Category Archives: Gardening

Corona Pruners Take the Cake!

Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches

of a tree so that it will grow better.

~Henri Matisse

At the beginning of the growing season, I decided to branch out and try different pruners…just for the heck of it.  Without naming names, none worked.  Therefore, it is my conclusion that Corona Pruners take the cake!  I love my Corona pruner for many reasons but most of all, I love how effortless it feels in my hand and how easy it is to manage.

From this day forward, I will never sway from my Corona pruner again!  Like I have heard so many times before, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!




May all your gardens grow!


Ornamental Trees for the Landscape

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

~Joyce Kilmer, 1914

When my mother passed away many years ago, I had an overwhelming desire to plant a tree in her memory and honor, and so I did. Today, I still love my very fragrant Miss Kim lilac tree planted near my front entrance. Each spring I marvel at the unforgettable fragrance and beautiful blossoms that so lovingly remind me of my mother!

Trees are planted for many reasons, usually with a unique purpose and intent. Tall trees with large canopies offer shade, dense trees serve as windbreakers, and fruit and nut trees provide food production. But there is something very special about a small specimen tree in a landscape that becomes personal and treasured for many years!

There is a wide selection of fabulous small ornamental trees to choose from and it can be quite overwhelming…the possibilities are endless! No matter what reason you wish to plant a small ornamental tree, plant survival, longevity and landscape value will be enhanced if you first consider site conditions along with the tree’s physical and ornamental traits. Below are helpful tips to consider the next time you make a small tree purchase!

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides an excellent hardiness zone map which is a great resource and will give you an idea of how well suited a small tree is to your area.
  • Don’t forget about soil conditions! Many ornamentals require specific soil conditions to maintain healthy growth. When in doubt, get a soil test to determine the texture, pH and nutrient levels of your soil.
  • Drainage is also a very important factor for plant health. Most trees grow best in well drained, moist soils. Poor drainage will eventually cause trees to die because of insufficient oxygen levels in the soil.
  • Light requirements are imperative! When I first started gardening, I was certain plants intended for full sun would likely survive in part shade. Wrong! Trees need light to grow…some more than others. Remember that light affects the amount of flowering, fruiting, and fall leaf coloration which are significant attributes.
  • Wind and air circulation play key roles in plant survival. Always try to evaluate the amount of wind a small tree will be exposed to. Another one of my gardening blunders was planting a small Japanese maple on a northern exposure. After four years, the small tree could not survive the forceful northern winds and it eventually died.

Selecting a small ornamental tree can be just as much fun (if not more!) as visiting your favorite mall!  Remember to do your homework and then shop til’ you drop!

May all your gardens grow!

The Cutting Edge on Pruning

Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.

~John Trapp

Learning how to prune woody ornamentals may be difficult at first. For many gardeners, it can be daunting trying to decide what to cut and what to leave! Pruning is necessary and should not be avoided or intimidating. In fact, it is beneficial for the overall health of a plant. Remember: practice makes perfect and, in no time, pruning will become second nature!

I have discovered through the years that most pruning principles are common sense. I am excited to share my six favorite pruning tips! It’s time to break out your pruning tools and leave your fears behind!Let’s get started:

    1. Consider the shape and design you wish to create before you start pruning. It’s important to have a clear vision and plan in mind! Your decision on the shape and design will dictate the amount of pruning necessary.
    2. Always remove dead, broken, diseased or insect-infested branches.
    3. Branches that criss-cross, grow toward the interior, or ruin the shape and appearance of a plant should be removed.
    4. To avoid excessive and unattractive clumping of branches at the top, thin out rather than cut back.
    5. Always prune suckers and water shoots.
    6. Cut off any old stubs. is good for our plants and good for us, too!

After all, we all need a bit of trimming, reshaping, controlling, and snipping from time to time! Happy pruning!

May all your gardens grow!

My Monet Weigela

Hot Ornamental Picks this Season!

If the day and night be such that you greet them with joy,
and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs,
is more elastic, more immortal – that is your success.
All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.
~Henry David Thoreau

Here’s a few of our hot picks for landscapes and gardens this season.

Check back often as we photograph how we used them to create color, texture and interest!
Little Lime™ Hydrangea
Arctic Sun ™ Dogwood
Black Beauty™ Elderberry
Brandywine™ Viburnum
Coppertina™ Ninebark
Fine Line® Buckthorn
Black Lace™ Elderberry
Incrediball™ Hydrangea
Midnight Wine™ Weigela
Invincibelle®Spirit Hydrangea
Summer Wine® Ninebark
My Monet™ Weigela
Little Henry® Sweetspire
Arctic Fire™ Dogwood
Bloomerang™ Lilac
May all your gardens grow!

*Photos by Proven Winners®
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Inside Looking Out!

Inside yourself or outside,
you never have to change what you see,
only the way you see it.

~Thaddeus Golas

I am a die-hard gardener and can never get enough! For me, it is equally important to enjoy my gardens inside as well as outside – especially on rainy days or while laboring in my kitchen. If you’re like me and just being in your gardens is not enough, follow these simple steps and enjoy them all the time, every time!

Before you head to your favorite garden center, take time to sit (and stand) in the rooms that face your gardens. It is wonderful to enjoy your gardens (a labor of love) from many different views. Move around your rooms and look out all the windows to decide where and what you want to see.

Bonus: Fragrant plants are awesome when placed by windows, patios, sitting areas, or porches. There is simply nothing lovelier than a hint of lavender, lilac, or honeysuckle to name a few!

Double bonus: there are many plants that offer winter interest so be sure to include them in your thought process!

To keep a clear view of your gardens from inside your home and to help promote sustainable practices, remember “right plant, right place.” Proper plant selection allows you to clearly view your gardens from the inside and avoids unnecessary pruning.

More importantly, have a ball as you stroll around your house and decide what tickles your fancy! Gardens are such wonderful gifts to be shared and enjoyed by you and your family while inside looking out!

May all your gardens grow!


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Can’t Never Could!

It matters not that Time has shed
His thawless snow upon your head,
For he maintains, with wondrous art,
Perpetual summer in your heart.

~ William Hamilton Hayne

I vividly recall the message I received from my brother Michael one late afternoon in August 2005.  He sounded so excited that I could barely decipher his words through the phone. All I understood was that he was coming over.  I was not quite sure what to expect… this type of call was not unusual!  Patiently I waited for his arrival because I knew it would be worth it.

Michael’s F150 roared up my driveway like a hurricane!  I watched as he climbed from his truck and walked up embracing a large boulder!  He was a big, strong guy!  I knew immediately it was for my gardens…but something told me there was so much more than what I saw.  He proudly looked down at the heavy object held tightly against his body with ease.  My eyes curiously followed his gaze and there it was, “Jano’s Garden”. Lovingly etched into the hard surface appeared the name he gave me as a baby and continued to call me from that day forward.  I marveled at his skilled ways and wondered how he did it! It was perfect, made especially for me by him! Together we selected the perfect spot for my memorable new garden art.

A lot has changed since that warm day in August and my boulder remains humbly placed under a tree in my gardens. It meant so much then… and even more today. In 2006, Michael passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack at the age of 49.  In so many ways, he was like the boulder in my gardens, he was my rock. We were very close in age and even closer in spirit. We shared a lot growing up and I always admired him…he was a great guy and a wonderful friend.  Michael was my big brother, my protector, my buddy, my pal.  I miss him deeply.

Michael taught me many things through the years but most importantly he taught me the importance of simplicity.  He often reminded me and I can still hear him say, “can’t never could”, which was exactly how he lived his life.

May all your gardens grow!