It's no secret the local economy is in a slump. An increase in food prices alone has caused a surge in vegetable garden interest. As a garden center owner I've never seen anything like the past two season with sales more than doubling of any plants that are edible. This goes for fruiting trees, grapes, berries, and the herb and vegetable departments.
Another phenomena has occurred in the foreclose and short sale markets. These homes sat idle for years while banks decided to lower prices. Mountain home prices are affordable again so we are seeing newbie's from all over the country snap up the deals. We still have the California influence, but new home owners are from Idaho, Illinois, Ohio, even new residence from Maine are trying to figure out mountain gardening this year.
The tree and shrubs from the foreclose and short sale homes have been neglected so long they need serious TLC. This year saw a noticeable increase in tree and shrub sales. Garden centers love this because many homeowners don't want to wait five years for a tree to grow so they buy the more expensive models. Sales have been very good.
For those of you new to mountain gardening this is the season when garden centers switch from their summer inventory mix, over to fall and winter varieties. New shipments of aspen, maple, evergreens, spruce, pine and the fall colored shrubs have just arrived. This marks a great opportunity for gardeners looking for bargain prices on spring and summer landscape plants.
Labor Day is the official start of our fall planting season. If you have been considering a landscape addition to create more seasonal excitement in the garden, this is the time to watch local garden centers for end-of-season sales. ‘Monster Monsoon’, ‘Fall Sale’, ‘Sizzling Summer’, ‘Fall Planting Event’, however the sales are billed, you should take advantage of garden bargains right now. The best savings of the year are to be had over the next few weekends.
Expect at least 30% off, to as much as 70% off. (At my place I've given away plants to good homes!) These sales are necessary to clear out the passing season's plants to make room for shipments of new fall stock. Keep a watchful eye on your favorite garden center and scoop up the deals as early as possible. Savvy gardeners know to take advantage of these between season sales and the quantities go fast.
At my garden center we call this annual clearing-out our "Monster Monsoon Sale". The first couple of weekends in September and the inventory is thinned enough, so the sales window is tight. We have two more months left of our growing season, so whether planting past season’s plants or new arrivals, they have plenty of time to develop extensive root systems before the onset of winter. Fall plantings yield better results than spring plantings and at a fraction of the price when plants are purchased on sale.
Garden Alert - Watch your petunias this week! Bud worms are eating the flowers. If flowers have holes eaten in the pedals, or the plant has stopped blooming all together it's time to act. A small green caterpillar about an inch in length is eating local flower buds. So many customer have been in this week I had to check my own flowers and sure enough worms were eating the flowers.
A completely organic solution is found with 'Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew'. This liquid is sprayed over the entire plant, the caterpillars digest the solution, become ill and die within two days. Very safe for birds, pets and humans alike. As always, follow the directions and use common sense with any bug control.
I fertilized my damaged flowers with a liquid plant food called, 'Flower Power 54' and already have new buds forming. The plants should be as-good-as-new by the outdoor party on Labor Days.
Plant of the Week is the Red Carpet Rose. An incredibly prolific bloomer with virtually no care! This ground cover rose is a vivid spot of mountain color from spring until winter. Low, dense foliage is velvety with 2” carmine red flowers with bright yellow centers. Virtually disease and bug proof. Leaves are tinged red at first, then fading to a dark green with burgundy edges, spectacular. Blooms easily with little to no care or pruning. A great landscape shrub for first time rose gardeners, or new to mountain gardening and all for under $30.
Garden Class – Today's garden class is “Autumn Colors Enjoyed at Home” - You'll have a landscape that screams style and beauty with a few of these best kept secrets. On September 7th we have “Fall ‘To-do‘ list for a Healthy Yard” Classes are free to my garden column fans and start at 9:30 every Saturday morning.
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.
Throughout the week Ken can be located at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com.