Monday, August 31, 2015

About Globe Blue Spruce

Height: 5 feet
Spread: 5 feet
Sunlight:  Full Sun/ Partial Shade
Hardiness Zone: 2
Other Names: Blue Colorado Spruce;Colorado Blue Spruce

A small, dense globe-shaped shrub, very unlike the species, as a mounded form that eventually becomes a compact and dense Christmas tree-like shape, adaptable and hardy; intensely blue needles, an excellent choice for form and color in the garden

Ornamental Features:
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce has attractive blue foliage which emerges silvery blue in spring. The needles are ornamentally significant but remain blue through the winter. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant. The rough gray bark is not particularly outstanding.

Landscape Attributes:
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a distinctive and refined pyramidal form. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.
This is a high maintenance shrub that will require regular care and upkeep. When pruning is necessary, it is recommended to only trim back the new growth of the current season, other than to remove any dieback. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce is recommended for the following landscape applications;
  • Vertical Accent
  • General Garden Use

Plant Characteristics:
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 60 years or more.
This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.
This is a selection of a native North American species.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Press & Sun Bulletin - Nursery Owner Looks to keep Business Diverse

Ken Williams began mowing lawns as a teenager. Now, he owns a 57-acre nursery and landscaping business in Apalachin, with plants, produce, design services and landscaping crews.
In a recent interview, Williams, owner of W&W Nursery & Landscaping, discussed the challenges of running a small business, the art of gardening and why he’s proud to own “the place along the highway.”
QUESTION: How did W&W Nursery & Landscaping start?
ANSWER: I started mowing lawns at 13 just to make money. If I could push the mower to it, I could mow it. My first summer out of college, I bid a job for Hadco Corporation. They gave me a shot by hiring me and I turned around and invested back into the business. I just kept working. I had worked for another nursery for five years learning the trade.
I had done the landscaping for the previous owner of this farm. One day, I decided to plant a seed. I said, “If you ever want to sell, let me know.” The ground here is river-rich soil. It’s perfect for growing and it has a highway exposure. He accepted, and I moved from my old location on Gaskill Road (in Owego) to this facility in 2002 and opened to the public in 2005.
We’re family here. My nephew, Jeremy, is my operations manager. My wife works with the books. My son works part-time, he’s a nursery hand and does networking. My daughter is here full-time helping on the maintenance side. I never thought I’d see the day I had both of my kids on a job site with me.
We currently have 57 acres, 38 in production. We have 16 employees regularly; at our peak, we have 20. W&W Nursery and Landscaping is a full service nursery and garden center. We have hard goods, plants, mulches, tree shrubs, and we deliver. What sets us apart from the box stores is education and experience. This is all we do, and we grow it. Our product is acclimated; our trees are growing in the ground. That makes a big difference if it’s grown in the Southern Tier. We’re not always force-feeding consumers like the box stores. We grow a variety of trees, not just a few to pick from. We know our business and we can compete. Not to mention, our quality is better at W&W.
Q: How has your business evolved?
A: It all started with landscaping and maintenance. We didn’t like what was coming in from suppliers so we decided to start our own nursery because we wanted to control our own quality. I always knew I wanted to have my own nursery where I could grow my own to make me more competitive for larger projects. Also, I wanted to supply the do-it-yourself market because there’s a demand for good quality. That’s how it evolved.
We’ve had to diversify and be smart. We have to be innovative in order to keep things fresh. It’s not just setting plants out on the gravel or blacktop anymore. We have design & build and we’ve established a u-pick produce area. We grow trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, vegetables and fruit trees, and we have our crews out doing work. It all fits together. After all, gardening is a lifestyle.
Q: What are some of the challenges of doing business here?
A: I started my company in 1988 with just ambition, mowing lawns. I built it. I had some gifts from God along the way, and I knew how to run with it, so I feel I’ve paid my dues. The cost of doing business and the challenges in New York State have so far exceeded when we started. As we’re coming into our 28th year, I’m thankful to be established. If I were a new business, just starting, I wouldn’t do it in this state. Between taxes, utilities, and regulations, costs are getting out of hand. We feel we’re working twice as hard for the same outcome.
In order to overcome some of our challenges, we capitalize on selling to retail and wholesale customers. We’re supplying up the East Coast: municipalities, golf courses, universities, garden centers, and even landscapers. In fact, we have over 300 landscapers on our mailing list. That’s really what’s starting to grow for us.
Q: Do you think the proposed minimum wage hike for employees of the fast-food industry will have an impact on business?
A: Absolutely and for us to a point. People that work for us enjoy this trade. I feel business will either close, move or create self-checkout to eliminate people, which will in turn create more sterile environments. So I ask — is this the state doing this to fix our broken welfare system? The people that work part-time and get assistance now will be at a higher income so they lose assistance? Time will tell.
We’re facing a lot of challenges like all businesses. We’ve diversified. It’s important to count your blessings and keep moving forward.
Q: What steps have you taken to help your business overcome those challenges?
A: I started with a video series in 2010 (Street Smart Gardener TM). It’s one of those ideas that just snowballed. We did it because we wanted the do-it-yourself individuals to feel comfortable about gardening. I’m trying to get younger generations to come in and garden too. We want to show that they can grow a vegetable garden just like anybody else, and we’re here to help. We had to adapt and diversify to bring those people in.
Five years ago is when I decided to start pushing gardening as a lifestyle. We want people to get back outside with nature a little bit so they can slow down and appreciate things more.
We’re willing to invest in ourselves and for our customers to make things easier. We have a full-time social media employee for FacebookYouTubePinterest, Instagram, and our blogs. Social Media is fun because it enables us to more easily connect with customers. We’re also launching our new website sometime in the next few weeks, which will be mobile-friendly and make it easier for our customers to keep up with us.
We also offer virtual imaging for landscape design through our in-house landscape design department. It assists us with estimating so when we know the exact square footage of a property, we know how much of everything you’ll need. If you don’t know plant life, it’s hard to visualize. We’ve always done computer imaging, but we always try to stay fresh and at the forefront of the software that’s available. Now we’re able to let our clients see our vision for their property up close.
Q: What changes are ahead for your business?
A: We’ve really increased our vegetables and fruits. We’re going to line up 1,000 apple trees for a u-pick orchard. We’re doing 10 varieties of tomatoes: half the price of the grocery store, and you can pick it when you want it. This is a new endeavor for us in an effort to diversify what we offer. Staying fresh and moving forward is key. We refuse to get stale and in doing so, we’ve created a destination here.
Yes, we’re “that place along the highway.” I’m thankful to be by the highway. We have 57,000 cars a day that go by. People from all over find us.
Beyond the u-pick produce, we’re going to do hops for the microbreweries. In an effort to keep our employees on the books longer throughout the year, I created an Animated Holiday lighting service to keep them working through the late fall. And we’ve got something new in store for next year, but I think I’ll just let our competitors keep guessing as to what that might be.
Q: What trends do you see in this line of work?
A: Definitely vegetable gardening has become popular. Homes and apartments with raised beds are getting more popular, because it’s simple, anybody can do it and produce good crops in the comfort of their own property.
For what it’s worth, I’d recommend any new gardener to keep it simple. As a society, we’re always racing against the clock, so only take on what you can manage.
The outdoor living room concept has really been good for us. We’ve been doing a lot of fire pits and built-in grills; it’s basically like an extension of the house. People can go out and enjoy it, cook, get some herbs from their garden, pick their own produce and use them immediately.
Q: What’s difficult about your job?
A: This life is physically demanding, and it’s not for everyone. I’m very thankful, and I thank God for everything. I count my blessings for what we have. We’re dealing with more regulations. We worry about ticks, it’s hot, it rains … a lot, and it’s humid. But we’re outside, we get to work in nature and we get to meet a lot of great people. We get 10,000 people coming through here in the spring.
We’re all plant geeks here. We love seeing what’s new, especially all the different plant types, seeing how they’re going to work up here. I love traveling to other nurseries and going to trade shows out west. I’ve learned a lot from my peers. This industry has introduced me to a bunch of great friends and colleagues.
Nobody can predict the future, only the man upstairs. You just work at it. I’m thankful for what we have and where we are. We’re the only place like ours locally. We’re unique.
Q: Why is gardening important?
A: Gardening is an art — The art of expressing a thought with plants. Design is key. You have to be creative. There are a lot of advantages to thoughtful landscaping: storm water runoff, shading for energy, wind blocks for winter winds. Landscaping and gardening is really a necessity, not a luxury. We have a responsibility to protect the planet. It’s important that when you do building that you remember what was there before, so that you can put the proper amount of green space back in to protect the planet. That’s why I really like what I do. I know I am making a difference.
Follow Katie Sullivan on Twitter @ByKatieSullivan.
Kenny Williams
Business and title: The Street Smart Gardener, President W & W Nursery
Age: 45
Home: Apalachin
Hometown: Owego
Education: environmental design, Broome Community College
Hobbies: golf, musician and gardening
Family: wife, Sandy; son, Ryan; daughter, Aleah
Where to find, on Facebook and YouTube
Photo Credit: Andrew Thayer

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time to Divide Your Peonies!

Now is a good time to divide peonies. 

If you have been moving things around in your garden and have some peonies, you might wonder if you find the little tubers left behind, can you plant them and expect them to grow. The answer is yes, but there is an appropriate way of propagating peony plants that you should follow if you expect to be successful.

How to Propagate Peonies

If you have been considering propagating peony plants, you should know there are some important steps to follow. The only way to multiply peony plants is to divide peonies. This might sound complicated, but it’s not.

First, you need to use a sharp spade and dig around the peony plant. Be very careful not to damage the roots. You want to be sure to dig up as much of the root as possible.

Once you have the roots out of the ground, rinse them vigorously with the hose so they are clean and you can actually see what you have. What you are looking for are the crown buds. These will actually be the part that comes through the ground after planting and forms a new peony plant when you divide peonies.

After rinsing, you should leave the roots in the shade so they soften up a bit. They will be easier to cut. When you are propagating peony plants, you should use a strong knife and cut the roots all the way back to only about six inches from the crown. Again, this is because the crown grows into the peony and dividing peony plants requires a crown on each piece you plant.

You will want to make sure each piece has at least one crown bud. Three visible crown buds is best. However, at least one will do. You will continue to divide peonies until you have as many peonies as you can get from the roots you originally dug up.

Plant the pieces in a location suitable for growing peonies. Make sure the buds on the pieces are not more than 2 inches under the soil or they may have trouble growing. If the temperatures are fairly even, you can actually store your pieces in peat moss until you are ready to plant them on a warmer day. Don’t store them too long or they may dry out and won’t grow. 

So now you know that propagating peony plants isn’t too terribly difficult, and so long as you have one good peony plant to dig up, you can be dividing peony plants and create many in no time.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sumac Tea is Rich in Vitamin C

Have you noticed this tree around your neighborhood? Well its red blossoms are ready to harvest. This is a sumac tree, not the poisonous kind, but the kind that makes a delicious tea full of essential vitamin C.

  • Pick 3-5 bright red berry clusters on a dry day and crush lightly with your hands. 
  • Put the berries in a pitcher and fill with cold water. 
  • Let the berries infuse for anywhere between a couple hours to a couple days depending on your taste. 
  • Strain through a coffee filter or cheese cloth as some varieties of sumac have irritating, tiny hairs that you'd rather not ingest. (A coffee press or french press is a great investment as it has a strainer built in) 
  • Once your tea is strained, sip and enjoy one of the best pink lemonades ever!


The sumac berries are full of natural vitamin C. That is the reason you use only cold water to make sumac berry-ade as hot water destroys the vitamin C.

American Indians knew sumac was full of the natural c vitamin and used it to treat colds, fever and scurvy. They also used the ground berries mixed with clay as a poultice on open sores and wounds. Native Americans also mixed the dried sumac berries with tobacco to smoke in peace pipes!

Sumac has also been used for diarrhea, dysentery, sore throats, infections, asthma, cold sores and even as a general tonic. You can even make sumac wine or a sumac tincture if you are so inclined.

Sumac is not only a useful plant but is an exceptionally beautiful red in the fall!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Woman's Land Army of America in WWI

The creation of the Woman's Land Army of America in WWI enabled nearly 20,000 urban women to enter America's agricultural sector to work as ordinary wage laborers between 1917 and 1921. The active recruitment of urban women into a government-sanctioned, formally-organized, and (largely) female-managed workforce to labor in physically demanding tasks such as sowing and harvesting, was a revolutionary and - to some – a disconcerting idea.

That these women were also young, college-educated, and lived in community with other like-minded women outside the authority of men challenged traditional stereotypes relating to women's role and work all the more. The relationship to gardening? The WLAA's work began at the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women at Ambler (now part of Temple University).

Check out the source link for more information. 


Monday, August 3, 2015

August Gardening Tips for the Northeast: Watering Tips

Water plants a few hours before applying pesticides, especially during times of drought. In these conditions, plants have less water in tissues, and as pesticides enter cells, they may burn leaves.
Avoid watering during midday, when more water will evaporate than soak into soil.
It's not uncommon for plants to wilt on hot afternoons even though soil has adequate moisture. The wilting occurs because plants are losing water faster than their roots can absorb it. Leaves should revive by early evening, after the sun is no longer directly on leaves. If not, water deeply.
Some shrubs need weekly deep watering now. Rhododendrons are beginning to form flower buds for next year's show, and adequate water is vital. Fruiting plants, such as hollies and firethorn, need water to ensure berries mature and don't drop.
Test Garden Tip: Water newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials -- any plants you added to your yard last fall or spring. These plants need weekly irrigation to ensure roots establish deeply.