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Pollinator Partnership – Part I


milkweed

We’re excited to be sponsoring the Pollinator Partnership in 2015. This non-profit is the largest organization in the world that is dedicated to the protection of pollinators and their ecosystems.

HostaThe Pollinator Partnership not only works hard for the protection of pollinators, but also helps to promote the importance of pollinators in our world. They shed light on the problem (and solutions) through initiatives in governments and industry, consulting, public outreach and education programs. They work in the United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries around the world to help preserve the pollinator population.

From their website: “Many pollinator populations are in decline and this decline is attributed most severely to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and changes in climatic patterns are all contributing to shrinking and shifting pollinator populations. In some cases there isn’t enough data to gauge a response, and this is even more worrisome.”

So how can you help? The Pollinator Partnership works with gardeners and farmers to create better habitats for all pollinators. They work on conservation techniques that you can create in your own back yard.

sunflowerBut how? It’s pretty simple. Choose native plants and make sure to create a garden that is in bloom all season long, which will help busy pollinators know that your garden is a good spot for them to stop at. Growing a vegetable garden? If you plant native flowers around your garden, the pollinators will help you get bigger and better crops.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive database on native plants, try using the great online tool from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

For others way to help, visit the Pollinator Partnership website, but they emphasize that everyone should be spreading the word about the importance of pollinators and supporting farmers and beekeepers by buying local honey and locally produced organic foods.

Stay tuned for the second part of our blog, which will outline a variety of seeds, bulbs and perennial plants that you can add to your garden this season to help the disappearing pollinator population. Happy Gardening!

Zinnia

 

January 18, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, Perennials, Vegetable Seeds, Wildflowers

5 Reasons to Plant Wildflowers This Year

WildflowersIt’s not surprising that most of us here at American Meadows are wild about Wildflowers. With the Seed Man leading the way, we’ve all added Wildflowers to our gardens – big or small – and still can’t get enough. With many of you making New Year’s resolutions, why not make an easy, positive resolution to plant Wildflowers this year?

We know this is your year for Wildflowers, because:

Wildflower Seeds1. Planting Wildflowers is easy. It couldn’t get any easier than Wildflowers. It’s as simple as removing existing growth, scattering seed on to bare soil, stepping on the area and watering regularly just until sprouts are a few inches tall. Want more in-depth planting information? Read our how-to guide here and see the Seed Man’s planting videos here.

2. Planting is fun. Spring or fall, we always have a blast planting Wildflowers. The scent of the overturned soil and the excitement of planting something you know will become a spectacular focal point in the garden is exhilarating. It’s also a GREAT activity for little gardeners – Wildflowers are easy and an extremely rewarding experience for a child’s first garden.

3. Great for Pollinators. Wildflowers are an integral part to the pollinators’ existence in nature, offering them an abundance of easy-to-pollinate choices in their native areas. Learn more about how Wildflowers help pollinators in our article here.

Echinacea

4. Good for the Environment. Wildflowers occur naturally throughout the world and play a key role in the ecosystems in which they naturally occur. They can also naturally fix problems on your property such as an unsightly septic area, water runoff from a roof, and much more.

5. Good for You. Gardening not only offers health benefits from the physical activity and calorie burning, but according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute it can also help lower your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. It also is an AMAZING stress reducer and is extremely therapeutic.

So this year, resolve to do something that is good for you, the environment and your landscape – Plant Wildflowers! Happy Gardening!

 

January 12, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Wildflowers

Perennial Plant Association Names Geranium Biokovo as the 2015 Perennial of the Year

Geranium Biokova

Each year, the Perennial Plant Association awards one perennial variety as the “Plant of the Year.” This year, Geranium Biokovo has earned the award!

Perennial_Plant_Association_LogoThis Geranium, also known as Crane’s Bill, is the perfect groundcover for any garden. Delicate, pure-white blooms are splashed with pink, creating an elegant carpet of color in the summer garden. Biokovo grows in full sun to light shade and tolerates most soil types.

Geranium Biokovo attracts pollinators to the garden and will quickly become one of your favorite go-to perennials for easy-care, low-growing blooms. This variety spreads heavily, but it is easy to control by digging up and dividing every few years.

We love the ease of this perennial and are excited that the Perennial Plant Association has awarded it the “Plant of the Year” for 2015.

Geranium Biokovo

Have you grown Geranium Biokovo? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. You can view all of the past “Perennial of the Year” winners in our blog, “Award-Winning Garden Plants.” Happy Gardening!

January 4, 2015 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials

2015: The Year of the Gaillardia

ngb-year-of-the-gaillardiaEach year, the National Garden Bureau chooses a variety of plants to feature. They explain on their website, “Each year we select one annual, one perennial and one edible as our “Year of the” crops. Each is chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile.”

They’ve chosen 2015 as “The Year of the Gaillardia” and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We love this versatile, easy-to-grow perennial for a variety of reasons. This native plant boasts daisy-shaped flowers that ignite the garden in all shades of red, orange, and yellow. They delight in the summer garden through the fall, providing a bounty of blooms even in extreme heat and drought.

The National Garden Bureau explains the story behind Gaillardia’s common name, Blanket Flower. “Legend has it that a native American weaver was so good at her craft that when she died, her grave was blanketed with flowers colored as brilliantly as the blankets she had made.”

gaillardia-blanketflower

The boldly-colored, bright blooms make a statement in almost any garden. The National Garden Bureau talks more about the perennial gem.

Gaillardias are unparalleled companions to ornamental grasses and you don’t need many to make an impact. They also work well as bright, long-flowering fillers in young shrub beds. As the shrubs mature, they’ll replace these short-lived perennials when their time is up.

In borders, mass single varieties of compact gaillardias along the front, or plant taller ones in bold groups separated from other flowering perennials by plants that have gray foliage or blue or white flowers, which provide a cooling buffer between hot-colored gaillardia flowers and their neighbors. Use cool-colored plants as companions for containerized gaillardias too. A few gaillardias also deserve a place in every cut flower garden. Just be prepared to stake the tall ones so they don’t flop.

Gaillardia_Fanfare_BlazeWondering if you could grow Gaillardia in your garden? As long as you have full sun and well-draining soil, Gaillardia will thrive in your landscape. Blooming in June through frost, remember to deadhead flowers as they fade to prolong the life of the plants. This perennial thrives in almost any hardiness zone and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. Many varieties also thrive in containers, making this the perfect choice for a small space or container garden.

In 2015, “The Year of the Gaillardia,” consider adding this versatile, easy-to-grow perennial to your garden. We carry four Gaillardia varieties as small plants, Gaillardia aristata seeds and Gaillardia pulchella seeds.

What is your experience growing Gaillardia? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy gardening!

Learn more about Gaillardia on the National Garden Bureau’s website.

December 28, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials, Wildflowers

Bee Helpful By Gardening

Butterfly Weed

Honeybees are integral to our food system; they pollinate many fruits, nuts and vegetables, helping crops grow and produce. Recently, the bee population has been declining worldwide, which can be harmful to our eco-system in many ways. Agricultural agencies, environmental workers and farmers have been trying to solve the bee problem for several years, and it really starts with you – the gardener.

Bees need nourishment from nectar and pollen, so as a gardener, planting a diverse variety of flowers and herbs can go a long way. Native varieties are great for bees in your area and it is extremely helpful to plant easy-to-pollinate varieties.

Gaillardia SeedEasy-to-Pollinate Varieties that Bees Love:

Other than planting bee-friendly varieties in your garden, you can also provide bees a clean source of water to drink. Whether it’s a small-scale water feature or rainwater collection system, keeping bees hydrated is extremely important. Taking it one step further, you could contact your department of transportation and see if they have the budget to plant Wildflower Seeds along the highways and public roads in your area. This will help the bee population in your area tremendously.

Did you know? Bees Pollinate an Estimated 33% Percent of All Crops (Berkley.edu)

sedum-bee-blog

Gardeners can really make a difference in the movement to help restore the bee population and keep crops producing in a healthy, natural way. How do you help honeybees in your garden? Please post in the comments below or on our Facebook Page. Happy Gardening!

December 22, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

Anemones (or Windflower): A Colorful Sight

Anemones

Customer photo of Anemones

Also known as windflower, Anemones are colorful, delicate and unique, offering a variety of uses in almost any garden. Depending on the variety, they can bloom in the spring, summer, or fall, offering season-long interest of spectacular blooms.

Known for their small height, Anemones grow best in the front border of the garden or in containers. They are deer resistant and easy to grow, as long as you give them a little bit of shade and well-draining soil.  They multiply vigorously, so within years you’ll be happily dividing and re-locating or giving to a lucky gardening friend. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from double, full blooms to single, delicate flowers. View our entire selection here.

Anemones

Anemone blooms are so unique and colorful, be sure to plant extras for cut bouquets. The colorful blooms are bold enough to be placed in a bud vase, or will make an extreme statement arranged together.

Gardeners love Anemones because they are:

  • - Deer Resistant
  • - A colorful groundcover
  • - Gorgeous cut flowers
  • - (Mostly) fragrant blooms
  • - Great for containers
  • - Low maintenance
  • - Grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 1-10
  • - Shade-tolerant
  • - Multiplying

Anemones exude such charm; they even catch the eye of famous poets! Emily Dickinson writes about the cheerful flower in her poem Summer for thee, grant I may be:

Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole—are done!

For thee to bloom, I’ll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o’er!
Pray gather me—
Anemone—
Thy flower—forevermore!

Anemones

 

What is your experience with growing Anemones? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

December 15, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials

We Dig Dahlias: Employee Success Story

Erin, one of our master gardeners and product managers, bought a house two years ago that had no existing landscaping. She and her husband have been slowly beautifying their landscape by planting perennials, shrubs and bulbs.

The first year, they planted all around the foundation. This year, they decided to hide the ugly septic system by planting a variety of Dahlia Bulbs.

In the late spring, they dug up all of the existing grass and added compost to the soil for extra nutrients. They planted 50 Dahlias, including Snow Country, Kelvin Floodlight, Babylon Red, Prince of Orange, Otto’s Thrill and Babylon Purple.

All of the Dahlias came up and they were absolutely stunning (as you can see by the photos below). Their daughter loved heading out to the Dahlia patch every day to see the new blooms. They were so happy with the results that they dug up all of the tubers this fall to re-plant for next season. They hope to have the same gorgeous display next year.

We hope you enjoy the amazing transformation and photos of her garden as much as we do. Happy Gardening!

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

Dahlia Bulbs

December 7, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer

Reflecting on the Growing Season

With winter now in full swing for most of us, it’s easy to put the garden on the back burner and forget about it until spring. But if you do that, you’re missing one of the best parts of the year! Winter is the perfect time to reflect on the past growing season while it’s still fresh in the mind and write down what went well, what didn’t, and what could be added for next year.

My list. Thankfully, most of my additions ended up on the left side of the list!

My list. Thankfully, most of my additions ended up on the left side of the list!

I added a lot of perennials and vegetables to my garden this past season. A variety of them did great, but some did not fare so well. My white Peonies did awesome; my pink Peonies grew but didn’t bloom, leading me to believe that I may have planted them too deep. My annual wildflowers didn’t bloom as profusely as I’d hoped for; I don’t think they got enough sun. The squirrels got all of my squash blooms and my beets just didn’t work out.

This fall, I dug up my pink Peony and re-planted it closer to the surface. I didn’t get the chance to add much this fall, but cleaned everything up and added my raked leaves to the garden beds for the winter. I did add Daffodils to both the garden bed and also the green spaces outside of my house. While planting, I was reminded of Wordsworth’s famous poem The Daffodils.

Wordsworth Daffodils

I write in my garden journal each winter, dreaming, scheming and longing for spring. How do you reflect on your garden in the winter months? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy Gardening!

White Peony

My white Peony did fabulous this year!

Columbine and Salvia

The Columbine and Salvia both did great this year.

November 30, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Gardening in the Winter, How-Tos, Perennials, Wildflowers

Growing Elephant Ears

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ear Mojito

Elephant Ears are a gardeners’ dream; Huge, unique foliage adds drama to the garden and containers in the summer months. Native to tropical Asia, Elephant Ears thrive in full sunlight, heat and moist areas. They are happiest in damp soil, including low-lying areas where rainwater collects.

If you want to enjoy the huge, vibrant leaves of Elephant Ears in the garden all summer long, plant bulbs once the chance of frost has passed and the weather has warmed significantly. Most varieties enjoy full sun, but if you’re in a particularly hot and dry area, try planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in partial shade. Water consistently; keeping the soil moist and adding fertilizer monthly will create larger, fuller leaves and a bigger statement in the garden.

Plant these foliage favorites in areas that are consistently damp. If you want to create a huge statement on a patio, balcony, or in window boxes, plant Elephant Ears in large containers. Growing tip: Plant smaller annuals such as Petunias and Marigolds in the containers with your Elephant Ears. This helps to fill in around the bare stalks in the lower part of the container, as well as add a splash of color.

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

Elephant Ear Imperial Taro

In hardiness zones seven and up, foliage will die back in the fall and bulbs will return year after year. If you’re in an area that gets a hard frost, save bulbs and re-plant each year by digging them up before the first frost. Remove soil from the roots and place roots in a cool, dry area to dry out for about a week.

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Elephant Ear Black Magic

Then, place in a cardboard box or paper bag and store in a cool area (that doesn’t freeze) for the winter. Plant again in the early spring once the danger of frost has passed.

We carry ten unique varieties of Elephant Ear Bulbs for spring planting, many of which you won’t find in the big box stores. Add versatility and unique foliage to your summer garden this year with these tropical beauties.

November 23, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos

New Perennials For Spring 2015

Lenten Rose Double Queen

Lenten Rose Double Queen

One of the best pastimes during the colder months is planning and dreaming of spring. This year, we have over 40 new perennial varieties for spring planting and are excited about the wonderful diversity and dependability of our selections. We’ll highlight a few of our favorites and you can browse through them all here.

New Varieties for Shade

Gardening in shade can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be! There are a large variety of versatile plants that thrive in the shade and put on a spectacular show in the garden. This spring, we have several new shade-loving varieties. Lenten Rose Double Queen boasts gorgeous, double blooms that create a splash of vibrant color in the early spring garden. This heat-tolerant perennial thrives in partial to full shade and becomes a true conversation starter in any garden. Coral Bells Circus is a must-have for any shade garden and definitely steals the show! The brilliant foliage changes color throughout the season and the gorgeous red scapes boast elegant bells in the early summer. Our Astilbe Mix is an amazing shade-loving choice, providing a variety of color to the mid-summer garden with unique, spiky flower plumes that don’t require staking. Also known as False Spirea, our sAstilbe Mixture is deer resistant and amazingly easy to grow.

New Varieties for Containers

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Lavender Platinum Blonde

Containers not only make it possible for any gardener to create a gorgeous landscape, but also add color, texture, and fun to a porch, patio, or walkway. We have a variety of new perennials for spring that thrive in containers. Platinum Blonde Lavender is a compact variety, growing to be 16-24” tall, making it perfect for a small space or container garden. Deer resistant and highly fragrant, this Lavender makes for amazing fresh and dried bouquets, sachets, and more. Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty is extremely easy to grow and is the perfect choice for rock gardens, container gardens, rooftop gardens, and more, growing in almost any condition. Blue Fescue Beyond Blue’s colorful foliage forms graceful clumps, making its own proper statement in the garden all season long. We recommend planting this easy-care beauty in a rock or container garden.

New Deer Resistant Varieties

Dwarf Butterfly Bush Blue Heaven is the perfect choice for any garden! Growing to be only 2-3’ tall, this compact variety is drought tolerant, disease resistant and blooms from spring through fall. Big Bluestem Grass Red October crates a fiery red statement in the fall garden with its foliage colors. Growing to be about 6’ tall, plant this ever-changing beauty in the back of the garden bed for an amazing backdrop for all of your favorite plants. With a little deadheading, Arizona Red Shades will bloom all summer long, providing vibrant color to almost any perennial garden. Like all Gaillardia, this variety thrives in full sun and tolerates most soil types.

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Hens and Chicks Spring Beauty

Other Favorites

The Hollyhock Halo Mixture is perfect for planting in the back of the garden and creates a spectacular backdrop of color for the rest of the garden. Single blooms delight in the late summer until fall, flowering in a variety of white, yellow, red, and purple, with contrasting eyes. A bright, uniquely-colored Asiatic Lily, Trogon creates a show-stopping statement both in the summer garden and cut for bouquets. This easy-to-grow Lily is dependable, growing in almost any garden, as long as it has sun. Coreopsis Polaris’ pure white blooms reflect the moonlight in the evening hours and are perfect for a moon or sensory garden. The long-lasting, neutral blooms look amazing planted with almost any other perennial and become the true backbone of any formal or wild garden.

You can view all 45 of our new perennial varieties here. What are your favorites? Please share in the comments below or on our Facebook Wall. Happy Gardening!

November 16, 2014 · Amanda Shepard · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials