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Welcome Fall to Your Front Door

Haven't you heard the famous expression, "Fall is for front doors?" Well ok, maybe we haven't either- but we believe adorning your outdoor dwelling should be on the top of every good garden lover's priority list. McDonald Garden Center offers a plethora of options..but how does one choose? We hope to narrow the search to a few must-haves to get you "beat-the-Jonses-ready" this autumn.

A facelift for your planter
We can offer a seasonal transition from summer to fall that's so seamless, your friends won't even know you had work done! Refresh existing planters with a ring of colorful, cold-tolerant annuals. If you have an arborvitae or boxwood that you planted earlier in the season, use it as the centerpiece and add plants that’ll flourish when the weather gets cooler. Use plants such as pansies, crotons, ornamental pepper and cabbage. (Pssstttt...We do have Pansy Party coming up October 7th-9th!)

Great pumpkins aren't just for Charlie Brown
Don't fight the everything pumpkin trend, you rebel. Embrace it! Pumpkins in various colors and sizes make a beautiful fall decoration when piled in a planter or placed along the steps of your porch. You can also cut the top of a pumpkin off and place mums inside. If your planter is too big for your pumpkins, use a block of florist's foam to lift pumpkins and gourds into view. Mums WITH pumpkins? Yes please!

Small in size, substantial in style
Small pumpkins and gourds can also make the perfect addition to an oversize pot filled with your favorite flowers. Coordinate the colors of the flowers and pumpkins to enhance this entry decoration's seasonal charm.

Think these options are just...eh? Don't worry fancy pants, come visit any of our three year round locations and one of our experts will help you snazzy-up your space in no time! ...But we're 97.4% sure you'll still leave with a pumpkin.

A Change is Gonna Come: Why Leaves Change Their Color

Today is the first day of autumn and with the change in season comes the marvelous display of colored leaves that splash warm hues of splendor across our landscape. This flaring of foliage, like a peacocks’ prideful parade of feathers, is not just happenstance. There is actually a science behind the beauty of why leaves change their color in preparation for winter.

What You Probably Already Know:
Remember in 3rd grade when you learned about the magic of photosynthesis and realized that by converting sun, water, and carbon dioxide into sugar, trees actually make food? Besides the fact that a living thing can survive on something other than Lunchables is already pretty impressive to a kid, but the deeper we delved into the subject, we learned that chlorophyll, the stuff that turns the leaves green, is made and broken down all summer season.

What You May Not Know:
Winter cold brings photosynthesis to a standstill. No more Lunchables for the tree. Like a procrastinating bear who forgot to forage his berries for hibernation, our rooted friends get creative and redistribute all the leftover food into the roots, branches, and trunk for storage over the winter. Then chlorophyll packs a little green suitcase and heads to his timeshare until next spring.

OK, so when do the pretty colors start?
All right, all right, we’re getting to that. So while that green pigment is off jet skiing in Miami, the carotenoids make their grand entrance. Miss the carotenoids category on Jeopardy? No problem. Carotenoids are the brilliant orange and yellow pigments that have been in the leaf the whole time, but were covered up by that scene stealing chlorophyll. You may have seen carotenoids in other roles though, like making carrots orange and bananas yellow. The red leaves get their rouge from anthocyanins (take that Alex Trebek!) and are not produced until the fall. These vibrant pigments, who make strawberries red, are more likely to be seen in autumns that are more sunny with higher temperatures.

I get it from my mama:
Like baby doll curls, a sharp nose, or fancy freckles, the color a trees’ leaves change is actually part of their DNA. (Wonder if the yellow leaves always wanted to be red leaves, and the red leaves wish they could be yellow leaves.)
Baldcypress turns a magnificent orange red, while Red Maple can be either a deep red or yellow. A favorite at McDonald Garden Center, Japanese Maples have a brilliant hue all year, but some have a reddish-purple tone as winter approaches that turns it into a showstopper.

So as you cruise the interstate (or find yourself stuck in a world-famous Hampton Roads traffic jam) take a second to enjoy the splendor of the season and bask in the beauty that has been bestowed. Happy fall y’all!

We've FALLen in Love! Our Picks for the Season

As summer is winding down, it’s time to think about fall planting. At McDonald Garden Center, our staff has been busy with copious amounts of conferences, meetings, and research to determine what selection of trees and shrubs to recommend to our customers. Fully caffeinated and armed with product brochures, our revered horticulturalists, and a lot of Cheez-Its®, we took into account a variety of factors. These included ease of care, adaptability for the Hampton Roads region, color, curb appeal, and overall aesthetics. And finally, we’ve come to a consensus! Hope you enjoy our 2016 best-of for fall planting. (And If you REALLY love it…we are out of Cheez-Its®)

Popular in Plants:

1. Baby Cakes Thornless Dwarf Blackberry:
This baby is new AND exclusive to McDonald Garden Center in the Hampton Roads area. This darling blackberry bush is the perfect addition to small spaces and patio gardens with sweet, large, and vibrant berries in midsummer. With a rounded growth habit that is perfect for containers, Baby Cakes Thornless Dwarf Blackberry is versatile, attractive, and a great conversation piece for your outdoor space.

2. Autumn Rocket Camellia:
If you’re looking to fill a narrow space in your landscape, the autumn rocket camellia is the cat’s pajamas. With bountiful white blooms that grace us with their unassuming presence in fall, this classic-looking camellia grows upright (like….you guessed it..a rocket) and adapts so well to accompanying plants, you’ll forget what it looked like without it!

3. Pink-a-Boo Camellia

Top-notch Trees

1. October Glory Maple:
Sometimes a tree isn’t able to live up to the splendor its common name promises. Luckily that is most definitely not the case for the October Glory Maple, as its glorious foliage is like a contrastingly vibrant sweep of color from Rembrandt’s paintbrush against a dulled fall sky. A dream for the Hampton Roads landscape, this maple is easy to maintain, grows rapidly, and provides heaps of shade. These beauties tend to go quick, so don’t hesitate on getting them early.

2. Dura Heat River Birch:
The valedictorian of the river birch class of trees, the Dura Heat is, as the name implies, durable in hot conditions. And, considering you could of probably cooked an egg on the King Neptune statue this summer, that’s essential for us in Tidewater. These beauties also get major bonus points for having superior resistance to bugs and disease. The Dura Heat River Birch retains its foliage better than others and radiates the colors of fall with a beautiful cinnamon bark that showcases a pinkish-orange hue.

3. Thundercloud Purple Leaf Plum:
If you have a mauve mindset this year, the Thundercloud Plum tree is your purple paradise. One of the best violet-hued trees on the market, this stunner lives long and is perfectly comfortable as the centerpiece of your landscape. Dark burgundy foliage and eggplant bark has the elegant hue of a vintage 2005 Frédéric Magnien Bourgogne Pinot Noir and blooms ethereal pale pink-to-white flowers that give a strikingly dramatic contrast.