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Get Your Kicks with 'Route 66'!


'Route 66' Coreopsis (also called Tickseed) was discovered in 2005 and has been a favorite summer-blooming perennial ever since. It's a beautiful threadleaf coreopsis that bears yellow flowers with a ring of burgundy around the crown that bleeds out to the tips of each petal. The bloom season of 'Route 66' is from late June until mid October when it boasts bright yellow petals with a sizeable red eye ~ red is most often the dominant color. It grows to a height and spread of about 24 inches and prefers a nice sunny spot in the landscape. It is drought tolerant, but looks best with regular watering. And, remember to remove faded flowers to encourage more vigorous blooming.

Coreopsis is one of the easiest perennials to maintain and is an excellent choice for beginners. Use it for borders, rock gardens, or mass plantings. It also seems to compliment nearly every other plant, especially ornamental grasses. You can see why this is one of our summer favorites. Try it in your garden, we promise you'll love it as much as we do!

Now You See It. Now You Don’t.

Trash cans, air conditioners, chain-link fences, sometimes even your neighbor’s house -- these are just a few of the things that can interfere with the beauty of your landscape. But these eyesores don't have to be the focal point. Check out these ideas on how you can use plants and garden structures to magically make these blemishes disappear:

Trees & Shrubs – Both trees and shrubs are versatile and can be used as a natural screen to block out unsightly distractions and even noise. Trees can grow from 10 to over 50 feet tall making them the perfect choice to hide a neighbor’s house, shed or nearby buildings. Shrubs are useful for lower vantage points and can grow up to 8 feet tall. Place them in front of or around heating and cooling units, swimming pool mechanicals, utility meters, and trash cans. We recommend Chindo Viburnum, Cleyera, Ligustrum, and Bayberry (Wax Myrtle).

Trellis with Climbing Vines – A garden trellis laced with perennial climbing vines with large foliage and beautiful blooming flowers can create a privacy screen that can block out most landscape eyesores while infusing a pop of color to an otherwise ordinary space. Most perennial vines need little in the way of care other than water and pruning to ensure they grow strong and come back every year. We recommend Madison Jasmine, Clematis, Climbing Hydrangea, Wisteria, and Sweet Pea.

Lattice or Fencing – Construct a simple space for your garbage can by arranging two tall pieces of wooden lattice or fencing at right angles against your house or garage. Be sure to leave an area open in the back so you can easily roll the trash can in and out. And, of course add some flair by planting Ivy, Clematis, Sweet Pea, Honeysuckle, Climbing Roses or other vines and train them to climb up the lattice.

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Hats Off to the Sombrero Series

Add a fiesta of color to your garden with Echinacea, commonly known as Coneflower. This summer, we're so excited about the new Sombrero Series of Coneflowers offering the trendiest, sizzling hot colors of 2012. Available in two varieties ~ Salsa Red and Hot Coral~ these beauties will set your garden ablaze with the deep, intense colors of a sunset on a hot summer day!

Coneflowers are long-blooming perennials that will offer up color from late spring all the way through summer. Remembering to dead head will prolong their flowering period. They require full sun and well-drained fertile soil. They are even a water-thrifty perennial that hold up even during the hottest summers. The brightly colored Sombreros are a single-flowered Echinacea that feature a well-branched and compact growing habit ~ growing about two feet tall and nearly as wide.

Coneflowers are easy to grow & maintain, and make a great addition to any landscape border. Their long sturdy stems rise above the compact foliage, making them an excellent choice for cut flowers. Their bold, dark green, coarse leaves contrast nicely with finely textured foliage of perennials such as the thread leaf Coreopsis, ornamental grasses, and Yarrow.

Wildlife is another reason to include Echinacea in your garden. First, they are deer resistant, and it is a challenge to find beautiful perennials that aren’t deer magnets! Second, butterflies are attracted to the flowers, which provide a rich source of nectar. And finally, the remaining cones on the plant add fall and winter interest to the garden and provide seeds for several species of birds, including goldfinches. With its long season of interest, easy maintenance, and benefits to wildlife, Echinacea definitely deserves top billing on your 'must have' list for this summer!

Celebrating the Local’s Tree for 30 Years!

Known for its beauty, long blooming period and hardiness, the “Tree of 100 days” is being celebrated at McDonald Garden Center’s 30th annual Crepe Myrtle Festival. In its more than a quarter-century salute to a tree that beautifies landscapes across Hampton Roads, the 2012 Crepe Myrtle Fest will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, July 21-23, at McDonald Garden Centers in Hampton, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

The McDonald Crepe Myrtle Fest was created to be an informative, fun-oriented experience. The free-to-the-public event features a plethora of crepe myrtles, plants, flowers, exhibits and food and refreshments for the entire family. The Crepe Myrtle is a magnificent tree that is found and loved throughout Hampton Roads. Much of the crepe myrtle’s appeal is about color, and the festival has grown not only around the colorful tree, but on providing a colorful atmosphere of fun, information and activity during the dog days of summer. This year’s festival features a wide range of participating organizations, including master gardeners, horticultural societies, beekeepers and more. Many McDonald Garden Center customers have been anticipating the festival weekend, ready to cash in on their Myrtle Money, which they’ve been collecting throughout the spring. Myrtle money is redeemable dollar for dollar at the Crepe Myrtle Fest for up to 50 % off the regular price of any item.

These beautiful trees are originally from China and have been in cultivation in the United States for more than a century. The tree can be seen all over Hampton Roads, lining many area city streets in its wide range of colors and sizes. Now is the peak of these tree’s 100-day blooming period. Be sure not to miss this year’s Crepe Myrtle Fest!

The Mini Crepe Myrtle


We are crazy for Crepe Myrtles this time of year, especially our littlest crepe... the Orchid Cascade!

Sometimes referred to as the mini Crepe Myrtle, the blooms on this unique crepe spill to the ground in a waterfall of color, and the size make is perfect for almost anywhere. Classified as a compact grower, the Cascade Orchid variety is more of a flowering shrub only growing 12 to 16 inches tall and spreading 3 to 4 feet wide.

It will fit into almost any landscape due to the size and adds color all summer and fall. The orchid-lavender colored blooms pour down to the ground, bringing big color into small spaces! This variety will works well for formal and informal landscapes, and can also be planted for a low growing hedge. It is also great for planting in the front yard, as it will not get so large. Provide full sun for the best blooms but light shade will also be tolerated. Once established, this Crepe Myrtle is highly drought tolerant and only needs supplemental watering in times of prolonged drought.

100 Days of Blooms


One hundred days of exquisite summer blooms, attractive fall foliage, unique bark, good disease and insect resistance and drought-tolerance ~ what's not to like about Crepe Myrtles!

One of our favorite varieties is the 'Natchez' Crepe Myrtle, ideal tree for either formal or informal landscapes, and has become one of summer's most beautiful ornamental trees, thanks to its large clusters of white blooms that last from June through September. This tree is perfect in beds, borders, for screening or simply as a focal point in the landscape.

Natchez is a relatively fast growing tree ~ growing approximately three to five feet per year, and reaching approximately 20 to 30 feet at maturity! This sun-loving tree needs full sun to flourish and produce the largest number of blooms. Although, Natchez can survive with a small amount of shade, the number of blooms will be greatly reduced. The tree's deep green leaves in summer provide the ideal backdrop for its vivid white blooms. In fall, leaves will take on fall hues of yellow, orange and red. In winter, it features a smooth, dark cinnamon-brown, exfoliating bark that provides unique visual interest throughout the winter months. And as if this is not enough, Natchez has amazing resistance to disease and is NOT susceptible to powdery mildew.

Be sure to check out the Natchez, as well as the many other Crepe Myrtle varieties during our 30th annual Crepe Myrtle Fest, July 21-23. Get the scoop here >>

The History of the Locals' Favorite Tree

One of the South's most iconic plants, the Crepe Myrtle arrived in England from its native China in 1759. Few were impressed with the Crepe Myrtle, because it simply would not bloom - England just wasn't hot enough. However, in 1786, the plant was introduced to Charleston, South Carolina, and it finally found a home in the sizzling American South.

Crepe Myrtles are among the toughest, most adaptable, and showiest plants grown in Hampton Roads. Sometimes called "the Lilac of the South" its dense clusters of crinkled, crepe-papery flowers in white or shades of pink, red, or purple bloom for months in summer. In fall, leaves turn a brilliant red or orange, and its speckled, peeling bark also provides winter interest .The deciduous Crepe Myrtle is among the longest-blooming shrubs (up to 120 days), and varies in size from dwarf to large shrubs or small trees.

The Crepe Myrtle as we know it today would astonish the ancient Chinese, thanks in part to decades of work accomplished by Dr. Donald Egolf of the National Arboretum. These modern cross-bred Crepe Myrtles are more disease resistant, hardier and more vigorous than the earlier varieties. Six new and improved varieties were chosen and were given Native American Indian names. Dr. Egolf's continued cross-breeding with Lagerstroemia fauriei, which created many of today's newer hybrids such as Natchez, Tuscarora and Tonto.

It's no surprise that this heat-loving, humidity-thriving, drought tolerant, fast growing plant ranks as one the South's most popular ornamental tree! Be sure to check out the many Crepe Myrtle varieties during our 30th annual Crepe Myrtle Fest, July 21-23. Get the scoop here >>

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Cool Color for Hot Spots

While some of may be wishing for cooler temperatures to set in, there are plenty of plants that love the heat and humidity we are experiencing! The dog days of summer can turn your garden into a crispy mess if you're not careful. But we have the tough stuff to keep your summer blooms looking fresh and colorful. Try these plants that tolerate the heat and give you that beautiful color until frost sets in.

Tough Summer Annuals:

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, due to it's salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high. Available in beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms.

Lantana is a hardworking plant that not only thrives with little moisture and in full, unyielding sun, it does so with ease. Lantana boasts tons of brightly colored flowers all summer and into fall, and it's a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. It's easy to grow and works well in summer containers.

Mandevilla is a true summer favorite. This blooming annual vine offers stunning trumpet-shape flowers in shades of pink, white, or red paired with dark green foliage. These vines are a perfect way of creating a lush, tropical look in a flash. Mandevilla is fast growing and blooms heaviest in summer and periodically throughout the rest of the year. Mandevilla does great in containers and is the ideal on trellises, arbors or gazebos. This plant can also be used as a houseplant if provided with bright light and care.

Zinnias are a quick and inexpensive way to get quick summer color. These gorgeous flowers come in an amazing array of shapes and colors -- even a wonderful new lime green! Zinnias are so highly attractive to butterflies that you can count on having these fluttering guests dining in your garden every afternoon. These blooms add a wonderful structure and color to any summer landscape ~ a real must-have!

Vinca flowers are very drought-tolerant, and require little maintenance. The leaves are green and glossy and the flowers are beautiful vivid colors. The vinca flower blooms in late spring and continues until the frost in the fall. Other names given to the vinca flower are, periwinkle and Madagascar periwinkle. These small flowers look very similar to Impatiens, but tolerate the sun better, although they will tolerate some shade. Vinca is one tough flower that will make a great addition to your summer beds or containers.

Purslane (or Portulaca) is a small, fast growing annual plant with very bright, bold blooms. Purslane is a succulent plant, thus requires very little water and thrives in the sun. In fact, direct sunlight makes these flowers open in an stunning array of color! The flowers will open on bright, sunny days and close at night. Plant these sun-lovers in a container, window box or hanging basket and let it spill over with abundant blooms. We love the new Happy Hour series with bright colors like banana, fuchsia, orange and mixed.

Gomphrenia this warm season beauty offers vibrant color, structure and height. Gomphrenia loves full sun and will survive drought. Use this easy-to-grow plant in borders, annual beds or even in containers. A showstopper in the garden, this interesting globe shaped bloom is a real conversation piece when cut for a mixed bouquet.

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