Friday’s Flower - Fire Spinner Ice Plant

If you’ve never heard of Ice Plant, you may really be mssing out.  This groundcover is perfect for those sun-baked corners of your yard.

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 Once established, it thrives well enough to crowd out the weeds.  They hug the ground with a height of 2-3” but spread to cover 12-18” of ground.

 The fleshy foliage is evergreen and lovely by itself, but the true beauty of this plant comes from the striking flowers.  Shaped like asters, the Fire Spinner starts with orange on the outer rim, fading to hot pink, then white surrounding the yellow center.  They are reminiscent of a pinwheel.

 They will carpet your garden in a blaze of color from spring until early summer.

 Deer avoid them but they are popular with pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

Friday's Flower: Birthday Party Sedum

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Plant this sedum in clumps to make the most of its striking fuchsia flowers.  Like most sedum, it loves hot, dry conditions once it’s established.

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 This would be a great companion to the Fire Spinner Ice Plant.  The ice plant blooms in the spring into early summer, and the Birthday Party Sedum will take over in late summer.

 It grows to be 7-11” tall with a spread of 18-20”.

 The plant itself is green with a reddish edge.  It looks great by itself.

 As with most stonecrop, it is deer-resistant and pollinators love the flowers.

This will add a bright cheery color to your landscape.

Friday’s Flower: Forsythia

Proven Winner’s Show Off®

Proven Winner’s Show Off®

You truly know spring is here when the yellow blooms of the forsythia appear.  They seem to be everywhere – in yards, hedges and along the highway.  Once the blooms are done, they are covered with lovely green foliage that makes an attractive hedge or shrub – in whatever size you choose up to ten feet in any direction.

 Keep in  mind that the trimming required for a neatly shaped hedge will require cutting off new growth that produces flowers in the spring.

 A huge bonus for us in northern New Jersey is that this shrub is deer-resistant.

 These hardy plants can spread to anywhere their branches touch the ground but they are relatively easy to control.  Prune a few of the old wood branches down to about 4 inches, leaving last year’s new branches intact.  If you cut these, you may be cutting off the new crop of blossoms.

 The Forsythia is named after William Forsyth, a Scottish botanist who was royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.  Forsythia was first “discovered” in Japan and imported into Holland.  It seems strange to think that it was considered a rarity when these days, some consider it almost a weed due to its habit of spreading.

 Consider this for your yard.  For a particularly spectacular variety, check out Proven Winner’s Show Off®

Friday’s Flower: Deutzia

Deutzia is named after the 18th century Dutch patron of botany, Johann van der Deutz.

Proven Winners  Yuki Cherry Blossom®  Deutzia

Proven Winners Yuki Cherry Blossom® Deutzia

With more than 60 species, these lovely shrubs range from 1-13’, however the ones typically used in landscaping are the smaller ones.  Varieties hardy to our area are all deciduous and can have gorgeous burgundy color in the fall.

Deutzia are relatively new to landscaping here in the United States.  People are just beginning to “discover” the beauty and versatility of these shrubs.

Proven Winners has developed some varieties that we highly recommend.  At 12’24” the Yuki Snowflake® and Yuki Cherry Blossom® are the perfect shrubs for your landscaping.  They are deer-resistant and the hummingbirds love them.

Proven Winners  Yuki Snowflake®  Deutzia

Proven Winners Yuki Snowflake® Deutzia

They start blooming in early spring and continue through the entire spring season.

Keep these beauties in mind for your next landscaping project.

Friday’s Flower: Quince

The bright colored blooms of the Chaenomeles are a welcome sight after the long, dark winter months. 

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 This somewhat unkempt looking shrub sends out bright flowers in late winter to early spring from old-growth stems followed by more blooms on new growth in mid-spring.  Flowers can be red, orange, white, or pink.  The flowers stand out particularly well prior to the plant’s glossy dark green foliage appearing. 

 After one and a half to two weeks, the blooms drop and fruit forms that is edible by both humans and wildlife.

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 Quince are deer-resistant – a huge plus in New Jersey.  Plus they are drought-resistant once established.

 Plant this shrub in full sun where, unpruned, it will grow to 6-10’ tall and wide.  Beware of the thorns on this relative of the rose.  However, if you like quince but not the thorns, look for Proven Winner’s Doubletake varieties which are thornless, but also do not produce fruit.  These varieties look like camellias.

 Plant one for looks or several as a hedge.  This is a worthwhile addition to your landscaping.




Who Knew? Wednesday – “Zoning” Out

Do you know when it will be safe to put in your garden this spring? 

 You need to know which zone you are in.  The U.S. Department of agriculture divides the country into zones according to the average low winter temperature.  There are thirteen zones including the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico with 1 being the coldest and 13 being the warmest.  The zones vary in 10-degree increments.  For example, the average cold winter temperature for zone 1 is 10 degrees colder than the one for zone 2.

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 Within each zone is a sub-zone with a 5-degree difference indicated by an “a” or “b” suffix.  For example the average coldest winter temperature in zone 5a will be 5 degrees colder than zone 5b.

 Here in Randolph, NJ we are in zone 6a which has an average minimum winter temperature of -10°F to -5°F

 Now that you know about what zones are, you need to know about Frost Dates within each zone.

 In Zone 6a, the frost dates are:

  • Average Date of Last Frost (spring) is April 15th

  • Average Date of First Frost (fall) is October 15th

 This means that you can start thinking about putting in a garden after Aril 15th and by October 15th you should be thinking about protecting less hardy plants and bringing your potted houseplants indoors.  Remember that these dates are averages.  The actual last frost date in the spring could be 2 weeks or more after April 15th so plan accordingly.  The same goes for fall – the first frost could arrive earlier than expected.

 For an interactive map of all USDA zones, see the USDA website at

 Plant carefully so you don’t risk your investment.  Happy gardening!


Friday’s Flower: Bloodroot

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One of my favorite early-spring flowers is the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis).  Its foliage is one of the first to show in the spring followed by blooms in April.  The leaves are broad with deep rounded lobes.  Flowers are single or double white blooms.  This is a native plant that likes shade or partial shade and grows well in leaf litter and the typical conditions of a forest floor.

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 Other names for this plant are coon root, Indian plant, snakebite, sweet slumber, paucon, red root, and tetterwort.

 The name bloodroot comes from the dark red liquid that oozes from the roots when cut.  Bloodroot was used medicinally by Native Americans as a remedy for many diseases and conditions.  It was also used as a dye and insect repellent.  It is highly recommended that this is not used medicinally since it can aggravate some existing medical conditions and some consider it toxic.

 The bluish-green leaves make a lovely groundcover and the white flowers will brighten your shade garden in springtime.  It grows 8-12” tall and will not take over your garden.  It looks beautiful under your birdbath, around the base of your trees or anywhere with lots of organic matter and shade.

Who Knew? Wednesday: Happy Whatever…..

Happy Wednesday everybody!  Did you know that every day is a holiday?  If you poke around, you can find a lot of strange and fun holidays.

Joe - in a landscaped tunnel

Joe - in a landscaped tunnel

 On today – March 27th – we are celebrating:

  • National Joe Day – the perfect day if your name is Joe

  • Spanish Paella Day – Go out and have some.  It’s delicious!

  • Manatee Appreciation Day – Go hug a manatee – and keep your motor boat away!

  • Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day – something like  "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" by Deana Carter

 Whatever you’re celebrating, have a great day!