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Miniature Gardening: Imagine Enormous Possibilities

  • Written by Molbak's

By Molbak’s

Molbak’s was thrilled to welcome best-selling author, Janit Calvo, to a special seminar and book-signing event. Calvo’s book, "Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World" is a customer-favorite at Molbak’s and Amazon.com, and the reason is simple: Miniature gardening sparks our imaginations in a very big way. 

The fascination with miniature forms is nothing new. The first known human artifact is a tiny female replica that dates back to 35,000 to 40,000 BC. Dollhouses and model railways have been delighting hobbyists for centuries. Teacup poodles, dwarf plant varieties, matchbox cars—miniaturized versions of the original are all around us, more charming and captivating because of their size.

But don’t let the whimsical, playful nature of miniature worlds deceive you. "Some seem to think its child’s play and not for real gardeners," Calvo explains. "But gardening in miniature can be as challenging as designing a full-sized garden; proportion and scale, elements of garden design, and sustainability all need to be considered."

Here’s a quick overview of how to get started creating your own mini-garden:

1. Think it up. Miniature gardens start and end with imagination.  Think of the story you want your mini garden to tell, then consider what container and elements you’ll need to bring your scene to life.

2. Round it up. Sometimes just one tiny piece of inspiration—a mini watering can, a pint-sized Gazebo, a wee ceramic sleigh—can spark an idea that turns into a delightfully complete scene. Finding the elements to fill your mini-world takes patience and creativity, but remember: the search is half the fun.

3. Set it up. After you’ve tracked down the right plants and elements for your miniature garden, experiment with arranging them atop the soil. Place the larger elements first then decide where you want the smaller pieces to live.

4. Plant it up. Once the overall design is established, dig in. Plant the plants with the largest root mass first. Dig a hole for the roots, plant and smooth out the soil, then move onto the next plant.

5. Spruce it up. When finished planting, smooth the soil a final time, gently water the entire surface with a sprinkling can, and press soil down lightly with your fingertips. (This will help keep your soil contained and keep your patios, paths and hardscaping tidy.) Incorporate your paths, and design elements and stake them in place if necessary.

Oh Deer!

  • Written by Molbak's

by Molbak’s garden+home

This well-worn phrase has been expressed in countless different ways.  By children or hikers in the wilderness – it is said in breathless amazement. By gardeners – it’s generally expressed in frustration, as we survey what’s left of our yard after deer have used it as an "All You Can Eat Bambi Buffet!"

Deer are becoming a fixture in more populated areas.  And – they create significant landscape damage in gardens year after year. So what can you do to protect your plants from these pesky picnickers?

Some people use the barrier method: deer fencing, netting  and even motion-controlled water-jets, (which can be fun to watch!) Others use deer repellent, which targets a deer’s sense of smell or taste.  Repellents come in spray and granule form and there is even a brand new systemic form that comes in tablets. The tablets are buried in the soil, and the repellant is absorbed throughout the plant – making it inedible.

Molbak’s believes, the most effective way to deter deer from snacking, is to make your landscape as unappetizing as possible and send them packing. But you don’t have to give up color, texture and beauty to do it.  We’ve gathered a collection of gorgeous deer-resistant plants, groundcovers, shrubs, grasses and conifers that will have your uninvited dinner guests high-tailing it back to the woods!

Bergenias or Pigsqueak

These shady evergreen perennial superstars sport pink blossoms in spring, and bold leaves that tint red in fall to perk up borders, create a textured groundcover or shine as easy-care edging.  Deer turn up their noses at Pigsqueak, and pass them up for more succulent dishes.

Fescue

Is it the texture or the taste that takes these drought-tolerant grasses off the "Deer Menu?" Not only do they add color and movement, they are virtually carefree!  Cover tough, dry spots with these evergreen grasses, avoided by both deer and rabbits.

Luminous wintertime wonders – Hellebores send deer packing.  Even though these feisty perennials bloom in cold weather, when gardens are dormant, deer pass up their elegant flowers and foliage. Hellebores come in an amazing variety of blossom and leaf colors, and are a beautiful addition to your beds and borders.  

These conifers come in so many colors, shapes, sizes and growing habits, you’ll want to add them for their personality alone.  Plus, they are easy to grow, drought-tolerant and loved as "plant and forget" shrubs and trees.  Perfect for hedging or as accents and deer say, "No thanks!"

A brilliant choice to deter deer. Whether you choose evergreen or deciduous varieties, these spiny shrubs burst with vibrant, ever-changing color. From small to tall, their fiery leaves and glistening berries in winter are sure to keep you planting more and more.

So if you are looking for a way to shut down your "Deer Diner," come to Molbak’s and take a look at the many varieties of deer-resistant groundcovers, bloomers, conifers, trees and shrubs we offer.

Foliage superstars for your garden

  • Written by from Molbak’s

• Now that summer flowers are fading, it is time think about adding color and texture to the garden by adding foliage that packs a punch and Karen Chapman will present Fall Foliage Superstars for Beds and Containers, at Molbak’s on Saturday, September 21, 10. to 11 a.m.  This free seminar will focus on designing stunning combinations that will look good throughout the fall.  Book signing to follow.

•  The Tacoma Glassblowing Studio is bringing their Northwest Glass Pumpkin Patch to Molbak’s in Woodinville on Saturday, September 21, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.  The public is invited to wander through a dazzling display of more than 2,000 one-of-a-kind, hand blown glass pumpkins crafted by local artists in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and prices.  Admission is free. 

• Looking for the perfect day hike for you and your dog? Loren Drummond, Washington Trails Association, will share her favorite local trails at a free seminar at Molbak’s on Saturday, September 21, noon to 1 p.m.  Drummond will also discuss ways to ensure a successful trip, what to pack, trail etiquette and offer training tips. This seminar is for owners and dog-lovers. 

Due to fire codes, dogs are not allowed in Molbak’s Events Area. 

For more information, visit http://www.molbaks.com/events.html.

Celebrate a growing sense of community

  • Written by Molbak's

 When it comes to building a strong community, it’s all about taking the time to get to know your neighbors. Spending time in the garden is a wonderful place to start.
 

Gardening gets you out into the fresh air where you can connect with nature and the people around you. Ask your neighbor about a beautiful plant you’ve been admiring. Compare notes on what veggie varieties are thriving. Gather tips and share plants back and forth over the garden fence. A common interest in gardening is all you need to break the ice and turn acquaintances into friends.
 

At Molbak’s, we’re proud and honored to have been part of creating so many beautiful gardens in our area — but also for creating special programs and unique opportunities throughout the year to help bring our garden community together. Here are just a few examples:  
 

Sharing the bounty. If you grow your own fruits and veggies, you know that often your crops yield more than you can eat. That’s why we created the Share Your Harvest program. With Share Your Harvest, you can drop off your just-picked fruits and vegetables at Molbak’s during harvest time and we’ll donate them to Hopelink. In our first four years, we’ve donated nearly 4,500 pounds of fresh produce to help feed the hungry in our area. This year, you can drop off your Share Your Harvest donations any Saturday from August 17 to September 28, and share part of your healthy harvest with those in need. Please visit Molbaks.com for more detailed information.
 

Sharing inspiration. For the past 14 years, Molbak’s has sponsored the Woodinville Garden Club Tour of Gardens. This fun-filled event spotlights some of our area’s most gorgeous gardens — and the talented green thumbs behind them. The proceeds help fund ongoing civic programs and special projects in the community.
 

Sharing ideas. Throughout the year, Molbak’s offers free classes and seminars on everything from canning to cocktail making, pruning to attracting birds. It’s a wonderful way to join with friends and learn a new way to make the most of your garden and the beauty and bounty it provides.
 

Sharing fun: Want to get the children outdoors more? We’ve created a monthly email series that delivers great ideas, timely activities and tips on how to involve kids in the garden. This free series runs March through October and is created in partnership with our friends at Seattle Tilth. You can sign up at Molbaks.com*
 

Sharing traditions. When autumn leaves start to fall, Molbak’s will head into a season of family-friendly traditions. It starts with our annual free fall play. This year’s production? Little Red Riding Hood. “My, what big fun we have,” and we look forward to sharing it with you!
 

For a list of upcoming events, classes and more, visit www.molbaks.com.
 

*Must be a Molbak’s Rewards member to participate. Not a member? No problem, membership is free. Visit Molbaks.com for more info.

Succulent Success: 5 reasons to welcome succulents into your garden

  • Written by Molbak's

Sedums. Sempervivum. Echeverias. Why are succulents like these so delightful to grow?  There are countless reasons, and here are five excellent ones:

1. They are gorgeous. If you want to incorporate a kaleidoscope of geometric patterns, unexpected colors, and cool architectural shapes into your garden, succulents are a standout choice. With a myriad of interesting leaf textures and growth habits—from bold and showy to delicate and diminutive—succulents possess a striking beauty all their own.

2. They don’t ask for much. Forget to water your garden regularly? Succulents won’t hold it against you. Plant them in well-draining soil in an area that gets plenty of light, and you need only give them a good soak once a week. You want the roots of the plant to dry out completely between waterings, which is why well-draining soil is a must and clay soils should be avoided. Note: Succulents store up water in their leaves. So the thicker a succulent’s leaves, the less water it requires.

3. They’re versatile problem-solvers. Succulents can be planted indoors and out, in rockeries, container gardens and borders. You can even find varieties like Sedum ‘Ogon,’ that fill the spaces around stepping stones, and bounce back into shape even with heavy foot traffic. Succulents are also easy to divide and replant, so you can experiment with where you place them, and move them as you see fit.

4. Their beauty multiplies. One of the best things about succulents is how easily they propagate. Simply pluck off leaves from your plants, put them out on damp soil, and they’ll sprout roots and begin to grow on their own. It’s simple and fascinating to watch, and it’s a low cost way to bring additional beauty to your garden. Also, as your supply of succulents grows, you can share extras with friends and neighbors.

5. They let you know if something’s wrong. With enough light and well-drained soil, succulents are easy to grow. And when something’s not quite right, these low-maintenance plants will give you a sign. For example, if the roots/stem turn black, it means your plant is getting too much water. Water less, and amend your soil with perlite so that is drains better. If you notice brown/black spots on your plant’s leaves, it’s getting sunburned. Move your plant to a location where the light is less intense. If your plant starts "stretching" – getting really tall with a lot of space between leaves – it’s searching for light, and needs to be moved to a brighter location.

For more information and expert advice on how to successfully grow succulents, join us at Molbak’s for a free Q&A session: 

June 29, 11a.m.-12:30 p.m.

MEET THE EXPERT: Success with Succulents

Featuring Wayne Fagerlund from Evergreen Valley Nursery

Molbak’s Outdoor Succulents & Sedums area

See you there!