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Glitter Pumpkin Thanksgiving Decor

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Inspiration

Thanksgiving is almost here and the holiday season is getting into full swing! For many of us, this means welcoming family and friends into our homes for lunches, dinners and festive gatherings. Whether or not you host at your home, this is a fun time to get creative with fall décor. The best part about decorating for the holidays is that the sky is the limit. Using creativity and a combination of found, repurposed, or purchased supplies, anyone can make a beautiful piece for their home. We’ve put together just a few examples for you to get your creativity flowing before Thanksgiving arrives.

Thanksgiving Harvest Tablescape

Candlelit Harvest Display

In this piece, we combine large pillar candles with an array of natural items you can purchase and collect from outdoors. Pumpkins, gourds, wheat stalks, branches, pine cones and autumn leaves are just a few. Add a little polish by lightly spraying or brushing gold paint on the pine cones or leaves and tying ribbons or raffia around the candles.

Cornucopia Centerpiece

Cornucopia with Fresh Greenery

A lush centerpiece featuring the traditional cornucopia makes a classic addition to any Thanksgiving table. Purchase or cut fresh ferns and flowers from your own garden to pair with gourds and pumpkins. Add candles and berries for a finishing touch.

Modern Gray Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Modern Fall Table in Green, Gray and White

Combine greenery (fresh or artificial) with shades of gray and silver for a more modern take on a fall display. Fresh pumpkins can be painted and sealed any color you want – this arrangement would also look lovely with gold or white. Add some pine cones and berries for extra interest, and your centerpiece is complete.

Metallic Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Metallic Gold and Silver

If you love metallics, this is the centerpiece for you! Spray and seal your pumpkins, gourds, pinecones or fall leaves and arrange with candles or other items to suit your tastes. If you are looking for more holiday decorating ideas, you are welcome to visit us at any of our stores and speak with our design specialists – we are happy to help!

Helianthus salicifolius, perennial

Plant Picks: Annuals and Perennials for Fall

With fall just around the corner, now is a great time to add some blooms and color to your garden for the change of seasons. Keith Tomlinson and Caitlin Akkerhuis have put together their roundup of fall annuals and perennials that make excellent additions to gardens with a variety of conditions and needs – whether you are looking for bright blooms, natives, or plants for pollinators.

Mum, Annual ISTOCK

Chrysanthemums and Dendranthemums

Chrysanthemums, or mums, may be one of the most well known fall flowers, and for good reason. These vibrant plants come in every color imaginable, and bloom for about 4 weeks at a time. When selecting plants from the garden center, try picking ones with buds that are just opening to extend the time you have them in bloom.

Dendranthemums are the perennial version of the Chrysanthemum. You can plant these in the summer, and they will be ready to bloom in the fall.

Monkshood, Perennial

Monkshood

This plant prefers part sun, and will grow throughout the summer, producing vibrant purple flowers during the peak of our fall season. These plants are toxic, which makes them completely deer proof, however you will also want to keep this in mind for your own pets and family when planting.

Pennisetum, Perennial Ornamental Grass

Pennisetum

This family of ornamental grasses are in full bloom during the fall, and include favorites such as fountain grass and millet. These are great plants to add to your garden if you would like to attract birds, who will visit to eat the seeds.

Helianthus salicifolius, perennial

Helianthus salicifolius

This perennial sunflower will bloom in mid-fall. Like the other sunflowers, it features cheery yellow blooms.

Monarch Butterfly on Ascplepias

Asclepias tuberosa

This native is a must-have if you wish to support monarch butterflies. Also known as milkweed, or butterfly weed, it is the only host plant of monarch caterpillars. It will bloom through the fall.

New England Aster

This native aster will bloom well into fall, and is one of the taller varieties of aster. for shorter versions, plant New York Aster or Woods Aster.

Clematis paniculata

Also known as Sweet Autumn Clematis, this climbing plant will grow quickly, so you can easily end up with a plant that covers an area of 6 ft. or so.

Caryopteris

This flower will bloom from late summer through early fall. Mature plants will bloom for up to 8 weeks, making this a great choice if you are looking for long lasting blooms to attract bees and butterflies.

5 Steps to Restore Your Lawn this Fall

In this video, Plant and Turf Specialist David Yost outlines 5 steps you can take to restore your lawn to a lush, healthy state in the fall following the stressful conditions of summer.

Radishes, Cool season vegetables

Growing Fall Root Vegetables

Fall is a wonderful time to grow root vegetables. Carrots, radishes, turnips and beets are easy to grow and add fresh flavor to our favorite seasonal dishes. Give your root veggies a leg up this year by taking a few extra steps to provide healthy soil and a healthy environment where they can grow throughout the fall season.

Preparing Soil for Root Veggies

Root vegetables are taproots, which means that they need garden beds free from rocks, soil clumps and debris that can deform the formation of the root. Before planting check your garden bed for any of these impediments and remove them. After doing this, check the pH of the garden bed. Some vegetables grow better at different pHs, and you may want to add lime to adjust the pH level of the soil. Radishes, for example, prefer a pH of 5.5-6.8.

Row plantings make weeding easier since you can use mulch or straw to prevent weeds between rows. You can put down more mulch during times when there is risk of frost for the added use of preventing your vegetables from freezing. This also lowers the amount of water needed to keep your plants healthy.

Wildlife and Pest Control

To prevent rabbits, gophers and deer from making snacks out of your vegetables, you may want to use a dried blood fertilizer such as Espoma Blood Meal. This organic fertilizer is made out of animal blood and works well as a deterrent to other wildlife. Netting and fencing can also keep out deer, and you can visit our blog post on deer proofing your garden for more ideas. 

Cabbage loopers and other pests on cruciferous vegetables veg (broc, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, etc.) use B.T.

Watering

Watering regularly improves crop shape and flavor. Radishes especially will take on a woody flavor if they are underwatered, so it is important to water them consistently. If you let them dry, moisten the soil slowly over the course of a couple of days as drenching dry carrots and other root vegetables will cause them to split. For more information on watering, check out our watering instructions. 

Other Tips

When working in your vegetable garden, keep in mind that root veggies should be hand cultivated. Digging tools commonly used for working with other vegetables can damage the roots. 

Root vegetables can be overwintered with mulch. Pile the mulch up over the shoulders of the root where it emerges from the soil. Using row covers and cold frames is also a good way to keep your root veggie harvest going most of the winter.

Use successive plantings to ensure a constant harvest throughout the season. This means adding new seeds or plants every 2-4 weeks as the season goes on, which will ensure that you always have some tasty veggies ready for harvest.

ISTOCK Cool season lettuce, carrots, vegetables

Fast Growing Veggies to Plant Now

Our summer vegetable gardens are winding down for the season, and the cool weather coming right around the corner makes this the perfect time for refreshing our garden beds with cool season fall crops. Plant them now and they will bless you with a veritable cornucopia to share with friends and family for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

Plant Selection

Many of the same crops which we plant and harvest in early spring – many leafy greens and root vegetables, for example – are great candidates for fall gardens. Some of these plants grow quickly, and can be started direct from seed in your garden beds in mid August or early September. Others need to be purchased from the garden center as plants, to have enough time to harvest before the hard frosts arrive. Pay very close attention to the “Days to harvest” information listed on the label since that can help you determine whether to plant from seed or transplants. For example, growing certain kinds of cauliflower from seed can take 130 days, but by transplanting you can reduce the time to harvest to as few as 55 days. If you know your first frost date then you can determine whether to start with seeds or plants. Here in Northern Virginia our first risk of frost starts on October 23rd.

Arugula

Is there anything better than fresh arugula on pizza or mixed into a salad? For lovers of arugula, fall is a wonderful time to plant. Arugula will fully mature in 45 to 60 days. Make sure to harvest the plant before blooms form, unless you like extra bitter arugula. Sow arugula seeds and cover with a light dusting of organic material. After plants germinate you can thin them out, giving them one or two inches of space between plants. Repeat sowing every 2-3 weeks for continuous harvest.

Beet Greens

While beet roots require 50 to 80 days to reach harvest size, the greens can be ready from seed in as little as 35 days. Beet seeds should be sown to ½ inch depth by covering with peat moss, potting soil, or earthworm castings.  Successive sowing at 3 week intervals can yield continuous beet harvest through the season. After seeds germinate make sure to thin the rows and give two inch spacing between each plant. 

Pro-tip: To extend the growing season, beet roots and other root vegetables can be protected with row covers or by mulching over roots when freezing temperatures arrive.

Chard

Chard is a nutritious and versatile vegetable crop that holds up well to cooking. For most vegetable gardeners, chard is a staple in early spring and fall gardening but can sometimes stand up to the heat of summer. Sow chard and cover with ½ to 1 inch of organic matter such as earthworm castings or peat moss. After the plants become three inches tall thin them out and leave 6 inches of space or more between plants. Harvest when the plants have reached 12-14 inches. The larger the chard is when you harvest, the less intense the flavor will be. As with most other greens, chard can be sown successively at 2 week intervals to ensure season-long harvest.

Loose Leaf Lettuce

Growing from seed to harvest in less than 50 days, loose leaf lettuces are among the easiest, fastest, and most rewarding of all cool-season vegetable crops.  Lettuce can be planted in rows or broadly over an open area. For most varieties plant ½ to 1 inch apart and seed successively over the course of the season. Cover the seeds with ¼ to ½ inch of peat moss, potting mix, or earthworm castings. Harvest and enjoy.

Note: Remember when planning your garden that varieties of lettuce that make “heads” will take longer to develop. For example, Romaine lettuce matures in 75-80 days.

Radishes

Radishes germinate very quickly (usually less than a week) and are ready to harvest from seed after 30 days. Sow radish seeds with ½ inch of peat moss, potting soil, or earthworm castings on top for good germination. Seeds can be sown successively every two weeks to ensure a constant harvest. Thin out the plants after germination and allow two inch spacing between plants. Harvest radishes when they are over one inch in diameter, but don’t wait too long as they will become pithy if left in the ground.

Fastest Growing from Transplant (50 days to harvest)

Carrots

If you are starting from seed, sow your carrots two or three months before the first hard frost. Carrots grown from seed are ready to harvest in about 70 days. Carrots need deep, loose soil to form correctly, so make sure to till your garden again if you want to grow some carrots. Sow carrots with 1/2 inch of peat moss, earthworm castings, or potting soil. When the carrot tops are over three inches high thin the carrots to allow for two inches of spacing between plants. 

Kale

Kale is considered a superfood by many nutritionists and makes a delicious addition to fall stews and soups. Kale will take 55 days to reach harvest size from transplant or 80 days from seed. For this reason some people will prefer to plant from transplants to make sure they get a good harvest before freezing temperature sets in. Sow seeds as you would with other leafy vegetables.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi germinates quickly and is ready to harvest 45 to 60 days after planting from seed, or in 30 – 45 days as a transplant. These plants need lots of space to grow as the rosette of cabbage-like leaves causes these plants to take up space.  Make sure to allow 12 to 14 inches between rows and 6 inches between plants in the row. Kohlrabi (cabbage turnip in German) is a wonderful, mild-tasting vegetable that matures fast and is easy to grow. If you’ve never tried this strange looking plant, then you should try some in your garden this year.

Turnips

Turnips are a quick crop to grow that can be used for both its greens and the fleshy root. There is a wide variety of turnips with some taking just 40 days to harvest while others need close to 80. Pay attention to the information on the tag when making your selection.

Seed starting outdoors

Care Tips for Fall Veggies

Preventing Pests

Diseases and pests such as flea beetle and cabbage aphid can frequently be found on turnips in particular. Products like thuricide, pyrethrins, and horticultural oils can be used to control these insect pests organically, and sprays with copper or sulfur work well to prevent disease. When spraying insecticides in vegetable gardens, be careful of active bees and spray in the late afternoon or evening when they are less active. 

Watch for Bolting

In warm temperatures, cool-season vegetables tend to bolt. Loose-leaf lettuces in particular will divert energy from production of the leaves and roots to form a flower stalk and seeds. Since this causes a reduction in the quality and taste of the veggies, keep an eye on your plants when the temperatures are warm and trim back any flower stalks that appear. This can force the plant to refocus its energy on production of the parts you will be harvesting.

Planting Window

The average first frost in our area takes place at the end of October, which means you can either plan to wrap up your vegetable gardening at that time or be prepared with a frost cloth to extend your growing season for some of your veggies.  If you need help deciding which plants to pick and whether to start from transplant or seed, you can ask one of our plant specialists. Remember, some plants may take too long to grow from seed when you start in September, but by starting from a transplant you can still harvest a good crop in October. 

If you need assistance with your fall vegetable garden, please visit us in store or give us a call to speak to a plant specialist! 

American Beech Fall Foliage

Fantastic Fall Foliage: Native Trees

This post was originally published in September of 2017

Fall is my favorite season of the year. The changing weather transforms trees and shrubs  from bright green into a vibrant combination of orange, red and yellow. As this beautiful scene of color works its way across the landscape of our region, many customers come in wanting to know how they can enjoy beautiful fall foliage at home. One of the best ways to add fall color is by planting native trees. Each of the ones below has its own set of unique characteristics.

American Beech

One of my all-time favorite trees. American beech creates a stunning display each fall with its whitewashed bark and dark yellow foliage. Its foliage fades to a papery light brown or creamy white at the end of the season and remains on the tree through the winter, rustling in the wind and providing visual interest in the garden against the bare branches of other plants. Beech nuts are also a good source of food for animals during the winter.

Blackgum Fall Foliage

Blackgum

The vivid contrast between blackgum’s dark bark (almost black when wet) and vivid red or orange fall foliage creates a jaw-dropping fall display. This slow growing over story tree can reach 70 feet and is very strong. One of my favorite trees at our Fair Oaks location is an enormous blackgum that is surrounded by our parking lot. We literally drive directly over its root system every day and it’s still thriving!

Sassafras Fall Foliage

Sassafras

Sassafras is most notable for its display of orange, green, yellow and red foliage all on the same tree. As the foliage changes color, these trees may look like an artist threw several colors of paint over their leaves.  They are also well known for their fragrance. A fun fact about this tree: it is used in making root beer!

Silky Dogwood

Red on one side and white on the other, the foliage of silky dogwood creates a display of flickering colors as it moves in the fall breeze. After its foliage fades, the vibrant red color of new stems and branches provides winter interest. Older bark turns grey, but you can trim your dogwood back each season to keep the new growth coming, as it will grow very quickly.

Sourwood Fall Foliage

Sourwood

As fall arrives sourwood’s foliage turns yellow, then orange, and finally brilliant red. This is an excellent tree to pair with evergreens as the red foliage contrasts the deep green of evergreen to enhance the color of both plants. A two-season tree, sourwood also produces fragrant flowers in spring when it leafs out. Maxing out around 20 feet high, sourwood is a good choice for anyone looking for a large impact in a limited space.

Sugar Maple

A classic fall foliage tree, you can’t go wrong with sugar maple in your landscape. With a nice rounded look and a maximum height of 60 to 80 feet, the yellow, dark green and orange fall foliage make this tree a stunning addition to any landscape. It typically takes on a more orange color than its other maple relatives, so if you love orange foliage, this is good choice!

Source: Fine Gardening

Winterthur Viburnum

The most remarkable aspect of Winterthur viburnum is its berries, which come in a light pink and fade to dark pink and later blue as they mature. When most of the berries are blue, the foliage also transitions to vibrant red, creating a stunning contrast between the plants’ foliage and fruits. In the spring, this viburnum blooms with white clusters of flowers as it leafs out. I recommend pairing it with grasses and evergreen for a beautiful combination of texture and contrasting green color in fall.

Coordinating Color for a Fantastic Fall Garden

One of the most difficult things to do when designing a garden bed or container is figuring out which plant combinations to use. With so many beautiful plant types and varieties to choose from, how do we narrow it down to a few that will really look great together? Quite often, we end up gravitating towards plants that catch our eye, but end up clashing in the garden. The fall can be especially overwhelming, with the bold reds, crisp yellows, and bright oranges of the season. It is easy to get carried away with all the new colors that the season offers. By no means does this mean you need to shy away from them. As a landscape designer, I often refer back to the basics of color theory to inspire and direct beautiful color combinations in the garden. You too can use these guidelines to create a stunning display of fall color!

The Basics of Color

Just like selecting a wall paint or window dressing for your living room, carefully combining colors in an outdoor space can help you create a cohesive design composition. Here are the three basic color combinations that I often refer to during the design process (discussed in more detail below):

  • Monochromatic
  • Analogous
  • Complementary

These color schemes are formed based on the color wheel, which many of you are probably familiar with:

The color wheel depicts primary (yellow, blue, red), secondary (orange, green, purple), warm (yellow, red, orange) and cool (blue, green, purple) colors.  Complimentary colors are those that opposite each other on the wheel.

Combining Colors for Fall Beauty

You can use color theory to combine plants in any way you want at any time of year. Since it’s fall, I’ve selected a few of my favorite seasonal plants to illustrate monochromatic, analogous, and complimentary schemes. These plants look beautiful together, but by separating out the plants we can create a variety of distinct styles in our gardens.

Boxwood, heuchera, japanese stiltgrass

Monochromatic with Green Foliage

A monochromatic scheme incorporates only one color and its values. By selecting various shades, we can create a strong, cohesive visual effect. One of the most commonly used monochromatic designs in landscaping is variations of green in a shady part of a garden. Using green in these spaces enables us to use a wide variety of shade-friendly foliage plants. The combination pictured above includes boxwood, liriope, a green foliage heuchera, and a fern.

Burning Bush, Mums, Pumpkins

Analogous with Red and Orange Foliage, Blooms and Pumpkins

Analogous colors can be found next to each other on the color wheel. Using this combination creates a pleasingly harmonious variation. Color combinations of this type generate a pleasing energy in the garden without using too many colors. Here, I’ve combined orange and red for a display of fall color using pumpkins, mums and a burning bush.

Boxwood, Mum, Heuchera, Liriope, Fern

Complementary Colors

Pair the opposing colors on the color wheel for an undeniably bold approach to gardening. Complementary colors “complement” each other by making the other color appear more intense. If you are looking for a high energy space, pairing complementary colors in your garden is a great start. In a fall garden, combining red and green is a great choice. In the photo above, I’ve paired the green foliage of liriope and boxwood with the red foliage of heuchera and the red blooms of fall blooming mums.

Have Fun and Try a Variety of Combinations

While the color schemes used in this post are a great starting point, I always encourage gardeners to try out whatever color scheme makes them happy. The point is to have fun with color and make a beautiful garden you love!

Fall container, pansy, ornamental cabbage, creeping Jenny

Creating Containers for Fall and Winter

Containers are changeable, moveable and groupable, but most importantly, enjoyable. They can be tailored from formal to naturalistic and anywhere in between. As the weather cools and we welcome the fall season, I always get excited about playing with plants in containers and combining annuals and perennials that I can enjoy immediately and even into winter. This year, I’m creating fall containers including annuals for fall color, plus biennials and perennials that will last through winter. These arrangements will last for two seasons: the annuals can be removed when the frost takes them, leaving space for your biennials and perennials to grow. Here are a few of my favorite plant selections that combine beautifully in fall containers:

Fall Container Annuals

Perennials: (1) Schizachyrium, (2) Gaura, (5) Dusty Miller,  (8) Aster, (9) Juncus, (11) Euphorbia, (12) Mums; Annuals: (3) Crested celosia, (4) Ornamental pepper, (6) Calibrachoa, (7) Petunia, (10) Celosia ‘Intenz’ (13) Calibrachoa

Shade Plants for Containers

Perennials: (1) Heuchera (coral bells), (2) Carex, (3) Schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation’, (4) Fern

If you love your fall season annuals, you can easily lengthen their life span by covering your containers with lightweight frost cloth when frost is predicted. Depending upon the weather, this can take your fall annuals into November in our area.

Container Designs

Clockwise from top: Juncus ‘Blue Arrow’, Kale ‘Redbor’, Pansy, Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ (creeping Jenny), Celosia ‘Intenz’ The plume-like blooms of celosia, graceful height of juncus, and earthy texture of kale combine beautifully to thrill the eye in this container. Bloom-rich pansies help fill the space, while the bright greens of creeping Jenny pull your eye down the container with its graceful spill. Annual celosia will die back with frost, leaving room for the rest of these plants to fill the container. All of these plants are sun loving and require a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of sun per day.

Shade container, Pansy, Heuchera, Fern, Creeping Jenny

Clockwise from top: Cryptomium (Japanese Holly Fern), Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ (creeping Jenny), Sedum ‘Angleina’, Pansy, Heuchera (coral bells) The fronds of cryptomium add height and thrill the eye in this container, providing beautiful evergreen foliage throughout the seasons. The variegated foliage of perennial heuchera and abundant blooms of pansies fill the central space while perennial sedum and creeping Jenny spill over the edge of the container. This tonal color palette is beautiful in part shade to full shade conditions. All of the plants here prefer to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun.

Pyramid Fall Container

Clockwise from top: Pumpkin tower, Ornamental peppers, Sedum ‘Lemonball’, Pansy, Carex One of my favorite tactics in designing fall containers is to add height and tons of seasonal interest using a tower filled with small pumpkins and gourds. The fall colors of bright orange and yellow lead the eye down the tower into a base filled with contrasting foliage and blooms. In the base, variegated pansies and ornamental peppers fill the space while carex and sedum spill over the edge of the container. To transition this container into the holidays and winter months, simply remove the ornamental peppers that will die with the frost and spray your pumpkins and gourds shades of gold, silver and bronze.

Caring for Your Containers

Here are some basics that assist in winter hardiness for plants and pots:

  • Size matters. Containers that are at least 14” in diameter increase your chance of success as higher volumes of soil improve the roots protection from the cold. I have had good luck with both well-fired pottery and ceramic containers when they are placed on a deck, patio or elsewhere on a piece of slate.
  • Remove any saucers before winter. If the water collects and freezes, it will break the pot.
  • Lightly fertilize with a slow release fertilizer, such as Espoma plant tone or Merrifield Flowering Plant Food. Heavy fertilization will encourage too much growth as winter approaches.
  • Though I rarely water in winter, if your containers are in full sun you may need to water if the soil is not frozen.
Fall Vegetables - Carrots and Lettuce

Starting Your Fall Seeds

The midsummer heat is here and our warm season vegetables are maturing and providing delicious edibles. The summer growing season will be winding down soon, but we can continue to enjoy delicious, fresh vegetables from our garden by planting cool season vegetable seeds now!

Plant your fall vegetable gardens in a raised bed, directly into your garden, or in containers. Some need to be planted as soon as possible, others may be planted every two or three weeks now through September.

Step 1: Select your seeds

Fall is a great time to plant kale, cabbage, collard greens, carrots, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, bok choy and turnips.

Step 2: Review the planting directions for all seed types

Read the back of each seed packet before planting to check for information on spacing, depth, and time to plant before the first frost. While overall planting methods are similar for most seeds, these particular details vary and are vital to the health and success of your vegetable garden.

Step 3: Gather your supplies

I use a shovel and hoe to plant my seeds, but you can also use a small trowel if you are planting in a small space. You will also need Leafgro or other organic material compost, fertilizer (I use Garden-tone or Plant-tone), and of course, your seed packets. I suggest using a watering wand for watering, though you can lightly water your seeds with a garden hose if you are careful.

Step 4: Prepare your soil

Before sowing your seeds, apply Leafgro or another organic compost of your choice (2”) and add an organic fertilizer such as Garden-tone or Plant-tone. Mix into the soil along the areas where you will be planting.

Step 5: Sow vegetable seeds

To sow your seeds, make a groove in the soil to the depth indicated on your seed packet. Sow seeds along the groove at the spacing indicated on your seed packets, then cover with soil. Finally, gently water the seeds using a watering wand or gentle spray of the hose.

Step 6: Mulch between rows

Mulching between the rows will reduce weeds and watering. The method which works best for me is to place several layers of newspapers between the rows of plants, spray them down with water, then mulch over the newspapers.

Step 7: Maintain garden space by watering and weeding

Keep your soil moist by watering regularly and pulling any weeds that appear. In time, your seeds will grow into delicious organic vegetables! You can extend the season through October and even into December if you use floating row covers if heavy frost threatens.

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