Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - April 1, 2011

April showers are suppose to bring May flowers but if this April is anything like last year’s April, April showers will be non existent as it was warm, even hot & dry last April.

I’m rooting for a cool, wet, “normal” April that will let the spring advance more slowly so that later spring frosts don’t beat up new growth and flowers that have been forced along earlier than normal by a too warm April.

Another problem at the nursery is that all our plants, at least those on the outside are not all available until at least mid-April as we don’t receive many items or pull them out of our winter storage houses until we’re sure the severe cold is done.

Well do I remember the spring of 1982 when we started to bring plants from our polyhouses at the end of March only to have to put them away again because of the severe single digit temperatures coming on April 5th, 6th and 7th of that year! So remember, if the weather is exceptionally nice very early in April we may not have everything on display that you think we should have out already.

The tulips we planted last October are coming out of the ground so that they will need a spray of Liquid Fence very soon as I have no doubt the nursery deer herd has spotted them and is waiting until the plant’s leaves grow a little taller so that the tulip’s foliage will become a salad ready made for deer.

The days are almost long enough that the incandescent lights over the non-stop begonia and dahlias can be turned off. We use the lighting in order to “fool” these plants that the day length is actually 14 hours or more so that they will produce growth and flowers instead of tubers in which the tubers would only be beneficial when the plants are ready to go into winter dormancy.

See you later.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - March 25, 2011

The plant business is quite similar to the electronic’s business in that developments come at lightning speed.

The list of the new tree and shrubs seems to grow longer every year in that much of the behind-the-scenes work is just now coming into view. And so it is at Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio. Willoway is a national leader in adopting new plants that will work in a climatic zone 5 such as our own and in efficient and innovative methods to bring such plants to market.

The other aspect of Willoway’s new plant introductions that I particularly like is that the new introductions are actually planted in a display garden adjacent to the nursery office. The garden is full of newer introductions from the past several years which is a true test of the plant’s worthiness if it still thrives in the garden that is. Many of the new introductions that Willoway produces have a patent which means they cannot be reproduced without the permission of the patent holder for 17 years. Willoway or any other grower for that matter must possess a license from the patent holder. In this way law suits due to patent infringements are avoided and the plant breeder can rightfully collect royalties on all his or her years of hard work.

Danny Gouge of Willoway Nurseries will be our speaker and has a vast knowledge of new plant selections that will be coming our way.

This is the last in our seminar series as it’s already about time to start working in the yard and garden.

Isn’t it great to have the sun set so late with the longer days and Daylight Savings Time!

I also wanted to welcome the newest member of the nursery staff Lori Shed. Lori was a mainstay in the garden center from 2003 through 2006 but left the nursery to pursue other career opportunities.

Lori is knowledgeable about plants, pest control and fertilizer use but most of all, she likes people and is very friendly.

Sometimes you’ll see her in the store, the market, the perennial house or the annual house as she’s going to “float” around.

Lori will be a welcome supplement to our customer service area and I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting her – again!

Happy Spring!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - March 18, 2011

With only three days left until the Vernal (spring) Equinox, the “smell” of spring is in the air!

On March 19th, Michelle Riley, an accomplished landscape designer will be our speaker on the smell of not only spring but the remainder of the growing season as well. A great landscape involves all the senses and not just the sense of sight. One of the most overlooked is the sense of smell which when incorporated into a mostly visual appealing landscape heightens the pleasure interceptors in the brain that much more.

Most of us are familiar with hyacinths, fragrant viburnums, certain roses and of course lilacs that are frequently used for their delicious perfume fragrance. Michelle’s program will include these plants but cover a wider variety of items that you would be able to use to make any landscape more exciting.

Timing is everything as fragrance is not just a “spring thing” but with proper planning can be carried on throughout the season. Since Michelle’s experienced in a wide variety of plant material she will be able to easily “travel between” plant groups such as bulbs, trees, shrubs, vines, annual flowers and herbaceous perennials.

The nursery is all ready ramping up for the coming of spring in that our new greenhouse is in full swing as to production of potted flowers, perennials and hanging baskets that will be ready in a little over a month.

It’s a fast pace too outside the greenhouse as we’re beginning to receive major shipments of nursery stock soon to be followed by the emptying of our winter storage houses that are full of plants. I think everyone will like our new selection of flowers in the greenhouse and perennials as well. I don’t mean to leave out all the new trees and shrubs so that’s why Danny Gouge from Willoway Nurseries in Avon, Ohio will be giving a program on March 26th on new “stuff” in the tree and shrub realm beginning at 11 a.m..

See you then.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - March 11, 2011

With the first day of spring a little more than a week away things are getting ready to pop. Already the witch hazel cultivars are blooming in Wolf Creek Gardens as well as the two large Cornelian Cherry Dogwoods, Cornus mas,. with their clusters of radiant yellow blossoms.

I always have thought blooming crocus to be the herald of Easter time but this year is strange as Easter arrives nearly at the end of April when the crocus will be long out of bloom.

Now is a good time to sow pepper seed indoors but I think it’s still to early for fast growing tomato plants.

Tomorrow March 12th, our own Maggie Bell who is the perennial guru at the nursery will be showing off all the new stuff for 2011. The power point program will take up most of the hour and a half seminar but there will be plenty of time for a question and answer session.

The new plant’s that will be offered this year will be the ones that Maggie has thoroughly researched and believes will satisfy the most discerning of our gardeners. The sources of new perennials as well as other varieties of ornamental plants is endless as breeders from all over the world are working to breed more new plants. The plant breeder’s themselves must be a special breed as many times patience is the rule in that it might take several years before a new item is determined to be worthy to come to the market.

I would describe many of us in the plant business, including myself, as somewhat a geek as our passion for our work is like a fever that we just can’t seem to shake even if we wanted too!

I will join Maggie in her presentation although she will be the main go to person for questions as she has spent many hours of research on the new perennial topic.

Fragrance in the landscape is coming up next Saturday on the 19th.

See you tomorrow.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" - March 4, 2011

Local foods seem to be all the rage today with more homeowners growing more produce and fruits and the proliferation of produce markets. Gardeners are learning once again that they can take control of the family’s food supply by growing and preserving fruits and vegetables right out of the backyard.

I remember my mother and her mother making pickles and the two of them arguing on the correct amount of ingredients to make the pickle’s while the quart jars boiled in a canner filled with boiling water on the stove on a hot August day. The argument between my mom and grandmother was solved in that each of them made their own batch.

Well, it didn’t take long to find out that my grandmother’s batch was crisp and delicious even though she never measured any of the ingredients except with her eye. Mom’s batch of pickles was soft and mushy and had to be thrown out. I guess it pays to spend some time in the kitchen with your mother as you might just be surprised what you might learn. Sorry mom.


Oh, I almost forgot, one of our most popular seminars over the years had been what’s new in perennials and this year there are more new plants as ever. Come join us for the perennial seminar at 11 a.m. on March 12th.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dayton "Dirt" Green Blog - March 2011

On October 20, 2010, the 5th annual Why Trees Matter Forum was held at the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.

The key note address was given by Dr. Dave Nowak of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and Syracuse University. The forum was held despite the devastation caused at OARDC and the adjoining Secrest Arboretum by a tornado strike on September 16, 2010. Dr. Nowak in his address as reported in the January issue of the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association publication Buckeye magazine, gave a rundown on 10 important facts about How Trees Matter. Of the top ten list, two of the benefits were water quality improvements and cooler temperatures especially in urban areas.

The two above benefits he listed as number four and number one respectively. The water quality improvement resulting from trees while important to the entire county is of particular importance to the City of Akron, Ohio. The city is under orders from the U.S. EPA to significantly reduce its sewage overflows to the Cuyahoga River in periods of heavy rains due to storm and sewage sewer combinations.

In order to meet EPA demands for water quality, the remedies will cost city taxpayers hundreds of million of dollars in order to construct separate storm water sewers and massive retention basins to hold sewage water so that it can be treated.

While tree plantings and measures to control water runoff from business and residential properties will not solve the problem alone, they are two important weapons in the arsenal to improve the quality of storm water runoff before it enters waterways.

At the October 20th forum at OARDC, Donna Murphy of the USDA Forest Service stated that the U.S. EPA indicates it would require $2.2 trillion to retrofit the country’s water infrastructure employing concrete and pipe alone.

In northeast Ohio, improvements along the banks of the grossly polluted Little Cuyahoga River include the establishment of riparian borders and the planting of trees.

Rain gardens and storm water storage are gaining popularity among homeowners which will definitely help if these techniques could be greatly expanded.

The cooling effect of trees is well known as street trees tend to reduce temperatures of Urban heat islands caused by the “blacktop jungle”.

In Akron, the loss of the great American Elms and their cooling effect in the 1950's and 60's along city streets is still fresh in the minds of many older residents. Properly placed shade trees on the south and southwest sides of a house will decrease cooling costs resulting in less electricity use and the burning of fossil fuels.

Jim Chatfield of the Ohio State Extension Service has been extensively involved in the Why Trees Matter program. According to Mr. Chatfield, when he and others attended a tree conference in Philadelphia, it was obvious that the city for years has had a love affair with trees.

In the book John Adams by David McCullough, the author writes about John Adam’s amazement upon arriving in Philadelphia as a representative from Massachusetts to the convention of the First Continental Congress in 1774. Adam’s noted that Philadelphia was the finest city he ever saw remarking on the city’s tree lined streets.

A renaissance of “tree fever” in the United States like that of Philadelphia wouldn’t be a bad thing.