Shop Your Garden Center Like a Nursery Professional
Freed from the caged-in feeling brought on by wind and cool weather, it’s hard to avoid walking out of a garden center with either too much or too little of what we need for our gardens. There are a few steps that help size up what your garden must have, assess the nursery’s inventory, and shop it with the ease and confidence of a professional. All it takes is some planning and a bit of shopping savvy to feel secure that when you return home the time will have been spent efficiently and without frustration. So, to turn your first spring nursery visit from problematic to utter pleasure simply follow these shopper- smart steps:
- Set your budget, take stock, and make a list. Walk your landscape and take note of plants that were damaged or decimated by winter. Guesstimate how much potting soil, plant food, mulch, and other materials you need. Check expiration dates on old fertilizers or insect controls. Check and test the condition of tools. The start of the season is the best time to repair, replace, or add a garden tool.
- Photograph and measure containers. Clean and then place your pots where they will be for the season. Take a picture and print it; then pencil in the correct width and depth of each pot. Check to see if saucers are damaged or cracked. With these bits of information you’ll be able to shop for your specific needs and take home the perfect plants and equipment in the right quantities.
- Recall last year’s garden. Photographs are the best means to jog your memory about those lackluster plants that should be replaced, those that need to be moved, divided, or enhanced with new additions. Also, when memory fails, garden journals are good sources for details.
- Determine colors. Choose foliage and bloom colors that make you feel good. Get inspiration from famous gardens, or from a neighborhood landscape. For inspiration to make color choices, look to a favorite painting or clothing outfit, and to pages torn from magazines. The colors you choose set the tone and emotion of the garden.TRENDY COLOR NOTE: Pantone names Radiant Orchid as the 2014 “Color of the Year”. You will be seeing this color on magazine cover photos, always sources of popular seasonal colors. There always is a direct correlation between fashion trends and the many colors at Watters each spring. Check out this trending new color.
- Bring photos. Nursery staff members truly want to help you find just the right plant, but their help can be hampered because common plant names and their pronunciations vary greatly by region. You’ll get an accurate identification with a snapshot or a picture from a magazine, iPad, or smartphone.
- Assemble possible plant purchases. Instead of walking back and forth retracing your steps at the garden center, place plants on your shopping cart as you consider them. Use part of your cart as an audition area, arranging plants as you would in a bed or container. When you find interesting new plants swap them around to see which you like best.
- Walk the whole store. With over 2 acres of plants here at Watters, we are far more than a collection point of annual flowers. Cruise the whole store to discover and create interesting additions to your garden. Explore tropicals, houseplants, perennials, and succulents for your porch or patio. Look for attractive flowers, fruits, and foliage that complement each other. Try adding edibles into the mix. Nothing delivers ‘Southwest style’ like the blue of artichoke plants in a container spilling over with strawberry plants setting fruit. In other words, get creative!
- Try something new each season. We all have our favorites, but I like to leave 10% of the garden’s space for experimenting. Trying new varieties really brings out the gardener within each of us. Have fun, reach out, and live on the edge of your plant world. My most creative gardens started with the inspiration from a new plant.
- Shop all the season. You’ll find that local nurseries offer new stock all season long. Keep in mind that: you’ll find fresh annuals after the early planting season is over, perennials have their best show in June, larger specimen plants are available in July and August, and the best fall color is in October. Make a point of browsing the nursery each season as the plant mix changes.
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Garden Alert! – Tent caterpillars are taking over! Look for their football-sized nests in the canopy of trees such as our native oaks and fruit trees; this spring even pines have been invaded. These ferocious little eating machines strip plants of their vital spring foliage. The solution to eradicate these pests is a two-step process. First, spray the foliage until dripping wet with ‘Spreader Sticker’, especially in the nesting area. Immediately follow this foliar spray with my best caterpillar killer, ‘Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew”. Within days your trees will be clean and the insects gone.
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Plant of the Week is the Fall Gold Raspberry, Rubus idaeus. If you’re a berry-lover, than you will want this extraordinary berry! Imagine delicious all gold berries picked fresh right off your bush; not just once a season, but continuously! ‘Fall Gold’ is just as sweet as its red cousin, in an exotic gold flavor. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, in a juicy nature of subtle fruity fragrances. Gold raspberries are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. You’ll want to eat these for both taste and you health! This size is ready to plant and ready to berry this year.
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/watters1815