Beating Winter Blues with House Plant Gardening

It’s no surprise that most avid gardeners prefer the summer months to the winter ones. In summer, daylight is plentiful and gardeners have ample time to dig, plant, and sow. In the winter, sunshine and warmth—two things plants love—are in short supply. This past weekend, nighttime temperatures hit freezing in Southwest Virginia, and local gardeners had to confront a discomforting truth: the time for digging in soft, fertile ground is nearly over. Everywhere, the trees are shedding their leaves and the mountain greenery is dulling. Everywhere—that is—except for the great indoors.

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Why Public Landscaping Matters

Though the average passerby may be unaware of how much careful planning and meticulous creation goes into a city’s public landscapes, landscaping professionals are well versed in why landscaping matters—and what makes it most effective. Ideally, a well-done landscape does fit in seamlessly with the surrounding cityscape by complimenting and emphasizing already existing green space. But creating this seamless design takes work and resources. Many public landscaping projects suffer from lack of funding, especially in urban centers where poverty abounds. Equitable, smart, and accessible landscaping serves to benefit everyone in a community by increasing participation in local commerce, encouraging physical activity, supporting the environment, and providing psychological and emotional benefits. Engaged citizens can invest in the welfare of their city by investing in public landscaping projects, here’s why:

Fall Park

Photo by Miki Yoshihito

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November Gardening Checklist

This past October was characterized by unseasonable summer heat that, at times, seemed never ending. A few chilly mornings and brisk evenings inevitably gave way to days where an ice bath sounded like the pinnacle of refreshment. Now, it looks like fall has finally arrived: the leaves are swiftly falling, I’m breaking out my winter coat, and my summer plants are dusted with frost most every morning. Indeed, the time for summer gardening has ended—replaced by fall harvests and early-winter prep. November is the perfect time for this transition—temperatures are mild and sunlight is still readily available. It’s best to get out early and do your cool-season gardening chores before early sunsets and frigid weather resign you to binge-watching the new season of Stranger Things on your couch.

November Gardening Checklist

November Garden

Photo by Dun.can on flickr.

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Benefits of Landscape Design

If you’ve just bought a house, updating the landscaping may not be your top priority. For many homeowners, landscaping is an afterthought; something that requires too much time and money to be essential. But a simple, smartly designed landscape is not necessarily expensive, and the upkeep it requires, if planned properly, can be easily accomplished every week. At Roanoke Landscapes, we want clients to know that the benefits of landscape design justify the effort it takes to get a lawn or garden in top shape. In fact, smart landscaping creates value and improves quality of life in a number of ways—many of which are often overlooked or understated. Here’s a run-down of what a smartly designed landscape can offer homeowners and communities broadly:

Landscape DesignPhoto by barnyz on Flickr.

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How to Keep Carved Pumpkins Fresh?

Halloween only comes once a year, but the excitement and anticipation that precedes it (known as “Halloween Season”) lasts months—from the start of September when pumpkin spiced everything begins hitting the shelves to Halloween’s Eve (and, for those of us who get serious post-Halloween depression, weeks after that). When Halloween anticipation strikes, quintessential Halloween activities like pumpkin carving just can’t wait. Last year, my family carved their pumpkins on the first week of October. In Southwest Virginia, that means those pumpkins had three weeks of sitting in eighty degree heat before the fated holiday arrived. At the time, we didn’t know of any surefire ways to preserve carved pumpkins, so, by the end of October, our works of art were basically mush. Since then, I’ve looked up a few tricks to ensure that, this year, our pumpkins still look fabulous in time for Halloween. Though, I have to admit, all those mounds of slimy pumpkin goop certainly scared the neighborhood kids.

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Why Build a Company Garden?

Employee happiness is integral to building a great business. Studies show that happy employees are more productive and, on average, produce higher quality work. Accordingly, influential companies have orchestrated a number of initiatives designed solely to increase employee happiness—from happy hour at the office to conferences at Disney World. Today’s employees want to see that the time and labor they put into their jobs comes with benefits that improve their quality of life, especially as employee wages stagnate and the amount of time they spend at work increases.  Being able to have a cocktail in the afternoon, wear jeans on the job, or enjoy a complimentary gym membership can somewhat mollify the modern woes of employment (though a raise would certainly be better than a gin and tonic).

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Winterizing Your Garden

It’s not yet time to brace for impending frost and snowfall, but gardening is all about looking forward. While we enjoy what’s left of sunny, warm days and summer’s late greenery, we can also plan for what’s ahead. In Southwest Virginia, winter tends to sneak into focus, and it is not unusual for first frost to come sandwiched in-between unseasonable heat waves. Thus, it may be hard to pick an exactly right time to winterize your garden (or your irrigation system, for that matter). But, whenever you chose to make the leap, here are some tried and true tips to remember.

Winter Garden

Photo by Amanda Slater

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How Warm Weather Effects Fall Plants

It may technically be autumn, but fall weather has yet to come. For now, southerners are still sweltering in a heat wave that feels indistinguishable from the ones we experienced this past summer. Late season warmth can be frustrating to fans of fall. When Sunday football plays on every television and plastic pumpkins line the aisles of supermarkets, ninety degree days feel somewhat out of place. This frustration is only compounded by the stubbornness of native plants, almost all of which have yet to develop their bright and beautiful fall colors. Trees and shrubs are even more sensitive to weather changes than people are. When fall weather stays hot, plants respond accordingly. Here’s how the effect breaks down:

Fall Colors

Fall colors in Staunton, VA.

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Straw Bale Gardening

There’s no shortage of straw bales in Southwest Virginia, which is good news for fans of organic gardening. Though not used as frequently as compost or fertilizer, straw bales can help rectify problems associated with nutrient-poor soil. With a little conditioning, straw bales work as organic raised beds that help feed and fortify plants with minimal effort on the part of the gardener. Plus, straw bale plant beds fit perfectly into fall garden designs—just add a couple of pumpkins and some hot apple cider!

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The Dish on Deer Resistant Plants

When our horticulturist Mark creates landscaping design plans, he always takes environmental factors into account. During the planning process, he examines soil conditions, common weather patterns, existing flora, and the insects and critters that frequent the area in order to create a holistic, fully integrated design plan. Frequently, his clients voice concerns about the level of deer activity around their property. Deer, as all homeowners know, can be a constant source of frustration when it comes to lawns and landscapes. Their appetite is voracious, and they’re agile enough to get into just about anything. For properties plagued by deer, Mark has a go-to list of deer resistant plants that make beautiful landscapes hardier in the wake of deer season. Here’s the dish on some of his favorites:

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