Many gardeners meticulously plant bulbs in an exact pattern, making sure the proper colors are coordinated and each bulb is placed just right. We think this is a wonderful way of gardening and love seeing the results, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time or there are hundreds of bulbs involved.
In these instances, we highly recommend trench-style planting. What is trench-style planting? Exactly what it sounds like. Grab 100, 200, 500 bulbs (whatever’s your style), dig a large trench to the depth you need to plant your bulbs, drop the bulbs in, quickly make sure the right end is up (the pointy end up, usually) and fill the trench back in. Water thoroughly to get rid of any air pockets and wait for a burst of color in the spring. Â
One of our owners, Mike Lizotte (aka the Seed Man), recently did this at his property. He planted 500 mixed tulips in five separate trenches throughout his yard and gardens. With a little help from his daughter, he managed to plant all of these bulbs in under two hours.
So if you’re looking for a quick way to add a huge statement of color to your spring garden, we recommend trench-style planting a variety of spring-blooming bulbs such as Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and more.
You can see Mike’s process below and just how easy it is to do a mass planting in your own backyard.
If possible, leave your wildflowers up through the winter to help feed the birds. We think it’s beautiful, too!
To mow or not to mow? This is a question weâ€™re asked daily by wildflower gardeners throughout the country. And the answer really isnâ€™t that straightforward; it depends on your preference and the wildflowers.
Personally, in my garden, I like to leave my wildflowers standing tall for the winter. I find that this not only gives the birds a tasty, easy-to-reach treat, but it also helps my annuals re-seed for the next season. It may not look pristine, but there is a certain beauty to the snow gathering on your once-green wildflowers. Come spring, I mow everything down and make sure itâ€™s ready to sprout new growth.
WhenÂ mowingÂ down your wildflowers, use the highest setting of your brush mower or lawnmower.Â
Another option is to mow most of your meadow down and leave a section standing for the birds. For those of you who prefer a cleaner look, this gives you most of the benefits of mowing the wildflowers down and also leaving some varieties for the birds to snack on. In the section that you did mow, remember to leave the cut foliage on the ground until spring.
Finally, if your wildflowers somehow become diseased or you live in an area that has strict cosmetic restrictions, you can absolutely mow down your meadow at the end of the season. If your wildflowers are diseased, make sure to rake up and dispose of them after you mow them down. If youâ€™re just mowing for aesthetic reasons, leave the cut foliage on the ground â€“ youâ€™ll be surprised at how many birds will come and feast on the seeds! Also, leaving the cuttings increases the chances of reseeding the following spring.
Birds have already snacked on this large Sunflower bloom left on the ground after being cut down.
No matter what time youâ€™re mowing down or cutting back your wildflowers, itâ€™s important that you do so with plenty of time for new growth to be able to come up and flourish. So if youâ€™re waiting until the spring, make sure itâ€™s one of the first things you do in the garden.
If you have questions about which approach to take in your garden, donâ€™t hesitate to call our helpful gardening team at (877) 309-7333, or use our live chat function on our website. Happy Gardening!
We had hundreds of spectacular, inspiring entries to our Wildflower Photo Contest this year. It was hard to pick four winners for each of our categories, which were Selfie, Close-up, Landscape, and Miscellaneous. We hope you enjoy the winning photos as much as we do!
Category One: Selfie in the Garden
Grand Prize: Cosmos & Zinnia, Submitted by Jinn B.
Rudbeckia, Submitted by Debbie D.
Sunflowers, Submitted by Robert W.
Sunflowers, Submitted by Susan C.
Category Two: Close-up Shot
Grand Prize: Sunflower Autumn Beauty, Submitted by Ted T.
Gaillardia, Submitted by Shiree L.
Zinnia, Submitted by Leah H.
Sunflower, Submitted by Josephine P.
Category Three: Landscape Photos
Grand Prize: Annual Wildflowers, Submitted by Amy S.
Wildflowers, Submitted by Al L.
Cornflowers & Poppies, Submitted by Marsha M.
Echinacea & Rudbeckia, Submitted by Virginia L.
Category Four: Miscellaneous
Sunflowers, Submitted by Teddy M.
Cosmos, Submitted by Nancy R.
Milkweed, Submitted by Yvette L.
Echinacea, Submitted by Darla M.
Stay tuned for another Wildflower contest soon… Happy Gardening!
Our No Mow MixÂ provides soft, deep-green grass that requires little to no maintenance throughout the spring and summer months.
Thereâ€™s no doubt about it: lawns are a major part of the US landscape and probably arenâ€™t going anywhere soon. These lawns not only provide enjoyment for property owners and park-goers, but also support the seed production and landscape maintenance industries.
But just because lawns are so integral to our landscaping, doesnâ€™t mean we canâ€™t think about them in a little different way. Instead of choosing grasses that require constant watering, pesticides and upkeep, it makes more sense to instead choose varieties that are low maintenance and low water, no matter where you live. This will benefit you as a homeowner, while also helping to reduce your negative impact on the earth.
How Lawns Benefit Us:
– Lawns help absorb and filter water as it moves from the sky to waterways. Without lawns, there could be much more flooding.
– A lot of our outside life is centered around the lawn, including playing with our children on the soft grass, enjoying a picnic, playing soccer, and throwing the ball for our dogs.
– Lawns can help cool urban and suburban areas down, helping to deter the effects of urban heat islands.
How Lawns Negative Affect Us:
– Lawn care can be extremely wasteful; it uses a lot of energy to mow a lawn and makes lawn a carbon negative part of the landscape. This means that more carbon is generated by lawn maintenance than the actual grass absorbs.
– Lawns can use large amounts of chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides which are very damaging to the environment.
– Lawns can waste precious water resources, especially in areas where there is drought.
So What To Plant?
Weâ€™re not saying donâ€™t enjoy your lawn, weâ€™re just offering up a few varieties that can save you time and energy from less mowing, while also growing without pesticides and reducing the carbon imprint of your landscaping. These varieties are deep rooted and slow growing.
Low Work and Water Dwarf Fescue Grass Seed: This low-growing, low-maintenance grass seed mixture is perfect for any lawn. The soft, green grass is extremely durable and tolerates high traffic, making it great for play areas. Like its name states, this mixture requires less mowing and water than traditional grass seed.
No Mow Lawn Grass Seed:This specially formulated mixture provides soft, deep-green grass that requires little to no maintenance throughout the spring and summer months. These varieties are also drought-resistant and easy to grow.
Short Grass Seed Mixture: The Short Grass Seed Mixture will grow to be about 12-36 inches and is comprised of Blue Grama, Sideoats Grama, Sand Dropseed, and Prairie Junegrass. This grass is low-growing, meaning it requires less mowing and tolerates dry soil and drought conditions, needing less water.
Northeast Native Grass Seed Mixture:This mixture is made up of warm and cool-season grasses that are native to the Northeast and will be a hardy, long-lasting solution to any area.
Southeast Native Grass Mixture: This mixture is made up of warm and cool-season grasses that are native to the Southeast and will be a hardy, long-lasting solution to any area.
This year, choose one of these mixtures and reduce the water, mowing and pesticides you put into your lawn. Happy Gardening!
One of our long-time employees, Erin, is always experimenting and planting new varieties on her property in Northern Vermont. This spring, the Seed Man prepped a 4,000 square ft. area in her meadow to plant a variety of wildflowers, including our Northeast Mix, Black Eyed Susans,Zinnias, Cosmos and more.
He used a tractor to dig up the existing grass, then rototilled the area to loosen the soil, spread the seed and used a roller to compact the seed into the soil. If you’re planting a smaller area, you can simply walk on the seed after planting to compress it. This helps prevent seed from washing away in the rain and also improves germination rate.
As you can see by the photos below, the results were spectacular throughout the season, starting at the end of July and lasting through September.
Fall is the perfect time to get out, enjoy the cool weather and maintain your perennial gardens. Whether youâ€™re cutting perennials back, dividing varieties that have grown substantially, or digging up and moving plants that didnâ€™t do well this past season â€“ fall is the time to do it.
Although you may have the urge to cut everything down to the ground this fall, we recommend leaving several perennials standing through the fall and winter months. Sedum remains attractive all winter long, especially with a dusting of snow. Echinacea and Rudbeckia seeds are a tasty treat for birds. Some varieties, including Butterfly Weed and Coral Bells, donâ€™t like to be cut back, as their foliage protects the plants through the winter.
Some perennials, such as Sedum, remain attractive throughout the winter months and can be left as is.
Having said that, itâ€™s important to cut back most of the perennials in your garden, as they usually canâ€™t tolerate the winter weather. They will also create an eye sore in the garden. We recommend cutting back perennials in your garden (except for the ones mentioned above) after the weather has cooled down significantly, but before the snow flies. Most varieties like to be cut down several inches from the ground. If the plant is diseased, remember not to compost the foliage.
The best rule to dividing plants is not to wait until the plant has outgrown its space so much that it looks like itâ€™s dying. Divide healthy, large plants such as Iris and Daylilies that are ready to be moved to other spots in the garden.
The cooler temperatures in fall allow for the quickest reestablishment of your perennials after dividing and re-planting (or giving to a lucky friend). The plants will be able to establish new roots before the heat of summer arrives. Divide plants into smaller sections (about 20% of the original plant), as smaller plants actually have a better chance of survival. We donâ€™t recommend dividing while a plant is in bloom, but if you have to, be extra conscious of watering and care.
After diving your plants, if youâ€™re not planting right away, we recommend wetting the roots and storing them in a cool, shady spot, covering them with newspaper to keep them moist. When re-planting, add an organic fertilizer to help boost the new plantâ€™s chances of growing strong in the garden.
Weâ€™ve all done it â€“ planted a Peony too deep so it doesnâ€™t bloom, or added a sun-loving variety where thereâ€™s too much shade. Fall is the perfect time to try to correct your past growing errors and dig up, re-plant and move existing perennials. Like dividing plants, fall is the perfect time to move and re-plant varieties because the cooler temperatures allow for the root structures to get established before the warm season.
Although Mulching isnâ€™t necessary in the fall, if youâ€™ve recently divided and re-planted small perennials, or have other new, tender additions to the fall garden, we recommend adding a layer of mulch to help protect them from the harsh winter.
This summer, several gardeners were out working in our test gardens when they noticed a swarm of honey bees crossing the street. A short investigation revealed a â€świldâ€ť honey bee hive in a tree near our building. The hive was about 10 feet off the ground, tucked into a split in the trunk of the tree and covered with bees. Weâ€™ve enjoyed watching the bees come and go from their hive this seasonÂ and have a variety of questions about the rarity of this type of hive, the difference between native and non-native bees and what role gardening plays in all of it.
Being plant â€“ not bee â€“ experts, we turned to a rich resource near us, the University of Vermont. Dr. Leif Richardson is an ecologist who studies bees and their interactions with plants and their parasites. He is currently doing a post-doctoral fellowship an the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.
Dr. Leif Richardson, an ecologist who studies bees, sat down with me to talk about the North American bee population.
Native bees vs. non-native bees: whatâ€™s the difference?
Dr. Richardson took the time to sit down with me and discuss the difference between native and non-native bees, the importance of native bees to pollination and what we can do to really help the bee population.
â€śI study only wild bees,â€ť Dr. Richardson clarifies as we begin our conversation. â€śI primarily work with bumble bees, but Iâ€™ve done some work with other, solitary bees that arenâ€™t social.â€ť He explains that these solitary bees live an independent lifestyle, in stark contrast to the European honey bee, which is the bee that Dr. Richardson says â€śmost people know about.â€ť The European honey bee has been in North America for hundreds of years, but theyâ€™re not native. â€śSo itâ€™s sort of like other agricultural animals weâ€™ve brought here because theyâ€™re useful, [like] livestock,â€ť he explains.
The hive in action.
Due to naturalization, the European honey bees, like the ones that made our hive, are sometimes found in nature, but generally, because of recent problems with parasites, Dr. Richardson explains that itâ€™s not common. â€śThey occur in hives that humans maintain. So thatâ€™s a really different situation from wild bees, which generally live underground or in hollowed twigs, trees and other places,â€ť he says. Native bees are Dr. Richardsonâ€™s specialty, and his fondness for them is apparent as he speaks. â€śWhatâ€™s interesting about [native bees] is, as you would expect, they are the main pollinators of native plants, wild plants in the woods, wetlands and so on. So they are really important to ecosystem structure and function. But surprisingly, they are, in many cases, the most important pollinators on farms,â€ť he says. â€śSo even though weâ€™re not managing wild bees, native bees â€¦ they just happen to be in the natural lands around farms.â€ť
Bees, farms and your food:
Despite being somewhat ignored by humans, native bees still commute to farms to get their food, which is pollen and nectar. Dr. Richardson explains that because of this, we get a huge environmental benefit from these native bees. â€śThey are actually more important to most of our crops that need pollination than our honey bees. So even though we put honey bees in apple orchards and they do some pollination, they donâ€™t do as much pollination, on average, as the native bees,â€ť he says.
Dr. Richardson canâ€™t stress the importance of this enough, â€śNative bees are really important to people, partly because they help to maintain natural systems, but also because they are very important to the thoroughly human ecosystem that is a farm.â€ť Without the wild bees that we donâ€™t pay much attention to, Dr. Richardson says, we wouldnâ€™t be able to grow many of the crops we rely on.
Pesticides and bees:
Itâ€™s apparent that native bees have a huge, positive effect on people, but what Dr. Richardson and his colleagues are trying to find out is what is our effect on them? â€śWe know a lot about how bees affect outcomes for people on farms, but now weâ€™re looking at ways that farms may benefit those wild bees or may actually have detrimental impacts on some of them,â€ť he explains. On a basic level, itâ€™s obvious what good farms do for bees. They provide flowering resources that feed bees, and Dr. Richardson notes that for virtually all bees, pollen is their only source of protein. On a basic level, itâ€™s also obvious that farms can harm bees. Bees are negatively impacted by pesticides and insecticides, which is a big concern for bee decline around the world right now, explains Dr. Richardson. Especially, a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids.
But then there is a whole range of other, less-obvious effects that farms have on bees, which is what scientists like Dr. Richardson are trying to figure out. â€śOne of the things Iâ€™m working on now is the effect of the chemistry of the nectar and pollen in one particular plant, which is the blueberry, on the bees that consume them,â€ť explains Dr. Richardson. â€śSo for bumble bees that come to farms, pollinate blueberries, deliver us this benefit, this ecosystem service, what is the effect of the phenolic compounds in the nectar and pollen on bee health, on bee reproduction, what is the effect â€“ if any â€“ on them?â€ť He explains that some chemicals found in the pollen and nectar of agricultural plants can be toxic to bees at the right dose.
Additional threats to bees:
A common false misconception is that Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon that has gotten a lot of media attention lately, can happen to all bees, explains Dr. Richardson. â€śItâ€™s a phenomenon of the European honey bee and itâ€™s not just one thing, itâ€™s a syndrome that is caused probably by multiple interacting negative effects, of things like mites, fungi and viruses,â€ť he says. Bumble bees and other native bees have their own pathogens and parasites that they can sometimes share with the European honey bee. â€śIn fact, some of the diseases that came here on the backs of honey bees then spread to wild bees, which is a concern to us with the maintenance of healthy populations of native species here,â€ť he says.
Dr. Richardson says that out of the approximately 50 species of bumble bees found in North America; roughly 33 percent are threatened and have declined steeply in the past 50 years. â€śAlthough weâ€™re not certain of all the reasons that bumble bees could be declining, use of insecticides or other pesticides is probably one of the factors,â€ť he explains. Land use change and climate are two other big hypotheses. â€śThe home range in bumble bee species, in both North America and Europe, is shrinking in response to a warming world,â€ť says Dr. Richardson. â€śSo bees are retreating from the hottest, Southern most part of the area where they were naturally found, but theyâ€™re not expanding their range northward as the climate warms to the North of them.â€ť This results in a shrinking area of habitat in which native bumble bees occur. Dr. Richardson points out that not all bee species are in decline, but there is â€śgreat concernâ€ť that some of the species integral to us functionally are declining.
How we can help our bees:
I ask Dr. Richardson if there are ways for us to help the bees. â€śYes!â€ť he says, enthusiastically. â€śThere are big things that people can do and there are little things people can do. Itâ€™s not a hopeless situation and if people care about this, I encourage them to get involved in solving the problems,â€ť he says.
Dr. Richardsonâ€™s big and little things you can do to help the bees:
– Help slow down global warming and climate change. Yes, I know thatâ€™s a huge one. But Dr. Richardson says that climate change is one of the biggest threats to bee species, just as it is for other organisms. â€śIf we want to protect bees, we need to do something to halt the increase in warming thatâ€™s caused by [humans] â€“ greenhouse gas emissions,â€ť he says.
– Reduce or eliminate the amount of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides used in your garden. All of these can be harmful to bees, even if they arenâ€™t necessarily targeting insects.
– Buy organic. â€śShop like you mean it, and [donâ€™t] support agriculture that uses chemicals,â€ť says Dr. Richardson.
Bumble Bee Watch is developing a scaled map of where’s bees occur, which Dr. Richardson says is very important data.
Another thing we can do to help is to join a citizen science project. Dr. Richardson suggests bumblebeewatch.org, which is a project of the Xerces Society. Anyone can go to the website and upload a photo of a bumble bee, or any bee species, with information on the date the photo was taken and the location. â€śThey are developing this scaled map of where bees occur and itâ€™s very important data. Itâ€™s a nice thing â€“ a lot of people get involved and learn something about identification of bees,â€ť explains Dr. Richardson. â€śIts personally gratifying for a lot of participants, but there are many thousands of records that have been submitted that are helping scientists understand where bees currently exist.â€ť Scientists can then compare those data to historic records, helping to determine whether bee populations have shifted with time. â€śAre bees shifting northward as the climate warms, or are they disappearing from urban areas? You can think of lots of different questions we can actually address with this data collected by people who arenâ€™t specialists, who may not know anything about bees,â€ť says Dr. Richardson.
Native bees and native plants:
The most surprising point Dr. Richardson made in my conversation with him was that â€śbees arenâ€™t botanists,â€ť meaning they donâ€™t really care if a plant is native or not, as long as it has pollen. â€śBumble bees and many other species of bees avidly collect pollen and nectar from non-native and native plants,â€ť he says. But these species differ from specialist bees that only collect their pollen from a certain type of plant, which is almost always native. â€śSo a loss of that native plant results in loss of the bee,â€ť explains Dr. Richardson. â€śThere, obviously supporting populations of native plants is critical to both the plant and the bee.â€ť
Dr. Richardson says that he doesnâ€™t want to diminish the importance of native plants. â€śBut in general, non-native plants are not directly threatening native bees.â€ť He suggests planting native and locally adapted plants, especially native wildflowers. Although he says the absolute solution to bee decline isnâ€™t in our backyards, Dr. Richardson still stresses the importance of gardening. â€śIt definitely makes a positive difference if you do something in your own tiny little backyard if itâ€™s the only land you manage yourself. Itâ€™s a very good idea,â€ť he says.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Dr. Richardson if he had anything to add. He paused, and then reiterated his point from earlier. â€śIâ€™ve said it, but Iâ€™ll say it again. I think itâ€™s important that people come to understand better how important native and wild bees are to agriculture,â€ť he says. â€śA lot of people who are well educated and well versed in the world donâ€™t realize there are so many types of bees.â€ť There are more than 20,000 species globally and nearly 5,000 bee species in North America. â€śAnd the European honey bee is just one of those 5,000,â€ť he says.
Dr. Richardson is concerned that our population thinks of farms from the perspective of consumers and eaters, not necessarily as growers. He says that when many people describe what a farm is, they talk about planting the seeds, watering them, adding fertilizer, controlling pests and so on. â€śAll of those things have to do with the location and whatâ€™s on the farm, especially what we put in and take out, and pollination is a key aspect of farming for many plants,â€ť explains Dr. Richardson. He says the revelation that has come in the past decade, that a majority of crops are primarily pollinated by wild animals, hasnâ€™t fully â€śhit us as a culture yet.â€ť
â€śSo much of what we eat, so much of what sustains us, is mediated by unmanaged animals that are threatened by our behavior,â€ť he concludes. â€śIf you were to think of an analogy from another part of human life, weâ€™d probably be doing a whole lot more about it, because of this very direct, important link and threat.â€ť
Although our test gardens are a small solution to a huge problem, itâ€™s possible that the wild honey bee hive tucked into the tree across the street could be benefiting greatly from them. And despite seeing a decline in the bee population in the hive as the summer progressed, weâ€™ll keep gardening â€“ amongst many other things â€“ to help be a part of the solution to the disappearing bee population.
Further Resources from Dr. Richardson:
–Â Bumblebeewatch.org, a citizen science project where you can upload photos youâ€™ve taken of bees in your area.
–Â Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization that projects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
–Â BugGuide.net, a community where people submit photos of bees and ask for identifications. Specialists arrange the photos and give info on them.
–Â DiscoverLife.org, a place to find nature identification guides, including a thorough guide for bees.
Many gardeners are used to adding larger plants with green foliage â€“ and even blooms â€“ to their gardens. Many may be surprised, and even discouraged, at the sight of bareroots when they arrive. Despite the smaller size of these bareroots, they are actually a better investment and choice for your garden.
The green foliage and blooms you find on plants at the big box stores and big garden centers can be deceiving. Many of these plants are root-bound and wonâ€™t grow much larger than they are when you first plant them. Bareroots, however, are only the root structure of the plant and will acclimate to your garden quicker, as well as grow to be healthier, larger and stronger plants.
Bareroots are popular for mail-order nurseries not only because they will do better in your garden, but also because they are less likely to be harmed during shipping and cost less to ship than large plants. Itâ€™s better to ship plants as bareroots (or smaller plants) because there is no chance to harm new, fragile growth and there is no shock to the plants when planted in your garden.
As mentioned before, plants that are sold in containers (especially when in bloom) are root-bound and confined to that container, giving them a hard start to acclimate to your garden. Bareroots, however, are never placed in containers and can be grown in large quantities in fields, dug up and then sent directly to you.
Although it may seem like it will take a longer time for a bareroot Daylily to add spectacular color to your garden than an already-blooming variety from the big garden center, the difference in bloom time is minimal and well worth it, considering the larger, healthier plant youâ€™ll have in the long run.
We all love the late color that mums bring to the garden, but this season, why not plant something that comes back year after year? We have a variety of mum alternatives for fall blooms that provide long-lasting color until the end of the season.
SedumÂ isÂ extremely easy to grow and draught tolerant, making itÂ the perfect choice for a rock garden or low maintenance area. This beauty adds fiery color to the late season garden, all the way into fall.
AsterÂ is a native plant that takes care of itselfÂ all summer long, and then brings you a “second spring” when itÂ begins itsÂ vigorous bloom, just when everything else is about to collapse. Asters are the surefire way of adding great fall color — for years.
Coral Bells is a vibrant foliage plant with great garden interest that lasts all the way through winter.
Black Eyed Susan.Â Everybody loves them as wildflowers, but the beautiful Black Eyed Susan was never a dependable garden flower until these incredible perennial hybrids were created.
This season, a gardener in Southern Vermont decided to nix her usually-large vegetable garden. In its place, she planted a variety of annuals in the early spring to cut for her daughterâ€™s late August wedding.
The results are impressive, breathtaking and very colorful. She even had extras in mid-September to give away to my family to help decorate a baby shower. We hope you enjoy as much as we do!