Friday, December 13, 2013

Aesculus pavia, The Red Buckeye

As I wait for the snow season to start here in Minnesota, I imagine my yard in spring. I think about what new plants I can use to entice the hummingbirds to visit.

Aesculus pavia
One plant that is new to Loma Vista Nursery that would be perfect for my vision is the Aesculus pavia, the Red Buckeye. Its bright red panicles of flowers bloom in late spring. It grows 12-15' tall and wide and is hardy to zone 4. It does well in full sun to part shade and prefers a moist but well drained soil. This tree is perfect for the back edge of a hummingbird garden. I can see it in my yard with shady perennials such as Hosta, Lobelia, Coral Bells, Columbine, Monarda and Foxglove planted underneath. A burst of color that will surely give these wonderful birds a summer feast!
Aesculus pavia is one of many container trees now on sale at Loma Vista if booked and shipped before December 24th.
Kate Williams, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day With Doug Grimm

"Life is a shade better under a tree."

My first observation is that Doug is a very interesting man who knows a little something about everything and everything has a story behind it. 

During our discussion of edibles, we stumbled onto the subject of goji berries and surprisingly Doug knows a lot about goji berries.  He explained that the leaves have more antioxidants than the fruit, listed a handful of varieties he has been successful with, and then proceeded to show us a book full of goji berry recipes.

As you tour his arboretum and his "u-pick" orchards, Doug has countless varieties of trees, shrubs, and fruits and is knowledgeable about each and every one of them.  And just about every one of them comes with a story. 

The best story is that of the Oregon Trail maple, a Doug Grimm discovery. The parent tree is one that Doug remembers visiting as a young child.  Every Halloween, his family would go into Hiawatha to look at the coloring maples.  One particular sugar maple colored like no other sugar maple Doug has seen.  When this tree was still standing unharmed after a terrible ice storm in 2007 devastated all others, Doug knew this tree was different.  He diligently pursued the introduction of this tree and he remembers clearly where he was when he received the phone call from J. Frank Schmidt & Son.  He was in Falls City, NE digging a hole to plant a tree, as he had done countless times before.  But this hole was unlike any other.  As he is digging, the dirt started to fall back in the hole instead of coming out.  Well, being the son of a ditch digger, Doug knew that when dirt moved this way this meant he had hit a cavity.  You will never guess what he had dug into - a section of the Underground Railroad!  As they were waiting for word from the city on how to proceed, Doug received the news about his Oregon Trail Maple.

I was also struck by Doug's ingenuity and his willingness to adapt. Doug's nursery, Grimm's Gardens, is located in Hiawatha, KS.  A city with a population of about 3,000 and that is the largest city in the county. Traffic through the nursery was down and Doug knew he had to adapt. Adapt they did. A couple years ago, Grimm's Gardens ventured into the world of online sales.  They now have a successful web store and are selling on Ebay and Amazon.

As we were wrapping up the day, Doug had one more gem for us.  We drove (three of us on the golf cart) into the barn where he showed us his homemade fertilizer. Inside a big blue drum, atop a raised platform, a bag of worm castings was steeping into a worm casting tea. Yes, worm casting tea used successfully as a fertilizer. A perfect ending to a surprising and educational day at Grimm's Gardens.

Caitlin Hupp, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Reading

Judy Sharpton, owner of Growing Places, recently gave a presentation on garden center marketing at the PW Roadshow. She recommended several books on understanding your customers better, how they shop and what factors influence their purchasing decisions.


Two of the books are by Paco Underhill, Why We Buy and What Women Want. The Paradox of Choice, Why Less is More is by Barry Schwartz.

Please let us know if these books spark some conversation at the garden center about topics including layout, signage, displays, product choice, and service. And, what changes you plant to make to increase sales.

How to Grow Your Business

Constant Contact recently had a program in Kansas City to help businesses connect with one another and with area agencies.

Are you familiar with SCORE? This was one of the agencies in attendance. Their free and low cost workshops and mentoring programs are designed to help small businesses and start ups grow and succeed.

Of course, the program also had many marketing tips and suggested web tools. It can be a bit overwhelming putting together a marketing program and juggling all the social media options. We were reminded that brand awareness and meeting customer needs should be at the center of our efforts. It was suggested to plan ahead for success and manage your time. Set an appointment with yourself (and put it on the calendar) to market your business. Begin with a schedule of six hours a month. Set goals, state specific objectives, write it down and Dream Big!

Winter Activities at the Nursery

t's quite a mix of seasons at the nursery. Fall harvest is underway in our fields and shipping continues from our container farm. Spring crops are ready when the demand hits. While all that is going on, preparations for winter are also in high gear at Loma Vista Nursery's container farm. You might think when we are finished, we shut down until spring. While activity at the nursery slows in the winter months, it never stops.

Last winter at the container farm

Winter Protection continues with:

Maintenance of heaters and houses

Clearing away snow

Venting the houses on sunny days to prevent the houses for getting too hot and the plant from waking up too soon

Watering is still necessary though not as often. Heated houses will dry more so than unheated ones and being covered they don't benefit from any natural precipitation.

Early spring plants are ready for sale now but the ones scheduled for later in spring will be pruned and groomed to take full advantage of the spring flush of growth.

Repairs and upgrades to equipment and facilities are also made to prepare for the next growing and shipping season.

These are just a few of the activities that make providing our customers with quality product a full time, year round job at Loma Vista Nursery.

Learning Centers, The Western is Back in KC!

The Western is back in Kansas City! It's Sunday, January 5th and Monday, January 6th at the Overland Park Convention Center with a trade show and learning centers. You will find Loma Vista's learning center booth along the main aisle of the trade show floor. Join us in our booth for these sessions:

Improve Your Bottom Line with Pot in Pot Trees

Sunday, Jan. 5;10:30 AM & Monday, Jan. 6; 9:30 AM

Pot in pot trees offer many advantages to both garden centers and landscapers. Ben Cecil will lead off the program with a discussion on the nursery production of pot in pot trees and Caitlin Hupp will show how to incorporate them into your tree planting programs and inventory mix and realize savings.

How to Get the Job and Make Money! Successfully Bidding Hardscape Projects

Sunday, Jan. 5; 1:30 PM & Monday, Jan. 6; 11:30 AM

Give your company the competitive advantage by eliminating errors during the estimating process. This interactive session for landscape business owners and estimators will provide tips on bidding. Join Wes Armstrong and Belgard's Craig Folkers for the discussion and see if you can catch a door prize!

Beyond Tweets. Connecting and Communicating With Your Customers

Sunday, Jan. 5; 3:30 PM & Monday, Jan. 6; 2:30 PM

Today's world gives us many options for sharing our message with our customers. But, is the message getting through or is it just noise? Join Susan Mertz for a discussion on the many tools available for connecting with your customers and increasing sales.

Delicious Daylilies

My mother is responsible for my influence into the world of gardening with my inheritance of a small collection of gardening books from my grandmother who had a greenhouse in Osborne County in the early 70's. One of these prized treasures is The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery by Leona Woodring Smith. Leona's book on using flowers in cooking contains over 200 tested recipes of special and unusual tastes raising new adventuresome pursuits in the kitchen.

Fairy Tale Pink

Surprising to me, I discovered a chapter on daylilies, which documents how the Chinese have enjoyed dried daylilies or golden needles for centuries. In China they are a cultivated cash crop, as here they grow abundantly in roadside ditches and are planted for their beauty. The book contains nine tested recipes using either the flower or bud. Guess what I'll be purchasing for my container garden next spring!

The flavor is described as similar to chestnut or beans with a touch of honey added. They are beneficial containing vitamins, minerals and are high in protein, almost as much as spinach.

Tip: The daylily is at its peak of sweetness the day after it blooms, but with an acrid taste the following day.

Happy Returns

Forget about the traditional vegetable garden and add daylilies for a splash of color. The tastiest varieties include yellow, orange and pastel blooms. Loma Vista will have these varieties to choose from for spring planting Chicago Princess, Fairy Tale Pink, Happy Returns, Hyperion, Joan Senior, Little Grapette, Mini Pearl, Mini Stella, Pandora's Box, Stella de Oro, and Strawberry Candy (pictured below).

Unless bitter pleases your palette, avoid cooking with the red varieties, i.e. Pardon Me and Stella in Red. Leave the flowers in the garden to enjoy.

The American Hemerocallis Society provides more information on daylilies at this link Click on Tasty Daylilies if edible flowers peak your interest and enjoy creating a delightful culinary experience with the recipe for buttered daylilies.
Sheila Balaun, Inventory and Customer Service, Loma Vista Nursery