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Eight Trends Influencing the Gardening World in 2016

Easy-to-love new plants, accessible technology, a flirt with romance, the sharing economy, a cleaner, simpler color palette, and crisp geometric design all add up to a fresh take on gardening in 2016, according to the plant experts at Monrovia.

“Gardeners will wow the neighbors with plants that have supersized returns such as larger blooms, number of blooms, a tendency to bloom two or three times each year, intense fragrance or flavors, or bi or tri-color flowers. They’ll continue to adapt to wild weather, smaller lots, changing lifestyles, and less free time by planting landscapes that are easier to care for,” says Jonathan Pedersen, spokesman at Monrovia. “Mobile apps, the power of social media, and the sharing economy will continue to change the landscape of gardening, making everything from getting the scoop on the must-have plants to watering, lighting, and giving away excess bounty that much easier.” Here’s what’s on our radar in 2016.

1. Grow to Give: New Technology and a Desire for Connection Inspire
Sharing the Bounty

Record numbers of homeowners and renters growing edibles combined with interest in health and food security and readily available technology has led to a surge in groups helping to facilitate sharing excess backyard-grown crops. Apps such as allow gardeners to interact one-on-one to giveaway extras. Dozens of organizations such as, and Sharing the Bounty connect home gardeners with extra produce directly to their local neighborhood food banks. Friends with Flowers is leading the movement to transform flowers gleaned from neighborhood gardens into arrangements for local hospices. Seeds are also a hot trend for sharing with Seed Swaps and Seed Libraries showing up across the country.

2. All White Now: From Clean to Dirty, White’s Right
The clearest color trend is a more toned-down palette with a focus on calm and harmony, particularly shades of white from crisp to snowy, ivory to “dirty whites.” With the here-to-stay emphasis on inside/outside lifestyle, colors in the garden continue to mirror those that are hot in the home sphere. At least four major consumer paint companies selected shades of white as their top 2016 colors. Clean, fresh, optimistic—this color should be on everyone’s watch list. (But keep an eye on blue, too! We saw huge demand in 2015 for all things blue—which might have something to do with Pantone choosing “Serenity” as one of its 2016 color picks—from Blue Enchantress Hydrangea and Baby Pete Agapanthus, toBountiful Blue Blueberries and Icee Blue Junipers. All of which, by the way, are ideal with white.)

3. Granny Gardens: Old-Fashioned Blooms Feel New Again
Nostalgia plants in delicate blush tones and pale shades that conjure up earlier garden eras—foxgloves, begonias, peonies, gardenias, camellias, hostas, sweet peas, alliums, heavily-fragranced rambling roses, Japanese anemonies, even Pachysandra is cool again—are flying off nursery shelves even as interest in the polar-opposite plant group of succulents continues to zoom. Fueling this trend is Part Two of the edible gardening wave of the last decade, adding old-fashioned flowers to food crops and lush locally-grown bouquets of romantic florals that are popping up from Pinterest posts to TV weddings.

4. Lighting Innovations: Cool New Stuff Has an Illuminating Effect
Reports from Houzz and the American Association of Landscape Architects (ASLA) confirm the surge of interest in upgrading outdoor lighting to enhance the garden experience. New innovations such as brighter and more efficient LED bulbs, the convenience of lighting systems controlled by mobile apps, and the trend toward larger and more individualized outdoor spaces are spurring sales of outdoor lighting. Homeowners are using solar LEDs to uplight important trees, specimen plants and architectural features, using wall-washers to emphasize the effect of climbing vines, casting a hedge or foundation planting with pin-point laser lights, or adding drama to porchscaping with café lights. And, the new fire pits coming out of Europe are not your daddy’s DIY. Trust us, you’ll want one.

5. Mini-Me: Compact Without Compromise
Gardeners, mindful of using space wisely and once and forever in love with containers, are turning to compact and dwarf versions of beloved plants which have been bred to have the same winning characteristics—flower size, bloom cycle, culture and habit—but in a more manageable form. Shrubs such as Little Ragu Bay, have been reimagined to fit smaller garden spaces.

6. Scalene, Rhombus, Prism: Shapes are In
The geometric shape trend has been holding steady for a while now and doesn’t appear to be slowing. What has changed is the expansion beyond sculpted plants such as sheared topiaries to garden beds in geometric forms with plenty of right angles. We saw them—a series of asymmetric geo-shapes and orbs—at Sunset magazine’s demonstration garden where they were tricked out with grasses and succulents, and last year at London’s Chelsea Flower Show where naturalistic plantings were in contrast to sharp shapes. With so many gardeners, particularly in the drought-ravaged West, moving from turf to gravel, novelty-shaped beds add much needed visual oomph.

7. “FOMO Flora”: Plants are Having a Fashion Moment
While the classics—Annabelle hydrangea, Debutante camellia, Iceberg rose—continue to be well, classics, the rise of Pinterest and Instagram has created deep demand for name-in-lights, cover-story worthy, 10K “likes” plants notable for their supersized assets: bigger and bolder blooms, blooms that come on two or three times in one year, flowers that are multi-colored and shrubs with colorful stems or foliage. Also hot are super-fragrant offerings rare selections such as Itoh peonies and climbing vines from plant explorer Dan Hinkley, or just plain showstoppers like cascading Japanese maples. Add that to innovations by breeders and the discovery of new specimens in Eastern Europe which will come to market over the next decade, and there’s a whole new category emerging.

8. A Few to Watch: Got a pen? Here’s a Couple to Add to Your 2016 Shopping List
Golden Duchess® Eastern Hemlock: Colorful conifers are in. This superb new dwarf conifer nearly glows with golden-yellow foliage on graceful, arching branches. Emerald Colonnade® Holly: We’ve seen increased interest in hollies and this new variety is especially versatile, ideal as a single specimen, small group planting, sheared into topiary, or in containers.

Post Provided by Monrovia

Color Your Containers

Since spring has officially arrived, let's get a jumpstart on our container gardens. Try these bloomers that tolerate the cooler early days of spring and get your containers if full spring. These flowers will work great in the early unpredictable days of spring and last all the way until the heat sets in, in May.

A small evergreen shrub with clusters of small flowers, Candytuft thrives in full sun areas with well-drained soil. Candytuft is great for a rock garden where they can tumble about and over rocks. They are also excellent as edging in a border and are well-suited to growing in pots.

Bush Daisy
Add a burst of sunny yellow flowers in spring with this bright bloomer. Not only will this plant give you flowers now, but it will reward you again with flowers this fall. It is very tolerant of cold and can go down to about 28 degrees, so on these cold nights that we are having now, they will handle these nights near freezing. They will not come back reliably outside over winter but they are great as container plants, on their own or in a combo. Just set them in a protected spot in winter (garage is fine) for more flowers in spring!

This perennial offers a long blooming season. They will begin in early spring and continue all the way until frost, if deadheaded regularly. Blooms stand up above the grassy blue-green foliage with sturdy stems. These bold blossoms sparkle in borders, beds, window boxes and containers. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Available in a range of colors from coral to red to pink to even white, some Dianthus also carry a scent.

This vertical annual, offers great hues in a variety of colors. The abundant spikes of lovely flowers come red, yellow, orange, pink, white and crimson. They are excellent in beds, edging and in containers and they are popular as cut flowers too. Plant in full sun, well drained soil.

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower
This charming perennial is easy to grow and produces loads of large blossoms. Almost frilly in their look, the blooms sit atop a long graceful stem. These are long and profuse bloomers that begin flowering in early spring and go long into summer. For repeat flowering you do need to dead head. With its compact, tidy habit, it is ideal grouped together as a border and the more you plant together the more impact they make! We love these as cut flowers and left it in the garden to attract butterflies. Scabiosa prefers full sun and well drained soil. Mariposa Violet is a double violet color but Butterfly Blue (one of the most popular) is a single bloom in a chambray color.

Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Monrovia

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Is it warm enough yet?

Annuals provide color from the time of planting into early fall. Inexpensive, easy-to-grow and gorgeous ~ annuals are great for changing the look of your garden from year-to-year and filling in around those bulbs and perennials. A few early-blooming annuals that are safe to plant now include petunias, marigolds, snapdragons, geraniums, million bells, dianthus and verbena. Some annuals do not handle frost very well and we recommend waiting until after the last average frost date to plant them outside. These include favorites like hibiscus, mandevilla, coleus, gomphrena, iceplant and portulaca.

Average Last Frost Dates for Hampton Roads:
Virginia Beach & Norfolk: April 1
Hampton & Chesapeake: April 10
Newport News, lower York County and Poquoson: April 15
Upper York Co. and Williamsburg: April 25

TIP: Hardening Off Helps
If your annuals are straight out of the greenhouse and tender, you may need to acclimate them to the outdoors in the sun and wind conditions, before you plant them in the garden. This process is called "hardening off". If you don't take the time to do this, your plants may be stressed when you transplant them into the ground.

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Make the Most of Your Garden

by Kathy Van Mullekom, a lifelong gardener and gardening writer living in York County, Virginia

Dad taught me “it’s not what you make but how you spend it.”

That philosophy has guided me in everything I do, even in my garden.

What does spending wisely have to do with gardening? Everything, if you want to get the most out of your plants, time and money.

My gardening dollars are divided into categories: yard art, garden structures, maintenance and, of course, plants.

For art, I favor a few major quality pieces that stand out – not bunches of small art that end up looking like clutter. Bronze, stained concrete, resin and fiberglass are materials that weather well, and even look better as time marches on. Repurposing old items into new, artsy uses is a fun and affordable way to garden – think old shoes, boots and odd furniture pieces recycled into containers and backdrops for plants.

For garden structures like trellises, arbors and fences, look for composite materials that just need washing annually. Wrought-iron is easily spray painted every few years. Rich woods like cedar, redwood and teak age well with minimum care.

For minimum maintenance and maximum eye appeal, consider large mulched beds with wide, curving lines that are simpler to mow.

For plants, incorporate long-living, reliable trees and shrubs as the “bones” of your garden. They will be there for years to come, especially strong specimens like oaks. Use perennials, annuals, vines and ground covers as filler plants that gift you with different seasons of beauty.

To achieve the look you want, resist the urge to do it all at one time. Plan and prep your beds, mulching them for the time being while you discover the plant or art that suits your goal.

Instead of shopping just in spring, visit your favorite garden center multiple times throughout the year. Frequent visits allows you to see the different plants brought in for the four seasons of the year – Hellebores and camellias for spring, daisies and salvias for summer, goldenrods and asters for fall and hollies and cedars for winter.

Over time, your garden takes on a life of its own – and your garden dollars are wisely spent.

An Early Spring Favorite

SCABIOSA (Pincushion Flower)

We know spring is close when you start to see the lavender blossoms of Scabiosa. Also called Pincushion Flowers, they get their name from the interestingly shaped flowers, which resemble little pincushions. This charming perennial is easy to grow and produces loads of large, double, deep violet blossoms. Almost frilly in their look, the blooms sit atop a long graceful stem. These are long and profuse bloomers that begin flowering in early spring and go long into summer. You may even see some repeat blooms in fall. With its compact, tidy habit, it is ideal grouped together as a border and the more you plant together the more impact they make! We love these as cut flowers and left it in the garden to attract butterflies. Scabiosa prefers full sun and well drained soil, but it will tolerate some shade. Hellllooooo spring!

Pretty Primrose


If you’re yearning for a kiss of spring, but Mother Nature seems somewhat slow to oblige, don’t despair. Primroses can be grown with minimum of effort on a sunny windowsill. They make cheerful gifts for anyone, even yourself while still held indoors in the grip of winter.

The vivacious colors of the Primrose, when seen in bloom seem to jump up and grab you with their charm. Their crisp ruffled leaves form a neat rosette and their fragrant blossoms look like a dainty nosegay in a rainbow of colors: red, yellow, orange, white, purple, bronze or maroon ~ all vivid and captivating. Native to China, there are more than 500 species of Primula bearing their flowers, either singly or in cluster, above the foliage.

Display on a windowsill and keep the plant slightly moist and in direct sunlight. If the window is somewhat cool and drafty - all the better! While not a long-term houseplant, primroses are hardy, low-growing perennials that offer much enjoyment from your windowsill until the weather breaks. Then they may be moved outside, making an excellent border or mass planting under a flowering Dogwood or two. They can also be used in cool spring combination planters for your porch, perfect for Easter décor. Rich acidic soil, plenty of moisture, good drainage and plenty of air circulation are imperative. They like a shady spot as respite from those hot summer days with maybe the morning sun to bring them into flower again.

Visit us and bask in the myriad of colors provided by this delightful harbinger of spring - the world may seem to be a little brighter place!

Grace & Beauty Through all Seasons

Japanese Maples

Without a doubt, Japanese maples are by far one of the most popular and versatile of ornamental trees. People absolutely love them, and for good reason - they are beautiful! Images of brilliant reds, vibrant oranges, surreal greens and any color in between come to mind when we think of Japanese maples. Their color and structure are unmatched, while their size makes them accessible to those whose gardens are measured in square feet instead of acres. With their small stature, tremendous variety, and four-season beauty, Japanese maples offer something all year long.

Planting and caring for your Japanese maple is really pretty basic and following fundamental care and planting practices will provide a nice home for your tree. Here are a few tips on how to care for your Japanese maple:

Pruning - maples have a naturally beautiful form, so if they are in good health and have room to grow, they’ll need very little pruning. If pruning is required, prune during the winter to remove dead, dying and diseased limbs. Shape the crown as desired to achieve landscape goals

Watering – water is critical to Japanese maples, especially during the heat of Hampton Roads summers. Avoid overhead watering, especially during the heat of the day to prevent disease and fungus. Drip irrigation is best and remember to keep the soil around the tree mulched.

Planting location - in their natural habitat, Japanese maples are an understory tree. They should be planted in areas with light shade, however full sun is acceptable for many cultivars if irrigation is provided during summer droughts.

Pests/Problems - be on the lookout for these pests/problems and remedy the situation:

  • Aphid - spray with a general purpose insecticide such as Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray.
  • Scale - during dormant period treat with Horticultural Oil.
  • Borers - spray when needed in May or June with Fertilome Borer & Caterpillar Spray.
  • Leaf Scorch - avoid using lawn fertilizer in the root zone (under the branches of the tree) as too much nitrogen can burn the leaves; apply a 3 inch layer of mulch to keep roots cool and moist.
  • Powdery Mildew – treat with a fungicide, such as Fertilome Garden Fungicide

    Planting – dig a hole approximately twice the width of the root ball. Use your fingers to loosen the root ball, and then place it in the hole. The top of the root ball should sit about an inch above ground level. Fill the hole back in with McDonald’s recommended soil mixture (1/3 compost, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 of your own dirt that came out of the hole), mounding up to top edge of the root ball. Mulch over top of the roots and water it in.