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Elizabeth Elliott

Espoma Organic Products

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At Himmel’s, we take pride in carrying products that are safe for our neighbors and for our planet. Plus, our goal is for our customers to find great joy – and success – in their gardening endeavors. That is why we love carrying a wide selection of Espoma Organic gardening products!

One of our favorite products is Espoma Biotone Starter Plus. This granular fertilizer contains both endo and ecto mycorrhizae, which are beneficial microbes that result in larger root mass and bigger blooms. Application of Biotone Starter Plus at planting time reduces transplant loss, and is recommended for use on trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, and veggies.

For vegetable, herb and flower gardening, we recommend a top-dressing of Espoma’s Organic Mushroom Compost. This rich and beneficial compost improves poor soils, which helps plants flourish as they are nourished at the root. You can check out results in our raised bed gardens, featured in our ‘What’s in the Garden’ video series.

We especially love Espoma’s Garden Tone which does wonders for vegetable and fruit plants due to its perfect blend of important nutrients including: Nitrogen, Phosphate, Soluble Potash, Calcium, and Magnesium. The science behind this special combination guarantees bigger and more delicious vegetables!

At Himmel’s, we carry a large selection of rose bushes, from beautiful and floriferous knockout roses to fragrant, old-fashioned roses like those from grandma’s garden. Many of our neighbors ask us how to keep these gorgeous flowers blooming and healthy. We recommend Espoma Rose Tone, a slow-release granular fertilizer that can be used the entire growing season to encourage prize-winning blooms. To combat pesky Japanese beetles and rose slugs, or treat for powdery mildew or other fungal diseases, we recommend Espoma’s Organic Neem Oil. Neem oil is an all-natural and highly effective 3- in- 1 fungicide, miticide, and insecticide that works to kill eggs, larvae and adult insects which may cause damage and lead to other problems.

Whether it’s for your summer palms and tropicals, acid-loving rhododendrons and azaleas, blooming annuals and perennials, or to grow the biggest and juiciest tomatoes in town, Espoma has the perfect fertilizer to suit your gardening needs.

Some of the other organic products that we carry include Espoma’s:

  • Lawn Starter
  • Seed Starter
  • Potting Mix (in 3 different sizes)
  • Multi-use Fungicides
  • Assorted Insecticides
  • Liquid Plant and Cactus Food
  • Weed Preventer
  • Lawn food for every season
  • All-purpose Garden Soil
  • Veggie and Flower Garden Soil
  • Raised Bed Mix Soil

And many others!

Come in today and shop our large selection of plants and products. And if you want to learn more about Espoma’s great selection, visit their website, and check out their cool blog Garden Answer featuring the smart and savvy Laura LeBoutillier!

We Have Some New Faces

By What You Grow Matters No Comments

Visitors to Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center this spring will notice some fresh new faces in the lot and behind the register! Our Mission is ‘Helping our neighbors build a better, healthier and more beautiful world’. We believe that training young people in the field of horticulture is a great way to bring that mission to fruition, and so we have hired 5 high school students to help out.

These students will learn about composting, how to start vegetables and herbs from seed, and how to nurture vegetables and fruits to harvest in our demonstration raised bed gardens. They will learn which plants are best suited for sun to shade, the differences between evergreen and deciduous and annual and perennial, and other important tips for helping customers make the best selections for their yard. If interested and motivated, they will have the opportunity to help out on landscape and hardscape installations and participate in special trainings and seminars to build their knowledge and skill set.

Specific training on the importance of native plants and instruction on building pollinator-friendly and Bay-friendly gardens will help our new employees understand the positive impact that gardening can have on our environment. It will also help us achieve our vision which is ‘promoting the value of life by building a stronger sense of community, encouraging young people to connect with nature, educating our neighbors on the beauty and significance of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, selling more native plants and trees, and demonstrating commitment to making the world a better, healthier and more beautiful place’.

Most importantly, they will learn the skills to be successful in the workplace and contribute to society in a meaningful way. During each interview I asked these students what they are looking for in a leader. They all responded in a similar way. They want managers / authority figures who will treat them with kindness and provide them with the guidance they need to be successful and do an excellent job. I am so excited that Himmel’s leadership has the opportunity to mentor young people in our community. I look forward to seeing you at the shop this season – and let me know what you think of our new team members!

What does spring look like to you?

By What You Grow Matters No Comments

What does spring look like to you? Is it the sight of the first robin with its perky red breast and lively antics? The hint of warmth in the air and the sight of new buds on trees? Perhaps it’s the smell of the soil warming; a rich and earthy scent that delights the gardener in all of us. When I was a girl, there was a tiny patch of crocus near our driveway. When I saw those little purple and lemony-yellow gems peeking out to greet the sunshine, sometimes from a cover of snow, I knew that spring was approaching. I loved to observe them closely to see the rich pollen on their stamens and trace the delicate veins of color in their gossamer petals. Although the blooms were fleeting they awoke a sense of excitement in my heart.

Now – spring means truckloads of plants arriving daily, and the anticipation of new vegetable and herb varieties, unique new shrubs and trees, a mix of old-fashioned and exotic annuals and perennials, and beautiful statuary and pottery. It means greeting my neighbors who, like myself, have spring fever and are itching to get their hands dirty.

What projects do you have in mind for 2019? Are you a first-time gardener looking for advice? Perhaps you are thinking about starting vegetables from seed?  Do you have a plan to revise your landscape and maybe install a new patio? Whatever it is – Himmel’s has the cure for your spring fever, and the expertise to guide you.

We were busy over the winter making a few changes to the lot, learning new tips and tricks, and hiring new employees, all within the framework of our mission to help our neighbors build a better, healthier and more beautiful world. We welcome you to visit us this spring and find out more. See you soon!

Winter Gardening Tips and Enhancements

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The winter landscape provides beautiful color in warm and cool tones, fascinating texture, and architectural interest. You can enhance the aesthetics of your winter garden with a clean-up. Prune away dead or unsightly branches, rake any remaining fall leaves away, and install a light mulch cover to retain moisture, prevent weeds, and insulate soil around tender perennials and evergreens. Save those clippings for a winter arrangement! Use pine boughs, holly branches laden with berries, interesting bare branches and other clippings in summer’s leftover hanging baskets or artfully arranged in a festive vase.

Enhance with lights. The bare branches of deciduous shrubs and trees will glow beautifully with the addition of fairy lights, seasonal-themed string lights or other decorative lighting. Swathes of golden and bronze-toned ornamental grasses, with their beautiful plumes and seed heads that provide winter food and cover for songbirds, look outstanding lit from below. Try solar LED landscape lights, or low voltage selections like well or bullet landscape lights. Evergreen foundation or statement plants will look beautiful enhanced by net or string lighting. Solar lanterns are very popular and come in a wide variety to suit your unique taste and space.

Planters make a wonderful statement year-round but can really enhance the winter landscape. You can find interesting planters at antique and consignment shops, online, or at your local garden center. Make sure containers have good drainage so plants don’t drown in soggy soil. Go bold! Arrange a series of planters on your patio filled with evergreen shrubs, tiny arborvitaes, small trees, and perennials. Shrub and tree selections include camellia, Gold Cone juniper, Fairy Lights arborvitae, Sky Pencil holly, Gulfstream nandina, and Don Egolf redbud. Ornamental grasses and perennials like heuchera and verbena work well too. A pair of festively lit holly or dwarf Alberta spruce planters at your door will welcome guests with the holiday spirit.

Add some unique outdoor décor! Garden décor trends include whimsical figurines in all shapes and sizes, decorative stones and cairns, and bold statuary. Water features, fountains, and benches are other great choices.  And don’t forget the birds! By using a selection of native trees, shrubs and perennials you can transform your yard into a bird habitat and enjoy sightings year-round! Keep birds coming all winter long by providing fresh water and seed or suet.

Finally, use the gift of winter’s peace, quiet and dormancy to plan for the garden of your dreams! Peruse seed catalogs and read up on the newest perennial and shrub selections coming to your local garden center in 2019! See you soon!

Help Your Garden Flourish with these Summer Gardening Tips

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The heat of summer time is great for beach trips and barbecues with family but can be a real stressor on plants. This season, the combination of torrential rain followed by periods of intense heat and drought has had a negative impact on many plants, even those that are well established.

Review the tips below for efficient watering and plant care to help your garden flourish through the summer!

When watering, use the correct technique. You can reduce your water consumption up to 60% by using proper watering techniques. Slow-drip and deep-root watering and properly installed irrigation systems will help to conserve water.

Water early in the morning, usually before 9:00 AM. This helps keep the water from evaporating too quickly, and the plants won’t stress because of a lack of essential water. Watering less often but for a longer time will promote deep root growth. If you have an irrigation system, check it frequently to make sure it works properly. Make sure you water just your plant material and avoid spraying sidewalks, driveways and patios; this is a waste of water.

Make sure you cut your lawn to a proper height and let it grow to 3-4 inches between cuttings. Longer blades of grass means going three to four days longer between watering and promotes a healthier and stronger root system.

Weed control in your lawn and in your gardens will help reduce competition for water, so even though it’s hot, try to get out early in the morning to pull weeds and check for any pests or fungus.

Place container gardens and baskets in partial shade to keep them from drying out too quickly on very hot days and in windy areas.

Once you have the watering down, the next step is feeding! All plants require fertilizer to prolong their lifespan and ensure the biggest blooms and best performance. However, summer is not the best time for feeding lawns or nursery stock. Wait for the cooler weather of fall for that.

For annuals and perennials, feed once a month throughout the growing season to keep them healthy and blooming for the spring, summer and into the fall.

Of course, the plants depend on healthy soil for optimum growth. Summer is a good time to amend beds with a layer of leafgro or other organic compost. A thin layer of mulch is recommended to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Apply to shrubs, trees, annual and perennial beds and borders, and even vegetable gardens.

Proper watering, feeding and mulching will keep your landscape healthy and attractive year-round.

As always, please feel free to call or, even better, come by the shop with your questions, comments, or just to visit! I’ll see you soon.

 – Dotti

Hydrangea Care

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Hydrangeas like moist, rich soil, but can not live in standing water. They are big drinkers. On hot days, the fleshy leaves and stems call for lots of water. Make sure they get it! The best place to grow hydrangeas is where they get morning sun and afternoon shade. This will keep the heat stress to a minimum and ensure the best blooms.

Hydrangeas are acid-loving plants. Feed hydrangeas in spring or fall with Holly Tone. Mophead hydrangeas have large lush blooms that change color depending on the soil ph. If you like blue flowers, use soil acidifier; if you prefer pink use garden lime.

Pruning is required to keep your hydrangeas performing to the best of their ability. All hydrangeas can be pruned for cut flowers, and they like to be pruned during bloom time to promote healthy growth. Outside of bloom time, seasonal pruning will ensure a longer life span and beautiful plant architecture. The process for seasonal pruning depends on the variety.

Hydrangea macrophylla (mophead) – Nikko Blue, Forever Pink, and other mophead hydrangeas bloom off last year’s wood (old wood). Pruning should be done only when necessary to improve shape. When new growth begins in spring, prune away dead branches, fertilize with Holly Tone, and enjoy the beautiful blooms to come.

Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea) – Pee Gee, Limelight, and other panicle hydrangea varieties bloom on new wood. This means old wood can be pruned off late fall or very early spring. Prune them aggressively so that new growth will be clean and compact and the plant will be lush with blooms.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea) – Snow Queen, Queen of Hearts and other oakleaf hydrangeas bloom from old wood and look best left untrimmed. If you must, prune late winter and remove the entire stem. Do not prune tips in the spring time; this stunts growth and prevents future flowering.

Hydrangea anomala (climbing hydrangea) – This gorgeous, slow growing variety has woody vines that cling to structures with air roots. Blooms grow off old wood, so prune in late fall or winter to control shape and promote spring growth. Blooms are a wide, lacecap type of flower.

Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth hydrangea) – Annabelle, White Dome and other smooth hydrangea varieties bloom on new wood. Severely prune in late fall or winter and enjoy the flush of new growth and blooms in the spring and summer.

As always, please feel free to call or, even better, come by the shop with your questions, comments, or just to visit! I’ll see you soon.

What you Grow Matters #1: A Reflection

By What You Grow Matters No Comments
Make New Friends but Keep the Old;
One is Silver and the Other Gold’

I learned those lyrics 30 years ago as a Brownie Girl Scout in Miss Lynn’s troop at Lake Shore. Miss Lynn put a lot of heart and hard work into troop leadership and made sure we pondered the words carefully as we learned the tune. Around the campfire at Camp Whippoorwill, my fellow Brownies and I would sing that song along with other traditional Girl Scout tunes. For some reason, those lyrics resonated in my young mind, and I pondered at length the concepts of friendship, loyalty and longevity. Years have passed but that tune always comes flooding back, bringing with it sweet memories of old friendships and the innocent lessons of childhood.

Those were the good old days!

Around the same age I began to pay attention to the vegetables Dad planted in our huge garden, and the beautiful shrubs and flowers Mom tended in our front beds. I remember perusing seed catalogs, in awe of the beautiful flowers and amazing vegetables the catalog promised, if only we purchased their seed. Giant Watermelon! The sweetest corn you ever tasted! Big, juicy tomatoes! Colorful zinnias and dazzling cosmos! I wanted to try them all and dog-eared most pages. And what a great source of education; I memorized the names of flowers and learned about planting zones, planting times and other important tidbits that have remained with me since.

I’m certain many of you can relate to the excitement that a simple seed catalog can generate!

As the new owner of Himmel’s Landscape and Garden Center, I hope that your next visit to the shop will elicit the same sense of wonder and excitement that the seed catalogs inspired in me when I was a child. You will still see your old, gold friends here at Himmel’s – Dotti, Brenda, Tait, and others. Their work and expertise are invaluable, and I’m thrilled they all made this transition with me!

We will continue to stock the highest quality plant material at a great value – favorites you have come to rely on like the annuals in Dotti’s annual greenhouse, gorgeous azaleas at a great price, beautiful crape myrtles for traditional summer color, a dazzling assortment of perennials, and more!

We will work hard to bring you the latest trends in garden décor, and the newest plants featuring bold color, texture, and hardiness so that your garden will showcase the best blooms with the longest growing season.

You can also be sure to expect some surprises – things that have never been offered before at Himmel’s!

Finally – we will uphold our mission – Helping our neighbors build a better, healthier and more beautiful world – by

  •  joining community efforts to improve the health of the Bay and the watershed;
  • demonstrating leadership in the movement to restore pollinators;
  • offering a wider variety of native plants, shrubs and trees, and – quite simply;
  • developing a better relationship with you to learn how we can best meet your landscape and gardening

We can’t wait to get started! So, come visit us at Himmel’s and make some new friends. And remember, whether you are planting a few seeds or growing a forest, what you grow matters.

Listen To This: Our Six Favorite Gardening Podcasts

By What You Grow Matters No Comments

Do you ever feel like there is so much to learn, but so little time? I love learning as much as I can about my favorite topic – organic gardening – and all the related sub-topics, but you know as well as I do that sometimes it’s impossible to find the time to read a book much less a simple magazine article. And online research can be tricky. If you’re not careful you may research a topic and 4 hours later find yourself dazed and confused in the world of YouTube on another topic altogether!

That’s why I love Podcasts. Podcasts are audio shows based on specific topics that are formatted in episodes. (Check out this site for handy information on podcasts, if you want to learn more:

I can tune in to my favorite Podcasts while cooking, doing chores, running errands or while exercising, and learn interesting information in an entertaining format! There are several ways to access podcasts including directly online and on streaming sites. I use iTunes.

Check out a list of my favorite gardening podcasts below!

  • The joe gardener show:
    This is an entertaining and informative podcast featuring a wealth of information in a down-to-earth format. The focus of joe gardener is to ‘take the guesswork out of gardening’. Whether you’re a novice or expert, this podcast is sure to answer some of your burning questions and teach you a few new tricks!
  • Encyclopedia Botanica:
    This is a fantastic podcast by Seattle Urban Farm Company (SUFCo), whose philosophy is: ‘we thrive on pioneering new ideas and empowering city dwellers to reap the rewards of local food
    production. We believe that sustainable urban agriculture can promote healthy diets, environmental stewardship, stronger communities and improved quality of life…’ Their latest podcast is all about my favorite summer herb: Basil!
  • Triangle Gardener:
    Based in Raleigh, NC, Triangle Gardener is a fantastic magazine with an accompanying podcast that includes stories on plants, garden design, pests, garden books, garden travel, and much more.  Featuring a variety of topics and a great cast of characters, this podcast is sure to become a favorite of yours!
  • The Beginners Garden with Jill McSheehy:
    As her site notes – ‘this is the podcast with easy-to-understand resources, tips, and information to
    help beginning gardeners get the most out of their gardening adventure — big or small’. Jill shares
    wonderful tips for first time gardeners and her optimistic spirit is contagious!
  • On the Ledge:
    I couldn’t resist adding my favorite podcast about houseplants – soon to be featured on the shelves at Himmel’s! Check out ‘EPISODE 57: QUICK WINS FOR INDOOR GARDENERS’ for some fun indoor gardening projects!
  • Hothouse:
    This trendy new podcast is all about ‘design, ecology, and the way we garden now’. Hosted by Leah Churner, a landscape designer in Austin, Texas, Hothouse is ‘a meeting of the minds for plant people and the horticulture-curious’. I enjoyed the ‘Healing Spaces’ episode featuring Jenny Peterson discussing Garden Therapy and her new book – The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion.