Friday, December 2, 2016

Dayton "Dirt' - December 2, 2016

December 1st although much cooler has come in like a lamb; that is, comparing it to other cold snowy Decembers that have come and gone.  At the nursery, cut Christmas tree sales have been brisk with the largest ones of 10 feet plus almost sold out.  After a lull in the grave blanket business after the Thanksgiving rush, orders have picked up again so that a fourth cutting of fresh pine and spruce branches is necessary.

Unrooted cuttings of annual flowers have arrived from Guatemala and have been stuck into small pre-made cells filled with a peat-perlite mixture.  These “Fertiss” plugs as they are called are manufactured at the Smither-Oasis company in Kent, Ohio.  The rooting media in the plugs is well-drained as not to remain too wet that would cause the rotting instead of the rooting of the cuttings.  After about 10 days, roots will begin to appear on the previously unrooted cuttings with a complete rooting in about 3 weeks.  The temperature of the rooting media is maintained at
72º F by means of a small boiler system.  After rooting, many of the propagules will be planted in early January for use next spring.  Next comes the cutting of stock geraniums from the Sygenta Corporation for the purpose of six inch pots, hanging baskets and packs of 6.  Other non-patented stock will be similarly cut and stuck again as necessary.  All patented flowers cannot be reproduced (legally) so that if more are needed, the only way to increase numbers is by more shipments from Central America.

As the cold weather and snow settles in for winter, work will continue on our new digital color catalog and our interactive Kiosk that hopefully customers with many questions will find helpful.

Happy December.

Tom

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - November 25, 2016

Although Thanksgiving Day’s weather was not warm and sunny like last year, the day was a blessing as here in Ohio we received some much needed rain and the southern states have received some to help slow or even extinguish the ongoing wildfires that have been raging.

At the nursery, the cut trees from southern Ohio are ready to sell with many stood up for viewing except in the case of any tree over eight feet as they are quite heavy and unwieldy.  Wreaths, roping, branches, poinsettias and cyclamen lend a Christmas feel to the otherwise desolate grounds with all the landscape shrubs placed in the storage huts.  What a rush last Wednesday to deliver all the grave decorations before Thanksgiving Day!  Construction on these grave blankets did not start until November 13th as the product delivered must be fresh.

With the arrival of somewhat cool weather, tree guards to prevent rabbit damage have been placed on all trees that will be stored outside.  If the guards are placed on too early when the temperatures are warm, a microclimate around the tree trunk with a tree guard will tend to make the bark tender which can lead to the splitting open of the bark during fluctuations in winter.  This phenomenon was demonstrated by Dr, Hannah Mathers  from Ohio State University.  Dr. Mathers (formerly from Oregon State University) conducts experiments concerning the growing of nursery stock.  At a conference in Portland, Oregon in 2001, she spoke on water quality and reducing water runoff from nurseries.  As a result many of the practices of which she spoke are in practice here today at the nursery.

Today too is the spraying of a at least 6 gallons of deer repellent on the foliage of rhododendron and azalea in the garden as two does and a young buck were checking out the garden for later forage!

Some snow and no temperature below 0º F would be a great winter followed up by a slow, easy start to spring would be ideal. Unfortunately, when does Mother Nature ever listen!

Tom

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - November 18, 2016

With Thanksgiving next week, construction of grave blankets for delivery and pickup has accelerated as many customers prefer the decoration delivered or for pickup before Thanksgiving in order to place on the graves of their loved ones who have passed on.
 

The flower bulbs (6,000 in all) have all been planted during the sunny, dry weather of the past couple of weeks. One thing for sure is that the ground is somewhat dry again and in need of rain and snow. In general, about 5 inches of snow would be equivalent to 1 inch of rain that would readily be absorbed by the thirsty ground. In 2010, a similarly dry summer and fall season did not end until an all day cold rain on Thanksgiving Day. Snow would be the most effective way to replace water in the below ground aquifer as it would slowly melt from below due to the ground heat. Snow is also important to the crop of winter wheat in order to protect the tender shoots from the severe cold and wind of winter. Literally feet of snow is needed in the mountains of the western United States to serve as a reservoir that feeds streams and lakes later in the year as the snow pack slowly melts.Freshly cut trees arrive next week from southern Ohio and greens, roping and poinsettias are ready to go now. Come early to pick out your perfect tree! We'll hold it for you until you're ready for pick up or delivery.
 
 
As Thanksgiving approaches, the day is a reminder of the many blessings and miracles that surround us every day. As far as the thankfulness part goes of Thanksgiving, everyday should be celebrated like Thanksgiving.

Tom

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - November 10, 2016

Finally after almost two weeks of unusually warm weather, some of the cold for November has arrived. At the nursery even though customers are few in number, the work of winter preparation still goes on as a few details concerning the overwintering huts need finished. Another unfinished chore is the taking and sticking small cuttings of Euonymus ‘Goldburst’, Azalea ‘Ethelwyn’, Rhododendron ‘Aglo’ and Rhododendron ‘PJM’. While summer rooting would work, fall is a good time for rooting them as long as “bottom heat” is applied to maintain the rooting medium at a warm 72º F which is accomplished with a hot water boiler system.
 
           

Another beautiful native shrub Rhododendron calendulaceum known as the Flame azalea can now be propagated from small seeds that will be ripe in about another week or two. This deciduous azalea is native to the Appalachian mountains and is known for its brightly colored flowers of  yellow, orange, melon and red that adorn the shrub in mid to late May. The seeds sown this November will grow into saleable plants for the spring of 2018.Weed spraying with Glypsophate (Roundup) is in full force in order to not only kill the weeds before they set seed in early spring but to accomplish this task in the slower time of the year instead of neglecting the weed control because of a busy spring. Weeds such as the invasive Garlic Mustard, Bull Thistle and Hairy Bittercress are visible now and waiting to explode into growth at the first push of spring.
The winter seminar subjects have been posted on the website.  We hope the various, “fun” topics  will interest the audience. These seminars are a welcome break from a long winter as the short cold days seem to hold on after the winter solstice in December.
In summary, as chores go at the nursery, it’s prep time for the Christmas season and the spring season simultaneously.

Tom

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - November 4, 2016

At the nursery, this past week has been a frenzy as we gathered the remainder of the nursery stock and perennials in pots into the storage houses in order to cover these houses with a white plastic film that repels the sun’s rays that would heat up the houses if the plastic were clear.
Peonies have been potted for spring sales with some new introductions of the Itoh peonies in a bright red called ‘Scarlet Heaven’ and the bright yellow ‘Canary Brilliants’. Another non-hardy flowering plant that has  just been potted to grow for April sales is the Cyclamen known as the Laser Syncho mix (shown) that is ideal for small 4" pots. Cyclamen add a splash of color to any home in the late winter or cold early spring as the hope of spring flowers and warmer days is still a few weeks off.

The next project now that the huts are covered and everything is tucked in is the cutting of pine branches for grave decorations and decorative pots. Spruce branches are cut later as the needleson the branches begin to shed if the branches should be cut too early such as before November 15th. Then after branch cutting comes tulip time as 4,000-5,000 bulbs will be planted to set the nursery on fire in early May with a kaleidoscope of colors. While not long lasting (about two weeks) the beauty of the flowers in such a mass is well worth the expense and work.

Poinsettias are changing so quickly that the plants should be on display by November 20th just in time for Thanksgiving. Even now as the bleakness of November encroaches, a photo of a Julia Child rose that a homeowner sent us is still in beautiful bloom even though the days are short and the nights are cold. The Julia Child floribunda rose is a clear yellow displayed on disease free foliage which is not normally the cars for a floribunda that is not sprayed regularly. Julia Child roses  will be available in abundance at the nursery beginning the second week of May. This hardy almost care-free floribunda rose is certainly one of our top favorites as evidenced by the show it performs during the last days of October.

Happy Fall.

Tom

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - October 28, 2016

At the nursery, an arrival of balled and burlapped trees of Maple and some American Elm (shown below) have added to stock for the fall and next spring. Most likely very few of theses beautiful trees will be sold this fall as still there is a perception that spring planting is superior. With a few exceptions, almost any plant may be fall planted to get a headstart on root growth that will push out new growth of the plant’s above ground parts. Spring planting is superior with species with fleshy root systems such as dogwoods and magnolias except if the trees are already dug or potted which would not disturb the fleshy roots as would digging them out of the ground. Many trim fleshy roots when cut in the fall have a tendency to rot and otherwise deteriorate when they are fall dug , or dug too early in spring. Dogwoods, magnolias and fragrant viburnum tend to thrive with transplanting performed just before growth is ready to begin which in most years is between April 1st and April 15th.

Much of the container stock at the nursery is now put away in the over-wintering huts and is still available for purchase throughout November although it will be more difficult to view once the huts are covered next week. Balled and burlapped trees and container trees in the ground sockets will brave the winter as the roots will be in the ground shielded from the worst of the winter cold.
The worst enemies of the stock during winter storage are rabbits that may dig into the warm houses to eat bark and stems of shrubs and the ever present mice that can gnaw through the bottom of a plastic plant pot to access the root system of a numerous variety of shrubs and perennials.  Even in winter, the plants need to be babysat.
Tom

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - October 21, 2016

After a taste of Indian summer last week, the cooler rainy weather has returned that is probably more typical for October. The leaf show is at its peak affect, albeit it does seem later than usual.

Once clue of the later than usual turning of the leaves this fall is the Autumn Blaze Maple planted near the equipment barn in 1998.

Every year, the tree has begun to display its brilliant red fall color late September with the finale of a bare tree around October 20th. This hybrid tree (Silver Maple x Red Maple) this year on October 21st is just past its prime in coloration.

Other Maples such as the Sugar Maple and Red Maple at the nursery are only now in full color as they typically turn color later then the Autumn Blaze cultivar.

My favorite tree for statue and fall color though is the slow growing Sugar Maple that is the favorite tree for sap collection in order to process sap into maple syrup. The orange, yellow and red on the Sugar Maple at the time of the year make a spectacular show over a wide swath of the Northeast United States.

Fall color are enhanced by frosts intensifying the various pigments in the leaves to yield one of the most spectacular fall display in the world!

At the nursery, a gigantic Sugar Maple at the edge of the woods stands out among other trees.

Sadly, it’s twin was cut down about six years ago, because of the rotting of its heartwood that would have caused this tree to fall at any time.

Counting the growth rings on the remaining stump, the grand maple was born in 1905.
Only the Red Maple next to the old house is older because of its presences in a photograph from 1890 when it was a “baby” of only ten feet!
 
        

Fall fertilizing can now commence on all varieties of trees and shrubs in the landscape before root growth shuts down in late November.

The timing of the fertilizer is late enough in that it will not push new growth that would be susceptible to winter kill. Tree and shrubs planting and transplanting can now be accomplished which will give these fall planted plants a head start compared to spring planted ones.

Falling leaves literally are like gold for the garden when they can be incorporated into the soil after being composted for several months.

In fact, several nurseries in Lake County Ohio have a leaf deposit area so that homeowners will drop their unwanted leaves that the nursery men can then incorporate into the ground to improve the “health” of the sandy soil.

Next week the nursery stock will be gathered into over-wintering houses so that the plants can be covered with over-wintering white plastic in early November.

Just how did the year go by so fast!

-Tom