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!

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Spring 2015 Photo Contest

Hey Snap Happy Gardenspotters!

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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.

Biodynamic: The Past and Future of Agriculture

by Paige Lahnam

Everyone has heard of organic foods; we know that they are good for us and that they tend to be more expensive in the grocery store, but the term “biodynamic” is a new one for most people in America.  Europeans and Australians are the pioneers of biodynamic farming and almost a decade after its inception, it is difficult to obtain biodynamic seeds in America and education on the topic is limited.  The concept is much older than organic, but much less understood.

Biodynamic is the next leap in sustainable agriculture: the past, present, and future of growing.

Biodynamic is the big brother of organic.  In order to acquire a biodynamic certification, an organic certification is needed.   Matt Visser, representative of Territorial Seed Company’s Biodynamic Sero Seed says “organic tells you what not to do and biodynamic tells you what you should do,” meaning that organic regulates the use of harmful chemicals and biodynamic gives the alternative.  Biodynamic is the next leap in sustainable agriculture: the past, present, and future of growing.  

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We are now carrying a brand new, biodynamic seed line called Sero Biodynamic Seed, created from Territorial Seed Company. Also check out our newest product, Malibu Compost, produced entirely from biodynamic farms.

The USDA implemented the National Organic Program in 2002, while biodynamic farming has been around since 1924. This led to the founding of the International Demeter Biodynamic Certification, the oldest ecological certification organization in the world.  After the industrial revolution, people moved from their farms to the city.  Agriculture lay in the shadow of factories. Chemical fertilizers and sprays pushed for fast, controlled mass production and extreme specialization.  No longer were farmers planting multiple crops, but rather a handful of cash crops, such as corn, wheat, and rye grass.  Cattle farmers no longer grew their own feed, but had it brought in from feed specialized farms. Things began to fail.

Many farmers turned to Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and scientist who coined the term “biodynamic”.  Steiner believed that the farm operated as an ecosystem, supporting plants, animals, and farmer in a cohesive, self-sustaining environment that did not negatively impact the surrounding land.  He believed that when farmers separated themselves from the farm, everything else followed suit. A biodynamic farm is incorporated into the surrounding environment.

rudolfsteiner

Rudolph Steiner

To create this seamless system, biodynamic certification requires 10% of the total area certified allotted to native plants and wildlife. The land is not reassigned, tilled beyond recognition. A farmer moves in to the native landscape, acknowledges and enters the existing ecosystem.

The certification requires all that the organic label calls for and then some.  Access to the outdoors and room to lie down is a must for livestock, but biodynamic certification also specifies that animals be allowed to carry out normal social behaviors, such as young animals playing together, and appropriate water and perching space availability for waterfowl and poultry.  All of the components of organic regulations are braided together so that every aspect of the farm interconnects.  The fodder for cattle grows on site and relies on particular grazing habits for nutrients.  All nutrients are recycled from the farm itself.

The biodynamic farm is meant to be a living, breathing organism that regulates itself.

The farmer is not out tilling the ground, breaking up the beneficial colonies of fungi and bacteria, regulating water usage and nutrient input.  The farmer is covering the soil to hold in water and nutrients, building it up with compost made from farm waste, laying it on the earth for the insects and microorganisms to mix in.  This farmer does not toil in the fields, but realizes that every member of the farm has a role to play and a time to play it.  Moon phases dictate when to weed, when to plant, when to harvest.  The biodynamic farmer moves with nature, never against it.

Photo by Demeter Biodynamic Trade Association

Photo by Demeter Biodynamic Trade Association

Agriculture has become a drain on our environment.  Nutrient leaching, erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions are pressing concerns.  10% of greenhouse gasses in the U.S. come from agriculture.  The focus of biodynamic farming and gardening is to mimic nature as closely as possible, to get away from the culture of mass production and to work towards reversing negative effects on the environment by building nutrient packed soil. This does not mean having a wild, out of control yard.  This means that waste products are put to good use, covering the soil, and adding nutrients to it.  It means supporting the beneficial wildlife in the garden, from fungi to insects.  When we support the hard workers buzzing and creeping around us, we reduce our own labor.  Beneficial insects control pest insects, and the same is true for bacteria and fungi.  The concept is to go back to how we used to grow things: within a self-sustaining system.  Biodynamic certification came about in a time of big change and big business.  It was a cry for help when things weren’t working the way they used to and it is a 90-year-old movement to protect our food and our future.

Sources:

“Biodynamic Farm Standard.” Demeter Association Inc. (2014): 1-50. Feb. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2015. <http://www.demeter-usa.org/downloads/Demeter-Farm-Standard.pdf>.

“Agriculture.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

Tompkins, Peter, and Christopher Bird. Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet. Anchorage, AK: Earthpulse, 1998. Print.

Visser, Matt. “Matt Visser of Sero Biodynamic Seeds.” Telephone interview. Spring 2015.

“Guide to Organic Certification.” Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program (2008): 1-54. WSDA Organics. Washington State Dept. of Agriculture Organic Food Program, 2008. Web. 1 Mar. 2015. <http://www.agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/Certificate/2009/Reference_Material/237_Guide_OrgCertification.pdf>.

Paige Lanham is a recent graduate of Western Washington University. She has earned a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in English and is a seed buyer, plant receiver, and blogger at Garden Spot Nursery. She is a newcomer botanist and writer and likes to play in the dirt.