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Yuletide Camellia

Plant of the Month, Yuletide Camellia

Here come the holidays and with that comes the beautiful blooms of the beloved Yuletide camellia. This beautiful, cool-weather bloomer is a Hampton Roads must-have with its warm, red flowers and glossy, evergreen foliage. Yuletide is a beautiful addition to the garden year-round, giving flowers at a time of year when not much else is blooming and green foliage all year long.

This evergreen shrub will grow to approximately 8–10 feet tall. It’s an excellent choice for a colorful hedge or screen, a border shrub, or use along fence lines to add vivid color to outdoor living spaces, porches, and patios. We also love planting this camellia in a container surrounded by other cool-weather plants like pansies, ornamental cabbages, and dusty miller. Yuletide prefers full sun to partial sun and consistent waterings with partially damp soil.

It's easy to add a pop of color indoors or out using Yuletide blooms. Indoors, float blooms a in a glass bowl for a quick an easy winter decoration or use Yuletide cuttings in a mixed floral arrangement. Outdoors, use Yuletide as the centerpiece in pots to greet guests during a wintertime visit.

Sango Kaku, Coral Bark Japanese Maple
Bihou Japanese Maple

Ever-Changing Beauty, Japanese Maples

Japanese maples are truly a four-season tree, providing beauty in both color and texture in spring, summer, fall, and winter. The leaves of maples are usually the scene stealers, with their striking colors and shapes and often spectacular fall foliage colors. Yet, the bark can be quite interesting as well. While some maples produce the usual grays and browns of most trees, others have green, red, and even striped bark. Some varieties produce richly colored, exfoliating bark that curls and peels on the trunk and the thicker branches. Bark colors add dimension to the landscape and extend the season of interest all the way into the winter months. When it comes to Japanese Maple selection, the sky is the limit. Here are a few of or faves:

Sangokaku - also called the Coral Bark Maple, this beautiful, small tree has brilliant, flaming coral-red bark on young branches that intensifies in winter. The leaves emerge in spring with a flush of bright yellow-orange and change to soft green in summer providing a sharp contrast to the glowing coral bark. Autumn color is a bright tone of yellow and gold with hints of scarlet. Their non-invasive root systems make them excellent placed next to a patio or walkway. Coral Bark is also well suited for containers alone or under-planted with pansies and violas. And, because they are not large trees, Coral Bark can always be used in mixed planting borders and in foundation plantings. Prefers filtered to full sun.

Bihou (Acer palmatum) - this small, upright maple also offers stunning four-seasonal color. Spring leaf color starts out light yellow-green with a pink flush, then changes to green for summer and takes on a very bright yellow in fall. Bark on twigs and branches turns a vivid coral-yellow with an apricot overtone in winter. The Japanese name means "beautiful mountain range." Because of the showy, winter color of bark, Bihou makes a beautiful focal point in the landscape and works well in tight spaces. Prefers sun to partial shade in well-drained soil.

Photos courtesy of Monrovia

Floraberry Sangria
Floraberry Rosé

Growing FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort

Blog provided by Monrovia

Whether your garden is large or small, made up of beds or pots, we all need fuss-free shrubs to help give our gardens “good bones” or structure. But what if you could have a shrub that does triple duty? Got your attention? Let us introduce you to FloralBerry™, a new collection of St. John’s Worts, exclusively ours.

First a bit of 4-1-1 about St. John’s Wort (Hypericum). It is a small shrub that’s hardy to zones 5 – 9 and that shines across seasons. Spring through fall the dense, leafy form makes it ideal for the middle layer of a border, in a container, or anchoring a perennial bed. Summer brings yellow saucer-shaped blooms that bees adore. In fall, it sports richly-hued berries.

So what different about FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort?

  1. First, because these shrubs were bred especially for the cut flower trade, they produce abundant berries on longer stems which makes them are ideal for fall flower arrangements.
  2. Second, the intense color of berries (yellow, red, pink, cream, peachy depending on the variety) you’ll find on your shrub is remarkable.
  3. Finally, as in the case of Sangria, the leaf color can have a distinct, bold shade.

Fall can be a quiet time in the garden but there is no need to just sit back and watch it fade to black! Plant a few of these colorful, easy-to-grow shrubs for their beauty, berries and to feed wintering birds. Rosé or Sangria Floraberry are available at our Independence location only:

Floraberry Sangria - sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers produce clusters of showy rose-colored berries on well-branched, rust resistant plants with handsome dark green foliage. A fuss-free deciduous shrub ideal for borders and containers. Use as a specimen or low hedge, or plant in showy drifts. Stems of fall berries are a wonderful accent in cut flower arrangements.

Floraberry Rosé - clusters of golden, cup-shaped flowers on well-branched, rust resistant plants with handsome dark green foliage accented by deep red undersides. A fuss-free deciduous shrub ideal for borders and containers. Use as a specimen or low hedge, or plant in showy drifts. Stems of beautiful red berries are a wonderful accent in cut flower arrangements.

click here to see the complete Monrovia blog post Growing FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort

photos courtesy of Monrovia

Ornamental Kale
Glamour Red Ornamental Kal
Peacock Series, White
Peacock Series, Red

Clusters of Cool-Season-Color, Ornamental Kale

Looks aren’t everything, but there really isn’t any other cool-weather annual that can provide the foliage texture or leaf color of ornamental kales. Ornamental cabbage & kale (also known as “flowering” cabbage and kale) are an easy and beautiful way to add a bold display of early and late-season foliage to your cool-season garden. It is one of the easiest bedding plants to grow, looks great all through the cool season, and is bothered by few pests. Foliage color can range from white to pink to red and purple and is truly stunning when planted in groups or in containers or flower boxes. Ornamental kale is in the same plant family as edible cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli and is edible, however, a bitter flavor means leaves are usually used as culinary garnishes—not as food. Ornamental kale may be planted alone or with other fall favorites such as mums, grasses, or pansies and makes a gorgeous backdrop for blooming violas and tulips. This annual does best in full sun but will tolerate a little light shade. In containers or in the landscape – it’s easy to transform your cool-season garden with the stunning colors of these flowering kales. Here are a few of our favorites:

Glamour Kale – one of our top picks, Glamour, is loved for its hot-pink foliage that adds unexpected brightness to any fall garden. Fringed heads reach 10 to 12-inches across and begin to color-up when night temperatures fall below 55°F. Works well as an edging, or as a fun addition to any cool-season container or landscape bed.

Peacock Series– this series makes a great addition to flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and even on your plate! Featuring large, feathered leaves that turn either a rosy-pink or bright white after first frost. Most kale varieties make tight, rounded rosettes, but ‘Peacock’ has larger leaves that will spread to two-feet across and tall. Choose from either white or red Peacock.

  • White Peacock - stands out from other kale varieties in both its appearance and texture, with its serrated, variegated green and ivory-white leaves and thick, milky-white ribs. Takes center stage in the gardens during fall and early spring and is the perfect addition in mixed containers and window boxes or planted in the landscape.
  • Peacock Red- bold, round plant with a rose-pink center and long and narrow, dark crimson outer leaves. Its feathery foliage provides great texture with intensified color in cooler temperatures. Peacock Red is a perfect complement to the many other colors in your fall beds and containers.
Agloanema (Chinese Evergreen) Varieities
Anyamanee & Cutless Aglaonema
Golden Fourite & Osaka White Aglaonema
Pink Dalmation & Siam Aglaonema
Silver Bay & Sparkling Sara Aglaonema
Super Maria & Valentine Aglaonema
Pink Moon & Sparkling Sarah Aglaonema

So Many to Choose From, Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Adored for their big, beautiful, colorful leaves and easy care, Chinese evergreens are often suggested for people who believe they don’t have a green thumb. Their low-maintenance requirements and their ability to adapt to a variety of conditions makes them great for houseplant beginners.

Chinese evergreen plants, also known by their genus, Aglaonema, hail from the shaded floors of Southeast Asian tropical forests. There are over 20 known species, which vary in their leaf patterns and colors. Cultivars are available with streaks and speckles of white, yellow, or even pink and red. Scroll through the photos above and take a peek at the many colorful and uniquely patterned varieties available in our greenhouse.

Chinese Evergreens will tolerate a wide range of light conditions from very low light to bright, but not direct sunlight. Besides adding a decorative element to any space, Chinese evergreen is also a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning your indoor air. Scientists from NASA have been studying how plants can clean the air on space stations for years, and the results are quite impressive. In some controlled conditions, certain plants were able to remove up to 82 percent of pollutants in the air within 24 hours. Chinese evergreen is among the top 50 in B.C. Wolverton’s list of houseplants that purify the air. So, take a deep breath and look no further than this beautiful, resilient and easy to care for plant.

TIP: How to determine low-light conditions? Ask yourself if you can read a book comfortably without a light on in the location where you are going to set the plant. If you struggle to say yes, then you’ll need to select a plant that will survive in low-light conditions.

Impatiens Downy Mildew
Impatiens Downy Mildew Symptoms

Impatiens Downy Mildew

Impatiens Downy Mildew is a relatively new disease problem for American gardens and now is being observed in many areas around the country. Rain and cooler night temperatures provide the perfect environment for disease infection. You may be experiencing early decline in your Impatiens.
Here is what you should look for:

Which plants get this disease?
This is a disease that affects all Impatiens walleriana plants (garden impatiens, including double impatiens). It does not affect New Guinea Impatiens
(I. hawkeri), SunPatiens®, and other bedding plants may be affected. There are other species that may get Downy Mildew.

Downy Mildew symptoms on Impatiens typically start with a few leaves that appear slightly yellow or off color (not to be confused with lack of fertilizer), and become completely yellow over time. Leaves may curl downward as if they need to be watered. Under humid conditions, a white, downy-like growth develops on the underside of primarily yellow or curled leaves, but can also be found on the underside of green leaves. Sometimes it is difficult to see the spores without a magnifying glass. Eventually the leaves and flowers will drop, resulting in bare stems with only a few tiny, yellow leaves remaining. These stems can become soft and the plant collapses, similar to frost damage.
Impatiens Downy Mildew tends to be worse in:

  • Locations where leaves stay wet for extended periods of time (4 hours or longer).
  • Very dense plantings – plants spaced close together.
  • Gardens receiving overhead irrigation, because the foliage does not dry quickly.
  • Plants in heavily shaded areas where the leaves stay wet for extended periods of time.
  • Extended periods of rain and cool (below 65F) night temperatures. Much like we experienced in early September.

How it spreads:
Downy Mildew can be spread short distances by water splashing from infected plants and greater distances by wind-borne spores from infected plants in nearby landscapes. Impatiens Downy Mildew can occur in beds with no history of the disease if wind-dispersed spores blow in from other locations. Once plants are infected they will not recover. Fungicide applications by home gardeners are not recommended since effective fungicides are not Fungicides such as Mancozeb and Daconil are recommended for use as a preventative before the symptoms occur. It is best to rotate fungicides so that the disease does not build up resistance.

What to do with infected plants:
Plants with this disease should be removed, roots, soil and all, bagged and disposed of. Do not compost infected plants, as there is a high risk that this disease will overwinter and infect Impatiens in future years.

What to do next spring:
When deciding what to plant next spring in areas that are heavily shaded with very little air circulation, it would be prudent to choose an alternative shade solution. Alternative solutions that would perform well in shade include Caladiums, Begonias, Coleus and Torenia. These plants can all be safely planted in beds with a history of impatiens Downy Mildew. If you still want to plant Impatiens, it is best to select a site with good air circulation and morning sun to allow any moisture from overnight to dry.

Now that it's cooling off, pansies will provide a great replacement for color during cooler seasons. Additionally, you can plant Dianthus, Snapdragons, Dusty Miller or Ornamental Kale among other annuals. If you have any questions, be sure to visit one of our year-round locations and speak with one of our gardening experts.


UMASS Extension, Center for Agriculture, "Impatiens Downy Mildew in Home Gardens"

Flat White Boer
One Too Many
Polar White

Heirloom Madness

Looking for a unique addition to your pumpkin patch, front porch or dinner table? Nowadays you are more likely to encounter unique pumpkin varieties that until recently were impossible to find unless found at a farmer’s market or your own veggie patch. From the slate-gray jarrahdale heirloom from Australia and New Zealand, to the warty peanut variety, many of today’s pumpkins are works of art even without being carved. And, most of these distinctive pumpkins are good for eating as well as good looking. So, before you pick up yet another round, orange orb, consider some of these fantastic heirloom pumpkin varieties:

Flat White Boer – a flat pumpkin with a creamy, white rind and thick, orange flesh. Flat white grows wider than tall and adds a distinctive look to any fall displayed. The sweet-tasting orange flesh is perfect in pies and for baking. This pumpkin keeps well and should last throughout the fall season.

Crunchkin - the hard shell version of the popular Munchkin, Crunchkin is flat-shaped with prominent ribs and a medium-orange color and slight flecking. Its hard shell gives it extended storage ability, making it a perfect choice for incorporating into tablescapes, fall floral arrangements, and outdoor displays.

One Too Many – the pumpkin that looks like a bloodshot eyeball, hence the name ‘one too many’. This 20 pound, round to oblong pumpkin has a white background accented with midribs and stippled veins of red. A truly distinctive ornamental pumpkin that has great decorative potential.

Jarradale – a medium to large (12-18 pounds), drum-shaped variety with heavy, rounded ribs and a distinctive slate-gray skin. The fine-textured flesh is golden-orange and sweet. Stunning in fall displays and great for eating too.

Peanut - a lightly ribbed, almost round pumpkin with a rich peach colored skin and a unique, bumpy covering that resembles peanut shells. The bumps are formed by sugars in the flesh, so, the more peanuts, the tastier the flesh is. Its flavorful, sweet-orange flesh lends good flavor to baked goods, soups and stews. Peanut pumpkins weigh about 10 to 20 pounds and make a real statement when added to fall displays.

Polar Bear – an extra-large, white pumpkin, lightly ribbed weighing 44 to 55 pounds with yellow-orange flesh. Great for carving, since their skin is not quite as thick as an orange pumpkin's. White pumpkins provide great contrast in fall gourd and pumpkin displays and its ghost-white exterior make it the perfect choice for Halloween.

Encore Azaleas
Rudbekia (Black-eyed Susan)
Russian Sage
Abelia Kaleidoscope
Fall-blooming Camellia, Pink-A-Boo
Fall-blooming Camellia, Hot Flash
Fall-blooming Camellia, Yuletide

Flower Your Fall Garden

Fall in Hampton Roads is one of the most beautiful times of the year offering vibrant colors and rich textures. And, there are plenty of dazzling annuals, perennials, and shrubs that provide colorful blooms that turn an otherwise boring yard into a flourishing fall garden. Here's a few of our top picks for the season to use in the landscape:

Encore Azaleas – if you love the colorful flowers that azaleas offer, then you'll love the Encore varieties. Encores bloom three times per year - summer, spring, and fall, yes, even fall! This repeat bloomer adds vibrant, multi-seasonal color unlike any other azalea and can grow to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide or 5 feet by 5 feet, depending on the variety. Encores offer a wide selection of plant sizes and bloom colors from reds, to whites, to pinks and even corals. Perfect as a base plant, in container gardens, borders, as a foundation planting or in woodland gardens. Prefers well-drained soil and partial sun.

Rudbeckia - more commonly known as black-eyed Susan, this popular perennial is durable and easy to grow - a true sunshine worshiper that forgives neglect. Featuring 2 to 4 inch blooms with golden, yellow rays and a prominent purplish-black center cone, this long-blooming wildflower produces an abundance of blooms non-stop for most of the summer into early autumn. Rudbeckia is often massed together in borders and is also effective at erosion control. Flowers attract butterflies and the seed heads provide winter food for seed-eating songbirds. Thrives in most soils in full sun.

Asters - this perennial flower comes in all shapes and sizes from short and low-mounding to tall and willowy. Blooms appear in late summer into fall with charming, daisy-like flowers in pink, white, or blue and mostly bright orange or yellow centers. With a multitude of purposes, asters are a stunning addition to a wildflower garden, useful in a traditional border, or mingling in a rock garden. Grow in full to part sun in well-draining, moist soil with regular waterings, especially in the summer. Once established, asters are drought tolerant. A great choice for butterfly gardens.

Russian Sage - this tough, clumping perennial flaunts silvery foliage and sprays of small, lavender-blue flowers on up-right stems. Blooms appear continuously from late spring through summer. Its cool-colored flowers and foliage combine well with reds, oranges, and yellows, and its fine-textured foliage partners well with coneflowers, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), iris, asters, and sedums. Taller varieties are great for the back of borders. Both heat and drought resistant, this perennial prefers full sun locations.

Kaleidoscope Abelia - you'll love this evergreen shrub all year, especially during autumn. Features variegated, bright yellow and green foliage and petite, white flowers during the warm season. In winter, foiliage changes to brilliant shades of red and deep orange. This low, compact selection reaches 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and 3 to 3 1/2 feet wide and works well as a foundation plant, low hedge, mass planting or in patio containers. Abelia prefers partial to full sun.

Camellias - another wonderful shrub for the fall landscape that tops our list every year for fall interest. Fall-blooming camellias bring a splash of color to the autumn landscape when you need it most. These flowering shrubs not only offer beautiful blooms but feature glossy, evergreen leaves that bring a welcome touch of color to your garden. The varying bloom times, color choices and diverse mature size options make these a must-have. Fall-blooming varieties include Hot Flash, Pink-a-Boo, Shishi Gashira, Yuletide and Autumn Rocket, just to name a few. Camellias prefer moist but well-drained acidic soil and light shade in the summer with protection from wind in the winter.

The Fall Lawn
McDonald Garden Center Fall Lawn Kit

Now's the Time for Fall Lawn Kits

Check out the video to learn more about fall lawn kits:

Everyone knows that a lush, green lawn is a labor of love. To help you on your road to lawn success, we've developed an easy-to-use lawn kit specifically formulated for Hampton Roads.

Fall is the best time in our area to establish and repair the fescue lawn. During fall, soil temperatures cool down, so you'll get better germination and quicker establishment. And, the fall season typically delivers more consistent rainfalls, which also aides in establishment of new seedlings. Summer is the hardest season on fescue lawns, so planting in the fall allows for the longest time period before summer comes around again. Root development also occurs in the fall, which is vital when starting a new lawn.

Be sure to attend one of our complimentary grass classes held every Saturday, at 11am, now through October 13, 2018, at both our Independence and Great Neck locations.