Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fabulous Ground Covers

Who doesn't love a good ground cover? Anyone?
With so many benefits, it's hard not to appreciate all that ground covers do for your landscape and our environment. What benefits are we talking about? Why, we're glad you asked!

The 3 Best Benefits of Fabulous Ground Covers:

1. Their ability to cover ground- as simple as that may sound, one of the greatest benefits a ground cover provides is it's ground-covering abilities. By spreading its roots and leaves over the ground, a ground cover can dramatically help prevent the erosion of valuable topsoil in your landscape and in the environment!

2. Their Weed-Reduction Capability- not a fan of weeding? Plant a thickly-growing ground cover! Once the ground cover establishes itself, it helps to significantly reduce the weeds that grow in your beds. 

3. The color and texture they add- Ground covers come in all sorts of textures and colors and can add some great interest to your landscape! Plant a big swath of your favorite ground cover for a vast, carpeted effect, or mix a few varieties together for a mottled look!

Now that you know the great benefits ground covers provide, let's talk about a few Fabulous Ground Covers for the Central Virginia area:

English Ivy

If you've ever taken a stroll through a Gillette garden, you know the importance of this timeless ground cover. A tidy patch of ivy at the base of a tree lends a quintessentially 'Virginia' feel to any landscape. It does well in sun or shade, and is evergreen. Just be sure to keep an eye on this one- it's an aggressive spreader and will 'cover' you're whole landscape if you let it!

Green Liriope

This lush, evergreen ground cover is a 'tough as nails' option for covering ground. Easy to plant and establish, green liriope quickly defines a space with a soft, sweeping texture. It's great for planting in sun or shade and produces pretty purple or white flower stalks each summer.

Variegated Liriope

Cousin to the all-green variety, variegated liriope is a great way to add a little color and texture to your yard. The soft green and white blades look wonderful planted en mass. A little bit more sensitive than the green variety, it's best to give this liriope a little shade. Cut it back after each winter to get rid of any frost-burned blades.

Dwarf Mondo Grass

This beauty has a fun, spunky appearance! Its short, green blades fan out from the center, creating little green star-burst effects wherever it is planted! Dwarf Mondo Grass is a slow-growing ground cover that does well in the shade. Once you establish a stand of it, you've got a lush, carpet-like covering that is so fun to look at!


This high-texture, evergreen ground cover is a superb choice for shady spots. It's low-growing nature lends a fun layered effect to you yard when it's planted in a large swath. It's green, glossy leaves create a tidy appearance wherever it is planted!

Of course, these five examples of Fabulous Ground Covers are just a few of the really beautiful ground cover options available to you! What's your favorite ground cover? Do any of the above make your list? Have you planted a large swath of ground cover? We'd love to hear about your experience!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's Time to Start Some Cool-Season Veggie Seeds!

You're probably up to your ears in zucchini and tomatoes right now, but believe it or not, it's time to start planning for (and planting) your fall garden! Planting a Fall garden provides you with fresh, home-grown produce well into the coolest months of Fall; and the vegetables that grow well during the Fall are great for hearty Autumn soups and dishes!

Fall gardens are so exciting and often under-appreciated! While some star cool-season vegetables can be grown well during the Spring, most perform excellently during the Fall. Why? Planting your vegetables in  warm weather allows them to establish in a comfortable environment; as the season gradually gets cooler, the cool-season vegetables flourish and produce higher yields than they would in the Spring (since during the Spring you plant when it's cool and the weather gets progressively warmer.) 

When it comes to planting your Fall garden, you have the option to sow seeds or start with small plants. The gardeners around Strange's like to plant their Fall gardens using a combination of seeds and plants. We love seeds for the wide selection of varieties available, and for the oh-so-gratifying experience of watching tiny plants burst out of the soil. We love starting with small plants for the ease of establishment they afford. So, we do both! 

Not sure what to grow? Here's a list of some of our favorite plants that we carry, as well as how to plant them and the recommended time to start them:

  • Arugula- sow seeds in August and September
  • Beets- sow seeds in August and the first half of September
  • Broccoli- plant transplants in August and the first half of September
  • Brussel Sprouts- plant transplants in July and August
  • Cabbage- plant transplants in August and the first half of September
  • Chinese Cabbage-sow seeds in August or transplant in the last week of September
  • Carrots-sow seeds from July through the first half of September
  • Cauliflower-sow seeds or plant transplants in August and September
  • Collard Greens- sow seeds or plant transplants in August into the first half of September
  • Kale-  sow seeds or plant transplants in August and September
  • Kohlrabi-  sow seeds or plant transplants in August into the first half of September
  • Lettuce (Leaf)-  sow seeds or plant transplants in August and September
  • Lettuce (Head)- Sow seeds the last half of Aug or first half of Sept, transplant the last half of Sept.
  • Mustard-  sow seeds in August and September
  • Peas-  sow seeds in August and September
  • Radishes-   sow seeds in August into the first half of September
  • Rutabaga-  sow seeds in July, August and September
  • Spinach-  sow seeds in August, September and into the first half of October
  • Swiss Chard- sow seeds or plant transplants in August into the first half of September

If you're interested in planting a Fall garden, stop by our Garden Center! Our staff is eager to have fun helping you plan what to plant and can give you pointers on growing each crop. 

Happy (Fall) Gardening!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Love Crape Myrtles

Of all the great flowering trees out there that grow well in the South, the Crape Myrtle is certainly a favorite! And this blooming beauty definitely lives up to all its accolades-
let's take a minute to talk about why these trees are so well-loved:


5. Great size selection

When choosing a plant for your yard, it's often difficult to find a variety that will fit in the space you have available. (We've ALL spent time frequently pruning back a plant that's just too large for the spot we planted it in...) That's why we're voting that size selection is a great reason to love crape myrtles! From the smallest varieties like 'Pokomoke' (2-3') and the Razzle Dazzle collection, to the largest varieties like 'Natchez' (30'+) and 'Muskogee' you can find a crape myrtle that is perfect for your space!

4. Attractive Branching Structure

Year-round, crape myrtles are beautiful to look at! Even in the dead of winter it's easy to appreciate the appearance of this plant; its branching structure is graceful and  architectural, adding great lines to your landscape.

3. Wide Color Range

In addition to touting a wide range of size choices, Crape Myrtles offer an excellent palette of flower colors! You can find a specimen in nearly any shade of red, pink, purple or white, which makes this plant a versatile choice for any garden!

2. Seasonal Interest

Though known for their spectacular show of flowers in the summer, Crape Myrtles offer great attributes during the rest of the year as well! In the Fall, most varieties produce a beautiful show of autumn-colored leaves (the color that the leaves change depends on the variety of the crape.) The winter months showcase the beautifully striated bark that is also unique to each variety. No doubt about it, year-round Crape Myrtles are pretty plants!

1. Long Flowering Season

And lastly, probably the most popular reason to love Crape Myrtles is their long flowering season! While most other flowering trees sport their blooms for a few weeks, Crape Myrtles reliably bloom for about 3 MONTHS! And their show of flowers is spectacular-- typically the tree's canopy is awash with color from mid-June through mid-September. 

There you have it- 5 GREAT Reasons to Love Crape Myrtles! If you're not a fan already, we hope you are now.

Happy Gardening!