedgehogs, turtles, birdbaths and more, but what’s best of all is that they are au naturel. Carved from real stone these creations will make an excellent addition to any garden. Now when it comes to finding pottery that fits in perfectly with your color and scheme, Garland Kathy2Nursery is the place to look. Careful thought goes into having a wide range of styles that range from modern to classic to natural, Asian, concrete, ceramic, lightweight and more. Of course nothing makes a more grand statement than a beautiful pot planted up with stunning plants, however, there are many styles that make a fantastic water feature too.

Maybe you already have in your mind what you want or maybe you need inspiration, either way come on out to Garland’s because more than likely you will find the treasure you’re looking for. Also, save-the-date for July 25th & 26th. It is Art & Wine in the Garden at Garland Nursery, where you’ll have over 30 local artists displaying an array of unique, beautiful and whimsical art. You’ll have great time and there is surely something there that will go very nicely in your garden.

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Pollinator Spotlight: Bees

Happy Pollinator week!

What exactly is a pollinator and what do they do? Pollinators include birds, bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, bats and some other mammals.


Pollinators, such as bees, move pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part. This pollen fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit, so pollinators are pretty important. In the United States the pollinators we rely on the most for pollination are bees.

Both my sister and I grew to love bees throughout our childhood at the nursery. With all the beautiful plants and flowers around us the bees were never far away. Luckily I was never stung. My sister, on the other hand, was stung more times than I can count and now has to carry an epi pen around with her. She hasn’t let that dull her love and appreciation of bees though. We both love learning as much as possible about the wonderful pollinators that keep the nursery and our own gardens bright and beautiful.

-Cali Powell*


If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live” – Einstein

 Whether this is true or not, the message is still the same: bees have a huge impact on our ecosystem. Since it is national pollinator week it seems appropriate to talk about honeybees, because, you guessed it; honeybees are one of the biggest pollinators in the world. Most people don’t realize or appreciate the extent to which bees impact our food systems and our diet. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating over 90 crops including apples, mangos, plums, broccoli, raspberries, coffee, and kale (yes, KALE!). They also pollinate all of the beautiful flowers that we love so dearly. They are a social insect and work diligently to keep a clean and well-stocked (with honey, of course) hive for their queen. Bees are always on the move pollinating crops, making honey, and keeping each other warm. There is a reason for the phrase “busy as a bee.”


Bees pollinate our food and give life to amazing flowers such as calla lilies and hydrangeas, but what do they get in return? Sadly, they don’t get much from humans. Although many of us appreciate this fascinating little insect we don’t know how we can contribute to their well being.

Where are all of the bees going?

It is a sad truth that these creatures that bring us so much joy are actually declining in population. Beekeepers in the United States first reported the mass disappearance of bees in 2006, when their seemingly healthy hives were abandoned. Researchers have given this phenomenon the name Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The number of  hives in the US is the lowest it has been in 50 years. CCD is caused by an accumulation of interwoven factors: global warming, parasites, pesticide use, and habitat loss. I was also told by a local beekeeper that bees are just physically exhausted. They get trucked around the world to pollinate different crops at different times and don’t get a rest in between. The bees are dying young and with a multitude of problems. A study conducted in 2011 (NRDC), predicted that the global economic cost of bee decline could cost us as much as $5.7 billion per year.

What YOU Can Do

There is so much to learn about bees and I have only scratched the surface! It may seem like a lost cause fighting for the well being of the bees but there is always hope. Here are a few things you can do to protect the bees and encourage rich habitats for them.

  • Eat produce that is in season (so bees don’t have to travel to pollinate crops that are not meant to be eaten at that time)
  • Buy LOCAL food! Especially honey (much more ethical and pure)
  • Don’t use harmful pesticides.
  • Plant flowers that bees love (And we love too!) List here:

– Madeline Powell*


Learn More

Or you can watch “The Vanishing of The Bees”. This is an amazing documentary about bees and colony collapse disorder.

*This blog post was written as a collaborative effort by Cali and Madeline Powell.

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