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!


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.


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.


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.