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Blue Hills Newsletter
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Blue Hills Nursery News November 15, 2018
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden."
Hugh Johnson



Holiday Color

Took these pictures on a morning stroll around the nursery. Come and see for yourself!


Succulent Planters

Beautiful pumpkin and wine bottle planters. These make great gifts - give one to yourself, too.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Blue Hills will be closed Thanksgiving Day.

Some Fun Thanksgiving Facts for You:

  • The Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving feast, in 1621, lasted three days.
  • On October 3, 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued a "Thanksgiving Proclamation" that made the last Thursday in November a national holiday.
  • In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November, in order to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy. Two years later, he changed it to the fourth Thursday.
  • In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, on the fourth Thursday in November.
  • There were no mashed potatoes at the first Thanksgiving dinner--potatoes were brought here later, by Irish immigrants.
  • Turkeys were one of the first animals in the Americas to be domesticated.
  • Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey a noble bird and wanted it to be the national bird of America, rather than the eagle!
  • Native Americans used the red juice of the cranberry to dye rugs and blankets.
  • Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October.
  • The pilgrims didn't use forks; they used spoons, knives and their fingers, so if anyone objects to your picking up that drumstick--tell them you are simply practicing traditional American table manners!

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Cyclamen

If you're looking for a plant to provide color for the fall and winter shade garden, cyclamen is a great choice. But cyclamen can do much more than that: even though it is technically a bulb, it doesn't really act like one. What do we mean? Aside from the fact that it does go dormant like most bulbs, unlike most bulbs it will grow almost as happily in the house as it does outdoors (providing a few simple rules are observed) and it blooms for a much longer period, from fall through spring.

The appearance of the plant and its blooms is endlessly fascinating. The leaves are heart-shaped and grow luxuriantly to form a dense mound; these leaves can be mostly green or mostly silver with beautiful contrasting markings. The profuse flowers that stand well above this mass of foliage resemble graceful butterflies and come in red, white, pink, lavender and bi-colors.

When planting your cyclamen outdoors, choose a shady to semi-shady spot with good drainage. If your soil tends to be alkaline, we recommend amending with GBO Acid Planting Mix. It is important not to plant them too deeply; keep the top of the tuber slightly above the surrounding soil (this also helps keep water away from the crown of the plant, which can cause the tuber to rot). Feed regularly with Gro-Power Flower 'n' Bloom while the plant is actively growing and producing flowers; your plant will continue to grow and bloom from fall through early spring. As soon as the flowers begin to fade, snap the stems off near the base of the plant; likewise remove any dying foliage.

Consider planting cyclamen in large groups of the same color or possibly two contrasting colors. A great combination is red and white--each color plays up the other to the greatest extent. Cyclamen are also very effective in mixed container plantings with pansies or ornamental kale or cabbage, possibly with some variegated needlepoint ivy draping over the sides.

If you plan to grow your cyclamen indoors, choose a well-lit spot away from heater vents but out of cold drafts. Cyclamen prefers high humidity during the winter, so place your container in a tray full of pebbles with some water in it (do not let the pot sit in the water--the pebbles will help raise it up a little higher). Keep the plant well groomed and continue feeding with a liquid fertilizer.

If you have a decorative pot the right size, you can simply slip your plant, nursery container and all, right into it. One caveat: if the outside pot you choose does not have drainage holes, make sure to remove your plant to water it and let it drain thoroughly. If you allow your cyclamen to stand in water, it will quickly die. Cyclamen do not mind being in a tight space, so it probably won't be necessary to repot it right away. If you do decide to repot your plant, use a good quality potting soil and choose a container just a little larger than the original one (make sure that the new pot has drainage holes).

Given the right care, you can keep your cyclamen from year to year. When the weather begins to get very warm (mid-spring to early summer) it will stop blooming and the foliage will begin to die back. If it is in a pot, place it in a shady spot, where it will get occasional (but not frequent) water until it begins to grow again in the fall. If it is planted in the ground, it is a good idea to lift it and pot it, as it is easy to overwater it (especially in heavy soils) while it is dormant, which will cause it to rot.

If you have never tried growing cyclamen before, now is the time to give it a try. We're sure you'll love them as much as we do!

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Winter-Blooming Camellias

With the onset of winter, even gardeners in relatively warm winter climates have a tendency to pull the covers over their heads, and hunker down until spring beckons. But our zone allows us to appreciate the beauty and colors of many winter-friendly plants, even if we're viewing them through the windows of our cozy, warm homes!

Camellias are easy-care evergreen shrubs with dark green, glossy foliage that do not require much pruning and look great year-round. When thinking of Camellias, most people visualize Camellia japonica, a beloved shrub that provides beautiful flowers in a wide array of (mostly) pastel colors in early spring. The winter-blooming Camellias are Camellia sasanqua, beautiful shrubs that provide masses of blooms in white, pink or red during the fall and winter.

Strategically choose an early, mid-season or late variety to provide color when you'd like to see it, or plant a mix of different varieties for an extended season of bloom. Don't have any garden space? Camellias make excellent container plants for the patio, porch or deck!

All varieties of Camellia sasanqua display a graceful, arching growth habit. Take advantage of its pliable branches and train it as a show-stopping espalier, or simply let it grow naturally as a single shrub, or use them in groupings under trees or in light shade.

Depending on the variety chosen, Camellia sasanqua will grow slowly to a height of 4'-10' tall and spread 6'-8' wide. Some are low or mid-sized spreaders and some much larger, making these types good candidates for foundation planting. Because they are slow growing, they can be easily pruned to control their height and spread, but it is best to prune them naturally rather than in a more formal way (of course, wait until after the last blooms have dropped to shape them).

Camellias like ample moisture, but must have good drainage. Their roots tend to spread out much farther than they go down, so when preparing the hole for planting them, dig it wider and just a little deeper than the rootball of the plant. They require an acid soil, so if your soil tends to be alkaline, make sure to use a generous amount of an shade plant mix, such as GBO Acid Planting Mix, in the planting hole. Lastly, position the plant so that the surrounding soil level will be about an inch below the top of the rootball (they like their roots high). Wait to fertilize them until after they have finished blooming, using a shade plant fertilizer.

Camellias make excellent companions for plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, gardenias, ferns and Japanese maples. While they grow very well in light to medium shady areas, they will tolerate more sun than their later-blooming counterparts, making them a more versatile choice for the home garden.

Unlike many plants, camellias are most dormant during the blooming season, so don't hesitate to plant them as soon as you get them home from the garden center, even when they are covered with flowers. Come in soon to see our great selection of Camellia sasanqua plants and add some winter color to your garden!

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Article Picture

Poinsettias are a wonderful worldwide holiday tradition. In fact, next to a Christmas tree, nothing else says Christmas quite like poinsettias. Displayed alone or in groups, they can add a festive splash of color to every décor. From a centerpiece on a holiday table to a miniature plant decorating the corner of an office desk, to a colorful hanging basket that can brighten any room, the poinsettia is the perfect holiday gift.

So how did poinsettias become so popular at Christmas--and where do they come from? According to Mexican legend, a poor Mexican girl named Pepita who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that even a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God's eyes. When she took the weeds into the church and laid them at the feet of the Christ child, they bloomed into red and green flowers.

Poinsettias are native to the tropical forest at moderate elevations along the Pacific coast of Mexico and some parts of Guatemala. They are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the plant in the U.S. in 1825.

Poinsettias have come a long way from their humble beginnings. For years only variations of red flowers were propagated and grown. But now there are hundreds of color varieties available ranging from traditional shades of red, pink and white to burgundy, peach, striped, flecked and hand-dyed varieties.

The sooner you purchase your poinsettias, the sooner you and your friends will be able to enjoy the unique holiday beauty that only they can provide.

Our first shipment of poinsettias arrives this Friday, November 16th!

Poinsettias are fairly easy-going, and with proper care can last long past the holiday season. Just click on the link below for a complete care guide including tips for re-blooming the following season. Check out our Poinsettia Care Guide (click here).

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What the Hay?

article picture

By Tamara Galbraith

You see them all over the place during autumn: bales of hay used as fall decor. But once all the pumpkins and scarecrows have been put away, what should you do with your bale of hay? (Hey, I made a rhyme!)

One option is: compost it. Hay is an excellent additive to the compost pile, and ideally, the heat of the pile will kill any weed seeds that might be languishing in the bales. Straw apparently breaks down even better than hay.

Hay and straw make great mulches and/or path covers too. First, though, break open the bales and let them sit outside for a couple of weeks. This will allow wild birds to come in and munch on any weed seeds that might still be present. When spreading hay or straw bales on garden beds, be sure they don't stay too clumpy as you break the bales apart.

Lastly, hay bales left intact make great cold frames - a kind of mini-greenhouse - for housing tender plants during the colder seasons. Simply arrange the bales in a tight square and place your plants inside, either right in the soil or in containers. A piece of plexiglass or an old window serves as the lid.

If you decide to give this easy cold frame a try, be aware that you must monitor the temperature frequently. Too much sun, and the plants inside will fry, so prop the lid open if necessary. If temperatures are going to drop below freezing, throw a blanket over the whole contraption and remove it when things stabilize.

No matter what, the hay will eventually break down, though, so keep an eye out for that -- as well as the occasional mouse looking for a warm, fluffy place to spend the winter.

Garden Primer

Why don't people use cow manure as much nowadays?

Answer:
Because it's smelly and no fun to handle! Actually, steer manure has always been considered a good cheap fertilizer/amendment, and many old timers still swear by it. The problem is that uncomposted steer and chicken manure are high in salts, which can burn (or even kill) plants while raising the pH of the soil. Uncomposted manure is also offensive to your neighbors' noses, unless you live on a large lot out in the country. Fresh manure can also carry diseases and parasites.

With the advent of so many great all-organic amendments, such as Gardner & Bloome Organics, there's really no need to add manure to your garden. You can get much better and more balanced results with regular feedings of organic plant foods and a good amendment - without the stink.

If you really want to use manure on (or near) your food garden, please use sterilized/composted manure. It's much safer than fresh, and doesn't have as much odor.

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chocolate pumpkin pie

What You'll Need:

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
Note: You can also use a regular pie crust.

Filling:

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 tsp. ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup milk

Ganache:

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 12 ounces quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Step by Step:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Stir all crust ingredients in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate; press wet crumbs uniformly against bottom and sides.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
  • Turn up oven to 425°.
  • Whisk eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and salt until lumps are completely gone.
  • In a separate bowl, dissolve espresso powder in vanilla extract and milk. Combine with other wet ingredients, beating until silky smooth.
  • Pour mixture into cooled pie crust, baking 15 minutes at 425°. Reduce oven to 350° and bake about 30 minutes more, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the filling jiggles slightly.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • In a microwavable 2 qt. bowl heat cream at 50% power until bubbles form at sides.
  • Remove and add chocolate all at once. With a clean whisk, begin gently stirring in center of bowl. As chocolate melts, continue gently and evenly stirring until all chocolate is incorporated and no lumps remain, 2-4 minutes.
  • Fold in sugar; when incorporated, fold in butter until mixture is glossy. Allow ganache to rest loosely covered on counter until slightly thickened.
  • Spoon ganache onto cooled, baked pie. Tap pan against counter to remove air bubbles so surface is glossy and smooth.
  • Store in refrigerator, allowing to come to room temperature before serving. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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Address:
16440 E. Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603

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