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Grower Girl's Blog
Cathy Maxson is Sargent's Gardens Annual and Perennial Growing manager. In addition to making sure Sargent's grown plants thrive, she enjoys growing in her own garden, canning fruits and vegetables, traveling and staying fit with Taekwondo.
May 9 , 2013
This has been such a crazy year! Sub-zero temps! Clouds and rain! Snow! All in all, I think we are still on track for the year. Our plants are growing wonderfully. Spring blooming perennials are starting to pop.
The Armeria, Poppies, and Iberis are blooming the beat the band. Annuals are looking great too.
It is hard to just a few to highlight because they are all looking good! We grew some new varieties of Rex Begonias this year that are amazing. Fireworks has leaves that are as big as my hand! The 'Voltage' Osteospermum baskets are beautiful. Fuchsias, Potunias, Impatiens, and our Combo baskets are all looking great! Just in time for Mother's Day.
April 12, 2013
This cold weather doesn't have everyone down! Beth is getting a head start on planting our combo pots for the front gate.
October 3, 2012
Proven Winners had a road show in the Cities yesterday. A group of us from Sargent's was able to attend. It was very informative. They had samples of their new plants for 2013, culture notes for growing these plants and ideas for showcasing them.They are doing even more Proven Winner perennials next year, four new kinds of Dianthus, a new Sedum, and some new Monarda to mention a few. If the new varieties perform as well as Gypsophila Festival Star and any of the PW Hibiscus did this year, I will be happy with them!
August 16, 2012
This year we have to recover both sections of our big greenhouse and all except two of the Perennial houses. So this month we have been working on replacing any wood that may not last until the next recovering. The Annual house is almost done. We replaced some bad boards on the wings and decided to add some more wood to the ends to give us a little more room to staple on the plastic. For the Perennial houses, we will have to dig out the baseboards to replace them. We can use the skid-loader for #17 because its on the end of a row but I'm afraid #15 might require some hand digging. Hopefully we can use the Dingo, either way we have to finish fixing them by the end of August.
July 24, 2012
Our mums are looking good! We planted them in June and spaced them to the final spacing about 2 weeks ago. We are trying a bunch of new varieties this year, so it will be fun to see how they flower this Fall.
A few years ago, we switched from watering all of our mums by hand to using the 'Step, Stop, Water' mode on the watering booms in the big greenhouse. Our watering time went from 8 hours to about 1-1/2. It is a great change.
We have also been working hard at planting Perennials for 2013. We finished up the shipment from last week this Monday. We will have some brand new Hosta varieties next year.
June 22, 2012
Balloon flowers are another one of my favorite unusual plants. The flowers look like swelling balloons before they pop open. They are super hardy as long as they don't get too wet and they flower like crazy. The dwarf variety we carry is Sentimental Blue, it is such a pretty color!
Platycodon graniflorus 'Sentimental Blue' ->
June 14, 2012
Last Friday I got to ride along when Allen checked the bluebird trail. The second set of eggs are in the boxes now. We saw 4 bluebird nests with a total of 20 eggs, tree swallow chicks in 2 nests, a nest of wren eggs and a meadow lark perched on a tree.
June 6, 2012
When I started working at Sargent's we had one white and three different purple cone-flower varieties. Now there are a rainbow of cone-flowers out there! With everything from white to red, single to double and short to tall there is an Echinacea for everyone (except my oldest sister who 'just doesn't care for them'). My favorite 'fancy' Echinacea is 'Hot Papaya'. It is one of the first double orange cone-flowers bred. The colors are like sunset on a flower, ranging from a hot orange to salmon. The blooms last at least a week and a half when they are cut and are very fragrant.
May 30, 2012
A friend asked me to make him a list of unusual perennials and while I was writing it up I found that it was really hard for me to narrow it down. After all, what is it that makes a plant unusual? Is it the color of the foliage? Look at Hostas and Heucheras. The colors and combinations of colors are practically endless. Even that chartreuse color that seems so unnatural is in so many different kinds of plants from Campanula to Veronica. Maybe the shape of the blooms? Globe Thistle looks like it could be from space. Flower color? It seems like they are coming out with new colors every year. This year we are carrying a chocolate colored Baptisia. I can't wait to see it bloom. Well, I was able to come up with a list for him. To be honest though, I had to stop myself from putting a lot of plants on the list because they are all unique in different ways.
Ligularia 'Dragon's Breath' Make My Unique Foliage List
Photo Courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
May 16, 2012
I took a walk around our yard this weekend to take stock of the yard-work we haven't had time to do this spring and I found this in one of the window wells. I have no idea how it got there. I don't remember it being there last year but if I can get it out without hurting it, I will plant it in my shade garden. :)
May 3, 2012
Speaking of bird's, Sargent's Blue Bird Trail is host to at least 2 families of blue birds today. We have a nest full of baby blue birds and one full of eggs. Before the season is done our trail and nest boxes will play host to several more families. Our 40 acres of growing fields have proven to be the perfect habitat. Stop in the Sargent's North Garden Center to learn more. Alan and John G. are always happy to explain how they put the trail together. They may even able to do a bit of show and tell. I will have pictures of the new babies posted here soon. BABY BLUE BIRD AND TRAIL PICS
April 27, 2012
A bird's eye view of our planting line -
April 16, 2012
Here are photos of some of the new Geranium varieties we are carrying this year. My favorite is Raspberry Twizzle. Whoever said geraniums were ho hum anyway! Imagine these in a mixed container planting or even alone in a pot. View them all.
April 3, 2012
How to dig a tree in 30 seconds.
Step 1: Have the right equipment.
Step 2: Have qualified people to run the equipment.
I had a chance to watch Mike and Brandon dig a large tree over the weekend. Because of the warm days and nights they have had to start their spring digging 3 weeks early this year. I've helped with crimping the baskets before, but this is the first time I've seen them dig a tree. It's a pretty cool process. Could you imagine having to dig a big tree by hand? It would take hours and you would still have to have a truck or a tractor to get it out of the hole!
March 21, 2012
A taste of what is to come - many of the spring blooming plants we overwintered believe it is already May. Here are some shots of what's already blooming in the greenhouse. Expect them in the garden centers by mid-April. We don't want freeze their roots outside. They need to be hardened off and a cold snap could do some real damage. It's only the second day of spring! Now that's unbelievable.
March 16, 2012
It has been super busy this week. We have been catching up on planting and working on the outside jobs. Impatien moss baskets, Geranium tubs, 6" Dianthus, Pansies and Violas are some of what we have planted this week.
We able to uncover all the Perennials we overwintered outside. The potted Woody plants have been uncovered as well. We also started our first 41/2" Geranium crop this week.
March 8, 2012
During the winter the shop guys do a lot of our greenhouse maintenance and repair. One of the things they did this year was make a cage for our air compressor. I think it is super cool how the concept went from reusing a little shack to building a permanent little cage that was almost completely recycled. Everything except the roof of the cage was made with leftovers from other projects.
Last week we started unpacking the Perennials from 2011. We found blooming Pulmonaria waiting for us. Isn't it pretty?
All this warm weather is really going push things along. This week we started up the planting line. Looking good! So far we have done begonia baskets, 4" perennials and 1 gallon perennials.
February 29, 2012
We are gearing up - Later this week we will start unpacking the perennials we just packed away last November. It will be interesting to see if they have grown much during this warm winter. I think the Hellebores will probably be flowering. I peeked at the Hostas a couple of weeks ago and they were still dormant. Yay! Hopefully, everything else follows suit. I am looking forward to getting the planting area set up and ready to go. Just a few more final touches and we will be off like racehorses.
February 22, 2012
Plants are in! Last week we got our first shipment of perennial plugs for the season. We were supposed to get them on Friday but the driver was ahead of schedule and arrived Thursday afternoon. Actually, we won’t be planting anything until March, so I’ll be babysitting them until then.
In this shipment we received some of the brand new varieties we are carrying this year. I think the Dianthus 'First Love' will be a fun plant. The blooms open white, change to pink, and then to lavender-rose as they age.
I know that this one doesn’t look like much right now but it’ll turn around -
Check out what it will look like when it’s older!
February 14, 2012
The time to open up the greenhouses is getting closer and closer. The first sign is when the guys bring the big bags of soil into the shop to thaw. The planting lists are made and are ready to be put to use. We have our first shipment of perennials coming in on Friday. A little early, but better early than never, right? We won't plant them until March but at least they will be ready when we are. :-)