Friday, April 29, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 29, 2016

The end of April has finally seen the opening of the annual flower greenhouse. The fulfillment for us is the evidence of all the hard work that began last September with the rooting of flower cuttings, the transplanting, the trimmings, the spacing, the removal of old flowers, the insect and disease control. Well, I think the picture is evident as John Ravenstein, the famous propagator for Losely Nursery in Perry, Ohio once stated “ a greenhouse is worse than a baby. If you have a kid he goes away in 20 years but the greenhouse is still there!” What he was referencing is the fact that annual flowers in a greenhouse must be tended constantly and very carefully or the results will not be good.

The azalea in bloom are gorgeous with the colorful blossoms creating a huge kaleidoscope of color that will be followed by blooming rhododendron, later blooming azalea and gorgeous mountain laurels. Then too, the Eastern redbuds continue to bloom along with flowering crabapples and emerging dogwoods.

As one of the nursery’s radio commercials touts, “there are flowers everywhere in every nook and cranny! Come see for yourself this beautiful display of spring.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 22, 2016

Needless to say it but the weather factor, for mid-April, has definitely had a “ wow” factor in it. At least 2 inches of rain fell on April 11th that was quite a blessing and more has fallen this past week among the long stretches of sunny weather. Cool nights in the upper 30's and 40's have made it ideal hardening-off weather for the perennials so that they are able to get used to the cold nights when they are planted outside in their new homes.

The annual flower house is bursting with growth with the sun and warm temperatures but will not open until Saturday, April 28th which even then I think is too early. A few years ago I received a call from a Wadsworth resident that planted out flowers on April 20th only to be distraught that it looked like the several flats of annual flowers she planted appeared as though they were dying on April 24th. I replied that it is from the hard frost we received on April 23rd. She asked what she should do and I said “nothing”. Fortunately, she did not buy the flowers from the nursery as the greenhouse did not open until May 1st of that year.

This week and through mid-May seems to be creeping phlox week as the ground cover has exploded into bloom with shades of pink, purple, blue and pure white! In 2009, the boulder wall on the north side of the colorful groundcover was planted and every year since then sets the hill ablaze with patches of pink and blue. What’s so amazing is that this seemingly delicate groundcover has taken the blasts of winter directly from cold northwest winds in the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 with never a problem. Creeping Phlox is even salt tolerant so that it can be planted close to the road!

The azaleas are showing color now also which is a week earlier than normal but I think plenty of color will be displayed for Mother’s Day.

At the nursery the behind-the-scenes activities seem to be never ending!


Friday, April 15, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 15, 2016

Last weekend was quite miserable for April 8-9th with the persistent cold. Strangely, as the sky began to clear at about 7 pm on Saturday, the temperature was 31º F and continued to fall slowly to about 28º F at 10 pm. Most likely the low temperatures reached about 20º F briefly but that is much better than the weather prediction of 16º F for Akron-Canton airport that would most likely have resulted in a low of about 12-13º F at the nursery! Needless to say, we are behind in setting up the outside sales yard due to the weather conditions but are hopeful by the weekend to have a presentable display. Work will continue on the set up at a feverish pace while the potting of azalea,  mountain laurel, Japanese maples and other trees is performed by another group. The amount of payroll including everyone’s wages plus taxes owed by the company is staggering especially when there is not much income because of the nasty weather!

I must make a correction though as last week’s blog stated that the first Earth Day was April 20, 1970 when in fact it was April 22,1970. On April 20th @ 6:30 pm the Summit County Farm Bureau will present a program called “Backyard Chickens” in the Owl Barn. To register for  this event on raising chickens, please register with the

While the daffodils and hyacinths having emerged early took quite a beating from last week’s bitter cold, the emerging Darwin tulips look as though they have survived nicely. Most likely they will begin to bloom in earnest next week to be followed by a later group about May 1st through Mother’s Day. In 2012, the Tulip festival in Holland, Michigan had sheets printed with “Stem Fest” as by the time the festival was held in early May the flowers were spent with only the stems remaining! Que sera sera!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 8, 2016

Well, it has happened; that is, the cold snap after everything was pushed ahead by the abnormally warm weather! It reminds me of a few years ago when the weather was “too warm” for March and then on April 7th a cold front came in and dropped the temperature overnight to 19º F with 35 mph winds! The high for the next day was only 35º when a remote broadcast of our radio show “Get Ready, Set, Grow” was going on at the main library in Akron for an event called “A Garden Affair”. These weather ups and downs is why the nursery sometimes is not set up as quickly as the customers might like it to be. The weather is causing considerable extra work and expense but that is nothing new.

Potting of perennial plants is about done and will not resume until late May when we begin to plant again for our late crops in summer. Some bare root shrubs still need to be potted with small pots of shrubs coming in the week of April 14th to be planted in larger pots for summer sales. Among all this planting activity is the rush to set up the sales yard by April 15th although I think because of the delay of this past cold week, it may be closer to April 20th which ironically is Earth Day with the  first Earth Day being April 20th , 1970. Needless to say, this time of year the work at the nursery is never ending and must move fast while in winter the struggle is finding enough things to do to keep busy!

No doubt, everyone that visits the nursery in the later part of April and May will certainly think it is a Garden Affair!


Friday, April 1, 2016

Dayton "Dirt" - April 1, 2016

Last Saturday morning, a low of 24º F was the result of a clear night. Unfortunately, some of the Forsythia that bloomed early and magnolia blossoms were killed or severely damaged since they were pushed out about 2 weeks ahead with the abnormally warm weather. Stock is still arriving making it quite difficult to set up the nursery properly as it looks somewhat messy as trees and shrubs are continually unloaded, untied and tagged for later sales. Then because of the massive amount of bare root trees and shrubs arriving from Lake County and Minnesota, a fresh batch of 75 cubic yards of pine bark potting mix had to be processed. One of the worst scenarios is to have a production line of workers potting the stock and then having to shut down because the mix had run out!

Actually some cold weather or more normal weather would allow us more time to set up the “mess” properly and to finish our potting of stock as the customers, excited by the warm weather keep “interrupting” our work! The reality of the situation is that satisfied customers are the life blood of any business including the nursery business and without them, the work we do really does not matter!

On Saturday, February 13th the low temperature at the nursery was -9º F and now it is April. It is literally true that time does fly!