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Tips for Pumpkin Picking & Carving

In the world of pumpkins, there are the varieties that are great for carving - and those that are made for eating. Selecting the perfect pumpkin for carving can be a real adventure considering all the different shapes, sizes, and colors out there. And like people, every pumpkin has its unique characteristics, giving it a personality all its own. Pumpkin carving is a tradition your whole family can enjoy, so here’s a few tips on picking and carving one.

Choose a design before shopping for a pumpkin. Think about which shape would best suit your design - tall and narrow or fat and round. If you're using a stencil, look for a pumpkin with a shape similar to the pattern you're planning to carve.

Look for a pumpkin that's...

  • firm and free from cuts, soft spots and bruises.
  • sits well on the ground and is stable.
  • includes a bit of stem.

When carving...

  • wipe your pumpkin off with a little bleach and water (approx. 1 tsp. bleach to 1 cup water) before you begin. This will greatly cut down on fungus.
  • don't cut into your pumpkin around stem. Cutting out a stem cap weakens the pumpkin. Instead, access the pumpkin from backside – this will help preserve freshness. Hiding the opening in the back also gives the pumpkin more visual appeal.
  • scrape and clean the inside of the pumpkin as much as possible. The cleaner you get it, the longer you'll have a great looking jack-o-lantern. (gut it out twice as much as you think you need to).
  • place your finished masterpiece in a dry, shady area - it will last longer!

TIPS:

  • Tall, thin shapes are perfect for funny and whimsical faces. Round shapes are ideal for happy and scary ones.
  • Oddly shaped pumpkins are perfect for creating unique characters.
  • Consider a white pumpkin, when unlit, white pumpkins appear to glow as the daylight fades.

Click here >> to find out more about our upcoming pumpkin workshops.

Lavender, SuperBlue
Russian Sage, Crazy Blue
Salvia Back to the Fuchsia

NEW Perennials, For the Perennial Lover

Who doesn’t love perennials? Versatile, dependable and enjoyable year after year, and once established, most perennials are low-maintenance and give your garden color and texture. McDonald carries a wide selection of perennials that are well suited for Hampton Roads conditions and soils. Check out these three new perennial varieties:

Lavender SuperBlue - lavender seduces the senses with lyrical color and caressing fragrance. Meet the most colorful Lavandula angustifolia, its short spikes packed with aromatic, deep blue florets. Blooming June to September, the 12" tall herbal plants are remarkably hardy, tolerant of heat and humidity. Use fresh or dried in cut bouquets and sachets. Prefers full sun. Cold, deer, drought and rabbit resistant.

CrazyBlue Russian Sage - a compact and colorful, easy care perennial for use as an accent, border or mass planting. Violet-blue flower spikes arise from the lacy, gray-green aromatic foliage, adding an airy feel to the landscape. Hardy and heat tolerant, and sturdy, interlacing branches do not fall open in wind and rain. Prefers full sun. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Salvia Back to the Fuchsia - a new Proven Winners salvia, Salvia Back to the Fuchsia is part of the Color Spires series. This colorful perennial produces cool fuchsia flower spikes atop the neatly mounded, aromatic foliage. Lovely when planted in drifts. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Prefers sun. Salt tolerant. Attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Dee rand rabbit resistant.

Plant information and photos provided by Monrovia, Burpee and Proven Winners.

Watering, McDonald Garden Center

Watering Tips During Drought Conditions

We've been lucky to have such amazing, sunny weather here recently, but our plants haven't been getting much rainwater. This recent dry spell in addition to the periods of heavy rain that we experienced over this last year may have resulted in plants not developing a deep enough root system needed to withstand a period with no rain (especially trees and shrubs). Therefore, it is crucial that you water during this period with no rainfall. Established plants should receive one inch of water over the area once a week. Plants installed after February of this year may need more frequent watering. Here are a few more of our watering tips to help keep you plants healthy and thriving:

WATERING TREES & SHRUBS:
When watering trees or shrubs, be sure to give each plant ample watering every time you water. Holding the hose on the plant for a few seconds or even a few minutes is not enough to really get the root system covered. Instead, set your hose down near the base of the plant and set the water pressure to a medium to lower level- not a trickle and not full blast. This will ensure water is getting deeper into the ground and not running off the surface.

LAWNS:
Lawns are also struggling in this time of drought. Make sure to water one inch every three days on established lawns and new lawns every one-two days. To best measure one inch of watering, turn on the sprinkler and use a tuna can or Tupperware dish that is an inch deep as a rain gauge. Time how long the sprinkler takes to fill up the container then run your sprinklers for this amount of time at each watering.

WATER IN THE MORNING:
Plants require water throughout the day and dampness and darkness will cause fungus issues. In-ground sprinkler systems are great, but do not deliver adequate amounts of water to landscaped areas (areas with trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals). Be sure to apply additional water to irrigated areas in these dryer times. In-ground watering systems for lawns work well, but make sure they run in the morning and are getting at least an inch of water to all areas of the lawn.

APPLY MULCH:
Applying mulch will keep roots cool or warm depending on time of year and helps keep moisture in the soil.

REMOVE WEEDS:
Remove weeds from landscaped areas and around newly planted trees or shrubs as these will consume water before it gets to the desirable plants roots as well as reduce nutrient uptake for the plant.

WATERING GUIDELINES BY SIZE:
Small Shrubs and perennials (1 gallon-3 gallon) 3-5 minutes per plant
Medium shrubs and perennials (3-5 gallon in size) 7-10 minutes per plant
Larger shrubs (7-10 gallon) 10-15 minutes per plant
Tees (10-15 gallon) 20 minutes per plant.

Water like the pros- we water every day! Our favorite tool is a good hose and a watering wand. Feel free to come in and talk with one of our experts for advice on watering and all your watering needs. For information on watering
click here

Brilliant Autumn Fern
NEW Shade-Loving Perennials for the Garden
Heuchera Forever Red
Heuchera Forever Red
Heuchera Carmel
Heuchera Carmel

Shade-Proof Perennials

Contrary to what most people think, gardening in the shade isn’t any harder than gardening in sunny areas of the landscape. Just like planting in sunny conditions, planting in shade requires a little for thought and planning in choosing and placing plants. Many full and partial-shade plants are really pretty, so you don’t have to sacrifice beauty in order to garden in the shade! Some shade-loving plants offer colorful or variegated foliage to brighten up those dark areas. Here are a few shade-loving plants that we think you’ll love, too.

Brilliance Autumn Fern
This handsome coppery red selection is brighter red and significantly more dramatic than others in the species. A bold and beautiful choice for dappled sunlight to deeply shaded areas. Leaves mature to deeply cut, dark green. Easy to grow and adaptable.

Heuchera FOREVER® Red
This lovely, fast growing Heuchera has the reddest leaves ever, a great crown, and it is a vigorous grower. The leaves are cut and somewhat ruffled and reddest in the spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler. The 14″ spikes with white flowers in mid-summer complement and contrast with the foliage. Exposure: Part shade, full sun, full shade. Bloom Time(s): August & September

Caramel Coral Bell
New leaves emerge bright gold and mature to a peachy orange. The soft but showy color adds warmth and contrast to mixed containers and woodland borders. Thrives in the high heat and humidity of the South. Sun tolerant in cool northern gardens. Evergreen in mild winter areas; an herbaceous perennial in colder regions. Plant in partical to full sun. Water regularly - weekly, or more often in extreme heat or containers.

Plant information and photos provided by Monrovia and Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.