Author Archives: Belgian Nursery

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Small Tropicals With Big Impact!

     Are you looking for something to fill that tiny bit of space left on your kitchen counter, bedside table, or shelf? You may be surprised that those empty spaces are just perfect for beautiful, colourful tropical houseplants! They can add a rainbow of hues, and they’ll even help clean the air in your home! Here are some of our favourite tropicals that may be small, but still make a big statement:

Golden Pothos – This low grower is great for cleaning the air plus it can handle any light condition, whether you go with the traditional green & yellow “Golden” variety or the creamy green “Marble Queen”. Keep it trimmed for counter and tabletop settings, let it hang freely in a hanging basket, or even train it up a vertical support for some high impact! Let your pots dry slightly between deep waterings, and feed with an all-purpose fertilizer monthly.

Snake Plant – Slow growing and very resilient, another star in the Clean Air category that also thrives in any light condition! The upright, rigid green foliage can be edged with golden yellow or striped with lighter green tones, depending on the variety. You can relax knowing that your Snake Plant will keep its tight footprint, perfect for filling in corners and tight spaces. Loves to dry out well between deep waterings.

Fittonia – Also called Nerve Plant for its brightly coloured veins that stand out from other greenery. Its low mounding habit makes it a perfect addition to flat surfaces and hanging pots, and it’s a favourite for terrarium collections! Easy to trim to keep a bushy shape.

Rex Begonia – If you’re looking to make a statement, this one’s for you! The colours and patterns are incredibly unique, with some boasting 3 or more colours! Loves the humid life, so bright bathrooms and kitchens are perfect for them.

Polka Dot Plant – Simply adorable with its leaves all spotted with pink, red, or white dots. The brighter the light, the more intense their colour! Let them flower or keep trimmed for a nice bushy mound.

Croton – Wide-leafed Crotons show off colourful veined leaves, while a smaller variety features cute yellow spots. Bright tropical colours couldn’t be easier!

Peperomia – Offers a wide range of foliage shapes and colours. The thick, succulent-like leaves make this an excellent choice for easy care in small containers.

English Ivy – A classic choice for baskets! Let these wispy-looking trailing vines grow long or trim them back to keep full and bushy. Prefers a humid location, like a bathroom or kitchen.

This is a list of a few of our favourite varieties (please note that our selection changes constantly and quickly, so the varieties listed may not be available at all times).

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Plant Profile: Sansevieria – Snake Plant

Versatile! Striking! Easy care! Clean air! These are just some words that pop into our heads when we think of Sansevieria, aka Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. Their foliage comes in a wide range of heights, shapes, colours, and colour combinations, but one of their most appealing qualities may be that they can handle just about any type of light condition. So if you’ve been searching for a houseplant for your dimly lit office/basement/wherever, go for a Snake Plant!

Not only can Snake Plants handle very low light conditions, they’re typically slow-growers (especially in low light) so they have a very controlled growth habit. This makes them the perfect fit for an empty corner or on a desk in your office, since their rigid foliage doesn’t take up any more real estate than the pot it’s in. If you do have a bright, sunny area, try to place your Snake Plant away from the window, since too much direct sunlight can burn their foliage.

The term “easy care” was mentioned earlier, and this is not an exaggeration. Sansevieria prefer to dry out very well between deep waterings, almost to the point of a cactus or succulent; they can even handle being planted in Cactus Soil! And that’s it, that’s the level of care they need. Did we mention that there’s no need to prune? Snip off the rare flower stem as it appears and that will be the only time you’ll need your pruners. You can give them an all-purpose fertilizer every 4th watering (remember that you’ll be extending the amount of time between waterings during the lower light of fall and winter) but the rest of the time they’re quite happy to just sit in their pot looking gorgeous!

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Tulips: A History

Believe it or not, the humble tulip has a long history filled with intrigue, theft, get-rich-quick schemes, a royal birth, and even the liberation of an entire country! Those are some pretty huge events, and all thanks to a small, unassuming bulb:

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Lifting and Storing Tender Bulbs

As much as we love our gorgeous spring bulbs (the Glads, the Dahlias, the Calla Lilies, and all the rest) their beauty comes at a price: they cannot overwinter in our gardens. But that’s okay, because a little effort now will mean you can enjoy them again next year! Here’s how:

Note: For the sake of space (and a certain writer’s sanity), all varieties in question will be referred to as “tender bulbs” or just “bulbs”, even though most of them are corms/tubers/rhizomes/non-bulb beings.

What to Lift: You’ll need to lift any and all of your tender bulbs before the hard frost hits, including Dahlia, Gladiola, Calla Lily, Freesia, Anemone (not the Perennial/Japanese varieties), Ranunculus, Tuber Begonia, Tuberose, Caladium, and Canna Lily.

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Fall Bulbs: Plant Now for Spring Colour!

Fall is a fantastic time for planting, so take advantage of the cooler temperatures and plan(t) ahead for next spring! Many of your favourite spring bloomers, including Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinths, and Allium, arrive as bulbs in early fall and need to be planted before the deep frosts arrive. Fall bulbs need 12-16 weeks of cold weather before they can flower, and each variety has its own “temperature gauge” that tells them when the soil is warm enough to burst through to the open air.

Fall bulbs come in many varieties, including:

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Time to Bring in Your Tropical Houseplants!

Autumn! An amazing season filled with gorgeous colours, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spiced everything. While the cooler temperatures are a pleasant change from the summer heat, your tropical houseplants will need to spend their days and nights indoors until next summer. Here are our top tips for transitioning your trops:

When: We like to use Labour Day as a reminder to bring all of our tropicals indoors, though you can bring them in any time before the mercury drops below 10°C. This is especially important for those night-time temperatures that can potentially damage or stress your plants.

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Fall – A Fantastic Time for Planting!

After these long, hot and dry days of summer, some of our gardens and planters may be looking a bit exhausted. Fall brings us shorter days, more frequent rainfalls (hopefully), and bearable temperatures for working in the flowerbeds. Now is the time to remove those pesky weeds, fill in some bare spots and replace those plants that just aren’t right. For your planters, consider adding some fall flowers like Ornamental Cabbage & Kale or Garden Mums. While these varieties are not hardy for our winters, they’ll last well into the fall and even handle some light frosts. 

Consider adding some varieties of perennials that are fall or even late-fall blooming to support your backyard pollinator friends (like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds) so they have enough food for the upcoming winter season. Here are just a few great options that come to mind:

Sedum (Stonecrop), Aster (Michaelmas Daisy), Achillea (Yarrow), Agastache (Anise Hyssops), Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan), Echinacea (Coneflower), Echinops (Globe Thistle), Monarda (Bee-balm), Prevorskia (Russian Sage), Ascelpias (Butterfly Weed), Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Helenium (Sneeze Weed), Helianthus (Perennial Sunflower), Heliopsis (False Sunflower), Calamintha (Catmint), Coreopsis (Tickseed), Salvia (Perennial Sage), and Lavendula (Lavender).

Browse through the Perennial Center to see what is blooming for inspiration OR I’m sure a wander through your neighborhood can also be a great inspiration!

Garlic is another fall task. Even though garlic can be planted in spring or fall, I find that when it’s planted in the fall it produces better heads with more intense flavour!‎ Start by picking a spot in your vegetable or herb garden, divide the head of garlic into cloves and plant them in a row about 3 inches deep. Harvest in mid to late summer and enjoy!

 

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The Benefits of Weeding!

What is a weed?

My definition of a weed is any plant that grows where you don’t want it to be! Read More

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Benefits of Mulching

      When it comes to mulching your garden, there’s really no downside! And with a wide range of mulching options to choose from, you can personalize the look of your gardens while giving your plants all the benefits that mulching can provide, including:

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Grow Your Own Cut Flowers!

What could be better than creating a stunning bouquet that you have grown yourself? Some of the most memorable bunches of flowers I have received are hand-picked by my children (true, at times they are mostly dandelions, but still!). My favourite hand-made bouquet has been a simple vase filled with Garlic Chives – they have white blooms that last for weeks!

Use bold blossoms like Peonies and Iris or tall spiky flowers like Delphiniums, Veronica and Lavender, then use delicate flowers like Scabiosa or Lady’s Mantle to fill in or frame your centrepieces. Create designer masterpieces with “in season” flowers inspired by an afternoon in your garden.

Try different textures like Rosemary, Lady’s Mantle, and Celosia. Remember that some of the standard plants in your garden can help fill in your creations as well, like adding a few Hosta leaves for a bold foliage feel. Herbs are also a fun addition – beyond adding just flowers and greenery you will also be adding delicious aromas!

But the absolute best part of having a cut flower garden is that you can share it with everyone! A beautiful vase filled with a home-grown, handmade bouquet would make a spectacular hostess gift.

Steps and Tips:

The best time to cut your flowers is either before the morning dew has dried or in the early evening.

Cut above a node or leaf to let even more blooms grow for future bouquets.

Place stems in lukewarm water as soon as you cut them.

Prior to placing your cut flowers in their arrangements, cut their stems on a slight angle and place in a vase of warm water.

Change the vase’s water every few days.

Take time to enjoy them!

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Adjusting Tropical Plants to the Outdoors

      To say that indoor gardening has become a trend over the past few years would be an understatement; obsession might be a better term for it! It seems that more and more Canadian homes are rejecting the cold, white landscapes that cover our winters for lush, tropical jungles that fill their living rooms (and every other room) with vibrant colours. We may not be able to ignore winter, but at least this way we can still get some clean air!

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How to Sucker Your Tomatoes

What is a Tomato Sucker? A “sucker” is an extra shoot or leaves growing between the main stalk of the tomato plant and an established branch, often growing at a 45° angle from the plant.

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Summer Growing Tips for Annuals

Summer is finally here, and we can all enjoy the bright sunshine and hot temperatures on our patios, balconies, pool decks, and backyards. It’s also a prime time to enjoy all our planters and garden spaces, though with the excess heat and humidity we will all have to add a few more items to our gardening “To Do” lists. Here are some of our top tips to keep those beautiful annuals hanging baskets and bedding plants looking their best throughout the summer!

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Seed Starting Part 5: Hardening Off and Planting Out

     Well, we’ve made it. It took a lot of hard work, planning, and table space, but we are finally ready to put all those adorable seedlings outside…almost. You’ve been so patient with them, they just need a little more time before they can grow big and strong outside (and you can reclaim your tables and shelves!).

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Flowering Tropical Houseplants

When it comes to Tropical Houseplants, we often go for beautiful foliage and texture that can be enjoyed in our homes year round. And then there are those bloomers that just make you stop in your tracks and say “WOW!” and you don’t care if it says “high maintenance” or “extra attention” because you just have to have it in your life! And chances are you can, so long as you can give it that extra bit of attention and care to get those gorgeous blooms to pop. Tip: Most flowering tropicals love the sun, so giving them a bright spot with at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day will make your job a lot easier. And since our northern climate isn’t Florida or the Carolinas, you can expect your flowering tropicals to take a well-deserved rest through the fall and winter.

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Warning: Frost!

     Have your green thumbs been itching to get outdoors and into the dirt? Ours too, like they do every year once that sunshine hits us in the face. And yes, we’ve all heard that Victoria Day weekend is when we can start gardening again, but remember that Mother Nature is in charge of the schedule and some years are last frost can be as late as early June!

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Plant Profile: Dracaena Family

Did you know that there are over 100 different varieties within in the Dracaena family? Or that their name originates from the Greek for ‘dragon’? They are one of the most popular species of tropical houseplants we carry, not only because of their wide range of varieties but because they are some of the easiest houseplants to care for! They can handle any light condition, especially indirect/filtered light locations (too much bright, direct sunlight can cause leaf burn). Plus, they’re some of the best Clean Air houseplants around, which means fresh air for all your indoor spaces! The only place a Dracaena may not thrive is inside a closet, and even then they might find a way to do it.

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Seed Starting Part 4: Survival of the Fittest (Thinning)

Experienced gardeners know a simple truth: in order to have the best crop possible, you must choose which of your precious plants will live, and which have to be sacrificed for the greater good.

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you’ve been watching these adorable seedlings grow for a few weeks and you may now find yourself, well, a bit attached to them. However, sometimes you must be cruel to be kind. After all, this is the main reason you seeded extras of your varieties, knowing that some wouldn’t germinate at all and others would have to be thinned from the crop. Plus, some of your taller varieties may need to be “potted up” into slightly larger pots, which means less space on your seeding station which means less plants so…*sigh* it must be done.

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Plant Profile: Phalaenopsis Orchids

When you think of the words “exotic”, “graceful”, and “tropical”, what plant comes to mind? Your brain immediately went to an orchid, didn’t it? The Phalaenopsis Orchid, if we’re being specific, right? Guessing games are so much fun! Read More

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Proper Watering Techniques

We get a lot of plant questions here at Belgian, like A LOT! And since most of them revolve around watering, we figured it’s about time we put all our wet wisdom into one big blog post. Let’s dive in!

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Spring/Summer Bulbs (Glads, not Daffs)

What do you think of when you hear “flower bulbs”? Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, the usual. Now think of “Spring Bulbs” and what comes to mind? Tulips, Daffodils…well, yes, those all flower in spring, but they have to be planted in the fall. We’re talking about bulbs you plant in spring to get the gorgeous blooms anytime from spring through fall, depending on the variety. Yes, many are tubers, rhizomes, corms, and other non-bulbs; the point is that they’re all oh so pretty!
Tip: Some will need to keep their foliage after they’re done flowering to absorb enough energy for next year’s flowers. Oh, and they all need a sunny location, at least 4-6 hours, to generate those blooms, and their tubers/corms/etc will need to be dry before going into winter storage.

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Seed Starting Part 3: Planting, Finally! (10 Steps from Seed to Sprout)

At last! You have been so patient, getting all your supplies together, making sure you have the proper soil mix, and setting up your seeding station for all your future little sprouts. And now it’s time to put all that preparation to good use and get dirty!

Remember that mountain of information on your seed packets? Remember the all-important “Sowing/Start Indoors” date? No, no need to panic, you’ve still got plenty of time to double-check your dates. For vegetables, most of them want to be planted 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost, except for onions, leeks, and eggplants which take 10, and celery and celeriac prefer 12 weeks of cozy indoor growing. Flowering plants, both annual and perennial varieties, can vary but usually hit that 4 – 8 week window, as well.

Oh, one more thing! If you’ve got specific numbers in mind as to how many of each plant you want to end up with, make sure you sow a few extra of each variety just in case. This goes back to that tricky germination rate; some seeds just don’t take very well, no matter what you do to coax them out of hiding. So it’s better to have extra and then thin out the weaker ones later to get the best plants, but more on that in Part 4!

Ready to sow? Then let’s go!

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Belgian’s Cactus Gardens

No visit to Belgian Nursery is complete without exploring our Cactus & Succulent House. The 5,400 sq. ft. greenhouse, which had previously been used to grow geraniums, has been filled with cacti, succulents, aloe, agave, and other desert dwellers since the 1990s! It’s been a source of pride for all of us, especially owners Rosie and Luc without whom this desert oasis would never have existed. Read More

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Propagating (and Reviving) Succulents

We are of the opinion that there is no such thing as having too many succulents, as you can clearly see from our Cactus & Succulent House. They’re adorable, they thrive on near-criminal neglect, and best of all they are ridiculously easy to propagate! All you need is a pair of sharp, clean scissors and some newspaper and your collection can expand beyond your wildest dreams!

Before you dive into the propagating steps below, here’s a helpful hint for most trailing succulents, especially the popular Burro’s Tail: Make sure your plant is DRY before cutting! We’re talking bone-dry, to the point of soil breaking away from the pot DRY. The plant is more likely to have a death-grip on its leaves in this state, which means you can end up with something more than just a bare stick.

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Seed Starting Part 2: Timing Is Everything

So, you’ve got your seeding station all set up, all your containers are washed and sterilized, and you’ve memorized the seed catalogue. Time to start seeding, right? Well, not quite yet.

Yes, it’s true that winter and early spring is a great time to start your seeds indoors, but it really depends on the varieties you’ve chosen. Some vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and most members of the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) need the extra few weeks indoors to get a head start on the season.

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Success with Cacti & Succulents: Care and Propagation

     Having a piece of desert beauty in the home and office is something very special. We are reminded of dry, hot weather, otherwise known as the opposite of a Canadian winter. But if these plants are so alien to our climate, can they really survive and thrive in the average home north of the 49? Of course they can! Just follow these basic guidelines and you’ll be living in a desert oasis in no time:

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Seed Starting Part 1: Materials & Ingredients

You look outside and everything’s cold and snowy, and you get excited because it’s almost Indoor Seeding time! Starting your seeds indoors is cost-effective and gives you more control over what products are used on your plants – perfect for anyone looking to make their garden pesticide-free.

     But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, which is very easy to do right now (these cold, grey days are just begging for a burst of green!) Seeding is like trying a new recipe: we have to get the right materials, check the ingredients list, and follow the steps in the right order if we want to enjoy a delicious treat or, in this case, healthy new plants. So let’s start with Part 1: Materials & Ingredients.

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For the Love of Plants – Houseplants, That Is!

The trend of having tropical houseplants in the home and office has grown exponentially over the years, and we’re not all that surprised! Who could say “no” to the beauty of an Orchid, the incredible arching foliage of a ZZ Plant, or any of the health benefits that come with caring for indoor houseplants?

     But now it’s winter, and some of our tropical friends might not be looking as lush and lively as they did just a few months ago. We like to call this “having tropical houseplants during a Canadian winter” and the upside is that you’re not alone in your concerns. We’ve all gone from getting 15+ hours of bright, gorgeous sunlight in summer down to, well, not quite 0 but the few hours of sun we do get is considerably weaker. What does all of this mean for our plants? Simply put:

Less Sunlight = Less Energy Consumed = Less Growth = Less Frequent Watering

     Tropicals will slow down in the lower light of winter, but won’t go fully dormant like the perennials out in the gardens. And along with less sunlight, houseplants also have changes with indoor temperatures and humidity levels to deal with – the use of baseboard heaters or furnaces may help keep us warm, but they also lower humidity levels. So what can we do to help our foliage friends get through to the light and warmth of spring and summer?

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Our Top 10 Low Light Houseplants!

The shortest day of the year is quickly approaching, but don’t worry – it means that the days will start getting longer very soon! And while it will take a few months for us to get back to the warm, sunny days of spring, we can help bring a little nature indoors with some low-light tolerant houseplants. Check out our list of Top 10 low light tropicals below (bonus: they all help clean the air, too!)

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Feeding Our Feathered Friends!

There’s nothing like a bird’s sweet song to help blast away the winter blues, and it’s so easy to bring their delightful voices to your own backyard or balcony. Whether you purchase a bird feeder or simply scatter seeds over the snow, our feathered friends will be grateful for the winter snack. You can even create your own simple feeder with pine cones, peanut/nut butter and seeds! And a bird feeder isn’t just a great gift for the birds, but for anyone on your holiday list, from kids, grandparents, and even teachers!

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Cacti and Succulents: Prickly Plants and their Not-So-Prickly Friends

Cacti and Succulents have been very trendy for years now, and no wonder! They ask for so little and yet offer us so much through their amazing array of shapes, sizes, colours, and even style of spines (those prickly things that make a cactus, well, a cactus). There are thousands of species and varieties in existence, and while we here at Belgian would love to have one of each to call our very own, even our 5,400 sq. ft. Cactus & Succulent House isn’t big enough to hold all of them! Even so, we are able to showcase many, many varieties in our selection of individual pots and dish gardens, as well as in our display gardens.

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Houseplants in Autumn

As we travel into the cooler days of fall, we all notice that the days are getting shorter and the sun is setting earlier. Our indoor houseplants are also feeling the need to adjust to these changes. As days shorten, they will slow their growth and water requirements, and it’s up to us to adjust the frequency of our watering schedules. We can also give some varieties a trim to further help with their adjustment. 

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Our Top 4 Tips for Terrific Tropical Houseplants

1. Let your plants tell YOU when they need water. Monitor its soil moisture and water when needed, rather than falling back on the old standard of watering once a week. Watering will vary as the seasons change (more often in summer, less often in winter). Read More

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Growing Perennials in Pots & Planters

It’s no secret that there are lots of benefits to container gardening. Growing perennials in pots & planters is a new idea to some gardeners, but it is a great way to change up your containers and add some new ideas. And with the right care, perennials in containers can be overwintered and grown again the following year! Here are a couple of things that you should always keep in mind when planning potential perennial planters: Read More

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Bounty on a Budget: Making the Most of Your Grow-ceries!

Vegetable gardening can be a fun, healthy summer tradition – and it can also help take a bite out of your grocery bills! Planting thrifty, productive crops is a great way to supplement your family’s diet with delicious garden-fresh produce right from your own backyard, with no cashiers between harvest and table. There are a lot of great strategies for getting big yields on a shoestring budget. Try these simple tips to fill your plate with freshness and maximize your return on investment. Read More

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Planting a Bee-friendly Garden

Why plant a bee garden?

Bees help us, a lot! As much as 3/4 of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. And now more than ever, our bee friends could use a hand in return. This can be as easy and fun as potting up a planter or two, or scattering a few wildflower seeds in an unused section of your yard. Whatever the scale of your garden, we gardeners can make a big difference for our little buzzing buddies! Read More

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Fall vs. Spring Garden Clean Up

For most perennials, whether you cut them back in the fall verses spring is completely up to you. Before you start, determine which season gives you more time for working in the garden. And consider what may provide winter interest: many taller grasses or perennials with seed heads atop sturdy stems can look very attractive with frost/snow on them, even providing a place for wildlife, like birds, to rest. Read More

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Clean Air Plants

It’s no secret that there are lots of benefits to having plants in your home. Not only do they look great, but many houseplants can make your home a healthier place to live! In 1989, a NASA study found that common indoor plants naturally purify the air in your home by removing harmful toxins such as formaldehyde (which are found in carpets, upholstery, glues, paint and more), benzene (plastics, synthetic fibers, rubber), and trichloroethylene (in paint removers, rug cleaning solution, adhesives, etc.). Read More

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