Tag Archives: sustainability

5 Common Questions from Spring Gardeners

The snow has finally melted, those first few signs of growth are peeking out of the planting beds, and the sun is warming up a little more with each passing day. Many of us are starting back in on lawn and landscape care, hoping to nip last year’s problems in the bud, and setting sights on improvements for the coming season. Here at our garden center, we receive many questions and concerns this time of year, and strive to help you build a backyard you’re confident in and comfortable with. Here are a few of our most common spring inquiries and the solutions we recommend:

  1. I had dandelions and crabgrass in my lawn last year. What do I need to do this year to prevent them?

For crabgrass, the best way to avoid a recurrence this year is to apply a preventive herbicide prior to May 10. We use a fertilizer with an herbicide built in as our first step in our lawn care program. Thus, you take care of two early lawn needs at the same time. For dandelions, you need to wait until they begin growth in spring to kill them. Although there are lawn fertilizers with broadleaf weed killers built in, the best way to control them is to use a liquid application of broadleaf herbicide. This does a better job of coating the weed and allows more of the active ingredient to be taken up by the weed to kill it.

2. When can I begin planting my garden?

Wisconsin weather can be very unpredictable in any season, especially spring. (And definitely this year!). For most plantings, you need to know the average last frost date. In the Fox Cities area our average “Last Frost Date” is May 27. If you want to take your chances, the “Typical Last Frost Date” (when you still have a 30% chance of getting hit by frost) is May 10. That said, we normally recommend most plantings of frost-sensitive plants such as annuals, tender perennials, vegetable plants, and seedlings be made after Mother’s Day. Cool season vegetables and annuals can generally be planted out sooner, though; these would include broccoli, lettuce, parsley, carrots, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, and even peas! Please note, you may have to cover or take in plants showing lush growth if heavier frosts are predicted.

3. My soil is hard. What can I do?

Add compost to your soil and till or work it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to provide nutrients and better soil structure. This can be done a couple of times a year. Also, covering your vegetable gardens in the late fall/early winter with compost, straw, or chopped leaves will help prevent hard soils the following spring.

4. When potting planters for yard accents, what are the best tips for success?

Make sure your pot allows room for plants to breathe; that is, allows water and air exchange in some way either through its sides, bottom, or both. Drainage holes are very important. Add compost or worm castings to your potting mix for extra organic nutrients in your soil, which will help fuel your plants to produce more blooms or fruit. Know the plants that you want to use and place plants with similar needs together. In other words, don’t put plants that prefer moist soils with plants that prefer it dry, or shade plants mixed with sun-lovers. Finally, make sure that your overall soil level is a couple of inches below the rim of the planter, allowing room for water to soak in (and not run all over your patio!).

5. What is the best way to clean up my lawn in spring, and when should I start mowing?

Assess if your lawn needs to be dethatched. We don’t recommend dethatching if the thatch layer is less than 1/2″ thick. In fact, those thatch levels are beneficial to your lawn: they act like a mulch to conserve moisture and temperature, and aid in root development. Thatch layers over 1″ aren’t good for your lawn, though, as they block water and fertilizer from reaching roots, resulting in drought stress and lawn disease. If you do need to dethatch or rake your lawn, do so as weather conditions permit. Raking when lawns are too wet will result in pulling out large amounts of roots and live grass parts. As you assess the state of your lawn, know that now is a great time to reseed or sod lawn areas injured by the winter, too.

Do not mow the lawn until it has grown at least 2 inches.  The roots are being renewed in the spring and grass needs vigorous initial top-growth for a healthy season.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center; we’ll be happy to help you on the way to a healthy, successful landscape this season!

7 Garden Trends for 2022

The sun is warming, the birds are singing, and each day is a step closer to the long-awaited spring! If you’re already planning out your vegetable garden, dreaming of bright bursts of colorful annuals, and eager to get your hands back in the soil, you aren’t alone. Now is the perfect time for planning, though, and we’re here to get you started with our 7 top trends for the 2022 season!

  1. Supporting Wildlife and Pollinators

There’s been much justified “buzz” about pollinators recently, but “wildlife friendly” gardening encompasses a wider spectrum, including native birds, fascinating creatures like frogs and newts, and even the overall soil health of your land. Enhancing your landscape to provide food sources and shelter for local species, while caring for the long-term health of your soil and vegetation, opens our minds to the concept of creating and caring for our landscape as a whole entity.

  • Include a diverse mix of native plants to conserve water, provide food sources and shelter for animal species, and provide longevity in your garden design.
  • Include water features or shallow ponds in your landscape. These provide clean water for a variety of insects and animals, give shelter for breeding and nesting, and benefit your yard by attracting dragonflies, which feed on mosquitoes. As a bonus, they create a relaxing and calming atmosphere!
  • Consider using hedges as a divider, rather than fences. Hedges are a great food and shelter source for birds and other creatures, especially during the winter months.
  • If you’re short on space, incorporate flowering climbing plants or hanging baskets into your yard space. They’re excellent sources of nectar for pollinators, and provide shelter space for bees, butterflies, and birds.

2. Porch and Balcony Gardening

Many of us have limited yard space or live in apartment buildings. Luckily, gardening doesn’t have to be a hobby only enjoyed by those with vast yards! With a little planning, you can create a gorgeous and functional porch or balcony garden. Here’s how:

  • Incorporate hanging baskets or planter boxes on porch railings in areas of limited square footage. Herbs and annuals are very successful in these types of containers – just make sure you’re watering enough (daily, especially in sunny locations).
  • Use large pots for mixed plantings. Using a colorful mix of annuals draws attention to your space and creates a beautiful statement piece. Most herbs will also thrive when planted together in a large container. Just be careful with types like mint, dill, and oregano, which can be fast growers and take over the other plants (you can still incorporate them in the planter – just make sure you’re trimming often!).
  • Using a large container, mix your ornamental annuals with culinary herbs! The result will be a beautiful mix of color and texture, with the added bonus of delightful aroma.
  • Use shelving on your balcony or patio to house small herbs, annuals, or your houseplants in summer. This can create an attractive and interesting focal point for your space and give you ample room for housing plant life!
  • Be sure to continually fertilize your planters throughout the season.

3. Tropical Plants

In a world where travel plans and costs are quite unreliable or restricted, many people are choosing to create their own tropical paradises at home! Tropical plants have soared in popularity, and there is a wealth of bold, beautiful colors to choose from.

  • Make sure nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50-55 degrees before placing tropical plants outdoors. Also, don’t place them in the direct sun immediately. They’ll need to be acclimated gradually (over the course of 1-2 weeks) or their foliage will scorch, just like our skin!
  • A few of our favorite tropicals to incorporate are: Mandevilla, Caladium, Rose of Sharon, Rose Mallow and Cannas. They’ll bring a gorgeous burst of tropical color to your patio!
  • Use large-leaf foliage in your tropical arrangements to contrast bright-flowering blooms.
  • Use tropical-colored accents in your decor to enhance your design, like orange furniture cushions, bright pink pillows, or turquoise containers.
  • Use hardy perennials in your beds that will accent the tropical plantings on your patio. Try incorporating bright Hosta, Iris, or Daylily perennials to compliment your tropical plants.

4. Dark Foliage

Nothing brings depth and contrast to an arrangement or flower bed like a richly colored, dark foliage. Whether you’re making bright annuals and flowering perennials pop or creating an interesting palette of textures, dark foliage can bring an incomparably luscious depth to your design. Try pairing a dark leaf alongside chartreuse or silver foliage or placing it as a backdrop to a vibrant pink, orange or yellow bloom. Here are a few of our favorite deep, dark foliage choices to try out!

  • Heuchera, a perennial (also known as Coral Bells)
  • Ninebark, a perennial shrub (Try “Tiny Wine”, with deep purple foliage and a delicate, showy white flower)
  • Weigela, a perennial shrub (Try “Spilled Wine” or “Minor Black” for dark foliage contrasting with a vibrant pink flower)
  • Sweet Potato Vine, an annual (a perfect trailing element in arrangements)
  • Purple Basil, an annual herb (has a delicious, slightly spicy flavor in dishes)

5. Gardening for Peace of Mind

In a time of uncertainty, many of us have taken to exploring and developing calming hobbies, unplugging from the digital world, and spending more time outdoors. It comes as no surprise, then, that our own backyards have become our havens and place of peace. If you find yourself drawn to this concept, but are unsure of design elements to include or, even, where to start, here are a few ideas to get the gears turning:

  • Begin with intentional elements. Focus on a color that brings you joy, aromas that are pleasing or relaxing to you, or even plants that have a sentimental value to them. This could be a certain rose that grew at your grandmother’s house, or a small vegetable garden that you can enjoy with your children.
  • Incorporate elements that appeal to each of your senses. Choose colors you enjoy seeing, or herbs and flowers that bring a pleasant aroma. Consider a water feature, gentle wind chime, or even long grasses that can create a gentle, peaceful sound. Herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers that can be picked and nibbled on can be wonderfully rewarding. And finally, focus on textures, such as edging walkways with soft plants that gently brush against you as you walk through.
  • Think about what brings you peace and what you enjoy. Rather than concerning yourself with what is trendy in the design world, find what speaks to you!

6. Cut Flower Gardening

There’s nothing quite as welcoming as a beautiful arrangement of flowers on your table or mantle. But purchasing fresh bouquets from a local market or store isn’t always cost effective or convenient. If you find yourself loving the ambiance cut flowers bring to your home, consider incorporating them into your landscape! Planning a cut flower garden is a simple task to take on, and one that will reward you all season long.

  • First, pick a location with lots of sun and well-draining soil. Don’t worry if you don’t have room for a dedicated cut flower bed; annual or bulb flowers can be incorporated just about anywhere: in planters, in your vegetable garden, or between perennials and shrubs.
  • Plant flowers with the tallest in the back and shortest in the front. Be sure to include a trellis for trailing plants like nasturtium.
  • Mulch in your plants to help retain moisture; plants that stay well-watered in healthy soil will produce bigger, better blooms. Be sure to remove spent flowers and foliage to encourage the best new growth and blooms, too, and fertilize regularly.
  • A few of our favorites to include in a cut flower garden are Zinnia, Dahlia, Poppy, Alstromeria, Lavender, Sunflower, Celosia, Phlox, Artemesia, and Coleus.

7. Bringing the Outdoors In…. and the Indoors Out

You’ve probably heard of this concept attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright and, if you’re not incorporating it into your home design, now is the time to implement it! The positive response to nature and our drive to connect with it, known as biophilia, has firmly rooted itself in the design world. Take this concept a step further, though, and consider bringing the “indoors out” to bring comfort and convenience to your outdoor space, too!

Bringing the Outdoors In:

  • Plant an herb garden and keep it on a sunny window ledge.
  • Use grow lights in dark rooms to help indoor plant life thrive.
  • Plant your outdoor plants where they can be seen from inside. Or place hanging planters and trellises near windows, so they can be enjoyed from inside, too.

Bringing the Indoors Out:

  • Use outdoor lighting to extend your evening patio hours and create a cozy atmosphere.
  • Incorporate fire features into your design for cool evenings and a comforting ambiance.
  • Create a “garden room” – this could be a dedicated nook for reading and enjoying a glass of wine, or a full dining area for entertaining guests. Depending on your intent, focus on the details needed to enhance the space; for example, a dining area could entail a great grill, large table, beverage refrigerator, shade feature, and countertop space.
  • Naturally screen or outline areas with hedges or hanging plants.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center.

Whether you’re just starting your landscaping hobbies, a first time home owner, or an avid, lifelong gardener…. we wish you a happy and bountiful 2022 season and look forward to seeing you!

To Cut or Not to Cut: Tips on Fall Trimming, Pruning and Cleanup

To cut down, or not to cut down? Now that fall has arrived, many gardeners find themselves wondering whether they should cut back their perennials and seasonal plantings now or wait until spring. For most perennials, the answer depends on what you want from your landscape during the winter months. If your concept of the perfect winter scene is an uninterrupted, pristine blanket of snow, plan on cutting back and clearing out the perennial border each fall. Clearing out expired perennials such as hostas and daylilies will give your beds a much cleaner appearance, and are far easier to prune back in fall than in the springtime. When doing this, hedge trim all foliage down to 3″ – 5″ above the soil, using a sharp set of pruners and making sure the plants are past their bloom cycle. Keeping a few inches of foliage above the soil will help insulate the roots during the winter months and will help you locate the plant in the spring, preventing possible damage from spring yard work or mulching.

However, if you are hoping that your landscape will continue to provide interest right up to spring, schedule much of your bed work for early April. By keeping the foliage of ornamental grasses and perennials such as sedum in place, you allow your landscape to provide color and movement right up until the arrival of deep snow. Besides the show, keeping the foliage in place for the winter helps to accumulate snow over the plants. This blanket of snow is nature’s protective mulch against the extreme cold of a Wisconsin winter. Another benefit of keeping select perennial foliage in your beds is that seed heads of plants like coneflowers and black-eyed susans will provide food for birds during the winter months.

In addition to selective trimming, there is plenty of yard work to accomplish on these lovely fall afternoons. Here are a few recommendations from our team of horticulturists:

  • Divide your spring-blooming perennials in fall. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go toward root and leaf growth.
  • Start lowering your mower height in preparation for the last mowing of the season, which should be at 2″ height.
  • Spray flowering crabs with dormant oil to help control apple scab next summer.
  • Aerate your lawn to help promote root growth by allowing air, water and nutrients to circulate the soil. Fall is a perfect time for aeration, thanks to cooler temperatures and warmer soil, and will give you a greener, thicker lawn come spring.
  • Remove all leaves and debris from planting beds and pull out any remaining weeds.
  • Prune your oak trees between mid October and mid March to prevent the spread of oak wilt.
  • Remove fallen leaves in phases. Don’t allow them to pile up, as a thick layer of leaves deprives your lawn of necessary oxygen and sunlight. This can lead to flooding, fungal issues, or pests.
  • Winterize your yard tools (like pruners, mowers, weed eaters, rototillers, loppers, etc.) by removing debris and gunk. Also, replace worn parts and apply oil as needed.
  • Wait to prune your trees, shrubs and roses until they are fully dormant, preferably late winter for most.

Its a perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh fall air. Take advantage of the season with an afternoon of fall cleanup, ensuring a gorgeous home and landscape come spring. Our team is here to help you along the way, so stop in to our garden center or give us a call with any questions or concerns. And until next time, enjoy the season!

The Buzz About Pollinators

Summer is in full swing, the gardens are full of luscious plants and beautiful blooms, and you probably have seen a wealth of insects, birds, and butterflies buzzing around your yard and beds. These small creatures, also known as pollinators, play a crucial role in plant reproduction and sustaining our ecosystems. In fact, 75% – 95% of flowering plants need help with pollination, relying on animals like birds, bats, bees, butterflies, and beetles to transport their pollen as they move from flower to flower.

In recent years, these hard-working helpers have seen a decline in populations due in large part to loss of feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, chemical use, and changing climate patterns also play a role in affecting the pollinator population. Luckily, through public awareness, community programs like “No Mow May”, and helpful gardening techniques, there has been a strong movement to save our pollinators and their habitats, ensuring the continuation of healthy ecosystems and plant reproduction.

Positively impacting the pollinator population is easy to do in your own yard, too. Incorporating blooming plants for each season, reducing pesticide use, and choosing pollinator-friendly perennials in your landscape are all small ways to make a big impact in creating a thriving environment. Many of the plants that pollinators like best also boast long bloom seasons, giving your yard a long season of gorgeous color, as well as bringing attractive wildlife like butterflies and songbirds to your home.

Incorporating pollinator-friendly perennials into your landscape is an easy step, and we’re here to share a few of our favorite varieties. Read on for our top 5 perennials, sure to bring a wealth of pollinators, not to mention seasonal color, to your yard!

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Bee Balm is a native favorite for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and for good reason. This hardy perennial boasts vibrant red, pink, purple or white flowers (depending on the variety) that will last for a good portion of the summer season. Growing 3′ – 4′ height, it is a beautiful backdrop for beds or a great stand-alone in the landscape. Bee Balm prefers most soil a sunny location, although it can tolerate partial shade. Leave the seed heads intact after the blooms are spent, as they’ll attract songbirds in the fall and winter season!


With bright, yet dainty, blooms and attractive, wiry stems, the Anemone is an attractive statement perennial in any landscape. Originally native to Asia, varieties of anemone have been cultivated in Japan for centuries and are available in an expanse of colors and bloom seasons. The Anemone is an appealing perennial, as well, thanks to its deer, rabbit and insect resistance. Most varieties will grow to an average height of about 2′, making it an attractive border planting or front focal point in flower beds. Anemone will benefit from a good layer of mulching, as it enjoys a rich, evenly moist soil. Don’t be deceived by the delicate blooms – Anemone is a resistant, low maintenance perennial once established, and you’ll be enjoying its beauty for many seasons!

Russian Sage

With grey, fragrant foliage and delicate lavender flowers, Russian Sage is a versatile perennial to use as a standalone, ground cover, or backdrop in beds. This sun-loving plant thrives in drier soil and is deer and pest resistant. Most varieties will grow to 3′-4′, and requires little maintenance outside of pruning. Since it has a tendency to spread, gardeners are encouraged to shear the top 1/3 of spreading stems to encourage upright growth and prune any unwanted growth. Spent blooms can also be trimmed to promote new buds, ensuring that you’ll have a long season of color. Despite its name, Russian Sage isn’t actually related to the sage herb. It was coined the name because its crushed leaves emanate a sage-like aroma!

Speedwell (Veronica)

Ranging from creeping to upright, Speedwell is another versatile perennial that comes in a range of blue, purple, pink or white hues and will bloom all summer long. Speedwell is a truly hardy perennial, tolerating a range of soils and preferring sun to partial sun light levels. Upright varieties can grow up to 4′ height, and make a beautiful addition to cut flower bouquets. This low-maintenance plant is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, while tending to be deer resistant. In Ireland, Speedwell is traditionally pinned on the clothes of travelers to keep them safe from accidents!

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflowers are a classic favorite amongst perennials, and for good reason. This tough, native plant is drought resistant and thrives in well-drained soil and bright sun. It is available in a variety of colors from soft, muted tones to vibrant, show-stopping colors and will bloom from mid-summer all the way until a frost. When flowers begin looking ragged, gardeners can simply snip them back by about 1/3, encouraging another burst of colorful buds throughout the fall. Appealing to butterflies, bees and birds during the warm season, coneflower seed heads will also attract songbirds during the fall and winter months.

Planting a pollinator-friendly yard is not only beneficial to animal habitats and plant populations, its also a low-maintenance, sustainable way to bring long-lasting color to your home! To learn more, stop in to our garden center to speak with our team of knowledgeable, dedicated horticulturists. They’d love to talk plants with you!

Common Fungal Issues in Early Summer

Early summer brings with it the excitement of watching your beds bloom, your vegetables sprout up, and your trees blossom. But the unwelcomed presence of fungus can put a damper on your yard, affecting your garden’s yield, damaging foliage, and inhibiting growth. The good news is that most fungal problems can be solved and prevented with a bit of knowledge and early planning. Here are a few of the most common fungus we see in the early summer, and how our experts recommend handling them:

  1. Powdery Mildew- Powdery Mildew is a common fungus that produces whitish spots on plant leaves, making foliage look like it was dusted with flour. The spots will primarily appear on the tops of leaves, although they can pop up underneath or on stems and flowers. Powdery mildew appears in warm temperatures with a fair amount of humidity, often occurring when days are warm and nights are cool. There are many plants that can be potential targets of powdery mildew, but a few of the most common include begonias, mums, roses, dahlias, melons, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, pumpkins, peppers and tomatoes. Here are a few tips for treating and preventing powdery mildew from burdening your garden yield:
  • Thin garden vegetables to provide adequate space, circulation and sunlight for individual plants
  • Remove infected or dead foliage from all plants
  • Treat powdery mildew infestations with an organic fungicide

2. Cedar Apple Rust– This type of fungus requires two hosts (located within about a mile of one another) in order to complete its life cycle. The first family required is a juniper species or eastern red cedar; the second is an apple, crabapple, hawthorn, quince or serviceberry species. The symptoms of Cedar Apple Rust vary widely depending on the species infected: apples, hawthorns, and serviceberry will typically show orange and red spots on their foliage, which gradually develop black spots on the tops of leaves and small, fungal tubes on the bottom. Apples and crabapples are most susceptible. Juniper and red cedar, however, will develop woody galls on their small branches in the fall. Come spring (especially in wet weather), these galls will produce a gummy, orange growth that shrivels as the weather dries out. There are ways to prevent this interesting fungus… here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Don’t plant juniper/red cedar varieties in close proximity to apples, crabapples, hawthorns, etc.
  • Inspect junipers and red cedars in the late fall and early spring. Remove woody galls that you may find; this will prevent the formation of the orange growth that spreads spores to apple varieties
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties of crabapples and apples
  • Remove infected leaves and branches from apples and crabapples

3. Apple Scab– Apple Scab is a fungus that affects apples and crabapples. It will first appear as pale yellow or olive green colored spots on the top leaves, with dark, velvety spots spreading to lower leaves. In severe cases, foliage will become twisted, puckered, and eventually fall off the tree. On fruit, it creates scabby, sunken spots that start light in color and become larger, darker, and cork-like in texture. Eventually, the fruit will become distorted and cracked. Apple scab starts over the winter in fallen leaves and soil, developing in wet, cool weather. The best ways to treat it are:

  • Make sure to rake under trees in the fall and dispose of the dead leaves
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties when possible
  • Keep trees well-pruned, keeping an open canopy for air circulation and sunlight, and remove upright suckers from tree bases
  • Use a sulfur plant fungicide in early spring, applying as leaves just begin to emerge

Fungal issues can create problems across your landscape but remember: knowledge, proper care, and early-season planning can be your best tools in prevention and treatment. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to our team of garden experts and horticulturists to learn more!

Cool Weather Blooms to Brighten Your Home!

We’ve reached that unique time of year when the sun begins to warm our daytime hours, but the ground is still cool and the nights downright frosty (literally). And chances are, your beautiful winter container arrangements are beginning to look…. well… a little crispy. Its the time of year that makes us all eager for fresh life and colorful blooms. But how early can you plant spring containers and what, exactly, is available to use? Read on for spring planting guidelines and our favorite cool weather blooms!

Cold tolerant annuals are those flowers that prefer cooler temperatures, and tend to slow or cease blooming once the temperatures rise to a consistently warm level. That said, care must be taken not to put them out too early. Most hardy annuals can tolerate a light frost, but not freezing. Typically, here in Wisconsin, that means that mid-April is the standard go-to time for planting spring flowers. And, although you may not think it, there are plenty of gorgeous annuals that can bring interest, texture, and a burst of color to your front door. Here are a few of our tried-and-true favorites:


Chances are when you think of early spring flowers, Pansies are one of the first to come to mind. Their wide range of vibrant color, reliable and extended blooming period, and tolerance for temperature drops make them a classic staple in spring plantings. Pansies will love full to partial sun during the cooler spring months, but will prefer a shadier location as summer approaches and the sun begins heating up. At approximately 7″ tall and boasting bright, cheerful colors, Pansies will make a great focal point in your planters. Keep Pansies evenly watered and remove dead or faded flowers to encourage more blooms to grow and extend the plants’ season.

Fun fact about Pansies: Pansies are a symbol of love and affectionate thoughts. In Victorian England, people gave them as gifts to express romantic feelings.


Bring a beautiful element of height and color to your spring planters with Snapdragons. Coming in just about any color you can think of, Snapdragons have a lovely vertical shape and a long bloom cycle that will keep your planters looking top notch throughout the season. The flowers will begin from the base of the stem, working their way upwards. You can snip off the top of the stems for a fuller look, or keep their natural shape to bring an elegant height to your planter. As Snapdragons prefer cooler weather, you will see them slow or cease blooming during the hotter months. However, if you move them to a partially shady location and keep them well-watered, they can re-bloom in the fall season.

Fun fact about Snapdragons: Snapdragons got their name because the flower resembles a dragon’s face. When the flower is pressed gently on the sides, its mouth can open and “snap” shut.


With an abundance of delicate flowers, full foliage, and soft colors, Sweet Alyssum is the perfect trailing element for your spring planters. Growing to only about 5″ height, its white or lightly-colored hues will perfectly offset bolder and taller elements like Pansies and Snapdragons. Sweet Alyssum will spread and trail, and can also be a great choice for edging your beds. As the summer approaches and the weather heats up, shear them by about 2″ to encourage new growth and move them to a partially shady location. Don’t be fooled by their delicate appearance – Sweet Alyssum is a hardy, drought-resistant grower!

Fun fact about Sweet Alyssum: With a subtle honey scent, they are a favorite of pollinators and can provide a welcoming aroma to your home and yard.


In pink, rose, lavender, and bi-color hues, Dianthus is a pretty, bright addition to any spring planter. Growing in a mid-range height, it’s a wonderful choice to include in the body of your arrangement for a delicate, yet colorful, touch. Dianthus is a hardy, tolerant plant that can bloom through light frosts. Much like other cool-weather flowers, they will slow or stop flowering as the summer heats up; cutting them back by about 1/3 of their height will encourage them to bloom again come fall.

Fun fact about dianthus: ‘Dianthus’ comes from the Greek words for ‘of Zeus’ (‘dios’) and ‘flower’ (‘anthos’).


Dusty Miller’s cool, silver foliage and velvety texture is the perfect compliment to offset the colorful blooms in your spring planters. In addition to their attractive appearance, its lacy leaves are also deer, drought and disease resistant, making it a popular addition to containers and landscape beds alike. Dusty Miller loves a sunny spot and, unlike many other cold-tolerant annuals, can carry on an attractive grow period through the summer months (although summer trimming is encouraged to keep it from looking too leggy).

Fun fact about Dusty Miller: Even though its best-known as a foliage plant, Dusty Miller does produce small clusters of yellow flowers in the summer.

In addition to flowers, spring is a fantastic time to incorporate additional elements into your planters. Think about bringing height to your arrangement with curly willow or pussy willow stems. Bring interest to the base and body of your planter with moss or vine balls, colored Spanish moss, or even colorful Easter eggs.

Our team is ready to help you create a stunning, successful spring arrangement. Stop in to our Spring Open House on Saturday April 24 (8-5) to select spring annuals, accessories and containers. Our Potting Shed will be open and our design team will be on hand to help you plant a show-stopping arrangement! Click here to check out the event on Facebook! Or follow this link to sign up for one of our one-on-one spring container workshops – you’ll be able to work with one of our garden center designers to select material and create your own custom container.

We look forward to helping you learn about, design, plant and enjoy a landscape that you and your family will be proud of all season long. Happy Spring from all of us at the Vande Hey Company!

Garden Trends to Dig Into This Year!

Spring is nearly here and we can’t wait to get back outdoors! 2020 brought with it a huge surge of interest in gardening, outdoor living, and other home-related activities. In 2021, we’ll see the influence of this evolving appreciation as we dig back in to the spring season!

  1. Exploring Sustainability

Sustainable gardening is the idea of using practices that cause little harm to the earth and its inhabitants while attempting to actually enhance it. Concern for our environment and the desire to protect and preserve our world for future generations has prompted us to learn, explore, and implement sustainable practices. The good news? Its easy to do! Try these simple tips to make your yard more sustainable:

  • Conserve water by planting drought-tolerant and native plants.
  • Compost food scraps like vegetable and fruit waste, bread, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, used paper towels, and more! Start a bin, and use the finished compost on your garden and beds for rich soil.
  • Make sure your beds have adequate layers of mulch to save water, decrease weeds, limit erosion, and increase nutrients in your soil.
  • Plant trees on your property for shade that naturally cools your home in the summer months.

2. Creating a Garden Getaway

With all of us spending more time at home, the appeal of investing in our own outdoor haven is greater than ever! Creating a comforting space to relax, enjoy time with your family, and relieve the stress of the outside world is a healthy way to re-center your mind, slow your heart rate, and calm your senses! Consider these ideas as you start planning:

  • Think about the soothing benefits of sound. Perhaps a water feature will provide a calm presence and cancel outside noise. Or you may want to include bird-friendly flowers and feeders to attract songbirds to your space.
  • Nothing beats the warm touch of sun, but its easy to overheat in the middle of summer. Make sure you have a shady spot to relax, as well! If you don’t have a mature tree in your yard, consider options like a patio umbrella or pergola.
  • Maintain privacy and quiet while keeping a soft, natural appearance by incorporating privacy hedges.
  • When selecting furniture, assess your habits and priorities. Is lounging around an evening campfire your favorite way to relax? Do you eat family meals outside whenever possible? Evaluating your needs ahead of time will help make the process of selecting furniture a simpler one!

3. Family-Friendly Gardening

Introducing kids to gardening at any age is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together and share values. Plus, you’ll have a bounty of delicious, home-grown meals to enjoy as a family!

  • Let kids help pick out what flowers and vegetables to plant
  • Start seeds indoors for a fun spring project, then watch them grow and care for them until its time to transplant
  • Get your kids their own inexpensive garden tools like gloves and trowels
  • Read and learn about gardening and cooking together
  • Let them help plant, tend, weed, water, and harvest. Its a great way to teach responsibility while enjoying hobbies together!

Check out our upcoming Young Gardener’s Day event on March 20th, filled with family-friendly gardening ideas and activities!

4. Container Plantings

A quick, effective way to bring color and curb appeal to your home is by incorporating decorative containers filled with seasonal plantings. Whether you prefer bold, bright tropicals or an elegant palette of monochrome hues, your home will be sure to look beautiful and welcoming. Plant your own for a great family project, or reach out to learn more about our Color 365 services!

5. Growing Your Own Food

Interest in home gardening is surging! There’s a special joy in growing food, even if you don’t have room for a large, traditional garden. Try raised bed or container gardening (perfect for tomatoes, herbs, and small vegetables) or even mixing edibles into your existing flower beds. If you’re limited on space, consider planting high-yield plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas to get as much out of your space as possible. Finally, stop in to pick up your seeds early – they’re selling fast this year!

6. Houseplants

Whether they’re brightening up your living space or rejuvenating your home office, houseplants are hot in interior design right now and rightfully so. Not only do they look attractive, they also improve air quality and lift your mood! Check out a few of the benefits of including these attractive accents in your home:

  • Reduce stress levels
  • Ease depression, anxiety, and Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve indoor air quality

Stop in to our garden center to check out our wide selection of interior plants, pair it up with one of our fun containers, and bring an instant pop of color and interest to your home or office!

7. Outdoor Living

Have you heard of the Norwegian concept of “friluftsliv”? Pronounced free-loofts-liv, it means “open air living” and encourages a lifestyle of plenty of fresh air, unwinding outdoors, and simply understanding the healing effects of nature. An important lifestyle for all ages, its particularly crucial for children: studies show that kids who spend ample time outdoors have increased creativity and critical thinking, better behavior and test scores, and a stronger sense of purpose. So take a walk outdoors, enjoy a meal on your patio, and embrace the fresh air!

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center.

Whether you’re just starting your landscaping hobbies, a first time home owner, or an avid, lifelong gardener…. we wish you a happy and bountiful 2021 season!

Houseplants: Brighten Your Home… and Your Mood!

The weather is cooling and, for many of us, we find ourselves moving increasingly toward indoor hobbies and activities. If you’re an avid gardener, though, this can be a tough transition that leaves you itching to dig in the soil, quietly nurture your garden, and watch your plants grow and thrive. A growing trend in home decor (and rightfully so) has been houseplants: they’re a perfect way to get your gardening fix, and bring a wealth of health benefits to your home!

Did you know that including living plants in your home’s decor improves your air quality, minimizes headaches, reduces fatigue and eases dry skin during the winter months? Additionally, for anyone struggling with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) houseplants can improve your mood, relieve stress and anxiety, and provide a calming effect through tangible interaction. All of these benefits come down to one simple concept: biophilia. Simply put, plants make us feel good! When we are out in nature, surrounded by plant life, or just in a room with living plant material, we are more happy, content, and relaxed. All the reason to introduce a bit of fresh greenery to your home! Houseplants are becoming increasingly popular and there are more varieties available than ever before. Below is a quick guide to a few of our favorites; be sure to stop in to our garden center to check these out in person, along with a wide selection of other varieties, and bring that positive biophilia home with you for the long winter!

  1. Pilea- Pilea peperomioides is an easy to care for, cute little plant that’s been growing in popularity quickly. Native to Asia, its generally considered to be an easy-going plant, preferring medium to bright indirect sunlight. Water your pilea every one to two weeks, depending on how bright of light its in, and making sure it dries out in between waterings. Dry, curled leaves indicate too little water, while yellow leaves and black stems indicate too much. Your pilea will also produce “pups” or “babies” on its own, which will pop up in the surrounding soil!

2. Spider Plants– A long-time houseplant staple, spider plants are making a comeback in the design world! These hardy hanging plants aren’t fussy, and can survive in a variety of conditions. A perfect spot for your spider plant is in bright, indirect sunlight, but they can tolerate a lower light setting, too. Water well during during the summer months, then cut back through the winter and mist occasionally year-round. Spider plants prefer fast-draining, well-fertilized soil, particularly during the summer months. Make sure to watch out for pests, though: spider mites, mealybugs, aphids and whiteflies can be attracted to spider plants!

One of the fun and unique attributes of this plant is how easy it is to propagate. Simply remove one of the small plantlets and place it in soil, then watch to ensure that it grows roots. Its a quick and easy gift, and one that’s easy to care for!

3. Croton– With its colorful foliage, the croton is a gorgeous accent plant for your home. Your croton will do best in a sunny location, with regular misting. If you notice that its new growth is dull in color and vibrancy, move it to a sunnier spot: this is a sign that its not getting enough light. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet, and allow to dry a bit in between waterings. Crotons tend to attract dust, so you’ll want to wipe its foliage with a damp rag occasionally!

4. Zamia-Fully named “Zamioculas Zamiifolia” and often referred to as “ZZ”, this popular houseplant has a modern look and is easy to care for. The Zamia plant can tolerate low to bright, indirect light levels, and prefers to dry out in between waterings. Its a perfect plant for beginners, and is very forgiving if you forget a watering or two! The Zamia’s foliage can be considered toxic, though, so you’ll want to keep it away from curious pets or small children.

5. Sansevieria- Often called “Snake Plant” or “Mother-in-Law Tongue”, this hardy houseplant is one of the easiest to care for and, with its vertical shape, one of the easiest to incorporate into your space. Sansevieria will thrive best in bright light, but are well known to tolerate dim rooms with very low light, too. These plants prefer to dry out in between watering; one of the most common mistakes, in fact, is overwatering and root rot. As your sansevieria grows, you’ll want to continually rotate it to ensure that it is growing evenly (they tend to arch toward the light, so you can end up with a heavily leaning plant!). Sansevieria come in many varieties and sizes and tend to be slow growing, making them a great fit for just about any home or office!

Stop in at our garden center to check out these outstanding houseplants, plus plenty of others! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you select the perfect plants for your needs and get you started on the right foot!

Festive Fourth of July Cocktails & Appetizer

Spice Up Your Summer with Fresh Herbs!

Nothing says “Summer” like the taste of a cool, freshly-muddled drink or the savory aroma of a crisp, garden dish on a hot night.  The use of herbs can enhance just about any meal or drink and growing your own will supply you with a bounty of flavorful ingredients, attractive plantings, and gorgeous patio aromas all season long! 

When it comes to summery dishes, you can’t go wrong with a classic Italian pesto, fresh-from-the-garden pizza sauce or an icy mojito, but the options don’t end there!  There’s a wealth of unique herbs to bring new flavors and colors to your herb bed; here are a few of our current favorites!

  1. Marjoram- Marjoram boasts a flavor of sweet pine and citrus, perfect for any Mediterranean-style dish, plus sauces, soups and meats.  For a pop of bright, chartreuse color in your planter bed, try Golden-Tip Marjoram (shown to the right). It’s delicious with tomatoes, pizza, and egg dishes!

2) Oregano Varieties– No Mediterranean dish is the same without oregano; it’s the go-to seasoning for the best sauces, salads, pizzas, and more!  If you like a little more pizazz with your dishes, try a Hot and Spicy variety; or if you prefer the mild side, try out a Variegated Oregano, perfect for use in salsa and vegetable dishes.  Oregano can bring more to the table, though!  Ornamental and Golden varieties provide a gorgeous pop of color and texture to your beds and planters all season long!

3) Pineapple Sage– For many of us, sage brings to mind hearty meat dishes, infused butters, and savory egg dishes.  Pineapple sage, on the other hand, is all about complimenting summer favorites!  With an aroma and flavor very similar to pineapple, this herb is a perfect addition to fruit salads, fresh garden salads and cocktails.  Growing 3-4’ height, it has gorgeous red blooms and is a fantastic pollinator!

4) Thyme Varieties-Thyme is a garden classic, and an excellent addition to both your culinary and ornamental planters.  Standard thyme is delicious in butters and spreads, meat marinades and rubs, and as a topping for roasted vegetables.  Some of the unique varieties that we love this year are:

  • Silver Thyme: A beautiful, variegated silver foliage that works great in mixed planters and gives off a lovely lemon scent, but can also be used in culinary dishes similar to traditional thyme.
  • Lime Thyme: a bright, eye-catching color and citrus scent make this variety a great pick for ornamental planers.
  • Lemon Thyme: Brings a fresh, citrus flavor to meat and vegetable dishes and is best added at the very end of cooking to maintain the most flavor.

5) Mint Varieties- Mint is a fast-spreading, easy to grow perennial that will be a garden staple year after year.  Adding it to your beds can even help deter ants and flies!  We’re all pretty familiar with mint as the flavor boost for fresh drinks and summery desserts, but there are plenty of varieties available besides just the standard:

  • Corsican mint:  A very low ground cover, this variety gives off an intense, refreshing peppermint aroma and flavor.  It’s a fantastic choice for beverages, especially tea.
  • Indian Mint:  This variety is perfect for hanging planters, and gives great flavor to tea, culinary dishes (especially lamb), and is known to relieve headache tension.
  • Apple Mint:  One of our absolute favorites, apple mint is a must-use for your summer beverages like lemonade, infused water, and cocktails!  Also try it out with peas, salad dressings, tomatoes and broccoli.

Whether you are a “seasoned” pro or new to the world of gardening, herbs are an incredible asset to your garden and an easy addition.  Most will thrive in containers as well as planter beds, and some can even be brought indoors through the winter months.  Note that plenty of sunlight and proper soil drainage are key in any herb planting.  Create a bed near your kitchen so that you can snip fresh herbs to add to meals as you are cooking; plus, you’ll enjoy their aromas all season!  

Stop in at our garden center to check out these outstanding herbs, plus plenty of others! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you select the perfect plants for your needs and get you started on the right foot.  Also, keep an eye out for our herb classes coming up in July (click here to follow our events on Facebook).  Until next time, happy planting!