Monthly Archives: March 2017

In Bloom: Shade-Loving Pieris

You have to love an evergreen shrub that has showy cascading white, pink or red flowers, colorful new growth which varies by variety, from bronze, brilliant pink to scarlet and thrives in sunny or shady situations. And, is not on the preferred menu of deer.

Newer varieties have a more compact growth habit that’s ideal for low borders and containers. Other, taller types boost foundation plantings (add them to rhododendrons or azaleas for a serious spring flower display) or add romance to a woodland setting.

One of the most underutilized plants in the landscape, which is just not right. If you yearn for easy, fuss-free early spring color, this one’s for you.

Keeping Pieris Happy

  • Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
  • Provide well drained soil, rich in organic matter.
  • Pieris shrubs grow and flower best when planted in partial shade. They will grow in deep shade, but generally do not flower as well, and the new foliage growth is usually not as brilliant.
  • Feed with an acid fertilizer after bloom.
  • Keep roots cool with a thick layer of mulch.
  • Pruning time: spring after flowering.

3 Fun Varieties



Cavatine Lily of the Valley

Best Features: An exquisite dwarf variety reaching just 2 feet tall in ten years. Numerous green buds open to white bell-shaped flowers in early spring.

Size: 2′ tall and 3′ wide



valley valentine pieris


Valley Valentine Lily of the Valley

Best Features: Beautiful, deep red buds and pendant flowers

highlight the cool season. Attractive, bronze tint to new growth.

Size: 5′ tall and wide




katsura pieriss


Katsura Lily of the Valley

Best Features: Beautiful, wine-red new foliage flushing continuously throughout the season turning dark green with age.  Rose-pink bell-shaped flowers appear in early spring.

Size: 3′ tall and wide





5 Teas to Support your Health

Winter is often a reflection time for most people. The idea of self-reinvention, growth and overall healthier habits are particularly top of mind. A big focus is sharing what teas and blends we have to support our steepers who are looking to incorporate tea into their wellness routine. In continuation of our Love of Lists Series, we’re sharing 5 blends that support a healthier YOU.


What? The importance of taking time for oneself is so important for overall happiness. This is no easy feat with the busy lives we lead, but even taking 10 minutes to chill-out on your own can help you feel more grounded. Our favorite thing about ZEN MASTER is how the combination of both black & pu-erh tea types creates a soothing tea experience.

When? With a medium caffeine boost, it’s a great tea to start your day with.


What? Chamomile and citrus orange flavors come together to make this blend a real “hug in a cup” so to speak. It’s refreshing but packed with a lot of bold flavors.

When? At the first signs of stress or anxiety this blend will support a serene state of mind. Caffeine free – it can be enjoyed at moments when you need it most.


What? Everyone treats winter as a re-set time. This tea is a great addition to your wellness routine as it supports overall health. Whether you’re working out or planning on eating cleaner, the anti-oxidants in this blend will nourish your body.

When? Anytime, always! This blend is ideal for when you need a re-set or when you’re working towards a healthier lifestyle.


What? Treating your body with respect is a wellness choice, and there are ultimately no teas that can do all that work for you. Think of this blend as part of your wellness support system.

When? Perfect to beat afternoon cravings, or before any physical activity you plan on doing.


What? We predict 2017 might be the year for Yerba Mate tea. This blend is making big waves in the tea community and for good reason. With twice the anti-oxidants of green tea, it helps keep exhaustion at bay and provides a balanced energy boost. This blend also incorporates a lemon zest for a unique flavor twist.

When? For the days when you’re really feeling it, and just need an extra boost. We’ve got you covered.

Woman drinking a cup of tea skinny_sip_1024x1024

Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants

The key to successful gardening is “healthy soil.” Quite simply, when you feed the soil the proper nutrients, you let the soil feed the plants. So how do you “feed” the soil? First, you need to understand some basic principles about soil and why it is so important, then you can take steps to improve it.

To start, you should determine the soil texture by moistening the soil and rubbing it between your thumb and fingers to determine its “feel.” Sands are gritty and will barely hold together; clay can be squeezed into a firm shape; and silt will act in a way to allow particles to cling together. Sandy soils tend to dry out quickly because they contain high amounts of soil air. Oppositely, clay soils have a tendency to pack together, shutting out air and water. The best garden soil, “loam,” has moderate amounts of sand, silt and clay. Generally, soil in our area tends to be clayey. This condition can be improved by adding sufficient amounts of compost. For sandy soils, humus should be added to help retain moisture and nutrients.

Next, you must evaluate the soil structure. Soil structure is affected by soil pH, the amount of humus and the combination of minerals in the soil. Ideal soils allow soil particles to clump together with air spaces between them for water drainage as well as oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide release from plant roots. The best way to improve soil structure is to add high amounts of organic matter like humus, dehydrated manure, composted manure, mushroom compost, alfalfa meal, peat moss, or worm castings.

You will also need to take a soil sample, to measure the pH and amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the soil as well as other nutrients. This will help determine exactly what the soil needs. Our staff will help you read the results and determine what to add to your soil and how much. Generally, a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is acceptable. If your pH is lower than this, your soil is too acidic and requires lime to be added. If your soil is low in organic matter, it will often have a high pH level. All plants require a proper balance of nutrients – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Soils lacking any one of these elements will not produce healthy plants.

When dealing with poor, or improperly balanced soils, obtaining “healthy” soil may take two to five years to acquire. The best thing you can do to supplement your soil program is to use various organic fertilizers to meet your plants’ needs and regularly add organic matter. This will continue to help the soil structure as well as create biological activity that is also a vital part to developing productive soil.



It’s Pansy Season!

Growing Tips

Easy to grow, Pansies are one of the first flowers to welcome spring and if you follow these tips you can grow perfect Pansies. Choose plants with an overall deep green color with plenty of buds for the best results and fastest blooming. Plant in fertile soil where the plant will receive 6 hours of daily sunlight. Use a liquid fertilizer when planting and fertilize every  week to maintain vigor and color. Replace with  petunias in the summer when it becomes too warm for pansies.

5 quick tips for Perfect Pansies

  1. Pansies will have prolific blooms when planted in full Sun. (Yes they can grow in part shade)
  2. It is important to fertilize Pansies for maximum wow color. We like putting a granular down like osmocote at time of planting and then 1x a week water with a liquid fertilizer like Jacks classic.
  3. Plant in rich soil that retains moisture but also drains well. For containers we love Gardner’s Gold potting soil. When planting in the ground we mix in Bumper Crop compost.
  4. Keep Pansies pretty by pinching them back. Remove dead/spent flowers by pinching the stalk back to the next set of leaves.
  5. Water when they dry out. Pansies respond well to cool moist weather, so check them frequently for moisture.

Pansies grow well in rain or cold. In fact, it easily overwinters in many areas. This three-season performer may be planted for fall color, overwinter, and then perk up again in early spring providing an early punch of pizzazz. If it becomes too leggy, just cut back the foliage back to 3 inches tall and fertilize. In a couple of weeks, it will be smiling up at you.

When planting in containers, consider the flower and container colors to maximize the visual effect. Interplant with other textures and colors for an eclectic rainbow of vibrance. When planting in fall, add spring blooming bulbs, as they’ll easily grow through the pansies to create a riot of spring color. Spiky grasses provide a tall and contrasting effect to the pansy’s trailing tendrils, especially in larger containers.

With so many stunning options and new colors to embrace, there’s sure to be a Pansy perfect for all your flower planting desires!