Tag Archives: sustainability

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:

  1. PANSIES

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.

2. SNAPDRAGONS

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.

3. SWEET ALYSSUM

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.

4. DIANTHUS

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’).

5. DUSTY MILLER

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!