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Blue Hills Nursery News April 5, 2018
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FEATURED QUOTE :

"Every spring is the only spring--a perpetual astonishment. "
~Ellis Peters


Butterfly Seminar

April 14 at 11 AM, with Monika Moore, the California Butterfly Lady

Come and learn how to attract and raise butterflies in your garden. Learn about host plants and nectar plants. Also, how to raise caterpillars from egg to butterfly, and how to sanitize butterfly eggs to protect them from pathogens. We would like to empower you with knowledge so you can feel confident you are raising healthy butterflies. Join us for this free once a year event.


Milkweed!

The milkweed has arrived. Supersized one gallons for $10.99. Keep an eye out for hitchhikers! Tropical Milkweed and Native Narrow-leaf Milkweed are here too.


Spring Lawn Care

Spring is here. The cool season grasses such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass are those lawns over which people have exclaimed, "You look marvelous!" (Can't you just hear Billy Crystal?) They have been bright green all winter. They are still growing fast; mow them weekly with a rotary mower (to 1 1/2 inches in height).

You should be feeding all established lawns now with a complete lawn fertilizer--containing phosphorus and potassium as well as nitrogen--to get warm-season grasses off to a good start and keep cool-season grasses going longer. A healthy, well-fed lawn is better able to withstand pests and diseases and choke out weeds

Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, dichondra, and zoysia, are waking up from winter dormancy. As they start growing, begin mowing weekly with a reel mower to the correct height for each. Mow common Bermuda to 1 inch, hybrid Bermuda to 1/2 or 1/4 inch, St. Augustine to between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches, and zoysia to 3/4 to 1 inch height. Cut Adalayd grass with a rotary mower between 3/4 and 1 inch in height.

We have mentioned two different kinds of lawn mowers: rotary and reel. A rotary mower is one in which one blade spins horizontally and uses a sucking and tearing action to cut the blades of grass. A reel mower is one in which the blades spin vertically and use a scissoring action to cut the blades of grass.

You notice that we recommend fertilizing with a complete lawn fertilizer--containing phosphorus and potassium as well as nitrogen--to get warm-season grasses off to a good start and keep cool-season grasses going longer. While nitrogen gives your lawn top growth and a healthy green color you can see, phosphorus and potassium feed the roots and growth systems of the plant that are unseen but just as important. Phosphorus and potassium are longer lasting in soil than nitrogen, so one feeding a season with them is often adequate. After this complete feeding, you can switch to a less expensive, pure nitrogen fertilizer if desired, and feed warm-season grasses with it once a month for the rest of the growing season.

Before applying your complete fertilizer, be sure to read the instructions for your lawn type. Apply fertilizer when the ground is damp and grass blades dry, and follow up by watering deeply. Otherwise, you risk burning your lawn. As an alternative fertilizer for the cool season lawn, add coated slow-release fertilizer. Cool-season grasses need little or no fertilizer during the warmer months of the year. Slow release fertilizer will work perfectly for this type of lawn.

Irrigate all lawns now, according to their individual needs, if rains have not been adequate.

Both warm- and cool-season grasses may be bought as sod, and cool-season grasses can be planted from sod any month year-round. Although you can plant both warm- and cool-season grasses from seed this month, fall is actually a better time to plant cool-season grass seed. This is because fall planting gives cool-season grasses planted from seed more time to establish a root system before summer heat arrives. When planting warm-season grasses, wait until the weather has warmed up in your area. (If you plan to plant zoysia, it's best to wait until June.)

There are numerous lawn types and you should investigate each of them before choosing and planting one. How do you choose which grass is right for you? There are many considerations: sun, shade, foot traffic, pets, children, hardiness, style, color, and simply the "look" that you like.

When planting a new lawn, regardless of the type of grass and method of planting you choose, be sure to prepare the site thoroughly. If you're planting an invasive grass, such as Bermuda or an invasive variety of zoysia, first install edging to keep it from creeping into borders.

For all lawns, roto-till deeply, add plenty of soil amendment, then level and roll this amended ground. "Level" might mean rolling the area completely flat or it may mean compacting the soil but adding mounded areas of interest. The point is to level out soil so that your new lawn is not filled with hundreds of hills and valleys that would make walking on it (and mowing it) difficult.

If you have chosen to put in a seed lawn, sprinkle seeds evenly. This is most efficiently done using a hand-held fertilizer spreader or a seed spreader and covering the seeds with GBO Premium Topsoil.

Perhaps you are putting in a lawn that can be grown from stolons. Stolons are little portions of the plant that will root once in contact with the soil. St. Augustine is an example of this type of grass. Either roll stolons with a roller to press them into the soil or simply partially cover them with GBO Premium Topsoil. Keep your freshly planted lawn damp until established. Sprinkle it two or three times daily, and avoid watering late in the day.

Just water and watch. In a few months--voilà--your new lawn!

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Variegations

William Cowper once wrote the now famous words, "Variety is the spice of life." This couldn't be truer in the garden. Nothing spices up a garden like plants with variegated foliage. Use too many and they'll make you dizzy. But placed in the background or strategically planted in the midst of the garden, variegated foliage can bring out the best in all of your plants.

Variegated plants come in a myriad of shapes and shades. From bold to subtle, there's something for every gardener's personal tastes. If it's a tree you're looking for, nothing steals the show like the 'Flamingo' box elder. It can be the centerpiece to build your entire garden around.

Many variegated plants make excellent hedges. Instead of hiding in the background, they provide a great starting point to planning a garden. Consider variegated English boxwood, 'Red Twig' dogwood, 'Gilt Edge' silverberry, euonymus, variegated English holly, variegated kohuhu, variegated mock orange, dappled willow or weigela. Many of these plants also look wonderful when planted individually to bring out a corner or become a focal point on a mound or garden island.

If a hedge is not your cup of tea but you still want to hide some of your fence line, a variegated bower vine or variegated potato vine will do an excellent job. For bursts of color and interest throughout your garden, consider variegated varieties of abelias, daylilies, licorice plants, phlox, mock orange, sage, stonecrop, weigela, New Zealand flax and ornamental grasses.

If your garden has shaded areas, don't worry. There are many great selections for areas with less sunlight. Many popular variegated plants prefer shade or partial shade.

No matter what your garden setting is, variegated plants not only look great but also add interest. We have a large selection of plants with unique foliage and variegated colors. Stop by soon and see the beauty of these plants in person. You wont be able to resist them!

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Terrific Trailing Annuals

When most people think of annuals they think about upright varieties for borders and containers. But when planning your annual garden, think about more than just upright plants. There are a number of wonderful trailing varieties that are perfect for providing a splash of color between shrubs, on a hillside or cascading over a rock wall or trailing from a hanging basket.

For a hillside, it's hard to beat trailing lantana, with its showy purple and white blooms. A happy plant can reach 3-4 ft across in diameter. If you are looking for a slightly flatter foliage that hugs the ground, consider the mauve-flowering scaevola.

It's easy to perk up your landscape by planting patches of million bells (calibrachoa) in spaces between larger shrubs. This colorful annual comes in a variety of bright hot colors including red, yellow, apricot, white, pink, fuchsia, blue, and violet. Another alternative would be verbena, which is available in many colors, flower sizes and flat or mounding foliage. These plants also look great flowing over rock walls or pool edges.

For large splashes of color in the landscape, use petunias or ivy geranium. Both grow incredibly fast and come in every color under the sun. You can dress up the edges of a boring-looking vegetable garden with nasturtium, whose orange, red and yellow flowers are also edible.

All of the above mentioned plants perform well in hanging baskets but there are a few plants that make great partners with them and are particularly suited for container planting. To add some texture and unique foliage color to your hanging baskets consider using silver dichondra, licorice plant (helichrysum) or parrot's beak (Lotus maculatus). All have silvery grey foliage that provides a great contrast to other plants.

While most plants in hanging baskets perform better with a little shade from the afternoon sun, one annual is particularly suited for slightly shadier confines. Use trailing lobelia, which comes in many shades of blue, rose and white. Its cheerful little blossoms are perfect for any container.

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Garden Primer
What does "double digging" the soil mean?

Answer:

Double digging is an old garden technique of amending the soil in a flower or vegetable garden that is still as effective today as it was back in medieval Europe.

But be forewarned: double digging is a lot of work. In fact, just thinking about it makes us break out in a sweat. The term comes from "double the depth" of a normal spade or shovel blade--hence double-digging. You will also be adding one third of the depth of your spade or shovel in soil amendment to the entire garden you are digging in.

We have a great selection of Gardner & Bloome Organics soil amendments. Ask us which is best for what you are planning to plant and your starting soil type.

To get started, dig out the topsoil to the depth of your spade or shovel in a trench one spade wide along one end of your bed and set aside in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.

Turn, break and aerate the next spade depth and width. Work in one third by volume of soil amendment. Blend together with turned-over soil and fill in the first trench.

Now repeat the process with another trench. Blend that soil with more soil amendment, and transfer to the previous trench. At the end of the bed, place the topsoil from the wheelbarrow or tarp over the last section, add amendment, and mix it in.

Make sure to remove any rocks or old pieces of roots as you fill in each trench.

Now--if you haven't collapsed yet--go ahead and plant your flowers. Better yet, plant a new crop of veggies. You'll need the vitamins to help you recover from the exhaustion! More seriously--if you have poor soil, double-digging is one of the most effective ways to improve the soil to a good depth, one that will allow your plant roots plenty of room to grow. Rototilling and such can help too but it doesn't improve much but the top layer of soil. Double-digging may be labor-intensive, but it works.

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Featured Recipe: Slow Cooker Stuffed Bell Peppers

What You Need:

  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (10 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup cooked instant rice
  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Step by Step:

  • Cut the tops off of each bell pepper.
  • Remove any seeds and stems from the inside.
  • Dice the tops of you removed.
  • In a large bowl, combine the raw ground beef, tomato sauce, onion, rice, diced bell pepper tops and 1/2 cup of the cheese.
  • Season mixture with salt and pepper.
  • Stir to combine with a spatula.
  • Stuff each pepper with the ground beef mixture.
  • Fill crock pot with one inch of water.
  • Place bell peppers inside.
  • Cover with lid and cook on Low heat for 6 hours OR on High for 4 hours.
  • Top each stuffed pepper with the remaining shredded cheese.
  • Cover with lid until cheese has melted.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!

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If you haven't had your soil tested recently (or ever), now is a good time to do it. Soil should be tested every 3-4 years. Soil that is too acid, too alkaline, or lacking in nutrients will not produce healthy plants!



Contact Information:

Telephone:
(562) 947-2013

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

Hours:
Open 7 days a week, 8:30 am-5:00 pm

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