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Plant of the Week:

CHINESE EVERGREEN

If you're looking for a low-light, low maintenance indoor plant that suits just about any décor, take a good look at Chinese evergreen. Chinese Evergreen, or Aglaonema, is one of the best plants for beginners or those with low light conditions. This tough, slow growing plant is easy to grow and tolerates just about every indoor condition. Not only is it one of the toughest plants, it's also beautiful. Most varieties have deep green leaves with bold sliver markings. Its compact size makes it a perfect accent plant indoors.

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.

TREE-CYCLE! Here's how...

Just weeks ago you picked the perfect Christmas tree, and it doesn't have to go to waste. To us, the outcome is not only sustainable, but a fitting way to complete the cycle for this truest symbol of Christmas. Tree-cycling is the practice of recycling Christmas trees in order to extend their usability. Common practices include chipping trees for use as mulch in community areas, erosion protection in fragile areas such as river deltas, underwater habitat creation and shoreline stabilization. Why not turn it into mulch this year! That’s what most Hampton Roads localities do with live trees that are placed curbside or dropped off at specified collection areas for recycling after the holidays. The following cities and counties have posted their schedules for the 2013-2014 season. See below for your cities scheduled pickup.

Chesapeake
When: Dec. 26–Jan. 9
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place it separately from bulk waste and regular trash so it can be easily collected. Please do not put in a bag or put netting around it.
Where: Trees will be picked up on the regular trash collection day. Trees picked up after Jan. 2 will be recycled. If possible, please hold off until January 3 to put your tree out for collection.

Hampton
When: Ongoing
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees can be disposed of at curbside as part of the bulk waste. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches.
Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 N. Park Lane (off Big Bethel Road at entrance to Bethel Landfill) from 8 am to 3 pm Monday – Saturday (closed city holidays). For more information visit: www.hampton.gov/publicworks/solidwaste.

James City County
When: Dec. 26–Jan. 31
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
Where: James City County’s three convenience centers:

  • Jolly Pond Road
    1204 Jolly Pond Road
    Open every day 7 am to 5 pm
  • Tewning Road
    117 Tewning Road
    Sunday – Closed
    Monday 8 am – 12 pm
    Tuesday – Saturday 8 am – 4 pm
  • Toano
    185 Industrial Boulevard (Hankins Industrial Park)
    Open every day 8 am – 4 pm

Newport News
When: Ongoing
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
Where: Christmas trees can be brought to the Recovery Operations Center (formerly the Denbeigh Compost Facility), located at 550 Atkinson Way off Warwick Boulevard, Monday-Saturday from 8:00am – 4:00pm. Artificial trees cannot be accepted for mulching, but can be disposed of in trash container. For those who are unable to bring their trees to the Recovery Operations Center, natural trees can be placed in a brush pile separate from any bulk trash being set out an each area’s normal bulk waste collection day. To find your normal bulk waste collection day, please visit http://www.nngov.com/public-works/sw/resources/schedule or call 757-933-2311.

Norfolk
When: Ongoing
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside to be recycled on regular trash collection day as part of yard waste collection. Residents can also bring natural trees to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, 1176 Pineridge Road. The Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information go to www.norfolktrash.com.

Poquoson
When: Dec. 26 – Jan. 21
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
Where: Residents can drop off natural trees to be recycled at the Municipal Pool Parking Lot or the VPPSA Compost Facility (locations listed below).

  • Municipal Pool Parking Lot
    16 Municipal Drive, Poquoson
  • VPPSA Compost Facility
    145 Goodwin Neck Road, Yorktown, VA 23692
    Monday – Saturday 8 am – 4 pm
    Closed Sundays

Portsmouth
When: Ongoing
What to Know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights.
Where: Curbside; residents may place their tree at the curb for pickup on their normal trash collection day.

Smithfield
When: Now – Jan. 16
What to know: Contact Alexandra Pearson at 365-4200 or apearson@smithfieldva.gov and provide your address if you have a Christmas tree to be picked up. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.

Suffolk
What to know: Tree are not recycled but residents can put them out for disposal for two weeks after Christmas with their regular trash and the collection will not be deducted from their annual (12) free bulk collections.

Virginia Beach
When: Normal trash collection day
What to know: Christmas trees will be handled as normal yard debris and need to be free of any decorations or tinsel. Trees collected curbside will be processed into compost. Trees dropped off at the City Landfill and Resource Recovery Center will be ground into mulch.
Where: Curbside or the City Landfill and Resource Recovery Center at 1989 Jake Sears Road with proof of residency.

Williamsburg
When: Jan. 6th and 13th
What to know: The City Crews will be collecting Christmas trees on Monday, January 6, 2014 and Monday, January 13, 2014. Trees must be placed at the curb before 7:00 a.m. and should be free of the stand, ornaments and lights. Please place separately from bulk waste and regular trash.

York County
When: Week of Jan. 6
What to know: Trees should be placed roadside by 7:00 a.m. on Monday for collection by the end of the week. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and light.
Where: Natural trees will be picked up curbside for recycling only during the week of Jan. 6. Otherwise, trees can be brought to the VPPSA Compost Facility (location listed below) year-round.

  • VPPSA Compost Facility
    145 Goodwin Neck Road, Yorktown, VA 23692
    Monday – Saturday 8 am – 4 pm
    Closed Sundays

Dates provided by askhrgreen.org

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The Winter Landscape

CELEBRATE A NEW SEASON WITH WINTER FAVORITES.

While the days may be shorter and colder, that doesn't have to mean the end of a beautiful landscape. With the winter season officially beginning today, we asked one of our landscape designers what her favorite winter plants are. Just because the warmer days are behind us, there are still so many possibilities when it comes to the winter landscape. See what our designer has to say...

Camellias top my list every year for winter interest. The varying bloom times, color choices and diverse mature size choices make these a must-have. Yuletide is one of my favorites because they tend to bloom during the holidays when many folks are entertaining. I also love picking the blooms and floating them in a glass bowl as part of interior winter decorations.

The spring blooming camellias are also wonderful for exciting the senses in early spring. I love using the large bold leaves of Camellia Japonica in landscape plans. It works well when mixed with small leaved azaleas, boxwoods and lacey Nanina’s. In shady yards, I often use Camellia Japonica on the front corners of the home. Properly selected varieties will grow to just the right size and the bloom color can be chosen to compliment the front door or brick colors. One of the most common “ah ha” moments for homeowners is when I suggest to them to stop flattening or rounding up their camellias and instead remove the bottom branches to create a limbed up small tree! I will place a Camellia within the view of a den or office window. These shrubs are also great planted near places where you tend to sit or visit in the winter.

Hellebores are another one of my favorites. The new varieties whose blossoms were bred to stand up rather than droop are bright spots in any winter garden. Jacob and Pink Frost are my “go to” plants for low winter flowers. I keep a Jacob potted and use it on my front porch in early December and all through early spring. During the summer, I move it to the back porch for added greenery as Hellebores are evergreens and keep their green foliage year round.

Good old stand bys, Gold Dust Aucuba and Nandina domestica cannot be forgotten due to their winter interest. The shiny gold speckled leaves of the Aucuba add a density to sparse shade gardens as well as accent azalea gardens. Nandina domestica, with its large drops of red berries is one of my favorites for placing near a front door or even flanking both sides of a front porch because they are quickly noticed as guests dart in from the cold. Nandina domestica is a plant that I will try to work into a plan whenever I am working with a white or light colored facade. (ie: fences and foundations).

When I think winter interest, I also like to include plants that encourage wildlife. Cedars and Hollies with their thick green branches provide cover. The fruit is a major attractor for many birds and their branches are beautiful when graced with snow. Every year, Cedar Waxwings visit my native Cedars and I marvel at the flocks of Robins that visit the native American Holly.

Learn how our landscape team can help you figure out what plants will look best in your yard! LANDSCAPE SERVICES >>

by Tami Eilers, McDONALD LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

Merry Just Got Merrier

REDEEM YOUR MERRY MONEY! Friday-Sunday, December 19-21

Need a hostess gift, or a last minute gift idea or maybe just a little sprucing up before Santa’s arrival? Well merry just got merrier this season! Be sure to come in this weekend and redeem all of your stored up Merry Money. You’ll save up to 50% or half off the final purchase price on purchases, December 19 – 21.

Discover holiday gifts for everyone on your list: amaryllis, poinsettias, heirloom-quality tools, holiday decor, stocking stuffers, gift cards and even garden statuary. And now’s the perfect time to freshen up those holiday greens both inside and out. Nothing says Christmas like fresh and fragrant greenery. From greeter charms, to wreaths and aromatic rosemary, our fresh ideas will have your home looking its best, naturally. So don’t forget to stop in this weekend and redeem your Merry Money and save up to 50%.

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Plant of the Week: McDonald-Designed Arrangements

'Tis the season for great gifts to give and to get! Give the gift of our ready-made holiday arrangements. Using holiday faves like amaryllis, poinsettias, Norfolk Island pine and more, our growers have customized the most beautiful gifts of the season. Arrangements feature everyday houseplants such as pothos, orchids and succulents highlighted with traditional holiday plants. By starting with a backbone of great foliage and then adding a few seasonal highlights, you can give a gift that rivals any cut flower arrangement.

Check out more of our favorite plants to give and to get! HOLIDAY PLANTS >>

Celebrate a Christmas Fave

It's December 12th... and that means it's National Poinsettia Day! The Poinsettia is one of the few flowers of North America that can claim its own day thanks to Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. It is Roberts who is credited for bringing this beautiful traditional Christmas gift to our land. And it all happened like this: Ambassador Poinsett was on a diplomatic mission to Taxco, Mexico. The year was 1828. Admiring the tropical environment, he became entranced with the plants beauty, its medicinal uses, and its artistic applications by the natives of the region. So enamored was the ambassador that it was one of the first things he brought back to the United States.

The plant proved to have a major impact on not only Christmas in the USA, but agriculture, for many years to come. Because of its important role in the celebration of Christmas and its beautification to America, Congress set December 12th each year as National Poinsettia Day. The good Ambassador would be amazed at what started as simple cuttings from Mexico have become. According to USDA, poinsettias are the number one potted plant grown in the nation!

Poinsettias are easy to keep beautiful and blooming throughout the holidays and beyond as long as you follow a few simple tips:

  • Avoid exposing the poinsettia to freezing conditions. Do not leave it in the car while you finish shopping. Take it home and place it inside the house as soon as possible after purchasing it.
  • Place your poinsettia in a spot with bright natural light, but do not expose it to direct sunlight.
  • Do not place your poinsettia in an area where it will be exposed to drafts, heat from appliances, radiators, or ventilation ducts.
  • The color of your poinsettia will last longer with temperatures around 65 degrees during the day and 60-65 degrees at night.
  • The soil should be kept moderately moist; check every few days and water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Before watering, remove the pot covers or foil wrapping; water to saturate the soil, and then allow the pot to drain. Do not let the plant sit in standing water.
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Plant of the Week:

THE NORFOLK ISLAND PINE

This little beauty with soft needles, distinctive flat branches and a naturally symmetrical shape is a popular choice for indoor holiday decorating. The small and medium size varieties are often used as accent trees during the holidays or even as a tabletop Christmas tree. Best of all, once the holidays are over you can keep this plant around your home for a touch of green throughout the year. A truly great addition to your houseplant collection!

Not really a pine, the Norfolk Island is a member of an ancient family of conifers. This miniature tree thrives in the Southern Hemisphere. It is named for Norfolk Island, which is located in the South Pacific between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. It is an Australian territory, and its flag prominently features the Norfolk Island pine.

Holiday Tip: Add a strand of tiny string lights and even some ornaments for a festive look all season long!

Plant of the Week:

Phalaeonopsis 'Moth' Orchids

This year, give them a blooming gift they are sure to love ~ Phalaeonopsis 'Moth' Orchids. Whether a gift for another or a treat for yourself, orchids will captivate and add elegance to any setting. There is a special grace to the long, arching stem of the orchid. Moth orchids, also known as Phalaeonopsis, are some of the least expensive and longest-blooming orchids available. In fact, one bloom spike can look great for four months or more. Color range includes whites, pinks and even blues.

Love the style, grace and beauty of orchids, but afraid they look too complicated to care for? Never fear. Orchids are surprisingly easy to grow. In the right setup at home they can be extremely low maintenance. Be sure to give them a spot in low, medium, or bright light and water weekly or every other week. Promote more and larger blooms by feeding moth orchids monthly with a fertilizer formulated specifically for orchids. Plants do best in temperatures from 50° to 75°F.

McDonald's offers one of the largest selections of orchids in Hampton Roads. Come in and see the magic of this enchanting plant and discover just how easy it is to care for.

GET THIS LOOK!

DO-IT-YOURSELF CHRISTMAS CONTAINER

Creating an outdoor arrangement of fresh greens in an urn or other container is a wonderful way to add holiday cheer and life to your front steps, porch or walk. Even if you’re not using other outdoor holiday decorations, a festive container arrangement at your entryway is a beautiful way to greet guests. Red and green are traditional Christmas colors, and they look fantastic together to convey that festive spirit. Best of all, those colors can be found right in nature, maybe svn in your own backyard.

To create the basic container, we used evergreens and annuals. Evergreens add the thriller to a container and can be kept and maintained through all seasons. Annuals add seasonal color and can be swapped out each season.

To decorate the container, we incorporated seasonal greens to give it that Christmas feel. We like starting with fresh greens like Fraser Fir for the first layer. Then search around your yard to find other fresh items that will work such as juniper, magnolia, nandina, holly, spruce, boxwood and berries.

What You'll Need:

  • Large Container
  • Ornamental Kale - this low grower, offers a unique texture
  • Pansies - these tough little flowers are availabe in tons of colors and are some of the longest blooming flowers of the cool season/li>
  • Sky Pencil Holly - with dark green foliage, this evergreen grows in a narrow, columnar shape -- a perfect thriller for your container
  • fresh-cut greens such as firs, juniper, magnolia, nandina, holly, spruce, boxwood and berries
  1. Fill the container with soil and plant the evergreens and the annuals. Be sure to add an all-purpose fertilizer like McDonald GreenLeaf.
  2. Then add the first layer of greens. The fraser fir greens can just be stuck in the container to make for easy removal after the holiday season.
  3. Continue adding additional greens and berries to the container.
  4. Add ribbon, picks or shatterproof ornaments for extra pizazz.

GET THIS LOOK!

DO-IT-YOURSELF BOXWOOD WREATH

Give your front door a makeover this season with this Christmas door decorating idea. Simple and festive, wreaths are the perfect way to welcome holiday guests into your home.

The simplicity of a boxwood wreath makes a great statement on your front door, above your mantle or on a mirror. All the decorating magazines are showing a simple wreath, with a simple bow for understated elegance. By preserving your wreath, it can add beauty throughout multiple seasons, however it will need to be stored properly to ensure its longevity.

What You'll Need:

  • Fresh-cut boxwood greens
  • 18-inch wreath form
  • Floral wire
  • Ribbon
  1. Collect cuttings of a boxwood fresh from the plant. We recommend using small pieces with stems that are not so woody.
  2. Start on one side of the wreath form by clumping several branches together and using a half piece of wire – attach to the form.
  3. Continue around the wreath form securing the cuttings. Be sure to attach the wire securely, as the weight of the boxwood will become heavy as you start to add more.
  4. Pick your ribbon – choose from a variety of burlap ribbon and tie a simple shoe lace type bow. Or, you can make a long loop and knot at the top.