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Plant of the Week: Matrix Pansies

What flower has a face, is edible, blooms in both spring & fall and comes in the widest range of colors of any garden annual? If you guest pansies, you are right. Yes, October = pansies here in Hampton Roads! These beloved blooms are one of the best ways to add color to your landscape during those six months of cool weather, from October through March. These vibrant, colorful flowers come in all the shades of the rainbow and then some including red, purple, blue, bronze, pink, black, yellow, white, lavender, orange, apricot and mahogany. Pansies are easy to grow, are hardy, provide a burst of color and can be used in a variety of ways - in beds, borders, rock gardens and containers. Here are a few of the newer selections from our popular Matrix Series that offer superb flower power with a compact, well-branched, and uniform habit:

Pansy Matrix Coastal Sunrise - new on the seen in 2014, this selection features an abundance of large flowers that will put on an unmatched color display for all to see. Coastal Sunrise is a mixture of deep rose, pink and purple blooms, with a no-stretch habit that keeps them looking good all summer and throughout the cool season. Add in the landscape or in pots for a pop of color for months to come. Coastal Sunrise grows 6-8 inches tall with an equal spread and prefers partial to full sun.

Pansy Matrix Ocean Breeze – another knock-out from the Matrix Series, Ocean Breeze boasts all the colors of the sea – ocean blues, whites, violets and deep dark purples. Blooms appear in fall and continue on into winter making them ideal planted up in containers, window boxes or in the landscape. Ocean Breeze grows 6-8 inches tall with an equal spread and prefers sun or partial sun for best flowering.

Check out more of our favorite plants! OUR PLANTS OF THE WEEK >>

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Plant Bulbs Now for Sensational Spring Flowers

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

Bulbs are too often afterthoughts in the garden. It’s wrong thinking, something I’ve been guilty of, too. For years, I ignored bulbs. Then, I became the energized owner of a woodsy garden where I envisioned a river of daffodils blooming in early spring.

Over the course of several falls, hubby Ken and I dug holes and planted thousands of spring-flowering daffodils.Digging planting holes around huge tree roots is a challenge but Ken did it with good humor. I had him create holes large enough to hold about 25 bulbs each, and made him promise not to ever tell anyone how I planted bulbs. Why? I literally threw them in, leaving them upside down, sideways and right side up. He laughed and kept digging.

Miraculously, each spring, the daffodils emerged, leafed out and bloomed beautifully – because bulbs are smart and instinctively know to right themselves. Late September and October are the perfect planting timeframe for spring-flowering bulbs – daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus. Daffodils and crocus like open spaces of full sun but also fare fine under tall deciduous trees where the bulbs soak up the sun they need before trees leaf out. Tulips are best in pots and gardens with all-day sun.

Bulbs need rich, organic soil that drains well. They need consistent moderate moisture but dislike soggy soil. Once your bulbs finishing flowering, allow the foliage to yellow and die back because the photosynthesis process nourishes the bulbs for next year’s flowers. Once your spring-flowering bulbs are in the ground, plan for more year-round color with summer- and fall-flowering bulbs. Like me, you’ll soon realize bulbs play starring roles in a garden’s beauty.

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Make a Scarecrow. Make a Difference!

With our 20th annual Make a Scarecrow event coming up this weekend, we thought we'd give you a few fascinating scarecrow highlights to kick fall off with a bang.

  1. For 20 years, McDonald Garden Center has donated 100% of proceeds from the Make a Scarecrow event to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) -- Virginia’s only free-standing, full-service pediatric hospital. Thanks to the generosity and support of our community, we've donated more than $200,000 -- that's over 10,000 scarecrows made!
  2. CHKD is a not-for-profit hospital, so donations such as these are crucial to the welfare of the hospital.
  3. CHKD Thrift Stores donate enough clothing, hats, ties, belts and other accessories to “dress” more than 1000 scarecrows... that's a lot of clothes!
  4. Scarecrows date back more than 3,000 years. From the Egyptians to the Greeks to farmers today, scarecrows are a solution to a common problem for farmers and gardeners - hungry birds!
  5. We all rely on a plentiful harvest to last us through winter, and scarecrows, human or straw, help us have one. Scarecrows are common throughout the world. In Britain, they are called mommets, tattie bogies and hodmedods. In other places around the world, they are known as jack-of-straws, scarebirds, and shoy-hoys.
  6. The scarecrow was commonly used in 19th century English literature. Who could forget the Scarecrow of Oz from L. Frank Baum’s tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? This just might be one of the most famous scarecrows of all time.
  7. Want to make your own scarecrow? There’s no limit on how creative yours can be. Use straw to stuff pockets and sleeves and to fill in any holes. Glue fabric strips to create patches. Add your own accessories, such as hats, gloves, scarves and even shoes.
  8. Making a scarecrow together is a great family project. By working together as a family you can create a fall tradition that is proudly displayed in your fall décor. It is also a perfect team building activity for groups like the girl scouts, boy scouts, businesses or even sports teams.
  9. It’s a fact... make a scarecrow and you'll make a difference!

This local fall tradition is bails of fun for the whole family. Join us this weekend to MAKE A SCARECROW >>

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