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Pink Frost
Shooting Star
Monte Christo
Cinnamon Snow

Hellebores, the Cold-Weather Bloomer

There are few shade perennials that can compete with the seasonal interest of hellebores. Also called the Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose, bloom-time often coincides with the Christmas holidays. This hardy perennial offers beautiful blooms all through the dreary days of winter and into early spring. Hellebores features blooms with five petaled, cup-shaped flowers with dark green foliage that makes for a beautiful back-drop. Available in a variety of colors from white to pastel-yellow to pink and purple, this intriguing perennial is without a doubt the star of the winter landscape. And, throughout the summer the deep green foliage creates visual depth and interest in the landscape, too. This low maintenance plant is drought tolerant but will also thrive in moist, well-drained soil. And did we mention that hellebores are deer resistant. Not only will they grace your table with beautiful cut flowers, they'll provide color in your landscape at a time when there virtually is none. Here are some of our favorite stunning selections:

Pink Frost (Heritage Gold Collection) - a blend of white, pink, and deep rose on upward-facing petals - unusual for a hellebore. Burgundy stems support leathery leaves with a silver frosting. This upright grower blooms winter to early spring and is happy in beds, borders, or containers. Plant in part to full-shade.

Frostkiss Pippa's Purple - oodles of outward-facing, purplish-pink flowers overtop foliage that is mottled and veined with pink and silver, mellowing to mint on dark green. Pippa has a winter bloom-time and is ideal nuzzled into beds or containers. Plant in part to full-shade.

Shooting Star (Heritage Gold Collection) – dusty-rose buds open to white flowers that fade to sage-green with dark-red stems. Blooms winter to early spring and is right at home in beds, borders, and pots. Plant in part to full-shade.

Monte Christo (Heritage Gold Collection) – creamy blooms tinged with a peachy-rose-blush. Foliage is blue-gray with red stems. Blooms winter to early spring and is the perfect perennial for beds, borders, and containers. Plant in part to full-shade.

Marlon (Heritage Gold Collection) – large, cream flowers that mature to green on cinnamon-colored stems surrounded by deep-green foliage. This compact grower blooms late winter to spring and does best in beds, borders, and containers. Plant in part to full-shade.

Mahogany Snow (Heritage Gold Collection) – large, creamy with light-pink petals that age to a soft mahogany-pink. Mahogany Snow blooms winter to early spring and fits perfectly into shady beds, borders, or containers. Plant in part to full-shade.

Gold Collection Cinnamon Snow (Heritage Gold Collection) – large, creamy-white flowers blended with rose and cinnamon hues and cinnamon-red on the flipside. Foliage is deep green. This winter-time bloomer is well-suited for shaded beds and borders. Plant in part to full-shade.

Jacob (Heritage Gold Collection) - smooth, dark green foliage with crisp, 2 to 3-inch white flowers that mature to a pink and rose color in cool temperatures and turn light green in warmer climates. Stems are a rich burgundy highlight by dark green foliage. Blooms in winter and performs well in beds, borders, and pots. Plant in part to full-shade.

Jesko (Heritage Gold Collection) - large, pure-white blooms maturing to pale yellow-green with deep green, leathery textured leaves. Jesko is a compact grower and blooms in early winter. Perfect planted in pots, or in a shady spot in the landscape. Plant in part to full-shade.

Photos courtesy of Skagit Gardens

Holiday Lighting, McDonald Garden Center

Easy Holiday Decorating with Invisilites, with Garden Guru, Mike Westphal

Invisilites are one of our favorite ways to brighten your holiday décor during the upcoming season. Invisilites are micro LED lights on a thin, flexible wire that are super easy to use. They come in a variety of styles, designs, and colors that will compliment any décor for the holiday season or all year-round.

We have the largest Invisilite selection in Hampton Roads. They come either on green, copper, or silver wire, and we carry them in both battery-operated and plugin. Our collection also includes snowflakes and stars, as well as gold, silver and red ornament string lights.

The possibilities are endless with these little lights. Use them in wreaths, garlands, small trees, houseplants, poinsettias, lanterns, glass containers, centerpieces, topiaries, figurines, mantles, branches, and so much more!

Lifelike Trees

Guide to Choosing a Lifelike Tree, with the Garden Guru, Mike Westphal

Check out the video on the Guide to Choosing a Lifelike Tree, with the Garden Guru, Mike Westphal:

Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, shares some information on some of the most realistic, lifelike trees. Learn about the different functions, sizes, and options offered by leaders in the industry.

Employee Spotlight, Candy Kitchen

Our employees are what truly make McDonald Garden Center a diverse and unique place to work and shop. We have some pretty amazing people with many backgrounds and different personalities who have a real passion for what they do, and Candy is no exception! Most of you know Candy from our Independence location in Virginia Beach, but most recently she was promoted to Visual Merchandiser at our Great Neck location.

On any given day, you can find Candy creating stunning visual displays, moving merchandise around the store to keep inventory appearing fresh and appealing, assisting and providing customers with inspirational ideas for their home and garden, or helping her fellow employees with whatever that might need. We asked Candy to share some things about herself and here’s what she had to say:

How long worked at MGC?

I have worked here since May, 1997. So, 21+ years!

What roles have you had over the year?

While I have always worked in the decorative and the patio departments, I have learned so much over the years that I can answer just about any question, in any department. Our customers don't always understand the concept of different departments, and I think they appreciate continuity of service. I prefer not to send customers to another department unaccompanied, so even if I don't know the answer, I go with the customer, so I too can learn.

What's your favorite part about working at MGC?

My favorite thing is the relationships I have built over the years. Not just with other employees but especially with customers. So many have turned into friends! I also enjoy teaching others, from doing classes to teaching new staff procedures.

Where do you get your inspiration from (books, catalogues, etc.)?

My inspiration comes from lots of different places. Magazines, pictures, from market, coworkers, and of course, Pinterest.

What's your favorite season at the Garden Center?

My favorite season is Christmas, of course. I like helping customers achieve the perfect holiday look. It's fun to teach people things they don't think they can do, like tying a bow, decorating a wreath, using ribbon in a tree, adding lights to unexpected places, etc. Don't misunderstand - I love all the seasons, but the holidays are my fave.

What's your favorite plant?

It would be hard to pick a favorite plant! I love Japanese Maples (I have 8). A sentimental favorite is German Iris (reminds me of my Grandmother), Solenia begonias (they do so well in my yard), pansies, black and blue salvia. See, I told you it's hard to pick one!

Other things you may or may not know about Candy

She’s an avid reader (she’s read about 70 books so far this year). She also enjoys knitting and crocheting, and of course, gardening. Candy has two, grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her fur babies (two dogs) keep her on her toes at home. She moved to Norfolk (Ocean View) when she was twelve and has pretty much been there since.

Yuletide Camellia

Plant of the Month, Yuletide Camellia

Here come the holidays and with that comes the beautiful blooms of the beloved Yuletide camellia. This beautiful, cool-weather bloomer is a Hampton Roads must-have with its warm, red flowers and glossy, evergreen foliage. Yuletide is a beautiful addition to the garden year-round, giving flowers at a time of year when not much else is blooming and green foliage all year long.

This evergreen shrub will grow to approximately 8–10 feet tall. It’s an excellent choice for a colorful hedge or screen, a border shrub, or use along fence lines to add vivid color to outdoor living spaces, porches, and patios. We also love planting this camellia in a container surrounded by other cool-weather plants like pansies, ornamental cabbages, and dusty miller. Yuletide prefers full sun to partial sun and consistent waterings with partially damp soil.

It's easy to add a pop of color indoors or out using Yuletide blooms. Indoors, float blooms a in a glass bowl for a quick an easy winter decoration or use Yuletide cuttings in a mixed floral arrangement. Outdoors, use Yuletide as the centerpiece in pots to greet guests during a wintertime visit.

Sango Kaku, Coral Bark Japanese Maple
Bihou Japanese Maple

Ever-Changing Beauty, Japanese Maples

Japanese maples are truly a four-season tree, providing beauty in both color and texture in spring, summer, fall, and winter. The leaves of maples are usually the scene stealers, with their striking colors and shapes and often spectacular fall foliage colors. Yet, the bark can be quite interesting as well. While some maples produce the usual grays and browns of most trees, others have green, red, and even striped bark. Some varieties produce richly colored, exfoliating bark that curls and peels on the trunk and the thicker branches. Bark colors add dimension to the landscape and extend the season of interest all the way into the winter months. When it comes to Japanese Maple selection, the sky is the limit. Here are a few of or faves:

Sangokaku - also called the Coral Bark Maple, this beautiful, small tree has brilliant, flaming coral-red bark on young branches that intensifies in winter. The leaves emerge in spring with a flush of bright yellow-orange and change to soft green in summer providing a sharp contrast to the glowing coral bark. Autumn color is a bright tone of yellow and gold with hints of scarlet. Their non-invasive root systems make them excellent placed next to a patio or walkway. Coral Bark is also well suited for containers alone or under-planted with pansies and violas. And, because they are not large trees, Coral Bark can always be used in mixed planting borders and in foundation plantings. Prefers filtered to full sun.

Bihou (Acer palmatum) - this small, upright maple also offers stunning four-seasonal color. Spring leaf color starts out light yellow-green with a pink flush, then changes to green for summer and takes on a very bright yellow in fall. Bark on twigs and branches turns a vivid coral-yellow with an apricot overtone in winter. The Japanese name means "beautiful mountain range." Because of the showy, winter color of bark, Bihou makes a beautiful focal point in the landscape and works well in tight spaces. Prefers sun to partial shade in well-drained soil.

Photos courtesy of Monrovia

Floraberry Sangria
Floraberry Rosé

Growing FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort

Blog provided by Monrovia

Whether your garden is large or small, made up of beds or pots, we all need fuss-free shrubs to help give our gardens “good bones” or structure. But what if you could have a shrub that does triple duty? Got your attention? Let us introduce you to FloralBerry™, a new collection of St. John’s Worts, exclusively ours.

First a bit of 4-1-1 about St. John’s Wort (Hypericum). It is a small shrub that’s hardy to zones 5 – 9 and that shines across seasons. Spring through fall the dense, leafy form makes it ideal for the middle layer of a border, in a container, or anchoring a perennial bed. Summer brings yellow saucer-shaped blooms that bees adore. In fall, it sports richly-hued berries.

So what different about FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort?

  1. First, because these shrubs were bred especially for the cut flower trade, they produce abundant berries on longer stems which makes them are ideal for fall flower arrangements.
  2. Second, the intense color of berries (yellow, red, pink, cream, peachy depending on the variety) you’ll find on your shrub is remarkable.
  3. Finally, as in the case of Sangria, the leaf color can have a distinct, bold shade.

Fall can be a quiet time in the garden but there is no need to just sit back and watch it fade to black! Plant a few of these colorful, easy-to-grow shrubs for their beauty, berries and to feed wintering birds. Rosé or Sangria Floraberry are available at our Independence location only:

Floraberry Sangria - sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers produce clusters of showy rose-colored berries on well-branched, rust resistant plants with handsome dark green foliage. A fuss-free deciduous shrub ideal for borders and containers. Use as a specimen or low hedge, or plant in showy drifts. Stems of fall berries are a wonderful accent in cut flower arrangements.

Floraberry Rosé - clusters of golden, cup-shaped flowers on well-branched, rust resistant plants with handsome dark green foliage accented by deep red undersides. A fuss-free deciduous shrub ideal for borders and containers. Use as a specimen or low hedge, or plant in showy drifts. Stems of beautiful red berries are a wonderful accent in cut flower arrangements.

click here to see the complete Monrovia blog post Growing FloralBerry™ St. John’s Wort

photos courtesy of Monrovia

Ornamental Kale
Glamour Red Ornamental Kal
Peacock Series, White
Peacock Series, Red

Clusters of Cool-Season-Color, Ornamental Kale

Looks aren’t everything, but there really isn’t any other cool-weather annual that can provide the foliage texture or leaf color of ornamental kales. Ornamental cabbage & kale (also known as “flowering” cabbage and kale) are an easy and beautiful way to add a bold display of early and late-season foliage to your cool-season garden. It is one of the easiest bedding plants to grow, looks great all through the cool season, and is bothered by few pests. Foliage color can range from white to pink to red and purple and is truly stunning when planted in groups or in containers or flower boxes. Ornamental kale is in the same plant family as edible cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli and is edible, however, a bitter flavor means leaves are usually used as culinary garnishes—not as food. Ornamental kale may be planted alone or with other fall favorites such as mums, grasses, or pansies and makes a gorgeous backdrop for blooming violas and tulips. This annual does best in full sun but will tolerate a little light shade. In containers or in the landscape – it’s easy to transform your cool-season garden with the stunning colors of these flowering kales. Here are a few of our favorites:

Glamour Kale – one of our top picks, Glamour, is loved for its hot-pink foliage that adds unexpected brightness to any fall garden. Fringed heads reach 10 to 12-inches across and begin to color-up when night temperatures fall below 55°F. Works well as an edging, or as a fun addition to any cool-season container or landscape bed.

Peacock Series– this series makes a great addition to flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and even on your plate! Featuring large, feathered leaves that turn either a rosy-pink or bright white after first frost. Most kale varieties make tight, rounded rosettes, but ‘Peacock’ has larger leaves that will spread to two-feet across and tall. Choose from either white or red Peacock.

  • White Peacock - stands out from other kale varieties in both its appearance and texture, with its serrated, variegated green and ivory-white leaves and thick, milky-white ribs. Takes center stage in the gardens during fall and early spring and is the perfect addition in mixed containers and window boxes or planted in the landscape.
  • Peacock Red- bold, round plant with a rose-pink center and long and narrow, dark crimson outer leaves. Its feathery foliage provides great texture with intensified color in cooler temperatures. Peacock Red is a perfect complement to the many other colors in your fall beds and containers.
Agloanema (Chinese Evergreen) Varieities
Anyamanee & Cutless Aglaonema
Golden Fourite & Osaka White Aglaonema
Pink Dalmation & Siam Aglaonema
Silver Bay & Sparkling Sara Aglaonema
Super Maria & Valentine Aglaonema
Pink Moon & Sparkling Sarah Aglaonema

So Many to Choose From, Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Adored for their big, beautiful, colorful leaves and easy care, Chinese evergreens are often suggested for people who believe they don’t have a green thumb. Their low-maintenance requirements and their ability to adapt to a variety of conditions makes them great for houseplant beginners.

Chinese evergreen plants, also known by their genus, Aglaonema, hail from the shaded floors of Southeast Asian tropical forests. There are over 20 known species, which vary in their leaf patterns and colors. Cultivars are available with streaks and speckles of white, yellow, or even pink and red. Scroll through the photos above and take a peek at the many colorful and uniquely patterned varieties available in our greenhouse.

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.

Impatiens Downy Mildew
Impatiens Downy Mildew Symptoms

Impatiens Downy Mildew

Impatiens Downy Mildew is a relatively new disease problem for American gardens and now is being observed in many areas around the country. Rain and cooler night temperatures provide the perfect environment for disease infection. You may be experiencing early decline in your Impatiens.
Here is what you should look for:

Which plants get this disease?
This is a disease that affects all Impatiens walleriana plants (garden impatiens, including double impatiens). It does not affect New Guinea Impatiens
(I. hawkeri), SunPatiens®, and other bedding plants may be affected. There are other species that may get Downy Mildew.

Downy Mildew symptoms on Impatiens typically start with a few leaves that appear slightly yellow or off color (not to be confused with lack of fertilizer), and become completely yellow over time. Leaves may curl downward as if they need to be watered. Under humid conditions, a white, downy-like growth develops on the underside of primarily yellow or curled leaves, but can also be found on the underside of green leaves. Sometimes it is difficult to see the spores without a magnifying glass. Eventually the leaves and flowers will drop, resulting in bare stems with only a few tiny, yellow leaves remaining. These stems can become soft and the plant collapses, similar to frost damage.
Impatiens Downy Mildew tends to be worse in:

  • Locations where leaves stay wet for extended periods of time (4 hours or longer).
  • Very dense plantings – plants spaced close together.
  • Gardens receiving overhead irrigation, because the foliage does not dry quickly.
  • Plants in heavily shaded areas where the leaves stay wet for extended periods of time.
  • Extended periods of rain and cool (below 65F) night temperatures. Much like we experienced in early September.

How it spreads:
Downy Mildew can be spread short distances by water splashing from infected plants and greater distances by wind-borne spores from infected plants in nearby landscapes. Impatiens Downy Mildew can occur in beds with no history of the disease if wind-dispersed spores blow in from other locations. Once plants are infected they will not recover. Fungicide applications by home gardeners are not recommended since effective fungicides are not Fungicides such as Mancozeb and Daconil are recommended for use as a preventative before the symptoms occur. It is best to rotate fungicides so that the disease does not build up resistance.

What to do with infected plants:
Plants with this disease should be removed, roots, soil and all, bagged and disposed of. Do not compost infected plants, as there is a high risk that this disease will overwinter and infect Impatiens in future years.

What to do next spring:
When deciding what to plant next spring in areas that are heavily shaded with very little air circulation, it would be prudent to choose an alternative shade solution. Alternative solutions that would perform well in shade include Caladiums, Begonias, Coleus and Torenia. These plants can all be safely planted in beds with a history of impatiens Downy Mildew. If you still want to plant Impatiens, it is best to select a site with good air circulation and morning sun to allow any moisture from overnight to dry.

Now that it's cooling off, pansies will provide a great replacement for color during cooler seasons. Additionally, you can plant Dianthus, Snapdragons, Dusty Miller or Ornamental Kale among other annuals. If you have any questions, be sure to visit one of our year-round locations and speak with one of our gardening experts.


UMASS Extension, Center for Agriculture, "Impatiens Downy Mildew in Home Gardens"