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More than Mums! Time for Something Different?

As nights become cooler and days get shorter, it’s time to plant your fall garden ~ but are you stuck in a rut? Maybe it’s time to explore some other plants to compliment the traditional fall favorites. It’s easy to create a one-of-a-kind fall garden. Mixing several different plant varieties will give your landscape a unique look and make visitors look twice. So this fall, try incorporating some out-of-the-box plants along with those beautiful mums & asters we all know and love!

Bush Daisies - These bright annual flowers make a marvelous addition to any garden that has a well-drained, full sun situation. This is a plant that provides sunny, yellow daisy-like flower color against a mat of appealing finely cut green or grey-green foliage spring all through fall.

Heuchera - These perennial plants are one of our favorites for all seasons, including fall. From woodlands and rock gardens to containers, borders, and groundcovers, Heucheras make quite the statement.The stunning foliage of these fast-growing, deer- and pest-resistant perennials is so multi-colored they’ll stand out in any crowd. A wide selection of varieties is available with large, heart-shaped or rounded leaves, the striking colors and variegation patterns.

Plectranthus - A quick-growing, perennial that grows 24 to 30 inches tall and does well in either shady or partially sunny locations. Those grown in sun are more compact and the purple color on the undersides of the leaves is much more intense. Spikes of dark lavender flowers bloom from spring until fall.

Autumn Sage (Salvia) - Add these stunning perennials with spikes of purple or red tubular blooms to your landscape. Enjoy them from spring through fall! They prefer full to part sunny spots.

Kaleidoscope Abelia - You'll love this evergreen shrub all year, especially during autumn. It displays bright, golden yellow variegation on medium green leaves along with brilliant red stems create a striking kaleidoscope of color. A low, compact selection for patio containers or massing as a groundcover.

Encore Azaleas - Another wonderful shrub for the fall landscape. If you love the colorful flowers that an azalea shrub offers, then you'll love our Encore varieties. They bloom three times per year ~ summer, spring, and fall, yes, even fall!

Sedum - Attractive, clumping perennial that displays large, plate-like flower clusters that start pink then turn to a rosy russet. It's succulent, solid-looking leaves give it a substantial presence in the garden. A fine addition to the rock garden or mixed border, where its flower heads will remain attractive well into autumn.

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Don’t Be Fooled by It's Name...

TOAD LILY is in fact a true beauty. In fact, it's one of our favorite fall-blooming perennials!

This deciduous perennial keeps shady gardens from getting dull at the end of the summer season making it a perfect addition to the fall garden. Taipei Silk is an easy-care perennial that features intricate, orchid-like flowers with a dark purple base marked with lighter purple, white, and tiny red freckles! Blooms from late summer to mid-fall. And best of all, flowers appear continuously instead of in waves, so plants will always have at least a few blooms at any given time in fall. Pair alongside other shade-loving foliage plants, like hostas, heucheras, ferns or annuals, like impatiens and coleus. Also works well in shady borders or by itself in a more natural setting where it can seen up close. Grows best in moist but well-drained, rich soil in deep to partial shade. So, don’t be fooled by the name, this exotic beauty will delight you for years to come.

Fall in Full Bloom

Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean your garden has to! Fall in Hampton Roads is one of the most beautiful times of the year offering vibrant colors and rich textures. The possibilities are endless when planning your fall garden and landscape, so keep the color coming with some of our favorite fall-blooming perennials:

Goldenrod ‘Little Lemon’
If you haven't discovered Goldenrod, you are missing out on one of natures greatest plants! This yellow blooming beauty adds an invigorating splash of color to the fall garden when little else is blooming. Goldenrod is a tough plant that will make a stunning addition to any sunny spot. It’s very easy to grow and attracts tons of butterflies. Try it in containers and it also makes a great addition to cut flower arrangements. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.

Toad Lily ‘Taipei Silk’
Toad lilies are a great way to keep shade gardens from getting dull at the end of the summer season. These easy to care for perennials feature shiny, dark green leaves with tiny intricate, orchid-like flowers in mauve to lavender. Toad lilies blooms from late summer through fall. Pair with other shade-loving foliage plants, like hostas, ferns and heurchera. Plant in a shady spot in moist, well-drained soil.

Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud’
This classic autumn plant has an upright habit that forms a bushy mound of succulent green leaves. Taller stems appear in late summer, supporting large clusters of light-pink buds that turn into starry flowers in dark mauve pink. These develop into brown seed heads for additional winter interest. Ideal as a groundcover, border edging, in rock gardens and containers. This perennial does best in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.

This lovely fall-blooming perennial comes in shades of pink, apricot, and lavender that bloom in late summer into autumn. It is commonly known as either hummingbird mint or Anise Hyssop (due to its licorice scent). It thrives in dry conditions and is easy to care for. The fragrant foliage and flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Ideal for sunny beds and borders, in containers, herb gardens or as a cut flower in arrangements. Prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
There’s no ignoring this stunning perennial whose upper portion is pure white and lower lip is red, and sometimes flowers are all white or all red. A fast-growing, drought tolerant selection, that blooms from mid summer through fall. 'Hot Lips' works well in beds, borders, containers and in mass plantings. This variety is a hummingbird favorite, but is usually ignored by deer. Prefers full sun to part shade.

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Dig Deep for Spring Color!

It's just beginning to feel like fall, and winter is around the corner... so why are we talking about spring?! Well, fall is in fact the ideal time to plant spring-flowering bulbs ~ like tulips, daffodils, crocuses & hyacinth.

A flower bulb is really an underground storehouse and flower factory. Within the bulb is just about everything the plant will need to sprout and flower at the appropriate time. All bulbs need is to be planted in the ground at the appropriate season of the year, given liberal water, and then sit back and let Mother Nature do the rest!

Nothing is more satisfying than planting dormant brown bulbs in autumn and watching them emerge in late winter or early spring with their fresh green shoots and colorful flowers. In order to take advantage of many spring favorites, their bulbs should be planted in the fall after the first frost (typically around October 15th in Hampton Roads). Bulbs require a long period of cool temperatures in order to bloom. It's vital to get bulbs planted before the ground freezes, so they can develop a strong root system.

So now's the time to start planning and purchasing bulbs, so you will be ready pop them in the ground as cooler weather sets in. You'll be in store for quite a rewarding show come spring!

Visit our friends at Dig.Drop.Done. for more information.,
and as always, visit any of our knowledgeable gardeners at McDonald Garden Center.

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No Orchard Needed!


There are apple trees that flourish in orchards with foxglove and clover at their feet, and then there are apples who stand all alone, trained on wire or string on the side of a house. Apple blossoms and juicy fruit can now captivate homeowners, apartment dwellers, condo owners, suburbanites and those short on space!

New to the gardening scene are Urban™ Columnar Apple Trees that grow in a very narrow upright form with short branches. Not only are these little trees easy on the eyes, but you'll love their delicious fruit too! Urban apple trees mature to 8 to 10 feet tall, but less than two feet in diameter and are extremely healthy and disease resistant. When grown in full sun expect full-sized fruit the first year of planting, as long as there are two or more varieties for cross pollination. As trees mature, the yield of apples will increase. Now you can harvest juicy apples within easy reach of the patio or kitchen table!