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This year American Meadows celebrated the 4th of July by making our debut appearance in Williston’s Fourth of July Parade in Williston, Vermont. Everyone in the office pitched in to make this a successful and fun event. Anyone who was available helped decorate the truck and march in the parade to hand out candy and our Red, White and Blue seed packets. Many of the parade’s spectators were pleasantly surprised to receive free wildflower seeds!
The AMI staff’s children were also able to get involved riding decorated bikes alongside their parents and waving to the crowd. We also have our own professional Scottish bagpipe band on staff. Hazen and Shannon are members of the Catamount Pipe Band, and they volunteered to march in front of the truck and entertain the crowd. And of course, we had to have a couple of “pollinators” in our crew, as you can see in the background in one of the pictures below.
Hundreds of people showed up on Saturday to watch the mile-long parade to cheer and wave to parade participants. This year’s theme for the Williston fourth of July parade was “Community,” and we couldn’t think of better way to celebrate community than to share our love for planting. After all, every community starts by putting down roots. We hope that everyone who received our seed packets enjoys watching their red, white, and blue wildflowers grow! For more information on how to grow wildflowers, check out our handy wildflower planting guide.
We would like to thank everyone at the parade for helping to make this a great way to celebrate the fourth. Lastly, thanks to the town of Williston for naming us Best Business in this year’s parade! We look forward to participating again next year, and we hope to see our Vermont customers there too!
Text, Seed Packet and Ribbon photos by Ashley Watson. All other photos taken by Noah Dater.
July 10, 2015
Â· Heather Viani Â· 3 Comments
Tags: Company event, Fourth of July, Red white and blue seed packet, Seed Packets, Wildflower meadow how-to, wildflower seeds, wildflowers Â· Posted in: Company event, In The News, Wildflowers
When the season winds down in fall and blooms starts to fade, it can make a gardener get a little, well, gloomy. A fantastic, fun way to get rid of these late-season blues is by planting fall-flowering crocus in the late summer months. These quick-blooming beauties add jewel-toned colors to the fall garden and are extremely easy to grow.
These late-season bloomers are also perennials, multiplying each year, and will quickly become a staple of your fall garden.
This purple-blooming variety is the most popular fall-flowering crocus, due to the high demand and price of the spice made from this flowerâ€™s stamens: saffron. Itâ€™s easy to harvest, dry and then store the stamens to use in your favorite culinary creations. Learn how in our blog here.
Not interested in the spice? No problem. This easy-to-grow crocusÂ addsÂ elegance toÂ the garden and in containers. You can also plant Saffron Crocus indoors on a sunny windowsill.
Fall-Flowering Crocus and Colchicum
These varieties bloom so quickly itâ€™s like magic. Plant in August, either in the ground or in containers, and within days youâ€™ll see them poking through the soil. Coming in a variety of pinks, purples and white, Crocus and ColchicumÂ create a unique, colorful statement in your late season garden.
Each bulb will produce about 5-10 stems, creating a multitude of blooms just when you need them most â€“ In the fall!
July 7, 2015
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· Comments Closed
Tags: August Planting, container gardening, fall planting, Fall-Flowering Crocus, Late Season Blooms, saffron crocus Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall
To the plant experts at American Meadows:
I thought you might enjoy knowing how far and wide your “Sparky Marigold” seeds have spread. Six years ago I started a holiday called “Spark Day” that was inspired by a little dog named Sparky who had come from a shelter in West Virginia and who had lived a rotten life of disregard. When he came home to me, he had the good life: A home, warm bed, friends, food, comfort, vet care.Â He was happy.Â But he never made it to his one year anniversary in a home, something I had been hoping for him to have.Â He was a very old dog and had lived a very hard life.Â But he was also very appreciative.
Honoring that, I decided the anniversary of his adoption should be something we celebrated rather than mourned so I decided, along with his many fans — he had come to me with a following — that we should celebrate “Spark Day” a day to celebrate “The Spark of Life” that abounds all around us.Â After all, that’s how Sparky got his name: he had collapsed and the shelter director didn’t think he would survive, but when he perked up the next day at the shelter, she decided to call him Sparky.Â We celebrate this day by doing life-affirming things.Â It is not a day ABOUT Sparky, but INSPIRED by him.Â It is not about dogs or animal rescue per se, though those pursuits are life-affirming.Â There are many life-affirming things that people do and so people mark it their own ways.Â Then at a pre-arranged time in the evening, everyone pauses and raises a glass in a toast and we metaphorically “clink” over the distance at the “Spark Moment”.Â We have been doing this six years now. Spark Day is May 16th.
As the founder of Spark Day, I searched for something special to help unify all of us in this holiday and mark the occasion with beauty in some life-affirming way.Â As I was shopping for spring plants that first year at your site, I came upon “Sparky Marigold” seeds.Â I could not believe it!Â I bought a bunch and then bought little envelopes and made them up with special labels for Spark Day and sent them out to the people celebrating.Â Everyone enjoyed them and monthâ€™s later people would send me the pictures of their Sparky Flowers!Â I mixed Sparky Marigolds with some wildflower blends you had that included perennials as well as annuals, thus the mix included seeds that burned brightly but briefly like Sparky and some that would return, like Sparky’s message of behaving in a life-affirming way.
Spark Day has grown over these years and this year people in 17 states celebrated on May 16th, each person receiving a seed packet of Sparky Marigolds mixed with a variety of seeds from your different pollinator blends to support those creatures who help support the life that’s out there. Each year I made up a Spark Day card and send it out to those on my list, but more people receive Sparky Seeds than just those to whom I send them, as the shelter, Wetzel County Animal Shelter in New Martinsville, WV , also sends them out as thank you gifts to those who participate in their annual Spark Day Fundraiser to help old dogs like Sparky.
I make out a supply of packets for them to use and they share them.Â I also have sent a supply of seeds to a pre-kindergarten teacher I know who did a whole Spark Day unit with the four year olds in her class.Â Those little kids took great care to grow personal Sparky Pots for their mothers to receive on Mother’s Day as well as tending to a Sparky Garden they planted at their school and they took extra seeds home to plant, some families deciding to plant them in community gardens to share with still more people.Â This year I made up 573 Sparky Seed packets.Â I mailed out 243 packets to all those different states and then took 330 into work with me on Spark Day Eve.
I am a high school teacher and over the years have used this holiday to teach beyond the standard literary curriculum to encourage community involvement and to help them see avenues to apply the lessons literature teaches.Â Over these past six years, both students and staff have come to anticipate Spark Day, sometimes asking me well in advance for the seeds.Â They have brought comfort to many going through tough times (e.g. cancer, loss of a loved one, personal stress, etc.) and have brightened the days of so many for months to come.Â People I do not even know by name stop me in the halls to show me pictures of their Sparky Flowers on their cell phones.Â It’s wonderful!Â I went into work on Spark Day Eve with 330 seed packets; before the next week was over, I had no more left.Â I gave them to people at work, at the pet stores where I shop, at the banks I use, at the restaurant where I celebrated Spark Day with many friends.Â All of these people are planting these seeds and in the coming months I’ll put a call out for them to send in pictures to post on the shelter’s Facebook page for all to see.
So I hope you will never stop selling your Sparky Marigold blend and I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures from many people who have sent them to me in celebration of the Spark of Life and Spark Day.
Enjoy — and thank you!
As a garden lover and someone who works for a gardening company, each year I really strive to get the most out of my outdoor space and give myself plenty of projects to do in my gardens â€“ which altogether are about 150 square feet. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of creativity, patience and A LOT of containers.
This is the year I finally did it â€“ I built a raised garden bed in my tiny yard. I had to build a raised bed to plant veggies because my house was built in the 1800s and most likely has lead in the soil.
This garden serves several purposes:
Now, I looked online and on Pinterest at what a raised garden bed would cost to purchase, and decided that me (and my handy boyfriend) could just build one ourselves with lumber from the local hardware store.
So, we did! The lumber cost about $80 and the dirt came to about $120. So altogether, around $200 and about 2 hours of work., which is much better than the prices in the store ($300-$400 for just the structure).
Because I wasnâ€™t sure whether or not we were going to build the raised bed, I didnâ€™t get a chance to start my veggie seeds indoors. Instead, I purchased organic starter plants from my local Farmerâ€™s Market. They came from a farm just a few miles from my house and for about 20 or so plants, I only spent $25. I also added Morning Glories and a small trellis to the garden to give it a little summer color and also provide some privacy from the porch next door.
The plants are doing AMAZING despite my worry that there might not be enough sun. The squirrels donâ€™t seem too interested in it yet, so thatâ€™s a good start (knock on wood).
Wildflowers In The Median
If you run out of space in your own garden, think outside the box â€“ literally! Each year, we try to plant Wildflowers in the medians in front of our house. Unfortunately, due to our harsh winters and the amount of salt that gets pushed onto these spaces by plow trucks, they never last more than one year. So we plant annuals each year.
This year we built a little stone reinforcement around our planting to help keep the seed from washing away. We planted the Summer Splash Mix and it has grown so much in just a few weeks after planting.
Containers are a city gardenerâ€™s best friend, and this year I took my plantings one step further with sap buckets from a friend. They changed the regulations on the metal that can be used, so he had a lot of extra buckets leftover. I drilled holes in the bottoms and planted Dahlias, Caladium and Gladiolus in them.
These are perfect containers because they are tall, giving the plantsâ€™ roots plenty of room to grow. I also get annuals from my local garden center to spruce things up before my garden goes gangbusters in the summer.
I try to keep my small garden beds blooming all season long. I am fortunate enough to have moved into a space that has rose bushes original to the house â€“ needless to say, they are gorgeous and provide a sweet fragrance both on my side of the fence and on the street for walkers-by. Throughout the years, Iâ€™ve added Daylilies, Hostas, Bleeding Heart, Peonies and Salvia to the gardens.
Iâ€™ll post again in a few weeks when my Wildflowers and Bulbs are blooming. Itâ€™s so much fun to watch people walk by and pick a bloom or two. Happy first day of summer, all!
June 21, 2015
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· One Comment
Tags: bulbs, city gardening, container gardening, small space gardening, Urban Gardening, vegetables Â· Posted in: Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos, Perennials, Vegetable Seeds, Wildflowers
â€śA garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.â€ť –Â Gertude Jeckyll
As summer approaches, our gardens have been planted, or are soon to be, and we watch and wait patiently â€¦ or in some cases not so patiently.
Itâ€™s not unusual to get multipleÂ calls from customers this time of year concerned that their wildflowers seem slow to progress or theyâ€™re having a hard time identifying whatâ€™s a wildflower from the grasses and weeds.
This was a photo from a customer in Tennessee that planted in late March/early April and was concerned that they werenâ€™t seeing much. They were also worried thatÂ what they were seeing was unidentifiable. So they sent along a few photos for me to look at. What do you see? Hint: Lots of wildflowers!
Weâ€™ve added more product images and videos that include pictures of the seed, seedlings and of course lots of customer photos of species and mixtures in full bloom. We will be adding more throughout the summer to help you better identify your wildflowers once theyâ€™ve germinated and as they progress. Not sure what youâ€™re looking at? Send us a photo and weâ€™d be more than happy to identify your flowers.
There are many factors that can play a role in how quickly your seed germinates and your plants grow; sun, water and soil conditions are just a few. But in many cases itâ€™s just being a little more patience with nature, donâ€™t get discouraged and your flowers will be bursting with blooms in no time.
Keep Calm and Garden On!
Instructions for preparing and planting Common Milkweed Seed (Asclepias Syriaca) and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata). We found these techniques best for growing results.
Letâ€™s Get Started: Understanding Milkweed Seed & Germinating
Step 1: To start Milkweed seed we recommend starting inside, but before this happens Milkweed seeds need to go through a cold stratification period. Â Cold stratification is very important for the germination and growth of Milkweed.Â It helps break the seeds natural dormancy cycle. Â To do this, we recommend placing Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or damp sand in a zip lock bag and place in your fridge for 3 â€“ 6 weeks (30 days). Place in an area of the fridge, where it wonâ€™t get damaged. We taped ours to the bottom of a refrigerator shelf.
Step 2: Planting – Once the 30 days are complete, itâ€™s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4â€ť peat pots. Fill peat pots Âľ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water.Â Water should be able to drain through the peat pots.Â Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot.Â To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.
Watering – Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up.Â Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Donâ€™t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if itâ€™s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.
Light Requirements – For the next few weeks, make sure the Milkweed is either in a sunny window, in a green house or under a grow light. Milkweed needs lots of sun and warmth to grow.Â If youâ€™re using a grow light, make sure to lower the bulb closer to the pots or your seedlings may become leggy, as they stretch to the light. In our experiment, this happened to us. Ideally a sturdier stem is better. Cold stratified seeds should germinate and sprout within 10-15 days once planted.Â In total Milkweed from the day they are cold stratified to growth can take 40 plus days, so be patient!
Other planting options: Place dry seed (not stratified) in seed starting soil and plant in peat pots under a grow light or in a greenhouse to germinate seeds.Â The success rate for this is low and more difficult to accomplish.Â If you choose to use this option it can take months for the seeds to germinate.
If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.
Transplanting Milkweed Seedling Outdoors
Step 3: Milkweed does well in open areas with full sunlight exposure areas like fields, parks, cultivated gardens, roadsides, highway medians, and road sides.Â We suggest transplanting Milkweed when the plant is no larger than 3 inches tall. In most cases in transplanting, the Milkweed plant will go though some shock and could lose all its leaves. This happens, donâ€™t panic. The plant is trying to establish its roots and will eventually grow leaves again.Â This is the main reason we suggest planting seeds in peat pots, because Milkweed roots are very sensitive.Â Peat Pots breakdown over time in the ground, which allows the milkweed roots to grows without being disrupted.Â We found this to be the best way to transplant. If you decide to plant in plastic containers, but make sure itâ€™s deep enough for roots to grow. If you receive a plant already grown in plastic, be careful to take out the plant and not disturb the roots.
When to Plant Milkweed
Soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing Milkweed. The best time to plant Milkweed is in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. Â If you plant seeds late in the spring, the seeds may not grow due to germination time and temperature. Common Milkweed seed doesnâ€™t germinate over 85 degrees.
Caring for Milkweed Plants
Once your seedling is planted, water it for a few days to get it established, but after that, the plant doesnâ€™t need a lotÂ of supplemental water. Only water if you have an unusual dry spell.Â Peat pots are nice to use, but you need to be sure there is no top edge above the soil line after transplanting. In dry climates, this will wick away valuable soil moisture. A small 2 1/2″ diameter x 3 in. deep pot is ideal. Asclepias are somewhat finicky native plants. So minimizing the time growing in a pot andÂ transplanting them as young plants is the best approach.
Our SpringÂ Photo contest was so hard to judge this year and we truly enjoyed looking at hundreds of yourÂ amazing photos! WeÂ loveÂ becoming spectators in each of your gardens and appreciate you taking the time to submit your photos. Below youâ€™ll find our winning photos and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Donâ€™t worry, Our Summer Photo ContestÂ has already started â€” Enter Now!
June 6, 2015
Â· Amanda Shepard Â· One Comment
Tags: bulbs, Customers Photos, Perennials, wildflowers Â· Posted in: Contests, Customer Stories, Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Fall, Gardening in Spring and Summer, Perennials, Wildflowers
Itâ€™s June and summer is right around the corner. Youâ€™ve got all your gardens planted and youâ€™re patiently watching the progressÂ …Â Or maybe not?!
We certainly get our fair share of calls for customers this time of year in a panic because they feel like theyâ€™ve waited until the last minute to plant. Hey, life can get busy and we all lose track of time, and that includes our aspirations of how we wanted to change or improve our gardens the following season.
If youâ€™re living in an area where your temperatures are still in the low 80â€™s and youâ€™re getting some rainfall, or are planning on watering, you still have plenty of time to plant and get nice color this season.
Last Friday, May 29,Â I spent the day installing a meadow and creating some new wildflower planting videos (stay tuned as weâ€™ll be releasing them this summer)!
Here in the Northeast we had a very cold winter with lots of snow. This spring weâ€™ve have some very warm temperatures, already reaching mid to upper 80â€™s/low 90â€™s and very cold temperatures down in the 30â€™s. Some might consider this a typical New England spring, very unpredictable! But overall itâ€™s been pretty good for planting.
With our wildflower seeds you can expect seed to germinate in 7-14 days and the first annuals flowers to begin blooming in about 5-7 weeks.
If you want quick color in the first season you need to make sure youâ€™re planting annuals. These include customer favorites like Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias and Poppies, just to name a few.
Annuals bloom and complete their life cycle in the first growing season giving you that nice first year color. If you want color in the second and successive seasons you might think about incorporating some perennials into your planting as well (thatâ€™s why our regional mixtures are so popular).
So although itâ€™s June, if the weather isnâ€™t too warm and youâ€™re getting rain, or you are able to water, you still have time to plant and get beautiful color this season. If you live where youâ€™re already in the mid 80â€™s or warmer and thereâ€™s no rain in sight, donâ€™t get discouraged. Fall will be here before you know it and thatâ€™s a great time to get gardening as well!
Picking out the types and colors of summer blooming bulbs is the fun part! Keeping them happy and thriving is the hard part but it doesnâ€™t have to be. In fact, with a few easy tips, you can have beautiful summer blooming bulbs that last for an entire season.Â
When growing summer blooming bulbs it’s important to give them the specific nutrients they need. Since they all require different fertilizing needs as an overview its best to fertilize in late spring. Be careful not to over fertilize, as you will get beautiful green foliage plants but no blossoms. We recommend an organic fertilizer that is slow releasing. Â Apply fertilizer to the soil when planting and re- apply around the plant to prevent burning. We went into specifics below on how to encourage growth and blossoms for the most common summer blooming bulbs.
Calla Lilies –Â Â Before plantingÂ calla lily bulbs mix a 20-20-20 fertilizer (or as similar as possible)Â in the soil. Â Once planted, fertilize as the plant breaks the ground, and re-apply every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Once it starts blooming stop fertilizing. If the leaves on the plant have very dark tips, cut back on the fertilizer. Add coffee grounds between fertilizing rounds around the base of the plants to encourage growth. Calla lilies like acidic soil and coffee grounds addÂ acidity.
Canna Lilies – When planting Canna lilyÂ rhizomes into a garden or container add 12-4-8 fertilizer to the soil. (Check fertilizer for instructions on amounts).Â Make sure to mix fertilizer into the soil and then add plants. Fertilize once a month beginning one month after planting. Once Canna Lilies are established add 5-10-5 fertilizer to the soil until late summer. Â Fertilizing to late in the summer encourages tender new growth that is more susceptible to cold damage.
Dahlias – Dahlias tubers are easy to grow and to take care of. Â Plant dahlia tubers with bone meal. Make sure to mix the bone meal into the soil before planting the tuber. Â Once dahlias are planted, and the first flower bud appears on the plant, apply a low nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) to soil. Â Usually within 30 days of being planted. Â One application of fertilizer is usually adequate if the plants are in rich, fast draining soil.
CaladiumsÂ – Caladiums don’t require anyÂ special growing fertilizer when they are first planted. Â Once they are established and growing, fertilize every four to six weeks throughout the growing season with 5-10-10 fertilizer. To prevent burning try not to place fertilizer on the leaves of the caladiums.
Lily BulbsÂ – Plant Lily bulbs in the garden or in containers. Â Plant bulbs with a top dressing of slow release fertilizer like fish emulsion, worm castings and Â or compost tea to promote growth. Once growing and buds appear on the lily, feed with high phosphorus food, or bone meal to encourageÂ long lasting andÂ larger blooms. Fertilize in limited amounts, as to much fertilize will have the opposite effect and cause less blooms and green foliage.
GladiolusÂ – When planting gladiolus bulbs mix aÂ 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer toÂ the soil. Before planting the corms, put a layer of non fertilizer soil with the bulb. Â Once the gladiolus start to grow, apply granular fertilizer to the base of the plants. Â Once they start to bloom, there is no need to fertilize anymore. Â Its important to read how much fertilizer to apply and how frequently.
The picture below, you will see beautiful pink dahlias, but there are some brown passed blossoms. To promote the dahlia to bloom more, it require some trimming. This technique is calledÂ â€śdead heading.â€ť This simple pinching technique is used to discard older blooms that have passed. You can use your fingers to gently pinch off older blooms, or if you prefer to cut the dead materials you can use floral snips. The best way to dead head summer blooming bulbs is to cut the old blossoms close to the newest growth of the plant. By trimming out the old blossoms, it tells the plant to stop sending energy to the dead blossom and it will promote new buds to appear. Therefore creating the allusion that you have endless blooms! Dahlias, begonias, cannas and callas are examples of summer blooming bulbs that require dead heading.
Summer blooming bulbs require all different levels of watering needs. Â Some plants will give warning signs if they need more or less water. Â Some of the sign are: If a summer blooming plant is lacking water, the ends of its leaves will start to show a brown crispy edge and may turn yellow. To little water for plants means its not getting the nutrients it needs from the water or soil. Some plants wonâ€™t flower as vibrant or as long if under watered. If a plant goes limp and some of the foliage is slimy, it is a sign its being over watered. Â Some summer blooming plants examples of water needs are:Â Begonias and Caladiums need the perfect mix, not flooded or bone dry. Canna Lilies grow the best with a good supply of water.
After all this hard work, the last thing you want to have happen, is to loose all the beautiful blooms you have worked so hard for! Some summer blooming bulbs like dinner plate dahlias and gladiolus could use some support. Place a stake or a type of support trellis near the plant and tie up with non abrasive twine to prop weaker stems. This allows plants to keep blooming and to grow strength to support themselves.
With all these tips and guidance, we hope to see you out in the garden or relaxing enjoying your blooms! Share with us on facebookÂ we would love to see all your hard work.
June 1, 2015
Â· Heather Viani Â· Comments Closed
Tags: bulbs, caladium, canna lilies, Care of Summer Bulbs, dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, Wildflower meadow how-to Â· Posted in: Flower Bulbs, Gardening in Spring and Summer, How-Tos
Erin, one of our certified Master Gardeners, purchased a house several years ago and has been wowing us with her plantings since.
After a summer full of beautiful Dahlias,Â they decided to dig them up to save the tubersÂ for the next year. They then hadÂ an empty garden bed, so theyÂ decided to plant the Darwin Tulip Mix and the Large Cupped Daffodil Mix.Â They were trying to Â create the same dramatic, colorful look they had experienced with their summer Dahlia planting.Â
TheyÂ removed the top few inches of soil and laid out the Tulips and Daffodils. TheyÂ planted nineÂ tulips per sq foot and sixÂ daffodils per sq foot, alternating them so theyâ€™d all be mixed together. After all was said and done, they planted over 350 bulbs. Once the weather started to warm up, the Tulips and Daffodils started popping up. The entire family wasÂ impressed by the display they created.