Roanoke Times: Down To Earth

Down To Earth


Recent Articles

Sunday 02/08/2015
Two classes for gardeners begin this week
Posted: February 08, 2015 - 8:52 am

The New River Valley Master Gardener training program begins this Tuesday with a potluck, held at a special time. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00-4:00 p.m., but this first meeting will be at 6:00 p.m.

Friday 02/06/2015
New tomato/potato grafted plant available
Posted: February 06, 2015 - 4:26 pm

Here’s a new interesting plant grafting! Territorial Seed Company has released a grafted tomato/potato plant, called ‘Ketchup ‘n’ Fries’™.

Wednesday 02/04/2015
First snowdrops of the year
Posted: February 04, 2015 - 3:17 pm

It's gorgeous outside today, so naturally I'm thinking of spring.

Sunday 02/01/2015
Glorious African violets
Posted: February 01, 2015 - 9:39 am

African violets are special to me.  They were my mother's favorite houseplant and I think of her every time they bloom.

Saturday 01/31/2015
Orchid rebloom achieved!
Posted: January 31, 2015 - 9:27 am

Almost two years ago, I wrote an article about orchids, in which I confessed my intimidation at growing them.  As research for the article, I spoke to Art Chadwick of Chadwick & Son Orchids in Richmond, who assured me that they weren't that difficult to grow.  He said the next step after learning to care for the plant was to attempt to achieve an annual rebloom, and once you were successful at getting a plant to rebloom, you'd be hooked.

Thursday 01/29/2015
Master Gardeners taking applications
Posted: January 29, 2015 - 9:26 am

If you’ve always wanted to become a Master Gardener, maybe this is the year. Some local offices are now accepting applications, with programs beginning in February. Other offices begin classes in fall.

Tuesday 01/27/2015
VCE presentation on fruit tree pruning
Posted: January 27, 2015 - 9:22 am

Bedford Extension Master Gardeners and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are holding a free presentation on fruit tree pruning, this Thursday, January 29 in Troutville.

Sunday 01/25/2015
How to repot plants
Posted: January 25, 2015 - 7:53 am

Yesterday's article discussed when, and when not, to repot houseplants.  Here are the instructions for how to repot.

Saturday 01/24/2015
Today’s article: Repotting houseplants
Posted: January 24, 2015 - 7:48 am

Need a winter gardening fix? Consider repotting your houseplants.

Thursday 01/22/2015
Should you fertilize an air plant?
Posted: January 22, 2015 - 7:11 am

If you're growing an air plant, fertilizing is not really necessary, but it will result in faster growth, better flowers and more pups.  The key, though, will be to fertilize correctly, which for an air plant means to fertilize very lightly.

Tuesday 01/20/2015
Meet Hahn’s new Garden Director
Posted: January 20, 2015 - 10:06 am

Hahn Horticulture is holding one of its free lunchtime learning garden walks and talks tomorrow, and this talk gives you the opportunity to get acquainted with their new Garden Director, Robert McDuffie.

Sunday 01/18/2015
Lecture on Jefferson's garden at Monticello
Posted: January 18, 2015 - 8:46 am

The Hahn Horticulture Garden is partnering with Historic Smithfield Plantation to offer a garden lecture by Peter Hatch, Director of Garden and Grounds at Monticello.

Saturday 01/17/2015
Flowers and Air Plant Pups
Posted: January 17, 2015 - 7:32 am

Air plants will flower only once.  Once the flower has dried up, it's recommended that you remove the old petal and cut off the flower stalk, as this promotes pupping.  Pupping is the term given to the production of new plants.

Thursday 01/15/2015
The right light is needed for a healthy air plant
Posted: January 15, 2015 - 9:12 am

If water is the most important need for an air plant, the right light is second.

Wednesday 01/14/2015
Watering your air plant
Posted: January 14, 2015 - 8:56 am

I spoke to someone a couple of days ago, who told me she used to have an air plant, but had killed it.  Sure enough, the problem was that she never watered it.

Monday 01/12/2015
Air plant used as a wedding favor
Posted: January 12, 2015 - 9:45 am

If you enjoyed Saturday’s article on air plants, you might enjoy hearing about how one person used tiny air plants as unique wedding favors.

Saturday 01/10/2015
Today’s article: Air plants
Posted: January 10, 2015 - 6:24 am

Air plants are for crafty gardeners, those with brown thumbs, or those who just like keeping up on the latest plant trends.

Thursday 01/08/2015
Home and garden show this weekend
Posted: January 08, 2015 - 12:00 pm

The annual Greater Roanoke Valley Home and Garden Show happens this weekend at the Berglund Center. Two exhibit halls are packed with inspiration for a beautiful home and garden.

Tuesday 01/06/2015
Garden plants for luck
Posted: January 06, 2015 - 9:00 am

The plants in your garden and landscaping can also be those that are thought to attract good luck.

Sunday 01/04/2015
Number of stalks indicates lucky bamboo’s blessing
Posted: January 04, 2015 - 9:00 am

Bamboo has long been known as the Chinese symbol for strength, due to its fast growth and resilience. Lucky bamboo, which is actually a member of the dracaena family and not bamboo at all, is given as a gift of good fortune as it looks like bamboo, but is much easier to grow as a houseplant. A gift of lucky bamboo symbolizes the wish for a strong life filled with prosperity.

Saturday 01/03/2015
Learn to attract winter birds
Posted: January 03, 2015 - 7:58 am

If you enjoy watching birds during the winter, the Discovery Center has a workshop for you.

Thursday 01/01/2015
Happy New Year and hope your garden grows!
Posted: January 01, 2015 - 8:15 am

2015 is a few hours old now. Have you made any gardening resolutions?

Tuesday 12/30/2014
Why are some plants “lucky”?
Posted: December 30, 2014 - 8:45 am

Have you ever wondered why some plants get imbued with certain meanings? Over the centuries, there have been plants that symbolized happiness, health, wisdom, love, wealth, peace, purity and good fortune. Sometimes the reason is rather obvious and sometimes it seems to defy explanation.

Sunday 12/28/2014
Feng Shui gardening to attract luck
Posted: December 28, 2014 - 9:29 am

Yesterday’s article on lucky plants referenced several plants as “lucky” when grown in accordance with Feng Shui design. But, there is another component to attracting luck.

Saturday 12/27/2014
Today's Article: Lucky Plants
Posted: December 27, 2014 - 9:08 am

Need some luck for the New Year? Consider growing one of these plants.

Friday 12/26/2014
When should you take down the greenery?
Posted: December 26, 2014 - 7:00 am

Now that the holidays are heading to a close, it’s time to consider removal of the holiday greenery. When is the proper time?

Tuesday 12/23/2014
Hollies and deer
Posted: December 23, 2014 - 7:00 am

We have been doing serious research about adding hollies to our landscape for many reasons, not least of which is how well they co-exist with deer. In fact, if you need to create a good deer-resistant hedge for an area of your yard, hollies are often the recommended plant choice.

Sunday 12/21/2014
Bring nature into your home for Yule
Posted: December 21, 2014 - 7:00 am

Today is the Winter Solstice and Yule, so why not bring a little bit of nature into your home in celebration? Florists and interior designers widely use “naturals” in decorating, and so can you.

Saturday 12/20/2014
The holly and the ivy
Posted: December 20, 2014 - 7:00 am

Gardeners may wonder how two unrelated evergreen plants like holly and ivy became so closely entwined for the holidays. Like many other aspects of Christmas, you have to look to pagan traditions to figure out the answer.

Thursday 12/18/2014
Males and females – hollies, that is
Posted: December 18, 2014 - 4:17 pm

Although it’s the female holly that produces berries, most holly cultivars require a male holly in the vicinity for fruit production to occur. And, for the most berries to be produced, the best pollinator is a male of the same species. However, that doesn’t really mean that you have to have a male pollinator for every single different type of holly in your landscape.

Tuesday 12/16/2014
Three female holly plants
Posted: December 16, 2014 - 8:22 am

Hollies that require both male and female plants to set fruit are termed dioecious. Female hollies that do not require a male to set fruit are called parthenocarpic. Even though a parthenocarpic plant does not require a male to set fruit, it’s been observed that parthenocarpic cultivars have a heavier fruit set when a flowering male holly is in the vicinity.

Sunday 12/14/2014
Holly’s symbolism in many cultures
Posted: December 14, 2014 - 8:37 pm

For centuries, holly has had a traditional connection to Christmas and winter celebrations. Many believed that holly’s ability to stay green throughout the winter meant that it had magical properties.

Saturday 12/13/2014
Today’s article: Hollies
Posted: December 13, 2014 - 6:38 am

No shrub is linked more with the winter holidays than holly. Beyond holiday decorating, hollies make a wonderful addition to the landscape, providing color during cold winter months.

Friday 12/12/2014
Gifts from your garden
Posted: December 12, 2014 - 9:44 am

Gift giving season is here. I like to look at plants I grow as potential gifts to give.

Thursday 12/11/2014
Christmas cactus seed pod
Posted: December 11, 2014 - 9:09 am

From my email, it seems like a lot of readers share my love of, and fascination with, holiday cactus, and the misnaming of Christmas cactus.

Tuesday 12/09/2014
Year in life of a holiday cactus
Posted: December 09, 2014 - 6:18 pm

If you’re growing a holiday cactus, here’s how the year unfolds for your plant.

Sunday 12/07/2014
Getting a holiday cactus to rebloom
Posted: December 07, 2014 - 9:24 pm

If you have a Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus and have had problems getting the plant to rebloom year after year, the likely solution lies in providing the correct light and temperature.

Friday 12/05/2014
Time to get the Christmas tree
Posted: December 05, 2014 - 4:12 pm

Our family has an excursion planned tomorrow to get our Christmas tree. It amuses me how this ritual has changed since moving to Virginia.

Wednesday 12/03/2014
Wreath Making at RCGC
Posted: December 03, 2014 - 9:26 am

T’is the season for making wreaths!

Monday 12/01/2014
Leaves are the key to identifying holiday cacti
Posted: December 01, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Saturday’s article on holiday cacti talked about the leaves being the key to correct plant identification. Now, maybe you don’t care which plant you’re growing, but, if you’re like me, you do.

Saturday 11/29/2014
Today’s Article: Thanksgiving cactus
Posted: November 29, 2014 - 5:28 am

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a mention of a plant called a Thanksgiving cactus, something I’d never heard of. That led to some research, which, in turn, led to an examination of my own Christmas cactus, a plant I’ve been growing for over 15 years.

Wednesday 11/26/2014
Rosemary Christmas trees another good gift
Posted: November 26, 2014 - 11:30 am

Here’s another hostess gift idea, in time for the holidays.

Tuesday 11/25/2014
Herbs make great hostess gifts
Posted: November 25, 2014 - 4:24 pm

Been invited to someone’s home for the holidays this week? If you’re looking for a gardening-related hostess gift, potted herbs are always nice, particularly if you’re visiting the home of someone who likes to cook.

Sunday 11/23/2014
Master Gardener program accepting applications
Posted: November 23, 2014 - 4:19 pm

For those of you who are interested in becoming Master Gardeners, the New River Valley Master Gardener Training Program is now accepting applications for the 2015 class.

Saturday 11/22/2014
Protecting Roses
Posted: November 22, 2014 - 10:35 am

Last winter’s brutal cold cost us a favorite rose bush. I have to admit that I’m not always the best about taking the time to provide some protection for the cold for shrubs. I prefer plants that thrive on their own without my help, but I really did like this rose and was very sorry to lose it.

Thursday 11/20/2014
Other resource for gardening with kids
Posted: November 20, 2014 - 5:33 pm

In Saturday’s article on the Junior Master Gardener program, I recommended the JMG website, which is good for any kid interested in gardening, even if they aren't serious enough to enter JMG.

Monday 11/17/2014
RCGC hosts 2 free events today
Posted: November 17, 2014 - 5:57 am

Two free events are happening today, November 17, at the Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs.

Sunday 11/16/2014
Links for JMG
Posted: November 16, 2014 - 7:56 am

Yesterday’s article about the Junior Master Gardener program contained references to several organizations. Here are the links if you’d like to learn more.

Saturday 11/15/2014
Today’s Article: JMG Program
Posted: November 15, 2014 - 7:53 am

Check out today’s article to learn more about the Junior Master Gardener program, a horticulture and science education program based on the Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener program for adults.

Thursday 11/13/2014
Good seed storing tips
Posted: November 13, 2014 - 7:48 pm

I came across this article from Organic Gardening on proper storage of seeds.

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