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Meet the Team: Q&A with Bonnie Satterthwaite

Here at Espoma, our products are only as great as the team behind them. That’s why we’re excited to begin our Q&A series where you’ll get to learn a bit more about the talented folks behind the brand. We want you to see for yourself just how our company is comprised of hard-working people who genuinely care about our customers and everything plant- and garden-related!

First up is our Southeast Territory Sales Manager, Bonnie Satterthwaite. Bonnie has been with us for 14 years! We’d love to tell you about all her and the amazing things she has done for Espoma over the years, but we figured it would be best to hear it straight from the source. So, we sat down with Bonnie and let her put it in her own words.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: Developing relationships and often becoming friends with our customers. And, of course, the opportunity to visit all of the fabulous garden centers in my area.

Q: What about your personal life? Any new hobbies helping to pass the time? 

A: I purchased a rowing machine, but have yet to leave the dock…

Q: Tell us about your personal garden, yard, or plants. 

A: I truly love gardening, and I know that passion resonates with my dealers. I maintain a floral cutting garden, a white/night garden, over 150 hydrangeas, and a hydrangea graveyard.

Q: What is your top gardening tip? 

A: Never think you are finally finished and get rid of non-performers!

Q: What’s one Espoma product you couldn’t live without?

A: Without hesitation, BioTone Starter Plus. I do not plant without it. I have seen what it does for plants and transplants. I have seen unsolicited “with and without” trials by garden centers who use the “trust and verify” model. It is an amazing product. I am proud to recommend all of the Espoma line, because of our dedication to quality, the environment, and the safety of children and pets.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of gardening?

A: My favorite aspect is certainly the seasonal outdoor garden beds — just tending the garden beds and the joy of watching things flourish. There comes, for me, great satisfaction from the hard work — and I find the whole process relaxing.  I love a morning and late evening stroll around the garden.

Q: What made you want to enter the gardening industry? 

A: I was a stay-at-home mom and my sister was a grower for a local garden center. She asked me to come and help her plant 10,000 geraniums during school hours. The owner of both the growing operation and garden center told me I talked too much to be in the greenhouse and asked if I would come to his garden shop during the busy season and talk to customers. And there you go….

Q: Tell us what made you want to work at Espoma and what makes it a special place to work?

A: I met Jeremy Brunner on a garden center bus tour and, unbeknownst to me, my Espoma adventure was about to start. I was very happy at my previous job, but Jeremy’s passion and vision for the growth of the Espoma company was something that was missing from my previous job. I wanted to be a part of something that I could see and feel was going to be spectacular. Espoma cares just as deeply for their work family as they do for their products. So, for me, there was just no question on where I wanted to continue my career.

We were so fortunate to have Bonnie join us when she did — and we hope to keep her around for as long as possible! At Espoma, we definitely pride ourselves on being able to congregate hard-working employees who genuinely enjoy the gardening industry the same way our loyal customers do. Thanks for all you do, Bonnie!

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5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

Summer weather brings with it new planting projects. If you love having a fresh bouquet of flowers to keep you happy and refreshed while you’re spending more time than usual indoors, it may be time to start your own cutting garden. And the best part about it is that it’s completely customizable to what you like. You can grow roses, shrubs, perennials, and even bulbs. Try growing berry bushes to add an accent to your next bouquet!

If you’ve always thought growing your own flowers isn’t worth the hassle, take a look at these five reasons for why you should definitely reconsider. And don’t forget to stop by your local garden center to find out which plants will work best in your yard.

1. So many blooms

If you love to spend all day staring at your vase of flowers every time there’s a special occasion, you’re going to love having a cutting garden. When all the flowers are in your backyard, you get to enjoy them inside and outside! Plus, there’s no more waiting around for special occasions. When you use Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus, your flowers will be ready to be freshly picked every week.

2. Health benefits

Gardening really can be a great workout. All the same, it can be incredibly relaxing and meditative. Take a moment to get some fresh air, move around by digging and planting, and reap the benefits later (physical wellbeing and fresh flowers)!

3. Unlimited bouquets

Who says you have to stop at one bouquet a week? Fill your entire home with color-coated bunches of fresh flowers! Once your garden is fully bloomed, you no longer have to run to the store or tip for delivery.

4. Quality bonding time

There’s no better way to teach the kids how to care for living things and to connect with nature — all while spending quality time together. Even if you don’t have room in your yard, taking a family trip to a community garden can also help expand your circle of friends!

5. Curb appeal

If you do have room in your own yard, your cutting garden will instantly boost your curb appeal! Your home will not only be filled with beautiful flowers but will be surrounded by them too. Proper maintenance with Espoma’s liquid Bloom! will help keep your neighbors green with envy and your plants nice and bright.

Are you convinced yet? As you can see, there are numerous benefits to starting your own cutting garden, and very few cons! Who wouldn’t want unlimited access to fresh flowers? Even when you have to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, you’re still getting a great workout and great payoff. Find your nearest garden center and get started today.

Top Picks for Growing A Cutting Garden:

Drip Irrigation with Garden Answer

In this video from Garden Answer, Laura plants a new garden for her sister–in-law.  She has already outlined the new beds and removed the sod. The next steps are installing a drip irrigation system by tapping into an old one and marking the spots for the trees she will be planting.

Drip irrigation emits water at the base of the plants, which is better for plants than overhead watering. Hard water can leave damaging build up on foliage and wet leaves can invite diseases. With drip irrigation, all of the water soaks into the ground and doesn’t evaporate. It’s the most efficient method of watering.

Irrigation systems take the work out of watering, but it’s not – set it and forget it. Water needs vary at different times of the year. Laura is using emitters that deliver one gallon of water per hour, a standard-setting. She still waters each newly planted tree with the garden hose to make sure the soil has settled and that there are no air pockets. 

Planting in mid-summer isn’t ideal because of the heat, but it can be done with a tiny bit of extra care and water. Laura always recommends using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus whenever she plants. And, as she points out, it’s even more important when the plants are stressed, in this case by heat. The mycorrhizae in Bio-tone helps stimulate root growth to ensure new plants get maximum water and nutrients from the soil to minimize transplant shock and loss.

These trees will become the “bones” of her design. She has taken into account the mature height of the trees so they do not interfere with the power lines above them or the fire hydrant between them. She has also chosen narrow varieties of evergreens that will not outgrow their allotted space in the garden.

Slim Trees for Small Spaces

Weeping White Spruce

An elegant, straight trunked tree with weeping branches. The needles are green with a bluish tint. A perfect choice for narrow spaces. Hardy in zones 2-7.

Merlot Redbud

Bright lavender-pink flowers bloom in spring before the leaves unfurl. Dark purple, glossy foliage stands up to summer heat. Perfect for smaller landscapes. Hardy in zones 6-9.

‘Baby Blue’ Blue Spruce

Attractive silvery-blue needles make this spruce standout, plus it maintains its color throughout the year. The habit is smaller and narrower than other blue spruce. Hardy in zones 2-8.

‘Hillside’ Upright Norway Spruce

A narrow, upright form growing to just 10 feet tall in the first 10 years. Perfect for smaller urban gardens. Dark green needles are backed by attractive, burnt orange stems. Hardy in zones 3-7.

Columnar Dwarf Mugo Pine

A narrow, upright form of mugo pine, makes a strong architectural statement. Will grow to just 8 feet tall. Produces small, yet ornamental cones. Hardy to zones 2-8.

Here are a few of our other blogs and videos that we think you’ll enjoy:

Top Trees for Fantastic Fall Color

Top Five Trees to Plant for Bees

How to Fertilize Your Trees

How to Plant Hydrangeas

In the video below, Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to plant hydrangeas using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus and Holly-tone.

Can’t wait to learn more about hydrangeas?
Check out our Hydrangea Growing Guide

HYDRANGEA
Growing Guide

 


 

7 Flowers for a Sun-Kissed July Bouquet

Summertime brings plenty of sunshine, relaxing days outdoors, fresh veggies ready for harvest farmers markets — and best of all, fresh flowers from your garden. The season’s hot weather makes it perfect for enjoying outdoor blooms and snipping a few off to create your own sun-kissed bouquet. Check out the below varieties that will add a big burst of color from late summer into fall.

Sunflowers

Nothing says summer quite like a bright and cheery sunflower. Choose dwarf varieties which typically have smaller blooms and reach about 1 foot in height. They are perfect for small space gardening and children love planting these bright flowers. Grow in full sun or partial shade in Zones 1-10. Start sunflowers indoors in Espoma’s seed starting mix for extra flower power.

Dahlias

A classic favorite, dahlias dazzle with blooms from mid-July until September. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs, it’s hard to plant just one. These dazzling beauties will add style to your garden anywhere you plant them. While they are technically a tuber, you plant them the same way you would plant a bulb. Dahlias are winter hardy in zones 8-11, but gardeners in zones 2-7 can plant them in the spring.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These heat-tolerant plants bloom quickly from mid-summer until frost and are easy to grow. The more you cut your zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

 

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas embody everything we love about gardening. They have billowy texture, come in bright colors and are easy to care for. With their larger-than-life blooms and immense foliage, they can be planted anywhere from container to flower bed. Check with your local garden center to find the best hydrangea variety for your zone.

Lavender

Perfectly purple lavender is a garden must-have. Their flowering period covers the summer months of June to August. As a bonus, their scent is known to deter pesky mosquitoes. Use lavender in a bouquet just on its own or as filler with other summer blooms. Best suited for zones 5-8.

Roses

Roses are the most classic flower to include in a garden. They’re prolific bloomers, fragrant and colorful. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and with the right care, can come back to thrive year after year. Feed your roses monthly with Espoma’s Organic Rose-tone to ensure proper growth.

 

Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

Products:

 

 

 

 

Best Wildflowers for your Wedding Bouquet

Whether your wedding colors are blush and bashful or burgundy and navy, cut wildflowers from your own garden will go with almost any color pallet.

Did you know growing these bouquets of pastel-hued flowers or fiery reds and yellows can be done right in your own backyard? The important thing is to be creative, maximize your growing abilities and time your blooms with your big day.

5 Wildflowers for Wedding Bouquets

Sunflowers

Choose hybrid, pollenless varieties of sunflowers for bouquets and centerpieces. Varieties that are single-stem will produce one beautiful stem per seed or plant in a short amount of time. Choose from a variety of shapes and colors. Golden yellow sunflowers with dark-centers are classic, but ones with green centers or lemon-hued flowers make for unique looking bouquets. Grow in full sun or part shade in Zones 1-10. Feed blooms with Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus when you plant for extra flower power.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These plants bloom from mid-summer until frost and are one of the easiest wildflowers to grow. Plus, the more you cut zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Cosmos

A popular cut flower, cosmos will add a pop of color to any bouquet. Their pink, crimson, white or chocolate flowers last until frost and are attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowering non-stop, two to three inch blossoms grow on fern-like stems. Feed throughout the growing season with Flower-tone to get fantastic blooms. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Daisies

With their white rays and yellow centers, daisies brighten up any bouquet. They grow 1-3 feet tall and will not take up too much space in a garden or bouquet. Feed regularly with Bloom! liquid plant food for vibrant whites and beautiful fragrance. Grow in full sun in Zones 3-8.

Black-eyed Susan

Named for their dark brown centers peeking out of the gold or bronze petals, black-eyed susans thrive in the sun. These daisy-like blooms are perfect for a late summer or fall bouquet. They tend to grow to about 2 feet tall and handle high heat and drought conditions well. Grow in full sun in zones 3-9.

Directions

It’s time to make the cut once your wildflowers are in bloom.

Cut stems in early morning or late evening to prevent wilting from the harsh sun and heat. Strip any foliage  that will be placed directly in the water. Leave foliage near top of the stems for added interested and filler in your bouquet.

Thinking bulbs might be a better fit for your wedding bouquet? Find out how Garden Answer gets beautiful blooms.

https://youtu.be/qMDXnGYJUlc

Espoma Products for DIY Bouquets

Bloom! Plant Food

 

Bug OFF: Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

It is that time of year again when those tiny whining noises can be heard buzzing by your ear. Mosquitoes are back! You can keep these pests at bay by using nature’s own recipe for effective mosquito repellents.

It is a matter of comfort to keep the mosquitoes away, but it is also a matter of your family’s safety. By keeping the mosquito population around your house to a minimum, you reduce the risk of being exposed to mosquito-borne diseases.

Tell those mosquitoes to bug off by fighting them naturally. Avoid chemicals by planting a mosquito repellent garden. Read about our top choices for mosquito-repelling plants below.

Geraniums

These bright red and pink blooms have a fragrant lemon and citronella-like scent, which is delightful to humans but extremely repugnant to mosquitos. Geraniums prefer a warm, sunny, and dry climate and work in the garden or in pots. Hardy in Zones 3 through 9. Plant with Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus to give plants the nutrients they need.

 

Basil

Basil is one of the handiest plants around. Add it to your favorite meal, drink or simply enjoy its wonderful smell. One of the biggest perks is that it emits a mosquito-repelling aroma without having to crush the leaves. Prevent mosquito bites by rubbing a handful of basil leaves on exposed areas of the skin. Research in the 2011 Malaria Journal found that basil was discovered to be up to 100% effective in preventing mosquito bites. Hardy in Zones 1 through 10.

 

Marigolds

Marigolds have earned the “most pungent” superlative from the plants on this list. Their smell has not only proven to be offensive to mosquitos, but also to rabbits, deer and some people. Despite the smell, their luminous orange and yellow petals brighten up your garden. They enjoy full sun and fertile soil. A major plus is that marigolds make great companion plants for tomatoes, protecting against other insects that eat the plants. Hardy in Zones 2 through 10. Fertilize with Espoma’s Bloom! liquid fertilizer for great looking marigolds.

 

 

Lavender

Add vibrant purple to your garden by planting lavender. Lavender gives off a sweet aroma that is attractive to humans, but most definitely not to mosquitoes. You can rub lavender on your skin to use as a natural mosquito repellent, too. Lavender prefers full sun with well-drained soil. Hardy in Zones 5 through 9. Feed with Espoma’s Plant-tone throughout the growing season.

Rosemary 

Rosemary, a member of the mint family, will most definitely keep the mosquitoes away. This Mediterranean favorite is one of the most aromatic herbs you can grow. Grow in full sun and water when dry. Although you don’t need to prune, you can cut back branches to help your rosemary bush stay in shape. Both fresh cuts and dry cuts are effective in repelling mosquitoes. Add rosemary to your summer fire pit so when it burns it gives off incense that is offensive to mosquitoes. You can also make rosemary into oils, add it to meals, or even make natural repellents. Hardy in Zones 6 through 9.

 

 

Espoma Products for Plants that Help Repel Mosquitoes:

Bloom! Plant Food

 

Companion Planting for Beginners

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how to your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companion Planting for Beginners with Garden Tour

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Continue to watch for a tour of Laura’s vegetable garden and to see where Laura plants her companions.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

The temperature is only getting warmer, which means it’s time to start a cutting garden! From lilies, to dahlias and zinnias, you can have nonstop blooms.

Cutting gardens can include anything from roses and shrubs to perennials, annuals and even bulbs. Cuttings from berry bushes can even make a great complement to fall bouquets. The fun doesn’t stop with just pretty vases and bouquets, you can also grow flowers for dried arrangements in the cutting garden.

You may be wondering why you would want to spend time in the sun and dirt all day. Trust us! The five reasons below are just a few personal favorites of why growing a cutting garden is worth it.

Stop by your local garden center to find out which plants will work best in your yard for your cutting garden.

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden:

1. So Many Blooms

Nothing beats a fresh cut flower arrangement. It’s even better when it’s handpicked from your cutting garden. Enjoy blooms both in your garden and your favorite vase. Feed blooms with Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus when you plant for extra flower power.

2. The Health Benefits

Digging, planting and working in the garden all benefits your physical and mental wellbeing. Gardening gets your body moving. Unplug from electronics for a bit and enjoy the fresh air. It will help clear your mind.

3. Unlimited Bouquets

There’s no reason to never have fresh flowers for bouquets when your cutting garden is in bloom. Those endless bouquets don’t come with a price tag and there’s no need to tip the delivery person.

4. Bring The Family Together

Gardening brings people together. Whether you are trying to get your family involved or are looking for some help, gardeners are open and honest about everything. If you don’t have a place to garden at home, join a community garden and make friends who also like to get their hands dirty.

5. Boost Curb Appeal

Having a cutting garden will help boost curb appeal. Surround your property with beautiful flowers of all kinds for a look that will make your neighbors green with envy. Proper maintenance and Espoma’s liquid Bloom! will have your house looking picture perfect, and boost your real estate values, too!

Think hydrangeas would be perfect for your cutting garden? Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant them.

 

Top Picks for Growing A Cutting Garden:

Bloom! Plant Food