Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sir Walter Wally don't know jack!

You just can't trust a groundhog to forecast the weather. I don't care if it's going to snow three more times this winter, I can still tell that spring is on its way. All I have to do is wait for the Okame cherries to bloom. And they have just exploded into gorgeous clouds of pink.
Every year we get tons of phone calls about these lovely specimens on Durant Road. Most people are more familiar with the bright white blooms of Yoshino cherries or the puffy, pink blooms of the Kwansan cherries, so the early-blooming Okames confuse the heck out of them. But, here at Homewood, we've known and loved Okames for years.

Also on our list of favorite, not-well-known bloomers is the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas) that lights up the nursery courtyard each February like it did last year...
and this year
And I can't leave out the Golden Paperbush (Edgeworthia) whose furry silver buds tease us all winter at the tip of each branch, then open right about now to fill the air with a light, honey-like fragrance.

That groundhog in his hole just doesn't know what he's missing.

Christina, Assistant Nursery Manager

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can You Plant Now? Yes, You Can!

We've been getting a lot of is-it-okay-to-plant-now questions, and the short answer is yes! (with an "as long as" to follow) You can plant hardy trees and shrubs in our part of NC any time of year as long as the ground is not frozen or saturated with water (like it is today). Our ground rarely stays frozen for long, so you can pretty much plant year round here.

What are the best times to plant? Fall is the best season to put in hardy trees and shrubs. Early spring (or even late winter) is the next best time. Non-hardy plants such as most flowering annuals (think petunias and impatiens)and warm season vegetables like tomatoes shouldn't be planted until mid-April or later.

If you do decide to plant and you have heavy clay soil, make sure you amend with Permatill or pine bark soil conditioner to break up the clay and help it stay aerated. Also, make sure when planting woody trees and shrubs that the "trunk flare" is exposed and is planted at or slightly above ground level. Sometimes, the flare at the bottom of the main woody stem or trunk can get buried under mulch or soil in a container-grown plant. It's absolutely vital that this part does not subsequently get planted below ground. This can greatly shorten the lifespan of the plant.

p.s. If you're in the mood to plant, Homewood just got in our first shipment of azaleas, rhododendrons, and pieris. And, there's plenty more to come in the next couple weeks including winter daphne and some "phat" camellias(according to Assistant Nursery Manager, Christina)

Tina Mast
Communications Director