December Garden Tasks


Hello Folks!

It’s the Garden Spot Crew here. Here with a short list of garden tasks to keep your garden, happy and healthy this December.

1 -Got any spring bulbs around? Get those bulbs in the ground! Pronto! Click here for some tips on design from Deb.

2 -Rake up any stray leaves from late-dropping trees, add to your compost pile along with weeds and other plant bits

3 -It’s a great time to prune cherry trees and other stone fruit trees

4 –Plant for winter color, work some pansies and hellebores into your containers, dig up plants that are past their prime.

5 -‘Tis the Season for Dormant Spraying– this helps with over-wintering bugs on deciduous trees and shrubs. Best to apply 3 times over the winter.

6 -Winter Plant Protection– This is a big one.Think of tender plants like daphne or rosemary, give them a blanket.

7 –Watering…make sure your big evergreens and plants under the eaves of the house have enough water, too cold and too dry is often a fatal combination.

8 -Take Cuttings – of evergreens and hardwoods, dip them in rooting hormone and place them in a bright, well-lit area

9 –Review the year, while you’re sitting by the fire think about what worked, and what didn’t. Take notes for next year.

10 –Seed catalogs! December is the time when they start to arrive, time to peruse and dream of next year.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Garden Spots: Deb and Kay’s ‘Country Cottage’ Containers

By: Debra Olberg
A lot of flowers equals constant deadheading (removing old blooms), generous amounts of water and weekly feeding. This ‘country cottage’ container garden is nestled amongst a mature landscape which consists of three brick patios of various sizes furnished with places to sit, water features and containers filled with the flowers of summer. The garden has a collection of large trees casting a wide blanket of shade.
In the shady spaces you will find several kinds of begonias, coleus, heliotrope, impatiens, fuchsias, shade loving vines and grasses.  The sunlight does peek through in a few places allowing for experimentation with some sun lovers as well. Here you will find canna lilies, rudbeckia, dahlias, geraniums, petunia, lobelia, New Zealand flax, salvia, bacopa, million bells and more.
 Hello, my name is Debra and I am employed at the Garden Spot Nursery. I am in charge of designing, planting and maintaining this magical collection of flowers. This garden belongs to a lady named Kay, and every summer she lets me play in her yard. Over the years I have experimented with many kinds of flowers and plants determining what will do the best.
Not only am I challenged with varying degrees of shade from filtered to heavy I also have to battle with deer and slugs. I have found deer visit a few times early then reappear late season. I attempt to plant what I have found they like the least and bury what they do like among them or beyond their reach.
potting bench close up
Each spring and summer we are all at the mercy of the weather and what did well one season might flop the next, doesn’t mean I won’t try it again! I take photos and keep notes and start to plan for next year before the last begonia drops its last flower of the summer.
Next Saturday, October 26th Debra will be teaching a class on putting the garden to bed for the winter. Pick up great tips for overwintering begonias and dahlias, as well as pruning and other important autumn tasks. Read more here

Designing with Flower Bulbs: Deb’s Top 3 Tips

By: Debra Olberg

Minolta DSC

Nothing says spring quite like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and friends blooming for all to see. Bulbs can bloom in succession from very early spring, to mid-spring, and late spring giving your garden a full season of color. Depending on the bloom time, you can plant for a show of color all at one time or it can be over a several month span.


number onecroppedInterplant flower bulbs with a carpet of low-growing annuals or perennials like pansies, violas, arabis (rock cress), aubrieta, campanula, cerastium (snow in summer), cotula, erodium, hardy geranium, iberis (candytuft), blue star creeper, wire vine, corsican mint, creeping phlox, creeping thyme just to name a few.

These combination plantings give you two layers of color and a longer blooming season.

daffodil path

number twocroppedUse flower bulbs to line a walkway or path to invite people into the garden or as a border in a flower bed. Use the smaller growers along the walk and graduate to the taller types in the back.

Some great shorties to try are: Chionodoxa (glory-of-the-snow), crocus, eranthis (winter aconite), galanthus (snowdrops), miniature iris, muscari (grape hyacinth), miniature daffodils, puschkinia, scilla (bluebell), species and rockery tulips. Have fun developing planting patterns amongst your shrubs and perennials.

tulips en masse

number threecropped

For maximum color impact, plant bulbs in masses of 40 or more bulbs of a single variety. Arrange in drifts (for an informal garden) or geometric beds (for a formal garden). Always avoid planting in single rows or isolated beds.

Soil to Table: Grow your own Garlic

cooking with garlic

Garlic is a flavorful and hearty ingredient in home-cooking. Originating in Central Asia, garlic has been utilized for both culinary and medicinal purposes all over the world. Now that Halloween is around the corner, I’m sure many of you will be thinking of its repellent properties. If only it worked on deer right?

There is nothing quite like the flavor of homegrown garlic. Right now at our store, we’ve got Kim’s beautiful Italian garlic bulbs grown out at our farm ready to plant. For those of you who are new to garlic farming, here are some F.A.Q. to guide you through planting to your first garlic crop next fall.

What kind of garlic should I plant?

Be sure when shopping for garlic to choose a healthy bulb. It should be firm when you squeeze it. You wouldn’t want to plant rotten cloves.

Where should I plant it?

You want your garlic to be high and dry through the winter rains. Raised beds are a good choice or anywhere that the soil drains freely. Also, try to site it where it will get a good amount of sun throughout the day, especially afternoon sun.

garlic shoots

Do I need to amend the soil?

We recommend that you add some of Gardener and Bloome’s ‘All Purpose’ Fertilizer when planting. Dig it in well, to the first six inches of soil. Don’t add too much, be sure to follow the directions for application rate.

The main requirement as we discussed above is that your garlic have drainage. If the soil where you intend to plant is soggy, you’ll want to amend it with something like Gardener and Bloome’s ‘Soil Building Compost’.

How deep do I plant it?

In our damp climate we recommend not planting more than one to two inches down. You are measuring from the top of the clove. Also, give them six to eight inches of space between each clove.

garlic scapesWhat do I do with the seedheads?

While garlic scapes are quite pretty, now is not the time to be sentimental. As soon as you see a seedhead forming. Go ahead and pull it off. This will re-direct the energy of the plant toward the bulbs.

Do I need to water my garlic?

Other than the initial watering-in, you won’t need to water your garlic through the fall to the spring. Unless we should get an unseasonable spate of dry weather. Garlic don’t need a ton of water. Use your judgement, if the soil feels moist, you don’t need to water. In the fall, once harvest approaches, cut back on the watering.

How do I fertilize them?

When you first plant and then again in the spring, after the last frost you can start fertilizing your garlic every few weeks with a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer such as ‘Daniel’s Plant Food’ until they begin to bulb.

When can I harvest my garlic?

Garlic are similar to potatoes in the sense that they will let you know when it’s time to harvest. Their leaves will turn brown and die back to the ground in the early autumn. Then you can break out your shovel and start digging.

garlic harvest

If the weather is warm and dry you can leave the bulbs on the ground. If the weather feels uncertain, bring them inside and hang them up or place them on a screen to dry. Now the fun comes. Try a recipe like this or this or this. Or if you’ve still got basil, why not make some fresh pesto?

How to Braid Garlic with Marcy

Happy Wednesday Garden Friends!

For those of you who had a large garlic harvest this year, today we’re going to demonstrate how to braid garlic both for storage and as an ornament in your home.

Marcy is here to show you how.

Marcy with Garlic5

Step 1: Gather 13 garlic bulbs and remove the first layer of bulb wrapper. You may also cut off the roots for a tidy effect, though we left them on. (Note: If you start to see moisture on your bulbs, do clip the roots off as this will help prevent rot)


Step 2: Place three bulbs on the table, choosing the largest bulb for the center. The stalk of the central bulb “B” should be on top.

ABC Garlic Bulbs5

Step 3: Fold stalk A over B & C, then pull underneath and back to it’s original position. You should have a knot now.

Garlic 25

Step 4: Take another large bulb and place it in the center. The new stalk should align with “B”. You now have 3 “reins”. Marcy says she learned from her sister to “always keep the reins of your horse tight”.

Garlic 35

Step 5: Bend stalk C over the two middle stems. Add fifth to the right side and align its stalk with C.

Garlic 45

Step 6: Bend stalk A over the center stalks. Place a sixth bulb on the left and align its stalk with A. Now bend C and its companion stalk over A and the sixth bulb’s stalk. You should now have three reins with 2 stalks each.

Garlic 55

Step 7: Now repeat steps 2-6 for two more sets of three. Be sure to braid as tightly as possible and secure each new bulb with the lowest strand. Remember, the lowest strand always ends up in the central position.

Garlic 65

Step 8: Take the 13th bulb and place it in the center. At this point you can add in some fresh sage or rosemary to make it more ornamental for your home. Braid your 3 strands upward and tie off with a ribbon or some raffia.

Garlic 7 12 bulbs5

Garlic Braiding5

Ta-da! Now you’ve got a beautiful garlic braid to hang in your home, and enjoy throughout the holiday season.

Garlic Bow5

Fall and Winter Color Class with Jim Locke

generic shrub pic

With the weather changing, many of us wonder what comes next? Are we doomed to a dreary winter of bare soil and stripped foliage? How can we inject some color into our fall and winter gardens?

This Saturday, Jim Locke of Van Klaveren’s nursery comes to the Garden Spot for a free class on trees and shrubs for fall and winter color. A friendly fellow with a dynamite knowledge of plants, we are all looking forward to what should be a fun and informative event.

We talked with Jim about his life in gardening last week, and here’s what we learned…


Jim Locke 2

How did you get into horticulture?

I’ve been doing this since I was sixteen years old. Back then, I actually worked at a retail nursery in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

 Who was your biggest influence?

Probably a nursery inspector had the most influence on me staying in this field and going to college. He came by to chat fairly often, and his advice really stuck with me.

What do you like to grow?

Everything, but probably if I had to pick one, I’d say vegetables. This year we had a great chard crop as well as lettuce and carrots.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Well I’m lucky enough to work on a fourteen-acre nursery. So I just have to walk outside and see all the beautiful plants to get inspired.

When would you say is the best time to plant trees and shrubs?

I really believe that fall is for planting. Things are cooling down and plants can acclimate before the heat of the summer. The only downside is, you may not find all the plant material you want this time of year.


If you’d like to join us on Saturday, just call our store: 360-676-5480, or click here to register online. This class is free and starts at 9am.

Happy Friday- Fall is Here and so are our Pumpkins!

Lots of news at Garden Spot Nursery this week. Our pumpkins have arrived, as well as our fall bulbs. We’ll go further into this on a later post, but suffice to say that we have a re-blooming orange iris. That’s right, you read that correctly. A re-blooming orange iris. Ooh-la-la!

We’re awash in fall mums, pansies and violas. But don’t forget that we’ve still got loads of beautiful perennials, shrubs and trees just waiting to come home with you. And since our fall sale on ALL plant material runs through this Sunday. This weekend is the perfect time to drop by and get that heuchera you’ve been coveting at 25% off!

It’s been an epic year in the garden. Vegetable gardens are overflowing with home-grown produce and ornamental gardens are flush with bloom. Now’s the time to take care of some garden tasks that will help your garden thrive this winter. Have you divided your irises yet?

If not, here’s a few tips from our crew:


1– After digging up the rhizomes (we like to use a potato fork), pull them apart carefully, discarding any rotting or shriveled up rhizomes

2– As you cut them up, be sure that each chunk of rhizome has a leaf fan attached, cut these leaves to about six inches

3– Once you’ve given the cuts a few hours to heal over, re-plant the rhizome just below the soil surface spreading out the roots below

4– Don’t forget to make sure that all the leaf fans are facing the same direction towards the sun

5– Water those lovelies in and relax (No need to water again through the fall/winter, unless it becomes unseasonably dry)

We had a lot of submissions for our Facebook “Photo of the Week”, and it was so hard to pick! Here’s this week’s winner:

Krys Kirkwood

Congratulations to Krys Kirkwood. We just couldn’t resist this sassy echinacea. There are so many blooming around town this time of year, and this one is so pretty!

Hope you enjoy your new planter Krys!

Want to join in on the fun? Just post your favorite gardening pics to our Facebook page, and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win Facebook Photo of the Week.

Thanks to everyone who participated, we sure enjoyed your photos!