You are here

The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening
Pothos
Snake Plant (sanseveri/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
Rubber Plant (ficus elastica)
Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen)
Bird’s Nest Fern (asplenium nidus)
ZZ Plant

Fight the Winter Blues with a Green Thumb

Wintertime in Hampton Roads can be cold and gloomy but that doesn’t mean your home has to be. And with the change of seasons, our moods often follow suit, but there's an easy way to help ward off those winter blues – houseplants. Research suggests that having plants around is a good thing for your health and productivity. Studies show indoor plant care has several benefits, including lowering your blood pressure, decreasing your anxiety levels and improving your overall well-being. And whether you are a houseplant aficionado or just growing a few succulents on a windowsill, there’s a houseplant for you. Here are five of our favorite, low maintenance houseplants that will help you battle the winter blues:

Pothos - one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Features pointed, heart-shaped green leaves, sometimes variegated with white, yellow, or pale green. Prefers bright, indirect light, and a wet/ dry watering cycle.

Snake Plant (sanseveri/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) - a tough plant with heavy, sword-like leaves that can grow up to 4-feet in height. Prefers moderate to bright light. Water once every 7 - 10 days thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry in between waterings.

Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) - grown for their glossy, leathery, large leaves and low maintenance requirements. Leaves are oblong to oval and come in assorted colors from dark green to deep maroon with accents of either yellow, cream, pink or white. Rubber plants do well in a variety of conditions. Prefers medium to low light. Water every 4-6 weeks.

Aglaonema (Chinese evergreens) - this easy-to-care-for plant is adored for its big, beautiful, colorful leaves and low-maintenance requirements. Cultivars are available with streaks and speckles of white, yellow, or even pink and red. Aglaonema tolerate a wide range of light conditions from very low light to bright, but not direct sunlight.

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus) - known for its wavy, ripple-edge fronds that grow out of a central rosette, this plant will add a vibrant pop of green to any space. Grows best in filtered or indirect light and moist but not wet soil.

Honorable Mention ZZ Plant – this shiny and slick easy-care plant has a unique form and dense cluster of glossy, zig-zag leaves. It is drought tolerant, can handle dry air, and can survive in low-light conditions. Like a succulent, the thick stems and roots store water, so follow a dry/wet cycle when watering

WATERING TIPS: Overwatering is the most common reason plants fail – particularly in the winter. Overwatering can cause browning of leaves, fungus, gnats, and dropping of leaves. Wait to water your houseplants until they become dry. Check your soil. The best tool is your finger. If the soil is dry from the tip of your finger to your first knuckle, it’s time to water.

To learn more about other low maintenance houseplant options click here.
To learn how to repot houseplants click here.

Poinsettia
Tillandsia Snowmen Figurines
Rosemary Topiaries
Hellebores
Michele Design's Soaps
Nature Creations Unique Folk-Art Birdhouses
Heirloom Ornaments
McDonald Jams, Jellies and Sauces
Garden Statuary
Misters
Pruners
Gloves
Fit Flow Hose
McDonald Garden Center Gift Cards

Gifts for the Gardener

Do you know someone who loves to garden? Chances are, you do. Whether it's growing flowers, fruits and veggies or a beautifully landscaped yard, we’ve got lots of gift ideas for the green thumb in your life. So, this year, don’t stress out over gift-giving. Stop in our Independence or Great Neck locations and checkout our selection of unique and everyday gardening goods perfect for everyone on your list. Here are few of our favorites:

Poinsettia
Nowadays, this holiday classic is popping up in all sorts of nontraditional colors – in shades of pink, peach, yellow, and even chartreuse. Or try one of McDonald’s painted poinsettias that are hand-painted and glittered in a rainbow of colors. Many even have large, double, or uniquely shaped blooms. To learn more about poinsettia care, click here.

Tillandsia Holiday-Themed Figurines
These adorable, little ceramic figurines feature hardy tillandsia (air plant), atop a whimsical snowman wrapped in a colorful scarf. The perfect petite companion whether at home or in the office. Other figurines options include, polar bear, Groot, abominable snowman, and holiday wreath. To learn more about tillandsia care, click here.

Rosemary Cones & Topiaries
Add festive cheer and fragrance to Christmas and beyond with rosemary topiaries and cones. These hardy, evergreen perennials are easy to grow, beautiful to look at, and super useful too. Rosemary is prized in the culinary world for its flavorful leaves. It is also beloved for its petite, blue flowers that appear each spring. To learn more about rosemary, click here.

Hellebores
This hardy perennial offers beautiful blooms all through the dreary days of winter and into early spring. Also called the Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose, bloom time often coincides with the Christmas holidays. This evergreen features blooms with five petal, cup-shaped flowers. The foliage is dark green, offering a beautiful back drop throughout all seasons. 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. To learn more about hellebores, click here.

Michel Design Works Soaps
Shea butter, aloe vera, and pure fragrances create these luxury foaming soaps featuring delightful scents Michel Design Works is famous for. Beautifully packaged with Michel Design Works signature medallion in an easy to use and elegant square container. Choose from scents of the season like spruce, tartan, and Christmas snow or everyday scents including lemon basil, lavender rosemary, garden melody and more.

Heirloom Ornaments ~ 757 Collection
Celebrate Hampton Roads with this exclusive collection of ornaments. These two-sided, glass ornaments are intricately hand-painted celebrating iconic places throughout Hampton Roads. To see our collection of Heirloom ornaments, click here.

Garden Statuary
From the grand and ornate gardens with large figures, to small animals in a naturalistic setting, statues bring life and movement to the garden. Choose from a wide assortment of statuary that will fit into any space and style. This keepsake will remind your special someone they are special all year long, not just during the holidays.

Local, Jams, Jellies and Sauces Give deliciously! Crafted locally from Virginia-grown produce, our line of jams, jellies and dressings make tasty gifts. Grab a knife and spread on the flavor with McDonald Garden Center's three NEW additions including Apple Butter (no sugar added), Cracked Peppercorn Dressing, and Fig Preserves.

Nature Creations Unique Folk-Art Birdhouses
These beautifully, hand-crafted folk-art birdhouses are made from repurposed wood and metal from weathered barns and houses. Enjoy them as a wonderful accent indoors or adopt a bird family outdoors and provide them with a cozy shelter. Available in a variety of styles.

Misters
Misters are perfect for spritzing indoor plants and a simple and effective way to boost humidity levels indoors. Misting is also a good solution to reduce the risk of overwatering your plants. Today’s mister come in a variety of styles and can also be used to display. Display on a table, bookcase, etc.

TIP: Use misters to disinfect pruners. Add mouthwash or alcohol to your mister and spray pruners after use.

Pruners
This garden essential is perfect for performing light pruning tasks like removing small dead wood, limbing up small trees, deadheading, etc. A good pair of pruners can make your gardening work much easier and keep your plants happier.

Kneelo Pad (Burgon & Ball)
Made of soft foam for comfort and helps to protect the knees. Generously sized with contoured edges, Kneelo allows you to work in cushioned comfort for extended periods of time. At the core is a deep layer of shock-absorbing EVA foam & a luxurious cushioning layer of memory foam. Pads are waterproof and made with durable neoprene with a quick-dry, easy-to-clean nylon coating.

Fit Flow Hose
This Italian designed hose comes with a waterproof bag and spray nozzle. The lightweight and durable design expands up to 60-feet long. Use on a boat, at the beach, hanging baskets, containers, raised beds, or for washing your car. Good for use on a balcony, deck, or porch.

Gloves
A perfect gift for the gardener in your life. Gloves never go out of style and make great stocking stuffers. Pair them with a plant or a McDonald Garden Center gift card.

McDonald Gift Cards
Share the world of gardening! Pair a gift card with an ornament, hand tools or garden gloves. Wrap it all together with ribbon and a few sprigs of greens for a garden gift they’ll love. Gift cards can be purchased in select amounts from $10 to $300 at any McDonald Garden Center location or online to be delivered in a special gift envelope by first-class mail. Redeemable at any McDonald Garden Center location or can be used for landscape services. Click here to order a gift card online.

For additional gift ideas, tune in to our Facebook Live Seminar with Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 11AM, featuring "Gifts for the Gardener." Click here to visit our Facebook page.

Poinsettia
Grinchmas Trees
Cyclamen
Norfolk Island Pine
Tillandsia (air plant) Snowmen
Citrus
Frosted Fern
Phalaenopsis 'Moth' Orchids
Christmas Cactus
Amaryllis

10 Holiday Houseplants to Give and to Get

Whether you're going all out for the holidays or you just want to keep it simple, blooming houseplants are a great way to put the finishing touches on your yuletide decorating. Christmas plants are one of the easiest ways to show your holiday spirit, and you'll find more varieties this year than ever before. And, as you get ‘wrapped’ up in the frenzy of the holiday season, remember plants make the perfect gift too. Placing any flowering plant in a gift bag, wicker basket, or decorative foil is a quick and easy way to decorate or use as a last-minute gift. Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional holiday season plants to consider for decorating or for gift-giving:

Poinsettia

Introduced in the United States by our first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. Today, poinsettias may be found in many different sizes and colors including red, pink, gold, white and variegated hues. When purchasing your poinsettia, look for a plant with dark green, healthy foliage, strong stems and bright colored bracts. Place your poinsettia in a well-lit location, out of direct sunlight and drafts. Water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. To learn more about poinsettias click here.

Grinchmas Tree

Add a little quirkiness to your holidays this season with this grinch-inspired table-top tree. The foliage of the Monterey cypress is a vibrant chartreuse, perfect for spreading holiday cheer wherever it is displayed. When the holiday season is over, simply remove the wiring and allow the tree to take its natural shape. Indoors, place in a full sun location. Water once a week as it prefers moist, well-draining soil. Mist to provide humidity.

Cyclamen

This cool weather bloomer boosts unusually shaped, colorful blossoms and variegated gray-green elliptical leaves. Depending on the variety, the blossoms may be pink, lavender, deep purple, white, or red. Cyclamen needs cool temperatures to continue blooming, so be sure to keep this plant away from heat sources and, preferably, in the coolest part of the house.Water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. To learn more about cyclamen
click here
.

Norfolk Island Pine

A holiday favorite with a pyramidal shape and soft, dark green needles that add a pop of green all year long. For a festive vibe, consider decorating it with ornaments and twinkling lights. This slow-growing tree loves a sunny spot. During the warmer months, you can move it outdoors and place in partial sunlight. Water thoroughly once a week or when the soil becomes dry to touch.

Tillandsia (Air Plant) Snowman

This adorable, little ceramic figurine features a hardy tillandsia (air plant) atop a whimsical snowman wrapped in a colorful scarf. The placement of the air plant gives this snowman the look of spiky green hair. This cute little guy makes a great living gift- and the perfect petite companion whether at home or in the office. Indoors, place in bright light or filtered sun. To water, simply mist 2-4 times a week with a water bottle or mister. To learn more about tillandsia
click here
.

Citrus

There's something so special about citrus. How can you not adore these beautiful, evergreen plants with lush, bright green foliage and heavenly fragrant blooms? We love tucking these plants around our homes, so we can enjoy their sweet fragrance and delicious fruits. Keep indoors during winter, and once it warms up, these beauties love to vacation outdoors.

Frosted Ferns

Another good choice if you’re looking for a plant for the holidays but want something a bit different. Known for its silvery foliage that resembles frost on a cold winter morning, this plant infuses a soft, evergreen feel indoors, making it the perfect plant for the holidays and beyond. Not really a fern, but a clubmoss, Selaginella ‘frosty’ has flat, scale-like leaves, much like an arborvitae. Keep this plant in bright, indirect sunlight and the soil evenly moist, never allowing it to dry out. Provide humidity for the frosty fern by placing the potted plant on a saucer of pebbles or gravel and water. Drainage is a must and misting is not recommended.

Phalaenopsis 'Moth' Orchids

Phalaenopsis, 'Moth' orchids, are some of the least expensive and longest-blooming orchids available. In fact, one bloom spike can look great for four months or more. We love orchids paired with other holiday favorites like poinsettias and cyclamen. Orchids are surprisingly easy to grow. In the right setup at home, they can be extremely low maintenance. Be sure to give them a spot in low, medium, or bright light and water weekly or every other week. To learn more about growing orchids
click here
.

Christmas Cactus

This thornless member of the cactus family has flat green foliage, which blooms periodically. Blooms are tubular in shape and come in varying shades of reds, pinks, whites and yellows. This houseplant is easy to care for, making them the perfect gift for those without a green thumb. Prefers bright, indirect light and, unlike most other cactus, requires light to moderate watering. To learn more about Christmas cactus click here.

Amaryllis

Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom. The large, striking flowers and bold colors make this a must-have, holiday classic! Amaryllis bulbs are available in so many beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and even orange. There are also striped and multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white. Place in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Water sparingly until you see about 2" of new growth. From then on, water regularly. As the plant grows, turn the pot periodically to encourage the flower stalks to grow straight. To learn more about growing amaryllis click here.

"Pining" for Fresh-Cut Greenery

There’s something intoxicating about decorating with fresh and fragrant greens. And when it comes to holiday decorating, nothing says Christmas quite like boughs of fresh-cut foliage. Living greenery adds organic texture and straight-from-the-forest fragrance, while adding a little yuletide spirit both indoors and out. There are plenty of ways to use fresh greenery for the holidays. Place greenery on walls, tables, mantels, the hearth, on the floor, and on chandeliers. Heap them in vases, garland your doorways, banisters, and mirrors. Use fresh greenery outside on shutters, gates, on and over doorways, columns, mailboxes, and light posts. Here are some suggested fresh-cut varieties to use in your holiday decorating this season:

Juniper - fragrant, short, green or silver-blue needles that usually include small blue berries. Perfect for accenting wreaths and garlands or holiday centerpieces.

Holly - this most traditional holiday green features glossy green foliage with bright red fruit that will beautifully embellish holiday arrangements and centerpieces.

Boxwood this small-leafed shrub is a longtime favorite for fine-textured wreaths and garlands.

Fraser Fir - fragrant with short, flat needles and excellent color and needle retention. Perfect in wreaths, swags and centerpieces.

Noble Fir- a hardy, fragrant, and long-lasting evergreen. Needles have a beautiful bluish tint. Ideal for wreaths, swags, garlands, and centerpieces.

Magnolia - boasts large, glossy leaves, with dark green that contrast well with the velvety, brown undersides. Magnolia leaves make stunning wreaths and bases for large decorations. Try spray painting them with gold or silver for a more formal look.

Incense Cedar - aromatic, fan-like foliage with a short, feathery appearance. Ideal in porch pots, swags, or garlands.

Leyland Cypress - feathery dark green to gray foliage that is sap-free. Provides wonderful contrast against red bows and traditional holiday décor. Use as an accent on mantles, centerpieces, tablescapes, and wreathes and garlands.

TIP: Mist your evergreens with water to keep them moist and smelling fresh.

To learn more about fresh-cut greenery click here.

Anderson family planting the Emancipation Oak sapling
Eddie Anderson at Emancipation Oak dedication
Eddie Anderson's Emancipation Oak sapling arriving at the White House

Planting Memories and Cultivating Traditions

As we kick off the Thanksgiving season, we'd like to bring to light the importance of spending time with our loved ones and take a moment to pause and be thankful. Each year, families across the world participate in their own unique and time-honored family rituals that hold a special place in their hearts. Some of our fondest memories as a child were created out of the traditions our parents and grandparents taught us.

Our founder, Eddie Anderson, and his son, Mark (owner and CEO), shared the importance of the stories and memories that go along with the plants in their home gardens. “These plants carry the memories of the events in our lives” explains Eddie.

Recently, the Anderson families gathered together to plant a sapling from the historic Emancipation Oak tree. Located on the campus of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, the Emancipation Oak is quite possibly the most iconic tree in the state of Virginia. National Geographic has named it as one of The 10 Great Trees of the World. This grandiose, southern live oak is estimated to be more than 200 years old and the trunk itself is 9 to 10-feet in diameter. Its reputation dates back to before the Civil War and continues to be an enduring symbol of the university’s rich heritage. Prior to the Civil War, Virginia law forbid the education of slaves. However, in 1861, Mrs. Mary Smith Peake taught children of former slaves under the great oak tree, located merely three miles outside of the protective safety of Fort Monroe. Night classes were held under the tree for adults. On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued a preliminary copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming that all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free”. It was an important time in the war as it turned the fight around from preserving the nation to a fight for human freedom. In 1863, the Virginia Peninsula's African American community gathered under the Emancipation Oak to witness the first Southern reading of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

In 2010, Eddie Anderson planted a batch of acorns from the Emancipation Oak. One of the seedlings was given to President Barack Obama for planting on the White House grounds. The remaining 12 offspring have since been growing at the Anderson's home in Hampton, Virginia. To read the complete article click here. With all the challenges 2020 has presented us with, this year seemed like the perfect time for Eddie Anderson to present his son Mark with one of these prized saplings.

These days, life is more chaotic than ever, and it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day demands and distractions and forget all of the things in our lives to be grateful for. Coming together as a family, to not only remember the love for each other, but also our country, was a special moment for the Anderson family. Eddie expressed,“It linked three generations together. Even the neighbors joined in to sing 'America the Beautiful.' Maybe one day they will tell their children how they helped plant the tree. Maybe they will read their poem again. They may talk about the importance of trees or they may just drift off into the memory of a happy family event. We never know what part of the day will stick with young minds. The photos record the event and established a benchmark in the development of the tree and the family. October 18th was a beautiful, sunny day to plant this living witness to the progress of the family.”

And as the Anderson family came together for one special moment, we at McDonald Garden Center thank you for the many moments you and your family have shared with us. We are so grateful to hold a special place in the Hampton Roads community and we thank you for letting us share in your lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photos provided by Angie Anderson

Rosemary

Rosemary, the Christmas Herb

Rosemary- it fills the air with an assertively pine-like fragrance, adds flavor to holiday dishes and even masquerades as a tree! Legend tells us that the Virgin Mary spread her blue cloak over a white-flowered rosemary bush when she lay down to rest. When she arose, the flowers were blue. It was then called the Rose of Mary, hence, its link to the Christmas season.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS BENEFITS

Rosemary is applauded for its health benefits, including its ability to boost memory, enhance mood, protect the immune system and reduce inflammation and pain. Just smelling rosemary has been linked to improving mood, and relieving stress. Research suggests that rosemary also contains substances that are useful for increasing circulation and improving digestion.

PROPER CARE AND MAINTENANCE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Traditionally, rosemary is cold hardy (even in Hampton Roads) and is perfectly happy outside. But with friends and family coming in, you may be tempted to bring your rosemary inside. And with all those aromatic benefits we told you about- why wouldn’t you?

When you bring a rosemary plant indoors, place it in a cool, sunny location with high humidity. To raise humidity without increasing soil moisture, place some pebbles in a saucer, add some water, and set the potted rosemary on top of the pebbles. Water it regularly and thoroughly but remove water that accumulates in the saucer. As with all potted plants, a good potting mix is essential for proper drainage. After the holidays, you can plop it into the ground.

Feel free to continue cutting sprigs off your rosemary all season for cooking. The growth will slow, but once placed outside, spring temperatures will help to revitalize this perennial. With normal conditions, it should come back nice and full.

TIP: One of our favorite decorating hacks for the holidays is to wrap your rosemary tree with Invisilites. Click here to learn more about Invisilites.

Gather Round, The Holiday Tablecape

Thanksgiving is knocking on the door, with Christmas just around the corner and this holiday season, family meals mean more than ever. So, what better way to set the scene for making memories at home than with a beautiful holiday tablescape.

WHAT IS TABLESCAPING?

Tablescaping takes the concept of the centerpiece to the next level. Instead of just using a single piece in the center of your table, tablescaping uses an assortment of elements to create a themed vignette limited only by your available table space and your imagination- the sky’s the limit. And don’t just stop at the dining room table. Tablescaping can be done lots of places- mantles, bookshelves, side and entryway tables, etc.

TIP: Tablescaping gives you the opportunity to shop your home. Look around and see what kinds of items you can mix and match- photo frames, mirrors, fabrics, pretty napkins, flowers, foliage, fresh or faux fruits and berries, baskets, books, candles, trays, vases, or bowls.

SIX STEPS TO CREATING A TABLESCAPE

Tablescapes can be super simple, with a few candles or a small floral arrangement, to full-on transformations with custom centerpieces, specialty tableware, linen napkins and more. Follow these six simple steps to create a beautiful tablescape this holiday season.

LAYERING ORDER

The key to a great tablescape is layering your pieces, from the table runner to picks and lights to ornaments and seasonal pieces. Layering helps to create depth, dimension and interest. Before getting started, think of the layering order for assembling your tablescape:

  1. Start with a base (tablecloth, table runner, placemats, garland, etc.).
  2. Add in a centerpiece (floral arrangement, pedestals, candles, etc.).
  3. Next, weave in picks then lights.
  4. Add in other elements like pumpkins, gourds, apples, votives, pinecones, ornaments, etc.).

STEP 1: CHOOSE A THEME (COLOR OR OVERALL THEME)

Consider the season or the occasion when selecting an overall theme. Use nature’s timing to influence your tablescape. Colorful fall foliage and fall produce (mini pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, etc.) at Thanksgiving or fresh or faux greenery and berries at Christmas. Everything on your table should correspond to the chosen palette. We recommend choosing two or three complementary colors (drawing inspiration from your centerpiece), and one contrasting color.

STEP 2: CHOOSE A CENTERPIECE

Once you have chosen a theme and color palette, decide on your centerpiece. Oftentimes, the centerpiece provides the inspiration for the rest of the décor. Whether your scheme is pumpkin-inspired fall or festive holiday, your centerpiece serves as the foundation and focal point of the table. Centerpieces can include but are not limited to:

floral arrangements • seasonal holiday décor or produce (ornaments, pumpkins, gourds, persimmons) • flowers and plants • assorted candles • pedestals or cake stands • and more.

TIP: Use a variety of heights and textures to add dimension to your design. Just remember not to pile your tablescape too high or your guests may have a hard time seeing each other across the table.

STEP 3: CHOOSE A BASE

Select from garlands or individual greens (fresh or faux), table runners, tablecloths, etc. Whether you use fresh or faux greenery is really up to you. Nothing says Christmas like the smell of fresh-cut greens, but keep in mind that they do require regular care and don’t last as long. Faux garlands and greenery don’t have an expiration date and come in lots of options including pre-lit and pre-decorated. This can make decorating more efficient. A faux garland also allows you to easily transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, letting you use the same garland for both seasons. If you’re using a table runner, opt for a neutral one. Often bold prints or heavy floral runners can distract from the overall design.

TIP: For round or square tables, wrap the garland in a circular shape. Make sure to fluff all the branches, so they are spread out evenly.

STEP 4: ADD PICKS

Now it’s time to add more texture and depth to your base. Depending on the season, use holiday-inspired picks and sprays. Make sure you balance each side (what you add to one side, add the same to the other side).

STEP 5: ADD LIGHTING

Lights add ambiance, dimension and sparkle to your design and are available in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. Be sure to consider string light length in your design. Light options include but are not limited to:

Invisilites • Durawise lights • votives or candlesticks • candles (real or flameless) • lanterns • and more.

TIP: Flameless candles are ideal for tablescape designs. They’re safe- no flame, no mess, drips, or spills.

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 can be coordinated with any décor for the holiday season or to use year-round.

Simplux Candles - are stunningly realistic and feature patented TRUE-FLAME Technology® that makes them virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. The three-dimensional flame will never burn out, always remains cool to the touch, and are safe for use around children and pets.

Lumineo Durawise Lights – these battery operate lights are available in either 48 or 96 light counts and can be used indoors or outdoors. With a built-in timer that stays on for 6 hours and turns off for 18, all you do is set it and forget it. Available in cool white, warm white, and multi-colored with a choice of black or transparent wire.

STEP 6: ADDITIONAL EMBELLISHMENTS

Depending on the time of year, incorporate additional seasonal elements for added interest. Bring in outdoor elements from your yard like pinecones, twigs, greenery, and flowers. Incorporate platters, candlesticks and candles – anything goes! Embellishments can include but are not limited to:

fresh or faux greenery • pinecones • berries • flowers • fruits (red or green apples, oranges, lemons, limes, persimmons, etc.) • ribbon • lights • ornaments • candles • pedestals and vases • twigs • and more.

TIP: Add ribbon last. Cut ribbon into smaller pieces. Pinch the ends and work ribbon into your design (a piece at a time) instead of using one continues piece of ribbon, which can be cumbersome to work with. This method works well in trees too.

Click here to view The Garden Guru's video "How to Make a Holiday Tablescape."

Wintergreen
First Snow
All is Calm and Brigth
Snowmen Snowing
Merry Little Christmas
Boho Chic
Merry and Bright

The More the Merrier, Our Top Seven Holiday Themes

Holiday decorating- it's a ritual that we at McDonald Garden Center just love, and we’ve been doing it for more than 75 years! So, in the spirit of the season, we've picked our top seven yuletide themes to help get you and yours in the holiday spirit.

Choosing a predominant theme can help to create a cohesive feel and make your decorating style unique and personal. And whether your style is understated, rustic, glam, totally over-the-top colorful, or all natural, our themed collections offer something for every taste. Get ready to deck your halls with some of our favorite holiday theme selections.

WINTERGREEN

Charming details make this theme extra special.

Wintergreen offers a modern, farmhouse feel with a combination of rich greens and creamy whites with a touch of gold. Trimmings include classic magnolia and eucalyptus picks, natured-inspired Santa and pinecone ornaments, tabletop trees and Santas, green plaid ribbon, goblets and plates, and festive firs. Incorporate twinkling lights to elevate the look of this charming theme.

FIRST SNOW

The perfect palette is sometimes the simplest.

First Snow features pure whites complimented by soft, celadon and forest greens. Accessories include fury snowman pillows, polar bears, owls, and shimmering glass celadon and deep green ornaments. Add some simple white lights to make this theme come alive!

ALL IS CALM AND BRIGHT

Express the spirit of the season with this elegant, dual-toned theme.

All is Calm and Bright is another winter white look, accented with elegant gold and a dash of blue. Trimmings and accessories include orb-shaped ornaments, coned-shaped trees, winter-white berry picks, nutcracker ornaments, and more. Weave in some soft, white lights to compliment this sophisticated look.

MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Sprinkle in some magic.

Merry Little Christmas (Christmas Gnomes). Add holiday cheer with this jolly theme featuring vivid reds and soft grays spattered with sky blue. Accessories include plush Santa sloths and gnomes (in various sizes), knit gnome hats, red snowflake picks, buffalo red plaid ornaments, Santa gnome ornaments, assorted gnome ornaments (in various sizes and patterns), clear ornament with full-size mittens, and gnome pillows. Thread in some red and white or assorted colored lights for a little added magic.

MERRY AND BRIGHT

So much merry in one place!

Merry and Bright features vibrant colors in pinks, greens, reds and blues. Accessories include fuzzy llamas, plush gnomes, sequined owl ornaments, and feather-white picks adorned with colorful orbs. Add a modern Merry Christmas pillow to complete this fun and festive feel. Enhance the merry vibe even further with white or assorted colored lights.

BOHO CHRISTMAS CHIC

Create a bohemian retreat.

Boho Christmas Chic features and eclectic look filled with earthy tones, textures and patterns. This trendy theme includes llamas, owls, snowflakes, star and tree ornaments, colorful macrame garland and keychains, pinecone and magnolia picks, pink, beige and white stockings, and boho-inspired ceramic pottery for plants. Add some colored or white lights to add some sparkle and shine.

See all of our holiday theme selections and more during our Open House Friday, November 6, through Tuesday, November 10, 2020 • 9AM-6PM.
Click here to view The Garden Guru’s Top 5 Holiday Themes video.
Clck here to see our Holiday Lookbook for 2020

Rain Gardens

A rain garden is a shallow planted depression in the landscape that is designed to retain water runoff from roofs, driveways, roads, parking lots (asphalt) and other impervious surfaces. Just like natural wetlands, these retention areas hold water from storms and give it time to soak into the ground or evaporate back into the atmosphere rather than enter directly into lakes, rivers, wetlands, and storm sewer systems. Even if the retention area overflows, a great deal of the contaminating materials have time to settle out before the water escapes into the bay or other bodies of water.

RAIN GARDEN BENEFITS

Today, governments and organizations encourage homeowners to build rain gardens to help protect the bay and other natural water sources. When planted with native grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost effective, low maintenance and attractive way to reduce and filter runoff from your property. Other benefits of rain gardens include:

  • Minimizes the need for mowing, pesticides, pruning, irrigation and fertilization.
  • Removes pollutants from water before it enters surface waters.
  • Prevents erosion by holding soil in place.
  • Provides food and habitat to wildlife.
  • Allows for garden creativity.

HOW TO PLANT A RAIN GARDEN

Rain garden designs can be simple or elaborate, depending on your gardening interest and experience. Follow these steps when planning and installing a rain garden:

  1. Pick a low point in the property. Find a low spot that is fairly flat with soil. Locations that allow standing water to drain within a day or two after a storm are best suited.
  2. Determine the size and shape. Rain gardens vary in size and can fit into many shapes and spaces.
  3. Remove the soil to 18-24 inches. For best infiltration, the bottom of the rain garden should be level.
  4. Back fill with a sand and organic mix. Replace heavy soil with one-half sand, one-quarter compost, and one-quarter topsoil. The sand mix retains the water just like natural bog areas.
  5. Add plants from the list of rain garden approved plants provided below.
  6. Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and in place and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
  7. Direct downspouts and other runoff to the rain garden. If water does not naturally flow to your rain garden, dig a shallow (3 to 4-inch deep) trench from your downspout to the garden, line it with landscape fabric, and cover with stones to create a streambed effect.

RAIN GARDEN MAINTENANCE

Rain gardens require little maintenance once established. Maintenance tasks include:

  • Watering plants regularly if there has been a lack of significant rainfall.
  • Regularly weed, prune, and mulch the garden.
  • Routinely clean the downspout connection to prevent from clogging.
  • Removing trash or other debris from the rain garden.

RAIN GARDEN PLANTS

Rain gardens are best when planted with native plants that are indigenous to our area. These plants require less maintenance once established, have deep roots that soak up lots of water, provide food and habitat to wildlife, and are beautiful. Remember, plants must be able to live with their roots in standing water for periods of time and also survive periods of drought. Rain garden plants include:

Winterberry Holly
Joe Pye Weed
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia)
River Birch
Perennial Hibiscus
Daylily
Acorus
Swamp Milkweed
Panicum
Juncus
Sea Oats
Service berry
Virginia Sweetspire
Yaupon Holly
Wax Myrtle aka Bayberry

For additional resources on rain gardens, visit the Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center website here or the City of Norfolk website here.

Get Ahead of the Carve, DIY Succulent Pumpkin

Fall is clearly the season for pumpkins- pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin candles, pumpkin butter, and of course, pumpkin decor. And when it comes to fall decorating, these colorful orbs are the universal symbol of autumn. Who hasn't carved a silly or spooky face into the orange-colored squash to light the way for trick-or-treaters on Halloween? But pumpkins aren't just for Halloween. In fact, they can be used and displayed in a variety of different ways.

Our Houseplant Buyers, Sarah, takes pumpkin decorating to a whole new level. Follow her step-by-step guide and carve out some fun with this whimsical, real pumpkin trimmed with living succulents- the perfect way to bring houseplants and fall together, both indoors and out. Keep your succulent creation through Thanksgiving for a colorful centerpiece. So, eat your pumpkin pie, drink your pumpkin latte, and get ready to create your very own gourd-geous succulent pumpkin planter.

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
Pumpkin, succulents, garden clippers, moss, Tacky, Elmer’s, or craft glue (as long as the glue is not water soluble, you are good to go), and, of course, a little creativity.

CHOOSING YOUR PUMPKIN:
Try to choose a pumpkin that has a flat top, allowing for lots of space for succulents. Remove the stalk from your pumpkin if you would prefer, however, this step in not necessary.

MAKING A BED FOR YOUR SUCCULENTS:
You can use any type of moss as a bed. Sheet moss is wonderful for its look and feel. As your succulents sit on the moss, they'll begin to take root. Once Thanksgiving is over and the top of your pumpkin begins to decompose, simply lift the entire succulent garden off the pumpkin and replant elsewhere. Maybe a festive Christmas container?

CHOOSING YOUR PLANTS:
Try choosing succulents with different colors, sizes, shapes and textures. This will help make your pumpkin planter look fuller, while adding dimension and texture.

PLANT PREP:
Remove the succulents from their pots along with any excess soil. If you need to cut some of the stalk back, that’s fine, just be sure to leave a few roots. If you lose a couple of leaves, that’s ok too.

PLANT CONFIGURATION:
Begin with your largest succulent selections first. Plant them in the middle, like a triangle (this is your focal point). Use a little glue on the stalk of your succulent and gently place on top of the moss bed. Nestle the second succulent in with it and follow-up with the third.

For your next 'layer' choose a variety of succulents that are different from your first grouping. Use several of the same type succulent as you work around in a circle- this helps keep the look balanced. However, you can group in any way you like. Tuck the smaller succulents in the nooks beneath where two plants meet, so that your plants remain stabilized. Continue to add layers until you feel you have developed the look you are going for.

EMBELLISHMENTS:
After you are finished with your arrangement, you can always add other items to embellish your look. Try sticks, pinecones, eucalyptus sprays, fresh herbs, Invislites, etc.

CARE:
Leave your pumpkin to sit while the glue dries. Succulents prefer bright light and low water. Try to give your succulents a couple hours of sun each day. Water about once a week with a spray bottle or turkey baster. Apply water in between the succulents, so that the water reaches the roots (do not water from the top- always water at the roots).

TIP: Be sure you are familiar with the types of succulent you are using for your pumpkin. Some succulents are cold hardy meaning you can leave your pumpkin outdoors under 50 degrees. Some are tropical and cannot take temperatures below 50 degrees. Keep your pumpkin planter indoors if growing these varieties.

To learn more about pumpkins click here.
To learn more about decorating with pumpkins click here.