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Rosemary, the Christmas Herb

Rosemary- it fills the air with an assertively pine-like fragrance, adds flavor to holiday dishes and even masquerades as a tree! Legend tells us that the Virgin Mary spread her blue cloak over a white-flowered rosemary bush when she lay down to rest. When she arose, the flowers were blue. It was then called the Rose of Mary, hence, its link to the Christmas season.


Rosemary is applauded for its health benefits, including its ability to boost memory, enhance mood, protect the immune system and reduce inflammation and pain. Just smelling rosemary has been linked to improving mood, and relieving stress. Research suggests that rosemary also contains substances that are useful for increasing circulation and improving digestion.


Traditionally, rosemary is cold hardy (even in Hampton Roads) and is perfectly happy outside. But with friends and family coming in, you may be tempted to bring your rosemary inside. And with all those aromatic benefits we told you about- why wouldn’t you?

When you bring a rosemary plant indoors, place it in a cool, sunny location with high humidity. To raise humidity without increasing soil moisture, place some pebbles in a saucer, add some water, and set the potted rosemary on top of the pebbles. Water it regularly and thoroughly but remove water that accumulates in the saucer. As with all potted plants, a good potting mix is essential for proper drainage. After the holidays, you can plop it into the ground.

Feel free to continue cutting sprigs off your rosemary all season for cooking. The growth will slow, but once placed outside, spring temperatures will help to revitalize this perennial. With normal conditions, it should come back nice and full.

TIP: One of our favorite decorating hacks for the holidays is to wrap your rosemary tree with Invisilites. Click here to learn more about Invisilites.

Gather Round, The Holiday Tablecape

Thanksgiving is knocking on the door, with Christmas just around the corner and this holiday season, family meals mean more than ever. So, what better way to set the scene for making memories at home than with a beautiful holiday tablescape.


Tablescaping takes the concept of the centerpiece to the next level. Instead of just using a single piece in the center of your table, tablescaping uses an assortment of elements to create a themed vignette limited only by your available table space and your imagination- the sky’s the limit. And don’t just stop at the dining room table. Tablescaping can be done lots of places- mantles, bookshelves, side and entryway tables, etc.

TIP: Tablescaping gives you the opportunity to shop your home. Look around and see what kinds of items you can mix and match- photo frames, mirrors, fabrics, pretty napkins, flowers, foliage, fresh or faux fruits and berries, baskets, books, candles, trays, vases, or bowls.


Tablescapes can be super simple, with a few candles or a small floral arrangement, to full-on transformations with custom centerpieces, specialty tableware, linen napkins and more. Follow these six simple steps to create a beautiful tablescape this holiday season.


The key to a great tablescape is layering your pieces, from the table runner to picks and lights to ornaments and seasonal pieces. Layering helps to create depth, dimension and interest. Before getting started, think of the layering order for assembling your tablescape:

  1. Start with a base (tablecloth, table runner, placemats, garland, etc.).
  2. Add in a centerpiece (floral arrangement, pedestals, candles, etc.).
  3. Next, weave in picks then lights.
  4. Add in other elements like pumpkins, gourds, apples, votives, pinecones, ornaments, etc.).


Consider the season or the occasion when selecting an overall theme. Use nature’s timing to influence your tablescape. Colorful fall foliage and fall produce (mini pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, etc.) at Thanksgiving or fresh or faux greenery and berries at Christmas. Everything on your table should correspond to the chosen palette. We recommend choosing two or three complementary colors (drawing inspiration from your centerpiece), and one contrasting color.


Once you have chosen a theme and color palette, decide on your centerpiece. Oftentimes, the centerpiece provides the inspiration for the rest of the décor. Whether your scheme is pumpkin-inspired fall or festive holiday, your centerpiece serves as the foundation and focal point of the table. Centerpieces can include but are not limited to:

floral arrangements • seasonal holiday décor or produce (ornaments, pumpkins, gourds, persimmons) • flowers and plants • assorted candles • pedestals or cake stands • and more.

TIP: Use a variety of heights and textures to add dimension to your design. Just remember not to pile your tablescape too high or your guests may have a hard time seeing each other across the table.


Select from garlands or individual greens (fresh or faux), table runners, tablecloths, etc. Whether you use fresh or faux greenery is really up to you. Nothing says Christmas like the smell of fresh-cut greens, but keep in mind that they do require regular care and don’t last as long. Faux garlands and greenery don’t have an expiration date and come in lots of options including pre-lit and pre-decorated. This can make decorating more efficient. A faux garland also allows you to easily transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, letting you use the same garland for both seasons. If you’re using a table runner, opt for a neutral one. Often bold prints or heavy floral runners can distract from the overall design.

TIP: For round or square tables, wrap the garland in a circular shape. Make sure to fluff all the branches, so they are spread out evenly.


Now it’s time to add more texture and depth to your base. Depending on the season, use holiday-inspired picks and sprays. Make sure you balance each side (what you add to one side, add the same to the other side).


Lights add ambiance, dimension and sparkle to your design and are available in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. Be sure to consider string light length in your design. Light options include but are not limited to:

Invisilites • Durawise lights • votives or candlesticks • candles (real or flameless) • lanterns • and more.

TIP: Flameless candles are ideal for tablescape designs. They’re safe- no flame, no mess, drips, or spills.

Invisilites - are micro LED lights on a thin, flexible wire that are super easy to use. They come in a variety of styles, designs and colors, that can be coordinated with any décor for the holiday season or to use year-round.

Simplux Candles - are stunningly realistic and feature patented TRUE-FLAME Technology® that makes them virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. The three-dimensional flame will never burn out, always remains cool to the touch, and are safe for use around children and pets.

Lumineo Durawise Lights – these battery operate lights are available in either 48 or 96 light counts and can be used indoors or outdoors. With a built-in timer that stays on for 6 hours and turns off for 18, all you do is set it and forget it. Available in cool white, warm white, and multi-colored with a choice of black or transparent wire.


Depending on the time of year, incorporate additional seasonal elements for added interest. Bring in outdoor elements from your yard like pinecones, twigs, greenery, and flowers. Incorporate platters, candlesticks and candles – anything goes! Embellishments can include but are not limited to:

fresh or faux greenery • pinecones • berries • flowers • fruits (red or green apples, oranges, lemons, limes, persimmons, etc.) • ribbon • lights • ornaments • candles • pedestals and vases • twigs • and more.

TIP: Add ribbon last. Cut ribbon into smaller pieces. Pinch the ends and work ribbon into your design (a piece at a time) instead of using one continues piece of ribbon, which can be cumbersome to work with. This method works well in trees too.

Click here to view The Garden Guru's video "How to Make a Holiday Tablescape."

First Snow
All is Calm and Brigth
Snowmen Snowing
Merry Little Christmas
Boho Chic
Merry and Bright

The More the Merrier, Our Top Seven Holiday Themes

Holiday decorating- it's a ritual that we at McDonald Garden Center just love, and we’ve been doing it for more than 75 years! So, in the spirit of the season, we've picked our top seven yuletide themes to help get you and yours in the holiday spirit.

Choosing a predominant theme can help to create a cohesive feel and make your decorating style unique and personal. And whether your style is understated, rustic, glam, totally over-the-top colorful, or all natural, our themed collections offer something for every taste. Get ready to deck your halls with some of our favorite holiday theme selections.


Charming details make this theme extra special.

Wintergreen offers a modern, farmhouse feel with a combination of rich greens and creamy whites with a touch of gold. Trimmings include classic magnolia and eucalyptus picks, natured-inspired Santa and pinecone ornaments, tabletop trees and Santas, green plaid ribbon, goblets and plates, and festive firs. Incorporate twinkling lights to elevate the look of this charming theme.


The perfect palette is sometimes the simplest.

First Snow features pure whites complimented by soft, celadon and forest greens. Accessories include fury snowman pillows, polar bears, owls, and shimmering glass celadon and deep green ornaments. Add some simple white lights to make this theme come alive!


Express the spirit of the season with this elegant, dual-toned theme.

All is Calm and Bright is another winter white look, accented with elegant gold and a dash of blue. Trimmings and accessories include orb-shaped ornaments, coned-shaped trees, winter-white berry picks, nutcracker ornaments, and more. Weave in some soft, white lights to compliment this sophisticated look.


Sprinkle in some magic.

Merry Little Christmas (Christmas Gnomes). Add holiday cheer with this jolly theme featuring vivid reds and soft grays spattered with sky blue. Accessories include plush Santa sloths and gnomes (in various sizes), knit gnome hats, red snowflake picks, buffalo red plaid ornaments, Santa gnome ornaments, assorted gnome ornaments (in various sizes and patterns), clear ornament with full-size mittens, and gnome pillows. Thread in some red and white or assorted colored lights for a little added magic.


So much merry in one place!

Merry and Bright features vibrant colors in pinks, greens, reds and blues. Accessories include fuzzy llamas, plush gnomes, sequined owl ornaments, and feather-white picks adorned with colorful orbs. Add a modern Merry Christmas pillow to complete this fun and festive feel. Enhance the merry vibe even further with white or assorted colored lights.


Create a bohemian retreat.

Boho Christmas Chic features and eclectic look filled with earthy tones, textures and patterns. This trendy theme includes llamas, owls, snowflakes, star and tree ornaments, colorful macrame garland and keychains, pinecone and magnolia picks, pink, beige and white stockings, and boho-inspired ceramic pottery for plants. Add some colored or white lights to add some sparkle and shine.

See all of our holiday theme selections and more during our Open House Friday, November 6, through Tuesday, November 10, 2020 • 9AM-6PM.
Click here to view The Garden Guru’s Top 5 Holiday Themes video.
Clck here to see our Holiday Lookbook for 2020

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a shallow planted depression in the landscape that is designed to retain water runoff from roofs, driveways, roads, parking lots (asphalt) and other impervious surfaces. Just like natural wetlands, these retention areas hold water from storms and give it time to soak into the ground or evaporate back into the atmosphere rather than enter directly into lakes, rivers, wetlands, and storm sewer systems. Even if the retention area overflows, a great deal of the contaminating materials have time to settle out before the water escapes into the bay or other bodies of water.


Today, governments and organizations encourage homeowners to build rain gardens to help protect the bay and other natural water sources. When planted with native grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective, low maintenance and attractive way to reduce and filter runoff from your property. Other benefits of rain gardens include:

  • Minimizes the need for mowing, pesticides, pruning, irrigation and fertilization.
  • Removes pollutants from water before it enters surface waters.
  • Prevents erosion by holding soil in place.
  • Provides food and habitat to wildlife.
  • Allows for garden creativity.


Rain garden designs can be simple or elaborate, depending on your gardening interest and experience. Follow these steps when planning and installing a rain garden:

  1. Pick a low point in the property. Find a low spot that is fairly flat with soil. Locations that allow standing water to drain within a day or two after a storm are best suited.
  2. Determine the size and shape. Rain gardens vary in size and can fit into many shapes and spaces.
  3. Remove the soil to 18-24 inches. For best infiltration, the bottom of the rain garden should be level.
  4. Back fill with a sand and organic mix. Replace heavy soil with one-half sand, one-quarter compost, and one-quarter topsoil. The sand mix retains the water just like natural bog areas.
  5. Add plants from the list of rain garden approved plants provided below.
  6. Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and in place and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
  7. Direct downspouts and other runoff to the rain garden. If water does not naturally flow to your rain garden, dig a shallow (3 to 4-inch deep) trench from your downspout to the garden, line it with landscape fabric, and cover with stones to create a streambed effect.


Rain gardens require little maintenance once established. Maintenance tasks include:

  • Watering plants regularly if there has been a lack of significant rainfall.
  • Regularly weed, prune, and mulch the garden.
  • Routinely clean the downspout connection to prevent from clogging.
  • Removing trash or other debris from the rain garden.


Rain gardens are best when planted with native plants that are indigenous to our area. These plants require less maintenance once established, have deep roots that soak up lots of water, provide food and habitat to wildlife, and are beautiful. Remember, plants must be able to live with their roots in standing water for periods of time and also survive periods of drought. Rain garden plants include:

Winterberry Holly
Joe Pye Weed
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia)
River Birch
Perennial Hibiscus
Swamp Milkweed
Sea Oats
Service berry
Virginia Sweetspire
Yaupon Holly
Wax Myrtle aka Bayberry

For additional resources on rain gardens, visit the Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center website here or the City of Norfolk website here.

Get Ahead of the Carve, DIY Succulent Pumpkin

Fall is clearly the season for pumpkins- pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin candles, pumpkin butter, and of course, pumpkin decor. And when it comes to fall decorating, these colorful orbs are the universal symbol of autumn. Who hasn't carved a silly or spooky face into the orange-colored squash to light the way for trick-or-treaters on Halloween? But pumpkins aren't just for Halloween. In fact, they can be used and displayed in a variety of different ways.

Our Houseplant Buyers, Sarah, takes pumpkin decorating to a whole new level. Follow her step-by-step guide and carve out some fun with this whimsical, real pumpkin trimmed with living succulents- the perfect way to bring houseplants and fall together, both indoors and out. Keep your succulent creation through Thanksgiving for a colorful centerpiece. So, eat your pumpkin pie, drink your pumpkin latte, and get ready to create your very own gourd-geous succulent pumpkin planter.

Pumpkin, succulents, garden clippers, moss, Tacky, Elmer’s, or craft glue (as long as the glue is not water soluble, you are good to go), and, of course, a little creativity.

Try to choose a pumpkin that has a flat top, allowing for lots of space for succulents. Remove the stalk from your pumpkin if you would prefer, however, this step in not necessary.

You can use any type of moss as a bed. Sheet moss is wonderful for its look and feel. As your succulents sit on the moss, they'll begin to take root. Once Thanksgiving is over and the top of your pumpkin begins to decompose, simply lift the entire succulent garden off the pumpkin and replant elsewhere. Maybe a festive Christmas container?

Try choosing succulents with different colors, sizes, shapes and textures. This will help make your pumpkin planter look fuller, while adding dimension and texture.

Remove the succulents from their pots along with any excess soil. If you need to cut some of the stalk back, that’s fine, just be sure to leave a few roots. If you lose a couple of leaves, that’s ok too.

Begin with your largest succulent selections first. Plant them in the middle, like a triangle (this is your focal point). Use a little glue on the stalk of your succulent and gently place on top of the moss bed. Nestle the second succulent in with it and follow-up with the third.

For your next 'layer' choose a variety of succulents that are different from your first grouping. Use several of the same type succulent as you work around in a circle- this helps keep the look balanced. However, you can group in any way you like. Tuck the smaller succulents in the nooks beneath where two plants meet, so that your plants remain stabilized. Continue to add layers until you feel you have developed the look you are going for.

After you are finished with your arrangement, you can always add other items to embellish your look. Try sticks, pinecones, eucalyptus sprays, fresh herbs, Invislites, etc.

Leave your pumpkin to sit while the glue dries. Succulents prefer bright light and low water. Try to give your succulents a couple hours of sun each day. Water about once a week with a spray bottle or turkey baster. Apply water in between the succulents, so that the water reaches the roots (do not water from the top- always water at the roots).

TIP: Be sure you are familiar with the types of succulent you are using for your pumpkin. Some succulents are cold hardy meaning you can leave your pumpkin outdoors under 50 degrees. Some are tropical and cannot take temperatures below 50 degrees. Keep your pumpkin planter indoors if growing these varieties.

To learn more about pumpkins click here.
To learn more about decorating with pumpkins click here.

Landscaping with Pansies

We all want dramatic curb appeal in our landscapes and colorful pansies are the perfect choice. Pansies are one of the garden’s most versatile and easiest-to-grow flowers, bringing charm and cheer to the fall and spring garden. These hardy annuals can actually make it through frosts — and even single-digit temperatures — and some varieties rebound in the spring. The hardest part about growing pansies is choosing the color! Nowadays, you can select from hundreds of varieties in a rainbow of colors and growing habits. From dainty, 1-inch flowers to fluffy, 4-inch blossoms, pansies can grow petite and compact or trail in petunia-like waves. Colors range from solids in white, yellow and blue to two-tones, tricolors, and purples so rich, they appear black. Whatever your preference, there's a pansy to suit. When it comes to planting pansies in the landscape, the possibilities are endless. Here are few ways to incorporate these cool-weather annuals into your landscape.


If you’re looking for unique ways for livening up you landscape, why not get a little creative with container gardening? Containers come in and endless supply of colors, shapes, and sizes and add an extra dose of visual interest to the landscape with the freedom to rearrange your layout. Place them exactly where you want- near entryways, walkways, outdoor sitting areas, then move them around when you want to change things up. And, containers don’t have to be on the ground. You can also use hanging baskets in the landscape. Hang baskets from a tree or use a Shepherd's hook to add a little splash of color up high or wherever you like.


Color blocking is simply using plants of one color or complementary shades to create an eye-catching effect in the landscape. Pick key areas around your home to plant in blocks of color, and remember, for greater impact, the more the merrier. Plant blocks of pansies outside a kitchen window or add 10 to 12 in front of an entryway to welcome family and friends.

TIP: When doing blocks of color in the landscape, choose one color. Too many bright plants can quickly turn from eye-catching to eyesore. One big block of color is soothing to the eye whereas mixing colors can appear chaotic.


Focal points are used in garden design to draw and direct the eye. Plant clusters of pansies around a focal point like a garden bench or anything that you want to feature like a fountain, statue, or birdbath. You can also plant opposing drifts (or swales) in a single color on either side of a focal point. Select complimentary colors like purple and yellow or red and yellow when creating drifts of color in the landscape.


Everything looks better when it's framed, whether it's a picture or a garden path. Pansy borders are a great way to infuse color and create boundaries between the garden and the lawn or walkway.


Pansies are perfect for filling in the gaps in beds, borders, or flower gardens. Alternate pansies with other plants in the landscape, for example, alternate liriope or hosta with a single pansy. When single spacing, we also recommend using a single color to create and organized and finished look.

TIP: Always remember O before P (OCTOBER before PANSIES) and resist the temptation to purchase these pretty, little pansy faces before it’s time. Premature planting when temperatures are too warm may result in yellowing leaves and makes them vulnerable to frost damage or pest and disease issues.

To learn about growing pansies in containers click here

NEW Cracker Peppercorn Dressing
NEW Apple Butter (no sugar added)
COMING SOON, NEW Fig Preserves
Traffic Jam, Customer Favorite

A Taste of Local - NEW Jams and Dressing

Grab a knife and spread on the flavor with McDonald Garden Center's three NEW additions to our line of jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters and sauces. Crafted locally from Virginia grown produce, these products offer the utmost quality at an affordable price. Our branded foods are made using the finest ingredients with methods established in the 1920’s. Whether it's a jam, jelly, salsa or dressing—you'll find the freshest, most flavorful ingredients in every bite. Our products are great household staples, as well as fantastic gifts for any occasion - just add a bright ribbon around the top with a gift tag! Check out our complete line of jams, sauces, dressings, and salsas available at our year-round locations.

NEW Apple Butter (no sugar added) – our customers requested a “no sugar added” alternative alongside our original Apple Butter and here it is! Light on the sugar and made with fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon, this rich and creamy apple butter is bursting with flavor. Perfect for topping ice cream, cinnamon rolls, muffins, pancakes, and any other sweet treat.

NEW Cracked Peppercorn Dressing - peppercorns give this dressing a zing that is sure to tantalize your tastebuds. Equally as sweet as it is robust in flavor, this dressing is sure to be the crowning jewel on salads and more. Use as a dip with vegetables or as sauce for chicken, beef, or pork.

Fig Preserves (COMING SOON) - made with ripened, tender figs, this new addition blends sweet, tangy, and savory flavors. Spread on toast, combined with soft cheeses, cured meats, top desserts, or add it to grilled cheese sandwiches.

Hampton Roads Traffic Jam (MOST POPULAR) - voted most popular by our customers, this thick, sweet spread is a melody of peaches, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and cranberries. Use on breads, as a glaze for pork or chicken, dollop on top of cheesecake, stir it into cottage cheese or yogurt, or serve overtop of cream cheese with crackers.

Staff Fall Favs
Meghan, Sunshine Ligustrum
Steve, Pumpkins
Rachael, Indoor Pottery
JT, Ornamental Grasses
Joann, Twisted Orange Celosia
Andrea, Fall Decor
Nikki, Mums
Stephanie, Orchid Phalaenopsis
Jimmy, Celosia
Sandra, Crotons
Michelle, Pansies
Candy & Michelle, Designer Soaps
Wayne, Ornamental Pepper

Staff Fall Favorites Week

Like many of you, our staff here at McDonald Garden Center loves to garden, so we’ve reached out to our Green Team members at both our Independence and Great Neck locations and asked them to pick their fall favs to share with you. From gorgeous annuals and perennials to unique houseplants to gardening gadgets and more, our staff is excited to share some of their top picks. You’re sure to discover a new favorite too!

Meghan + Sunshine Ligustrum
Meghan, our Great Neck Green Goods Lead, has selected the beautiful and versatile sunshine ligustrum as her fall favorite! Meghan explains, "It’s golden/mellow yellow foliage makes any landscape or container pop! It can handle full sun or partial shade. It's an upright, fast-growing evergreen shrub that is drought and heat tolerant as well as deer-resistant. Fully grown, this shrub reaches 6 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide-which makes it perfect for a container or foundation shrub in your landscape." Meghan is experienced in a number of departments and has worked at both of our year-round locations. Come visit her at Great Neck and pick her brain for help on all your landscape projects!

Steve + Pumpkins
I think a lot of us have Steve's fall favorite -PUMPKINS!- at the top of our list too. Our Great Neck Green Team member says, "Nothing says fall better than pumpkins! Carving pumpkins are a fall staple. Carved or not, they are perfect for setting a fall mood. “We have all types- carving, mini, pie, white, etc. at both year-round locations. We also have a great selection of unique varieties that will make your front porch or patio "pumpkin" to talk about!

Rachel + Indoor Pottery
If you're looking to update your decor for fall, make sure to talk to our Deco Manager, Rachel, at our Independence location! She's one of the creative minds behind our beautiful displays around the garden center (including some those beautiful trees at Christmas!) Her pick for this week is indoor pottery- and Rachel explains, "Decorating indoors doesn’t just mean cute figurines and other décor items. I like to pair my plants with some fall inspired pottery to give my home a beautiful autumn feel." Thanks for the tip, Rach!

JT + Ornamental Grasses
Often a man behind-the-scenes in receiving, JT is one of the valued members of our Independence Green Team, whose bright smile lights up the greenhouse. His pick this week is ornamental grasses, and JT explains, "Ornamental grasses are great! Not only do they look amazing, but also add height and texture. I like to walk through them and admire their texture visually and by touch."

Joann + Celosia (twisted orange)
Great Neck Green Team member Joann has selected something extra special for her pick of the week- Celosia Twisted Orange! She says, "This is one of my favorite plants because of the flowers. They remind me of lace. I like the fact that I can cut flowers after the season and dry them for arrangements." What an awesome idea, Joann!

Andrea + Fall Decor
Andrea, our deco and patio buyer, has been at McDonald Garden Center for over 20 years. In that time, she not only has fine-tuned her ability to highlight trends, but also to find decor items that can fit seamlessly into any style. Her pick this week is fall decor as she explains, "Fall is my favorite season, so decorating this time of year is so much fun." Visit both locations to see what Andrea has picked out this season!

Nikki + Mums
When you think fall plants, one often thinks- MUMS! They are the quintessential fall porch must-have - with blooms that keep on giving. Our Perennials Manager, Nikki, picked mums has her fall favorite, saying, "Mums add a beautiful splash of fall color to any setting." And if you've seen Nikki's breathtaking displays in the perennials yard, you know this lady knows what she's talking about!

Stephanie + Phalaenopsis Orchid
McDonald Garden Center has one of the most extensive and impressive collection of orchids in Hampton Roads- as our founder, Eddie Anderson, has always been an aficionado of this unique plant variety. So, it is easy to see why our Great Neck houseplant lead, Stephanie, chose them as her fall favorite. She says, "Phalaenopsis Orchid is also known as a Moth Orchid- and are one of the easiest to grow. You can water your orchid by running room temperature water through it or soak it in water briefly. They are lower light orchids that require bright indirect sunlight and will love sitting in an east facing window. Phalaenopsis Orchids tend to bloom annually in winter or spring, but each bloom can be open for months. They do require orchid specific fertilizer and must get enough light to rebloom." Truly living pieces of art!

Jimmy + Celosia
Longtime Green Team Member, Garden Market Manager, and Virginia Tech Horticultural grad, Jimmy is one of our shining stars at McDonald Garden Center. That being said, it was like Jimmy to have tremendous insight into his fall pick- celosia. He explains, "Celosia Intenz is a summer annual that continues to shine into the fall when others are tired or fading. Best planted in full sun to partial shade, the purple flower spikes on this celosia can reach up to 24" tall and will last right up until a freeze or hard frost. As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the purple color deepens and intensifies for an outstanding fall show! Pairs well with yellow mums or pansies, ornamental grasses, or mixed in a sunny border." Thanks, Jimmy!

Sandra + Crotons
If you're looking for something with fall colors but can also be part of your indoor decor year-round, then you want to hear about Great Neck Green Team Member Sandra's pick- crotons! She says, "Crotons are a fun tropical plant with bold fall colors. It’s a versatile plant that is amazing for indoors during the cooler months and outdoors when it’s warmer. Plus, the more sun it gets, the brighter and bolder the colors are!

Steve + Bright Lights Swiss Chard
You may have seen Steve Bowles, Lead Sales Associate in Garden Supply, giving one of his seminars at our Great Neck location. Whether it's on Lawn Care or Moles & Voles (or as we like to say, "Bowles" & Voles), Steve always gives our customers the information they need to be successful. His pick for fall is bright lights swiss chard- and Steve explains why as he says, "I enjoy growing vegetables from seed. Fall is a great time to grow vegetables. The cooler weather means fewer bugs and swiss chard is easy to grow all season long and will even last through a mild winter. They also taste amazing!"

Michelle + Pansies
We couldn't let this week go by without mentioning superstar fall/winter flower- the PANSY! And speaking of superstars, our rockstar Annuals Manager at our Independence location, Michelle, selected pansies off the list for her top pick right away. Anytime you visit our annuals yard and notice the beautiful, healthy, and exceptional quality of our plants- this fantastic woman is the cause! When asked for her fall fav, Michelle said, "This is a difficult one for me because I love them all but, I would have to choose pansies. My first fall working at the garden center I couldn't understand our customers' obsession with this plant. My husband and I moved here from the north and pansies are a fall plant and only fall. But the pansy here is a fall AND winter plant. On a dark, dreary, cold day to be able to look out the window and see such amazing color- it just brightens my day and doesn't fail to make me smile. So, after living here for 5 years, I have come to know that obsession and the decision of picking the right color." Thanks, Michelle!

Candy + Michele Design's Soaps
Candy, a Green Team member for over 20 years, knows a little something (ok- a LOT something) about what gift/decor items McDonald Garden Center offers that are extra special. Not only is she one of our most requested patio and deco specialists, she has a gift for creating amazing visual displays that intrigue and inspire. In a time where we all need to treat ourselves, Candy explains why our special Michele Design's Soaps should be on your "must-have" list- "Michele Designs, foaming soap and air freshener in Sweet Pumpkin and Fall Symphony both smell like fall and keep your hands clean and sanitary. The freshener makes your space smell like the season."

Wayne + Ornamental Pepper
From our Great Neck location, Wayne, chose ornamental peppers and says, "There's so many different varieties that add a pop of color for fall."

Click here to see even more reasons why we love fall.

Pink Muhly
Miscanthus Adagio
Red Head Pennisetum

FALL-ing for Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are one of the toughest, undemanding, waterwise and quite possibly one of the most practical but under-appreciated perennials in the garden. Large or small, grass brings rich texture, contrast and movement to most any space throughout all seasons. Ornamental grasses are beautiful in beds, borders, on slopes, or in containers. Unlike flowers and shrubs, perennial grasses don’t need much pampering. Once established, they are typically drought tolerant and need little to no fertilizing. In spring, cut them back, right above the root line, to encourage fresh new growth. Perennial grasses are born survivors and are a long-term investment that will be enjoyed for years to come. Here's a look at some grasses that look great in fall:

Red Head - soft, smoky-pink flower spikes appear in mid-to late summer transitioning to red, feather-like plumes in early September. Red Head has fine-textured foliage with a beautiful yellow-green hue that turns golden as the winter weather arrives. Plant in mass, in the back of borders, or use as a thriller in containers. This fast-growing grass thrives in heat, drought, humidity, and extreme sun. It's easy to grow and deer resistant. Plant Red Head in full sun or partial shade and water it deeply until well established. This grass pairs well with other late summer favorites such as zinnias, coreopsis, daylilies and agastache.

Muhlenbergia (Muhly Grass) – is a showy, warm season grass with slender leaves and eye-catching reddish-mauve flower plumes that appear in late summer and fall. This grass’s fine-textured and soft green foliage forms a tidy mound and is ideal when planted in mass, as an accent mixed into perennial borders, or as a thriller in containers. Like most ornamental grasses, pink muhly is heat and drought tolerant and low maintenance. Plant in full to partial shade.

Miscanthus Adagio -is a fast-growing, dwarf variety reaching approximately 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide. The foliage is slender and prolific, giving a fountain-like appearance. Tiny pink-tinged flowers appear in tassel-like plumes above the foliage in August. In fall, the silver-green foliage turns appealing shades of yellow, orange and red and remains attractive throughout winter. Adagio grass is clump-forming, so it will not invade surrounding areas and fits in well with other flowering plants and shrubs. Spectacular in mass plantings or mixed into perennial borders. Prefers partial to full sun.

Celosia Intenz
Celosia Dragon's Breath

Fall Refresh with Celosia

Autumn isn't just for pumpkins and mums. While trees and shrubs begin showing off their fall foliage and begin to bloom, you can also add a little pop to your garden by planting a few fall-blooming celosias that will infuse stunning color up until the first frost. This super tough, drought-resistant annual is adored for its unusual style and texture. It comes in an array of vibrant colors including red, yellow, cream, orange, rose, deep magenta and pink. They're perfect for swapping out tired plants in summer containers, or integrating into beds and borders for seasonal interest, or for adding fall curb appeal to your front yard or porch. Here are a few of our favorites:

Celosia Intenz - We just love the purple pleasing color of Celosia Intenz! This annual features showy, purple plumes that bloom throughout the summer and transition right into fall offering amazing color. This versatile plant does well both indoors and out. It looks great on a patio table, in mixed baskets, clustered in the landscape or in a large pot as a filler plant. These also make a great cut flower for indoor arrangements. Celosia Intenz will grow to about 14 inches tall at maturity with a spread of 12 inches. It is considered to be drought-tolerant and prefers a sunny spot. And did we mention that butterflies love it too!

Celosia Dragon’s Breath - Celosia Dragon’s Breath is a vigorous grower that puts on an incredible show of color for mid-late summer into early fall. Featuring upright, jumbo-sized, red-hot plumes accented by rich, maroon foliage that is almost as bright as its blooms. This celosia is well suited for containers and looks stunning in landscape beds. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Dragon’s Breath grows to about 24 inches tall and 15 to 18 inches wide. Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade.

Kelos Fire Celosia - Another eye-catching celosia featuring compact foliage combined with vibrant purple color! Electrifying plumes hold their color through the heat of summer and continue into fall. Great annual color for sunny beds and borders and in containers as a showy accent. Quickly reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches wide. Use indoors as a fresh cut or dried flower. This long blooming annual loves most soil and full sun locations.

To learn how to add even more color to your fall garden, check out our blog "Trees for Beautiful Fall Color".