Friday, December 20, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - December 20, 2014

Tomorrow is the winter solstice and the beginning of the long winter. We can all look forward to the increasing daylight afterwards and the fact that the average temperatures will begin to rise after the 15th of February. It remains to be seen if Lake Erie will freeze over that might give the northeast lake shore counties some relief from the Lake Erie snow machine. During last Saturday’s snow I received a call from one of our long time customers that the Canaan Fir we had set up in the stand was leaning and might be unstable. The 9 foot tall and 6 foot wide broadly pyramidal tree had moved slightly due to its great weight. After I had retrieved more help from the nursery, I slightly pulled on the massive tree while Adam from the nursery loosened and tightened the securing bolts. Finally, the tree was straight and secure. My panic to rectify this problem was that the tree was decorated with at least 2,000 white lights and what seemed to be ornaments in the hundreds. Each major branch was wrapped carefully with the white lights with the colorful ornaments hung from the trees branches toward the trunk. After we had finished with the tree the customer turned on the tree lights that seemed to make the tree glow with a soft radiant light. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful tree anywhere or scarcely could have imagined such a spectacle! With the season winding down it would be time to clean up and settle down as the nursery will close on December 31st until the 1st day of March although we will be opening on Saturdays beginning February 1st for the winter seminars in order to educate and prep gardeners for spring. There still are a few trees at discounted prices and we are still making and delivering grave blankets until Christmas Eve to local cemeteries. Merry Christmas to all! Tom

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - December 13, 2014

This week the cold weather has returned in what can be called an old-fashioned winter. The low temps or single digit temperatures will freeze the ground deeply without a generous blanket of snow. We still have a selection of mostly Fraser fir with 4 beautiful Frasers waiting for a home with a high ceiling in the 10-11 foot range. Grave blanket construction is still in full swing as customers are still ordering for a pick up or delivery. The most unusual delivery to a cemetery ever was one to Lakewood cemetery in Akron in which the daughter of the deceased ordered a fruit basket with real fruit, a grave blanket and a small Scotch pine tree decorated with red bows. The fruit basket, tree and blanket each had a card attached stating that the deceased parents were loved and missed. The low nightly temperatures made it necessary to cover the stored azaleas with a ¼” thermal blanket while some of the perennials only require a lighter weight blanket in order to protect the plant roots from a deep freeze. The azaleas though, do not fare well if the blanket contacts the evergreen leaves so that a metal frame suspends the blanket just above the plants. That is even more important with mountain laurel. In a little over a week, the winter solstice will signal the first day of winter only to be followed by even longer growing daylight time peaking with the summer solstice of June 21st. Some of the cuttings we are rooting in the greenhouse for spring need longer days and more light intensity to root successfully in which the supplemented light is achieved by a high pressure sodium light that also produces heat which will root the various cuttings even faster. With the sights and sounds of Christmas so near every Ohioan who winters in Florida seems to have returned to enjoy the holiday with friends and family but will return quickly to Florida to enjoy the warmth and to avoid triggering the threshold that would require the payment of the Ohio Income tax. So much for a Florida reprieve. Tom

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dayton "Dirt" - December 6, 2013

The weather this November and now December is statistically colder then official normal but is still closer to average then the December of 1997 and 2006 when temperatures reached the 50º, 60º and even 70ºF marks for long stretches at a time. Some customer’s even had the audacity to shop for a Christmas tree wearing shorts. The cut trees do seem fuller and fresher than last year from plenty of rainfall and accompanying cooler temperatures. Some trees that had to remain in the field did not seem to fare well as the severe frost on May 30th this past spring killed the new emerging, tender young growth so that it is still hanging on the trees! Firs are especially susceptible to frost damage as the new growth flushes earlier than pines or spruces. Many of our larger 10-11 foot trees have already been sold, however we’ve recently cut some gorgeous Canaan Firs of a height of 10-12 feet. These firs resemble the Fraser Fir but without as much as the glaucous shiny coating as the Frasers display. Canaan Fir will drop few if any needles if the trees are cut about Thanksgiving or later. The warm up this past week has enabled us to plant the remainder of our tulips, hyacinths, crocus and narcissus along with over 100 daylilies of various colors on a steep bank along the road in Wolf Creek gardens. When the weather “goes south” again, we’ll move inside to continue the construction of the self-watering greenhouse benches in the production greenhouses. Our replacement white poly on our azalea overwintering hut seems to be holding quite well compared to the plastic we put over the frame in early November. It was so fortunate that we caught the problem before the poly tore and blew off as the hut is full of azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and hydrangeas that would be outright killed if temperatures reached the single digits or the upper teens with strong winds without being covered. I’m very excited to view the new Jacqueline series of azaleas next May along with the Proven Winner Bloom-a-thon azaleas that will bloom most of the spring, summer and fall instead of one splash of color in early spring. The winter solstice approaches so enough for now about spring. Tom