Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Show Your Garden the Love!


Following is a great post by Tim Bate of Skillin's Greenhouses:

Show your garden (and gardener!) the love with these Valentine’s Day inspired garden treasures.


We are "sweet" on this sampler of trees, shrubs and perennials that feature heart-shaped leaves or flowers.

Brunnera  ‘Jack Frost’ – Silver leaves with small, blue flowers resembling forget-me-nots.  12-15” tall. Zone 3.


Rising Sun Redbud - Rising Sun (C. can. ‘JN2) Z5

8-12’ tall and wide.  Redbud trees bloom ahead of foliage in spring with stunning  purplish pink flowers…and then the show truly begins with this new cultivar.  New heart-shaped foliage is a brilliant apricot orange color, maturing to yellow, and finally lime green in the summer, with all leaf colors combined on the tree during the spring flush.  Fall foliage is a rich golden orange.  What a way to wake up a sleepy landscape!




Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford – Chocolate-maroon leaves that have a dark purple underside.  Flat daisy-like orange-yellow flower in late summer.  36-40” tall.  Zone 3
Disanthus Z5
6’ tall.  Show your garden the love with this sweet woodland shrub from the witchhazel family.  Redbud hazel, or Japanese Red Witchhazel, leaves emerge purplish red and are heart shaped. The foliage is a soothing bluish green in the summer with new foliage layering purple on the shrub, and finally changes to a rich wine red in the fall.  Diminutive red flowers open beneath the fall foliage.
Blue Cadet Hosta – A small, compact variety with blue leaves.  Lavender flowers in late summer.  10” tall 18” wide.  Z3
Maui Buttercups Hosta – small 5” gold leaves are rounded and corrugated, with good slug resistance.  Creamy white flowers in mid summer.  10” tall and 18” wide.  Zone 3
‘Valentine’ Bleeding Heart Z3
24-30” tall.  Very red, heart-shaped flowers dangle from dark red stems.  Foliage is “plum-green’ color and forms dense clumps.  A vigorous grower. 
Red Fox Katsuratree (C. jap. ‘Rotfuchs’) Z5
20’ tall with an upright oval form.  Foliage emerges a rich dusky purple in spring, turns bluish-green with purple tints in the summer, and lights up with yellow, orange, and apricot leaves in the fall.  Just before leaves drop in the fall they will perfume your landscape with the cotton candy-like scent of burnt sugar!  This variety is slower growing than the species, but well worth the wait.
These plants will be here this Spring, but we ARE selling Spring Bonds NOW for a 25% savings on future purchases.   You spend $37.50 now for a $50 bond that matures on April 1st.

So consider showing your Garden "The Love" this Spring and Summer.

We will see you soon!

Tim Bate
for Skillin's Greenhouses
February 13, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

The "Future" Generation

KCB is the author of this post and can be found HERE at the Finishing Touches garden website!

First, where did January go?  It must have been one heck of a New Year’s Eve party because it’s almost the last thing I remember; raising a glass for the old, toasting to the new. Now, it’s February. February may not be my favorite month yet I’m always happy when it arrives. I can thank the greed of Julius* and Augustus* Caesar for making February the shortest month. This just brings us closer to March; the month of the Vernal Equinox or as we lovingly call it ‘Spring’!

There I go, speaking of the future after a brief visit to the past. Nevertheless, as a gardener I am constantly looking to the future.  I am not alone, am I?  To paraphrase
Dr. Allan Armitage ‘There are no old gardeners. … can’t get old when looking forward to the future’.  Hearing these words recently the world suddenly made sense. Ok, a slight exaggeration, not sure if the world will ever make sense, still the premise touched me. It is SO true.

Instant gratification is the new normal. We want what we want when we want it which is usually NOW. Not so with gardeners.

Gardeners aka ‘we’ live for the future. Many start seeds in the coldest days of winter as they dream of the days they can be sowed in the earth. Others grow vegetables for future meals. Perennials are purchased with the anticipation that the will return year after year. A well planned landscape allows for the transformation that will happen over time. Nearly everything is performed with the mind on the future. Even the pockets of annuals are placed with the knowing they will spread as the season progresses. Then we celebrate that we can by more next summer.

Did you notice that the seed and gardening catalogues arrived sooner this year?  The first of many arrived a few days before Christmas.  Not sure about you, but I made sure these did not get lost I wanted to save them for the not too distant future. We want an unhurried moment to put our feet up and with a beverage of choice we peruse the perennials, analyze the annuals and become a voyeur of vegetable seed packages not with a longing for tomorrow or even the day after.  It’s all for the future.

There is one downside with always looking towards the future; you just may miss a month or two.  Guess I’ll just have to wait until next year to enjoy the month that falls between December and February. For now, I’ll just look forward to March.

*Julius wanted a month named after him. He took the seventh month, named it July and all other months moved down a notch. Wanting a longer month stole a day from February. When Augustus came along, he wanted a month as well. He couldn’t be ahead of Julius, so he took the month right after July and named it August. He shoved the other months down as Julius had done, and another one dropped off the end. That month had 31 days. Augustus couldn’t be outdone by Julius on the days, so he took another day out of poor February and added to August. February then had 28 days. Except during leap year. For more information, Google it yourself!

Created for Skillin's by KC Bailey
February 2013

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

November Garden Talks

Hello again,

Well, Sandy has paid Skillin's Country a "good visit" and has left power outages, scattered tree limbs and some flooding. But really we have not been treated badly as our brothers and sisters in New Jersey, New York and many other states. Our hearts, our thoughts, our prayers go out to everyone affected by Sandy.

Power outages have definitely affected my keyboard time so for November Garden Tips I am going to defer to Margaret Roach's November Garden Chores from her outstanding A Way to Garden blog.

A couple of Margaret's tips really stand out to me:

1) Now and for the next few days is a great time to get a head start on 2013 weeding. The weeds come out with ease right now with all this moisture we have been blessed with.

2)Start paperwhites indoors. Stagger forcing batches every 2 weeks or so for winter long color. We also sell chinese sacred lilies and soleil d'or narcissus and hyacinths with just a little "coolness" before you force them in water or soil will also give us winter long color.

I will be checking into the Skillin's Garden Log as often as possible with my own thoughts. Send any questions to and we will answer!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
October 30, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Skillin's Daily "Dirt" October 2012

Hello again,

Because every garden (and gardener) thrives on good "dirt"! We bring you quick topical tips for your garden in Skillin's Country (and maybe a life observation or two)....

Friday, October 26, 2012 Late October Garden Slideshow

Another day and another link to the A Way to Garden website. In this link, Margaret Roach brings a late October garden slideshow. I often give this time of year more disdain than anything else but some aspects can be fairly striking. Today I will let her pictures do the talking!

Thursday, October 25, 2012 Garden Prep with Cardboard

Happy 50th birthday to my brother Mark Skillin--can't believe we have both made it our 50's!

Today's post is a quick link to the A Way to Garden website--one of my absolute favorite gardening websites. Specifically I refer to her post about "Garden Prep, with Cardboard".

Fall is a great time to turn a weedy bed from weeds to a cleaner bed. Or to take some lawn area and make a new bed. Grab some cardboard and let it get to work! Read how here!

Sunday, October 21, 2012 Cutting Back Perennials

I had a great phone conversation today with a customer about which perennials to trim this time of year. We started the conversation talking about coneflowers (echinacea). Should I trim them back to the ground now? I have some coneflower that still looks good (flowers are long gone but the foliage is still pretty green). Some coneflower foliage is pretty brown (aka dead and dying). What I do is trim back all the "dead and dying" to the ground. Foliage that looks good I keep because the old flower heads do contain seeds that the birds appreciate. We also talked about Black Eyed Susans. Like the coneflower I am keeping them around for the birds for another week or two.

Many perennials like peonies can be trimmed. That growth is all dead and dying. Some foliage like my Amsonia still looks good--I have not cut that back yet and won't for awhile. My artemisia (silver mound) was looking good until recently. Now some of it has gotten brown and black. Next day off: that goes too.

In conclusion, if the perennial foliage is dead and dying cut it back to the ground. If there is still some merit for keeping more green foliage and you want to keep it for awhile go right ahead!

Thursday, October 18, 2012 Watering Houseplants

Just a little blurb on properly watering houseplants. Most of us water our plants often enough but quite often we don't give them enough water when we do water. Therefore, the top third or half of the pot gets watered but perhaps not the bottom of the root system.

If you can bring your houseplant to a sink or a tub when the soil is dry to the touch. Let the water run slowly into soil of the plant from the watering can or from a faucet. When I can I let the water pool on top of the soil up to the brim of the pot. I will re fill the pot 4 or 5 times (by this time the water is POURING out of the bottom of the pot). Let the excess water drain out of the pot completely and put the plant back in its place.

Now you know the plant has had enough water!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 A Man and His Bird Feeder

This morning I was at the front (sales) counter at Skillin's Falmouth. Standing and waiting to get checked out was a customer I will call Ralph (not his real name). Ralph and his wife are frequent Friends of Skillin's. I have enjoyed getting to know them a little bit over the years.

This morning Ralph was buying sunflower kernels for his birds. Ralph likes to converse a little and will occasionally "bust" a little smile but he is direct and to the point. Ralph doesn't waste words.

With a smile,  I asked Ralph how he was doing. Ralph was by himself--unusual. He replied: "My wife just went into the hospital with cancer. The doctors tell us she is not going to make it out".

Oh my.

Neither Ralph or I said anything. We just looked at each other with tears rimming in our eyes.

"It came on so fast" he said. "My son is with her right now...I just came in because I have to take care of my birds. I can't let them go hungry while I am with her".

"Ralph" I gulped. "You are doing the right thing. It is good you are taking care of them--they need you; like I know you care for her. I am so sorry but I am glad to see you".

I carried the sunflower kernels out to the car for Ralph. He told me again his son was his mother. That's good I said.

"As soon as I feed my birds, I will be going in."

"Say hello to her Ralph. And please get some rest". We teared up again.

"I will Mike; see you again".

You will Ralph, you will.

I am sure someone saw Ralph driving home or to the hospital. Or in between filling his bird feeder. And no one would think a thing. How routine does all that appear!

Yet we are all carrying something. Sometimes it is a heavy load but everyone is carrying something. I need to remember that more. A lot more. How much better would this world be if we all remembered that just a little more?

Who can know what a man filling his bird feeder  is carrying inside? But Someone does and while you are afraid, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Monday,  October 15, 2012 Daffodils, Narcissus and Jonquils

Now is just a great time to plant Fall Bulbs. I still swoon at tulips--don't get me wrong. But my absolute "fave" are the daffodils! Whites, yellows and creams. So bright in the Spring! And so reliable: deer and other eating pests don't like daffodils. And hardy: they have a MUCH longer life than tulips.

Skillin's has the best selection of Fall Bulbs in Maine; there are so many types to pick from. But DO NOT forget the daffodils!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Don't Pass on the Drumstick Allium for Your Garden!

The folks at Horticulture Magazine recently sent out a great recommendation for one of my favorite bulbs--the Drumstick Allium. I love all alliums--including the giant Allium Globemaster (a very popular bulb sold right here at Skillin's). The drumstick allium is smaller than other alliums but has a great color and a garlic type flower. It flowers later than most bulbs yet still early enough in Skillin's Country so that it "shows" really well. We have some "drumsticks" available here. NOW is a great time plant fall bulbs and when you do, "don't pass on the drumsticks!"

The Drumstick Allium

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 Inner Conifer Needles Turning Brown or Yellow

Driving and running around Skillin's Country it is easy to notice that white pines and other conifers are showing quite a bit of inner needle loss. This is the time of year conifers shed their inner needles and if the trees are near stressful areas like roadsides the needle loss can be sudden and seem severe. But in most cases this is perfectly natural-a way the trees have been designed to shed old growth. And pine needles make a great mulch and moderate amounts can be smartly added to compost (along with some lime).

If on closer inspection you see the browning is more at the outer tips, then it could be other issues. If you ARE more interested take a read of this post by Margaret of A Way to Garden.

Monday, October 8, 2012 12 Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color

Great gardener Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden maintains a fabulous website. I highly recommend that you check it out! Margaret recently posted a terrific article called "Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color". All the plants listed will thrive in Skillin's Country. These plants may not be in stock at this point at Skillin's but we will offer them all in 2013 if we don't have now. Call us at 781-3860 (800-244-3860) or write us at if you would like to check availability on any of the plants. Enjoy the post!

Sunday, October 7, 2012 Morning Glories: What a Heavenly Blue Flower!

I just snapped this photo the other day of these Heavenly Blue Morning Glories. They are JUST starting to flower now and I hope that I can get a few more weeks of color--we shall see about that!!

I planted them late (about the third week of June). Had I done so in late May I would have had some good color before now but better late than never! If you have never grown these--you MUST!!! I planted 3 small pots of them under a 6' trellis that I simply leaned up against my house in a sunny spot. A 5 minute job that served as a great gardening move! I did get plenty of Flower Tone by Espoma in the ground at the time of planting and then used liberal amounts of Neptune Harvest's Fish and Seaweed liquid food for the first few weeks.

Mike Skillin
October 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

What's On Sale at Skillin's!

Hello again,

*On Sale NOW: Halloween decorations are 30% Off! What perfect timing! Halloween is fast approaching and it is time to decorate for it! We have some great savings for you!!

*On Sale NOW: Shade, Flowering and Fruit Trees now 60% Off! Evergreen Trees 30% Off!! EVERYTHING ELSE (shrubs, ground covers, grasses and vines) are 20% Off for 1, 3 or more for 30% Off !!! The Evergreen Trees are all Skillin Grown and freshly dug!

*Fall Mums--what we have left looks GREAT but the season is  speeding by so have Fall Mums on Sale NOW for Buy 1, Get 1 Free!!

*On Sale NOW: Buy 2 perennials save 20%, 3 save 30%, 4 save 40%; step up and buy 10 perennials and save 50%--all discounts off regular retail prices.

*On Sale NOW: Outdoor furniture is 50% off and it has been selling fast! But we have some great pieces still in stock and looking for a home!

*Our remaining plastic Adirondack chairs are on sale for $15.99 (reg $24.99).

 *Garden Hats (we sold a bunch of them this summer) are now on sale for 50% off!

*Every Tuesday, Mature Gardeners receive 10% off regular retail prices! All day--every Tuesday!!

*Every Friday from Noon to Close, we host our Flower Power Happy Hour where you will receive 30% off most fresh cut flower stems! And 10% off our already specially priced Market Bouquets.  What a deal!! We stock up with fresh flowers for the weekend--so you get to choose from the BEST offerings of the week.

Here are some great ongoing sales:

*Our Fall Mums are the Best Ever!! We have great pricing: Our 8" mums are only $6.99 apiece. If you buy 5 or more mums the price drops to $5.99 apiece and 10 or more mums the price is ONLY $5.49 apiece! Yippee!!

*Buy 1 box of Colonial Candles and receive 10% off regular retail prices! Buy 2 boxes and you receive 20% off both boxes!!

*Buy 5 bags of Mulch, Compost and Top Soil and receive 10% off regular retail prices! This is a Mix and Match so tailor the purchase to best suit your needs. We sell the BEST in mulches, compost and top soils from Coast of Maine, Jolly Gardener and Little River. The best amendments mean the BEST results naturally for your plants!

*Buy 6 4.5" potted all naturally grown Herbs for $3.99 each (regular retail price is $4.49 each!). We grow the best in herbs for your taste buds and also as a great complement to other plants in your garden!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 Herbs to Add to Your Home Vegetable Garden

Michael C. Podlesny is the administrator for the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

He recently wrote the following article called "Herbs to Add to Your Home Vegetable Garden". This article and more herb gardening information can be found right HERE at I have made some comments in italics.

We are heading into indoor gardening season and Skillin's quite often has herb plants already grown in our greenhouse for you to use immediately. If you want to go the seed and grow route we do have seeds available now for you to use. Any of the following plants can be grown indoors as well as outdoors!
"... there are five herbs in particular that I believe every home vegetable gardener should add to their lineup. They are easy to grow, do not take up a lot of space and super simple to get started.


The aforementioned herb is my number one herb of choice.... basil can be added to sauces, soups and stews to enhance the flavor. There are a number of varieties of basil, such as lemon, licorice, and slam queen to name a few but my favorite is the Italian large leaf which is also the most common basil that you see. You can grow basil in a pot on your window sill and have it handy throughout the year.


 Rosemary can grow as tall as two feet so it is more than likely for most home vegetable gardeners not an indoor plant. It is also a tough herb to grow as studies have shown in some areas of the world that the germination rate is around 50% so you will want to sow the seeds heavily. However, if you are a successful with it, rosemary adds tremendous flavor. We sell great rosemary plants year round at Skillin's. I would suggest buying and using the mature plants not starting it from seed!


What other herb can you think of that goes better on pizza than Oregano? Common Italian is the variety of oregano that most people are accustomed to. It is also a great addition to soups and stews. It is a perennial plant so you will not have to sow new seeds every year and it is a very hardy plant.


My mom made the best dish called parsley potatoes. It is a basic recipe where you melt some butter, mix parsley in with the butter then coat some cut up potatoes with the mixture. You bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until potatoes are soft. Adding fresh parsley to this recipe makes Mom's cooking even better. Parsley is an annual herb so it will come back and the best part is you can have fresh parsley right from your back yard in as little as 70 days. Parsley makes a great lush green houseplant. I love parsley plants and I love parsley!


Chocolate has its companion peanut butter, and sour cream has its buddy, chives. Chives are a perennial plant that has a mild flavor, almost onion like. When it grows, it looks like grass, and is a great addition on potatoes, in soups and stews and more. Chives are all that this writer just states and it also is very functional in a perennial garden as a deer deterrent. Deer do not like the scent of chives; and the purple chive flowers are pretty darned attractive in early summer.

These are just 5 of the many herbs you can choose from when creating an herb garden mixed in with your home vegetable garden. These easy to grow plants will add flavor to your cooking with very little effort.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daffodils, Narcissus and Jonquils

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club ( sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called "Daffodils, Narcissus and Jonquils" (I occasionally add a few comments in italics) and here it is:

"Have you ever heard the story of how the narcissus got its name? A long time ago, Greek mythology stories and writing told the story of Narcissus, the young son of a Greek god, who was led to believe by his father that a long and happy life would be his if he never gazed upon his own features. By chance, Narcissus saw his own reflection in a quiet pool of water and fell in love with his own reflection. Because of this, Narcissus soon withered away; at the spot where he died, beautiful nodding flowers sprang up and were named after him.

Greek stories also tell of the narcotic perfume smell of the flower and how it was used to stupefy those who were to be punished for crimes committed. Other writers said that the fragrance of the flower led to hallucinations and madness. The beauty of the flower has led many gardeners to madness, but the madness is about the beauty of the flower in their gardens. Judge for yourself--plant daffodils in your garden this fall and enjoy the madness in the spring.

In the early days of daffodils, they were called "Lent lilies," as these flower bulbs bloomed naturally in the garden during the Lenten holidays. Today's Easter lily blooms naturally during late June; the Easter lily is forced into bloom by your local florist to celebrate the holiday. Another name given to the daffodil was "chalice flower," because of the shape of the corona or trumpet. Look at the narcissus trumpet--it does resemble the shape of the cup or chalice used to hold the sacramental wine.

The jonquil is a member of the amaryllis family. If you look at writings from Homer and Sophocles hundreds of years ago, you will see how popular they were back then. You may be wondering why I am using three different names for this bulb--let me tell you. Daffodil is the common name for the entire family; narcissus is the Latin or botanical name. The name "jonquil" was given to hybrids that were developed from this family; it means a sweetly scented, rich, yellow species of Narcissus having a slender rounded flower stem and rush-like leaves--hybrids. So no matter what you call them in your garden you are right, no matter what name you use.

Daffodils were wildflowers many years ago, like most of the flowers we have in our gardens today. The Dutch gardeners loved them so much that they began to cross them together to develop new flower strains, and their popularity grew and grew. Dutch records show that in 1548, there were only 24 different types of daffodils, in 1629, the numbers grew to 90 and by 1948, they had grown to almost 8,000 varieties. Today there are over 10,000 varieties and new ones each year.

In Holland today there are only two unique areas where daffodils are grown commercially. One area is 25 square miles in area and concentrated, while the second area is spread out over the country side and not much larger than the major bulb growing area totaling just 50 square miles of soil where they can be grown for exporting.

As the love for these bulbs grew, the Dutch government quickly realized that it would have to act to protect the quality of these bulbs and keep them insect and disease free if the industry was to prosper. The growers and the government together set up guidelines to protect this valuable crop. Strict rules were imposed to keep the Dutch bulb industry safe and strong. Today, no bulb can leave Holland until they are guaranteed to flower in your garden, and are certified insect and disease free.

Narcissus bulbs must be planted in a soil that is well drained and rich in organic matter if you want them to re-bloom for several years to come. Wet soil with standing water or soil that contains clay will kill the bulb during the first winter in the ground, because wet soil will rot the delicate roots. Animal manure or, better still, compost is the best soil conditioner when planting. (We recommend Bulb Tone by Espoma as the best all around planting fertilizer for bulbs).

If your soil is on the sandy side, be sure to add Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture around the bulbs during the summer time. When planting, select a location with as much sun as possible or plant under trees that leaf out after the flower fades to allow the foliage to make and replace the energy it takes to make new flower buds for next year. If planting under evergreens, plant near the drip line or tips of the branches to insure the bulb foliage gets some sun.

Bulbs need to be fertilized spring and fall for the best flowers every year. Apply Bulb-Tone fertilizer around the foliage while it is in bloom while you remember to care for the plant. Also NEVER, use bone meal as a fertilizer around outdoor bulbs as it will draw animals to the garden--and they will dig up the garden looking for possible bones left there as their food.

It is also important to remove the flowers as they fade to prevent the plant from making useless seed that will never develop properly in your garden. This way all the energy made by the plant is used by the plant for next year's growth and not wasted on unusable seeds. Use a plastic golf tee to mark the bulb cluster in your garden so you will know where to apply the fertilizer in the fall in the fall; weather will flake the paint off wooden tees.

Always plant in groups and never in straight lines as it will be easier to plant annuals around them as the daffodil foliage begins to fade. (Excellent advice!) Remove the foliage to the ground ONLY when the foliage begins to turn yellow! Plant bulbs with a covering of conditioned soil that covers the bulb with twice as much soil as the bulb is high. Example: daffodil bulbs are 3 inches tall so you must dig a hole 9 inches deep! Three inches for the bulb and six inches of soil to cover it. I advise you use Bark Mulch over them for added winter protection.

If you are planting them as wildflowers and are naturalizing them, the grass will do the same as mulch to protect them. If you are mowing this area, be sure the foliage has begun to die back before cutting and NEVER use a lawn weed control product to control weeds or the bulbs will also be killed. When planting narcissus, be sure to plant the bulb with the pointed part of the bulb facing UP. Plant bulbs in groups of 5 to 7 bulbs for the best show of color; also, if the weather gets stormy, they will be able to brace each other from the wind and rain.

Check with your local garden center for information on blooming time so you can plant several types that will bloom at staggered times in your garden. Also consider height of flowers, shape of flower, flower color combinations--and look for unique characteristics of the plant. Remember daffodils are NOT eaten by animals of any type, so do not worry about voles this winter and rabbits and deer in the spring when they are in bloom. Enjoy and plant now." (We have got many awesome varieties here at Skillin's for you!)

Paul Parent Garden Club
October 2012