WINNER: Midsummer Photo Contest Submissions

Every season, we host a photo contest for gardeners to share their prized plants and enter a chance to win a $20 Gift Certificate to our store.

For our Midsummer Photo contest, we are happy to congratulate Sam Sacharoff!

Smokin' Sunflower - Sam Sacharoff

Smokin’ Sunflower – Sam Sacharoff

It was a tough choice with so many great photos that displayed the joys of summer gardening. Here are the other amazing submissions:

After the Rain - Cathy Gersich

After the Rain – Cathy Gersich

aroseinjune

A Rose in June – Duncan Saunders

lilies

Cindy Klein

nectarcoma

Nectar Coma – Sherrie Rice

rainydaysun

Rainy Day Sun – Sarah Kellogg

summerinmyshadegarden

Summer in My Shade Garden – Sandra Schulze

Thanks to everyone who submitted to our seasonal photo contest! And stayed tuned for our upcoming Autumn Photo Contest!

What’s a Rain Garden? FAQs for the Northwest Gardener

by Janaki Kilgore of Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

As inspired by our upcoming Rain Gardens 101 class this Saturday, July 25 at 9am, Janaki Kilgore of Wonder-Flora Landscape Design gives a FAQ for the Northwest Gardener on what rain gardens can do for you. Call (360)676-5480 to register or online here.

Photo Cred: Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

Photo Cred: Wonder-Flora Landscape Design

What are rain gardens and swales?
They are landscape features designed to direct rainfall, allowing it to soak into the ground and grow plants

Why build rain gardens?
Plants and soil work together to filter and store stormwater before it can quickly wash away, reducing pollutants flowing into our waterways

Where?
Locate rain gardens below where rainfall flows off roofs, driveways and other impervious surfaces and at least ten feet from buildings

How to do it?

  • Make a plan: choose the site, test the soil percolation, determine rain garden size
  • Work when the soil is dry and avoid compaction!
  • Use earth moving equipment or digging forks and shovels to shape the land
  • Mix sand and compost into native soil, or replace with ‘ bioretention’ soil
  • Conveyance systems direct water flow, rocks stabilize the inflow and outflow
  • Right Plant, Right Place: Choose plants for moisture, drought tolerance, sun or shade
  • Mulch. Weed. Water for the first year or two. No chemicals, please!
Model Rain Garden

Model Rain Garden

Features:

  • Directing stormwater to where we need it – in the garden!
  • Creating function and interest with changes in topography
  • The layered landscape: Bulbs, groundcovers, annuals, perennials, shrubs, tree canopy

Benefits:

  • Healthy soils and thriving plants
  • Creating micro-climates for moisture loving plants and for plants needing fast drainage
  • Weed suppression, low maintenance and low water use landscapes
  • Stormwater management and biofiltration= less pollution in our creeks, rivers and bay
  • Welcoming wildlife: the birds and all the beneficial biology
  • Four seasons of beauty!

Resources for a successful project: www.wastormwatercenter.org


For more information on rain gardening and Wonder-Flora Landscape Design, visit Janaki’s website here.

Malibu Compost Bu’s Brew™ Biodynamic® Compost Tea: Sustainability Your Soil Can Sip On

by Audra Howerton

“Once we create a soil environment that is healthy and sustainable, we start to see plant life that is also much healthier and much more sustainable.” -Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost

Tea Bags, photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

Tea Bags, photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

What is biodynamic compost tea? How do you use it? And why use it when there’s already fertilizers, composts and other amendments on the market?

To answer your fascination in biodynamic compost tea for your garden, founder Randy Ritchie of Malibu Compost answers a Q&A on the definition, application and benefits of using this biodynamic product!

For residents of Skagit or Whatcom County, our Compost Tea Party is this Saturday on July 11th at 11am here at the Garden Spot Nursery. Randy will be discussing Malibu Compost Bu’s Brew™ Biodynamic® Compost Tea in depth while we snack on scones and tea (the kind for us and not our plants)!


AH: What is compost tea?

RR: Compost Tea is liquified extraction of compost. The quality of the compost will depend on the level of microbial diversity, nutrient density and organic purity. Our biodynamic compost is the perfect base component for a really beneficial compost tea that will revitalize soil and feed your plants at the same time.

AH: Has it been in the horticulture industry for long?

RR: Compost tea has been around for a long time in a variety of forms, nature being the first. Compost tea is really a form of bio-mimicry. For example, it rains in a forest, the water pools up around the base of a tree, the water filters through the leaf mold into the soil below, taking with it billions of microbes along with beautiful decomposed organic matter. I first learned about it from my grandmother in New Jersey who used finished, composted dairy cow manure in a sock that sat overnight in water. She fed her tomatoes with it. She called it “tomato juice.” That was in the 60’s. I used to water her Jersey tomatoes with it, so I guess, I’ve been using it personally for a loooonnngg time!

AH: How does it work?

RR: Compost and other items like castings, powdered fish hydosolate or kelp meal are put into a micron filter extractor bag, or organic muslin tea bag in our case. The bag is soaked in water between eight to twelve hours and extraction for twenty-four hours if it is aerated with a pump. I’m focusing on extractions, although I use a lot of aerated teas on our farm and landscape projects. The microbes come alive in the water and the “good stuff,” the major and minor nutrients and trace minerals are extracted into the “brew” which becomes a bock, beer-colored liquid through the process.

AH: How does a home gardener apply it? 

RR: The compost tea extraction can be used as a drench straight out of the bucket, in a watering can or a foliar feed or spray through a half-gallon or larger pump sprayer.

photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

AH: When is the best time to use it?

RR: I usually feed the teas in the morning, especially if I am spraying fruit trees or the garden plot because I don’t want the moisture to create stress on the leaf structure of the plants when the sun gets too hot. It could possibly cause leaf burn as it evaporates the liquid. The teas will not cause burn, but the sun and water certainly can.

AH: Where is it mostly used? 

RR: I use it everywhere. We have a massive rose garden that we do in the city of Oakland with teas. I help manage several organic orchards and organic food grows. We use the tea in conjunction with our beautiful compost, as well as the on-site compost we make on many urban farms and landscape sites. It and the compost have all of the nutrients and minerals necessary to grow really healthy soil and plants.

photo courtesy of Maliby Compost

photo courtesy of Maliby Compost

AH: Why is compost tea useful for gardeners? 

RR: It is an essential component of a truly organic protocol in the garden. Again, depending on the source of the compost that is used in the tea as well as any other ingredients that might be added, it is safe, non-toxic, easy-to-use and the best organic amendment for helping to build good organic soil, grow healthy plants and a facilitate a more peaceful, yet vital environment at the home, garden or farm.

AH: Is it an alternative to other soil products or fertilizers? 

RR: We ease a lot of people off of their chemical and synthetic gardening practices by starting with compost teas. It has a very quick affect on the plants because it gets a readily available nutrient source right to the root level for uptake. We have seen plants turn-around overnight with a nice compost tea application. We don’t believe in the NPK myth, or turning our plants into fertilizer addicts. Compost tea is nature’s way of feeding the microbes and the plants for a healthier, more vital garden.

AH: What are the advantages and disadvantages to using compost tea? 

RR: The advantages are clear, improved soil vitality and soil structure, a great food source for the microbes in the soil, healthier plants—which in turn are more disease and pest resistant—as well as the teas bring a great aid ion for dealing with fungal issues like powdery mildew and rust. The only disadvantage I see is people making teas out of inferior compost, or unfinished composts, which can be highly anaerobic and potentially toxic.

AH: How does Malibu Compost Tea compare to other compost teas on the market, especially with biodynamic practices?

RR: Malibu Compost Teas have the highest food-grade purity level on the market because we test for GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, as well as do biological screening that test for microbial diversity and AG analysis that shows that there are no pathogens, heavy metals or pH issues happening in our products. The biodynamic preparations are the secret to creating vitality and soil health with our teas.

photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

photo courtesy of Malibu Compost

AH: What are the short and long term effects of using compost tea? 

RR: The short-term effect is immediate uptake of whatever the plants might be needing in terms of nutrition. The long-term effect is overall soil and garden health. One of the things that I love about compost teas is when using a really good compost like ours you cannot overdo it. You’re not going to burn your plants as you can with many other fertilizers. You’re not going to stress your garden out or stress the microbes out who are working hard to create food and balance in your garden.

AH: How does this benefit the soil and plant material?

RR: Traditional chemical and synthetic fertilizers kill off large numbers of microbes in the soil, and create environments that are in a highly weakened state. The use of good, truly organic compost teas keeps growing the numbers of beneficial microbes in the soil, both bacteria and fungi, which attract the the larger protozoa who will eat the smaller microorganisms and in-turn poop out beautiful plant available nitrogen. Once we create a soil environment that is healthy and sustainable, we start to see plant life that is also much healthier and much more sustainable.


Malibu Compost is a Demeter Association certified, biodynamic company based out of Malibu, CA. For more information on Malibu Compost, their practices and their products, visit their website here.

Spring 2015 Photo Contest

Hey Snap Happy Gardenspotters!

IMG_2300

Follow the link here to enter the Spring 2015 Photo Contest. Rules and requirements will be listed there. Your submission will have chance to win a $20 Gift Certificate to our store! Be sure to submit before the deadline on June 5th at 5pm.

Award-winning photographer Diane Padys will be our guest judge for this contest and will pick our prize winner the following week. Visit her website here for more information.

Good luck and happy snapping!

Garden Spot’s Top Peony Picks for 2015

“Classic garden plants that add a bit of nostalgia and charm to the garden.”

For Ginger’s upcoming class Peonies 101 this Saturday, we compiled a stunning list of intersectional, herbaceous and tree peonies. It’s the spring blooming season, so be on the lookout for these budding beauties. There’s also a surprise peony at the end that should not be missed!

Itoh Peonies: Paeonia intersectional

Toihi Itoh first hybridized Itoh peonies in 1948, as a cross between tree and herbaceous peonies. They have huge, colorful blooms that are supported by strong stems, which makes them ideal as cut flowers for any arrangement.

‘Morning Lilac’

morninglilacmonrovia

Photo by Monrovia

This Itoh peony has dark green foliage to promote its single, lavender-pink flowers with golden stamens. This deciduous perennial’s blooming period is in late spring. As a fast grower, it reaches a mature height and width of 3 feet. Be sure to place in well-draining soil in full to partial sun.

Herbaceous Peony: Paeonia lactiflora

Herbaceous peonies are hardy perennials that have an extensive blooming period throughout spring and summer. Certain varieties also have an aromatic fragrance.

‘Paula Fay’

Photo by Monrovia

Photo by Monrovia

This herbaceous peony has large, fragrant and bright pink flowers that bloom in early spring. ‘Paula Fay’ is also an American Peony Society Gold Medal winner. A fast grower, it can reach a mature height and width 3 feet. Be sure to place in well-draining soil in full to partial sun.

Tree Peony: Paeonia suffruticosa

Contrary to its name, a tree peony is actually a deciduous shrub with woody stems. Their flowers are 3 to 4 times larger than any other peony and can reach 10” in diameter, as a long-lasting showstopper. Tree peonies need to be planted in partial sun, as full sun will fade its flowers and full shade will cause slow, weak growth. Tree peonies require a few years after transplanting to produce blooms, but they’re well worth the wait!

‘High Noon’

Photo by Kelways

Photo by Kelways

This tree peony has exceptional semi-double, golden-yellow blooms with red accents in the center and a lemony-scented fragrance. Yellow tree peonies are quite rare with blooms reaching 7.5” in diameter with handsome, green foliage. It may re-bloom in late summer. Be sure to plant in partial sun with well-draining soil.

A Surprise Rarity:

Paeonia Mlokosewitchii

Discovered by Polish botanist Ludwik Mlokosiewicz in 1897, Paeonia mlokosewitchii is native to the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia and grows on rocky slopes within the forests. It does not fit the classification of intersectional, herbaceous and tree peony, which makes it a rare cultivar for peony collectors. It is often humorously named “Mollie the Witch” due to its difficult pronunciation.

Photo by Mark Rowland of Lathyrus Seed

Photo by Mark Rowland of Lathyrus Seed

Paeonia Mlokosewitchii has lush, soft green foliage and single, golden-yellow flowers that reach peak bloom in May. In autumn, a true wonder occurs. Its seed pods open to reveal glossy blue and reddish-pink seeds.

Photo by Mark Rowland of Lathysus Seed

Photo by Mark Rowland of Lathyrus Seed

Plant Crush Preview: Monrovia’s 2015 Plant Collection

For our upcoming class Plant Crush: Monrovia’s 2015 Plant Collection, we thought we’d give you a quick preview of what to look forward to this Saturday, March 28. We’ve put together a Top 5 list of plants that Tad Storrer will be discussing among other plant “crushes” we have this spring!

But first, a note about our guest speaker:

Tadd Storrer is a graduate of Industrial Technology from The Ohio State University, yet he says, “Growing up on a farm lead me back to what I enjoyed most, plants and people.”

As a sales representative for the esteemed nursery Monrovia, Tadd sells into the Seattle area, Olympic Peninsula and British Columbia Territories.

“I have worked for Monrovia for 30 years,” he says. “Monrovia gives people a chance to progress professionally by starting at the bottom and working through all the different phases of the nursery’s many operations and processes… from production to loading trucks to in-house sales to traveling to a particular geographic area of the country called a Sales Territory.”

And what does Tadd look forward to most this upcoming 2015 season?

“The early start [of spring] offers a great opportunity for Garden Centers to make this a banner year if weather continues as it has.”

Here are a few of our selections from Tadd’s amazing list to come, so sign up ahead of time here to join this amazing garden talk on what to look forward to from Monrovia!

Azalea ‘Fragrant Star’ NEW PLANT

Photo by Monrovia

Photo by Monrovia

A winter-blooming wonder, ‘Fragrant Star’ speaks to its name with showy, aromatic flowers shooting out of silvery-blue foliage. This upright and deciduous shrub reaches 5’ tall by 3’ wide in 10 years, making it ideal for Zen or cottage gardens.

Berberis ‘Orange Rocket’

orangerocketberberis

Photo by Monrovia

An award-winning and deciduous shrub, ‘Orange Rocket’ takes off to the skies in a vibrant, upright manner. New, coral-orange foliage transitions into emerald through the summer and into fiery red leaves come autumn. Reaching 4.5’ tall by 1.5’ wide, this barberry accents contemporary hedges, woodland gardens and containers.

Hydrangea ‘Cityline Rio’ NEW PLANT

Photo by Monrovia

Photo by Monrovia

Exciting and dramatic as the city it’s named for, ‘Cityline Rio’ is an early-blooming, compact hydrangea with glossy green foliage. Its long-blooming flowers pop open green eyes with bright blue along the edges. Reaching up to 3’ tall and wide, this deciduous shrub accents woodland gardens, containers and cottage borders.

Vaccinium ‘Bountiful Blue’®

Photo by Monrovia

Photo by Monrovia

As another award-winning shrub, the semi-evergreen ‘Bountiful Blue’® self-fertilizes high yielding, early summer fruit. With bright, pink flowers in spring, this blueberry dazzles blue-tinted foliage in a compact manner making it great for containers. Try ‘Peach Sorbet’ and Jelly Bean’ blueberries too!

Flower Carpet ® Scarlet Groundcover Rose

Photo by Monrovia

Photo by Monrovia

From spring through fall, this go-to groundcover produces vibrant, scarlet-red blooms for repeat flowering. Against glossy, deep green foliage, these blooms also attract butterflies. Reaching up to 3’ tall by 3’ wide, this groundcover rose has a rapid growth rate ideal for containers, perennial borders and rock gardens.

For more information on our classes and events, visit our website here.