Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Successful Rain Gardens Are Green ALL Season Long!

How does your rain garden function during winter and early spring? Are you starting to see cool season weeds? Is your rain garden managing stormwater runoff and sediment like it does during the lush summer months?

Let's be honest. If a rain garden looks anything like this in winter and early spring, it's not maximizing its function year-round:

This rain garden's soil is bare and exposed. Silt and sediment washes in and can cause ponding.

When we think of rain garden functionality, we focus our attention on its functionality during the growing season. What we fail to recognize is that it has to function in the dormant season as well. This is a huge problem - not just an offseason aesthetic issue.

Bare soil is one of the main reasons for why rain gardens consistently fail.

Why is bare soil a problem in rain gardens?

Winter precipitation and early spring rains generate larger amounts of stormwater runoff and sediment loads.

Classic rain garden designs simply fail to address this problem. During the dormant season, rain gardens tend to have little to no vegetation to prevent erosion or filter sediments - leading to clogged systems. Equally as important, during the dormant stage, a rain garden's bare soil presents an opportunity for weed invasions.

The solution: Use perennials with evergreen or semi-evergreen basal leaves to offer function and aesthetic value.
Carex amphibola

Evergreen basal leaves prevent erosion, suppress cool-season weeds, and filter out sediment. This perennial trait is an essential element of successful rain gardens, ensuring proper function beyond establishment and offering soil protection when needed most.

Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline'

Yes it's true, perennials go winter dormant, but we no longer have to accept bare soil and an empty winter garden. Properly vegetated rain gardens provide the elements we miss most during the cold season: they are green, they have texture, and they are densely vegetated to provide ground cover.

Deschampsia cespitosa

The palette of useful semi-evergreen perennials is vast. We'd love to share our experiences and assist you in choosing proper species with evergreen basal leaves for your next rain garden!

Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid'

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rare Plant Auction

The perfect combination – people, plants, and positively intense bidding!

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner; please mark your calendars for The Delaware Center for Horticulture’s (TheDCH) Rare Plant Auction®. Enjoy a delightful evening amongst the exquisite conservatories of Longwood Gardens while trying to outbid fellow plant-a-holics for the rarest of the rare and the newest introductions.

Year after year, this top tier fundraiser rakes in more than $100,000 for TheDCH’s Greening Program, which uses horticulture to beautify and improve the quality of life for residents in the First State’s urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Peg & Steve Castorani, 2014 Rare Plant Auction® Honorary Co-Chairs

We’re proud to announce that the 2014 Rare Plant Auction® Honorary Co-Chairs are Hockessin, Delaware’s finest…Peg & Steve Castorani! Peg and Steve are longtime supporters of TheDCH, where they donate valuable volunteer hours, serve as members, and assist with special events such as cohosting The Center’s annual water garden tour with their Hockessin based garden center, Gateway Garden Center. “It’s an unexpected honor for Peg and I to serve in this capacity. Our personal and professional ties with TheDCH are ones we hold in high regard. The mission of both my companies, Gateway & North Creek Nurseries, resonates with that of TheDCH’s mission: The Delaware Center for Horticulture cultivates a greener community by inspiring appreciation and improvement of the environment through horticulture, education, and conservation.”

Bidding for the Preview Auction commences at 5:30 sharp. Be a part of supporting a great cause, and remember - a little bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone!
Learn more about TheDCH and the Rare Plant Auction® here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hot New Intro!

PR alert! If you haven't heard about our amazing new introduction, Panicum 'Cape Breeze', you need to read this! Our March crop is nearly sold out, but go ahead and reserve your liners for our next crop in June.

Paul Miskovsky & North Creek Nurseries to Introduce
Panicum 'Cape Breeze'
Outstanding Cape Cod selection found by celebrated landscape designer

LANDENBERG, PA – Paul Miskovsky, owner of Miskovsky Landscaping, Inc., has selected Pennsylvania-based native plant propagator, North Creek Nurseries, to bring new switchgrass selection, Panicum 'Cape Breeze', to market. “It was a natural fit to team up with Steve Castorani and the talented growing team at North Creek,” Miskovsky said. “They consistently put out reliable, uniform liners and I am confident this selection will impress from production to retail to the landscape.”

A graduate of UMass Stockbridge, Mr. Miskovsky holds a bachelor of science in Commercial Floriculture. Upon graduation his namesake landscape design, installation and maintenance company took hold. Currently, Paul is celebrating his pearl anniversary with thirty successful years of creating high-quality gardens. Miskovsky, a renowned New England landscape designer, is referred to by many as the master of “Naturescaping” and known for his natural ability to create harmonious landscape designs that create a sense of place. One such garden from which he gleans inspiration is his handcrafted and carefully maintained 4 acre property in Falmouth, MA. It is here he gains inspiration and it was here that he discovered the sport of Panicum virgatum that has become the celebrated selection 'Cape Breeze'.

The Research & Development staff at North Creek Nurseries has been evaluating the garden worthiness of 'Cape Breeze' for the past 5 years. “As growers, we take a personal responsibility to offer our customers and the marketplace plants we can firmly stand behind,” says Director of Marketing, Carrie Wiles. “Our extensive Trial & Demonstration Gardens afford us the opportunity to observe ornamental & habit traits, cultural adaptability, disease & pest resistance, and winter hardiness.”

“Switchgrass is gaining momentum in the trade as homeowners are seeking to replace nonnatives such as Pennisetum orientale with grasses such as Panicum,” says Miskovsky. 'Cape Breeze' has demonstrated remarkable adaptability, excellent salt & drought tolerance, and a strong capability to control erosion while remaining upright. Flowering a bit earlier than other varieties, seed heads are held above compact, two foot tall foliage. The panicles and seed capsules persist late into the season with the foliage color remaining green until Halloween. Panicum 'Cape Breeze' has exhibited outstanding late season rust resistance and outperforms other more susceptible varieties. Happiest in full to filtered sunlight, 'Cape Breeze' makes it look like a breeze to garner so much attention.

Monday, March 17, 2014

North Creek Newbie

Robyn Lomenzo, Section Grower

You’re in good hands with our new Section Grower, Robyn Lomenzo! Prior to North Creek, Robyn honed her horticultural skills alongside Catherine Smith at Redbud Native Plant Nursery and Anne-Marie McMahon of Sugarbush Nursery. She also completed an internship at the Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA.

A graduate of West Chester University, Robyn holds a bachelor of science in Biology with a concentration in Ecology & Conservation. While at WCU she studied under her mentor, Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer. It was here that Robyn gained greater insight for Dr. Schedlbauer’s research on plant ecophysiology and ecosystem ecology. In addition to native plants, Robyn has a very keen interest in the strengths and limitations of local and regional food systems and the role of supply chains of food from field to plate.

Please join us in welcoming Robyn to the North Creek family – we’re sure glad to have her on our team!

Robyn’s Stats:

Favorite PA State Park: Ridley Creek in Media, PA.

Hobbies: Cooking, reading, crocheting, hiking and camping.

Fun Fact: Recently returned from a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand where she was visiting her brother, an English teacher.

Favorite Animal: Her newly adopted cat, Albus Dumbledore…did I mention she likes to read?