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Bringing Plants Indoors for the Winter

How to Overwinter Your Plants

Laura with Garden Answer is answering some commonly asked questions on how to get your plants and containers prepared to bring inside for the winter. She lays out her step-by-step instructions on how to keep your plants happy and healthy, even when they are inside.

Step 1 – Figure Out What You Want to Bring Inside

Walk around your garden and gather what you want to save. Think about your succulents, perennials and herbs out in the garden. Even, window boxes, displays and smaller containers can survive indoors with a little bit of help.

Once you have gathered everything you want to bring inside, think about the containers they are currently in. Will they work for inside your home? Will you dig something out of your garden that needs a new container? These questions will lead you to gather the right supplies.

Step 2 – Gather All Your Supplies in One Place

It’s easier to have one designated area to work. It will keep you from moving your supplies all over your garden and keep the mess contained.

Tools you might need are a trowel, a shovel, snips, pruners, gloves and containers. If the containers were previously used, be sure to sanitize them with 1-part bleach to 10-parts water to rid of any insects or diseases that may be hiding. The last thing you will need is the right kind of soil.  Succulents and cactus, African violet and orchids and regular everyday plants all have different soil needs to thrive.

Step 3 – Groom and Trim Plants

Trim off any leggy branches or make any aesthetic cuts. Also, trim dead leaves and spent blooms as those are what diseases and insects use to find their way indoors.

Step 4 – Check for Insects

It’s best not to bring insects inside your home. Be sure to check the top of the soil, the top of leaves and the underside of leaves. Anything that is crawling around in there should stay outside. This will guarantee other houseplants will not be infected later on.

Step 5 – Refresh Your Soil

If you aren’t repotting, evenly scrape off the top inch or two, whatever will come up easily, and replace it with fresh soil. This will help ensure all insect eggs are out of the soil.

Step 6 – Repot If Necessary

Now is the time to repot any containers if they need to go up a size or you want to match your interiors. This is also when you should pot anything that you have dug up from the garden. Remember, use the right kind of soil for your plants. Espoma has soil for every kind of plant.

Step 7 – Water with a Deep Soak

While this isn’t required to do before moving your plants into the house, it is highly recommended. While they can still drain outdoors, give your plants a big drink of water. It will help get them established in their new containers and release the nutrients in the fresh top soil.

Step 8 – Bring Your Plants Inside

Think about how much light each of these plants need and find the appropriate place to put them. If they like full light, find a window with bright light they will enjoy living in for a few months. It’s best to place a saucer underneath each of the pots to catch anything that may find its way out.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Fairy Garden DIY (Extended Cut)

Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, crisp apples and pumpkin picking are all signs that fall is here. Make fall come to life in your very own fairy garden!

 

Fairy gardens do better when in an area protected from the elements. When thinking about where to create or place your fairy garden, think about the environmental factors like wind and rain that can ruin the garden. When Laura is done creating her fairy garden, she will place it on her covered porch where it will be protected!

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • There is no drainage in this miniature garden, so water lightly and only when the plants need it. Laura suggests using a syringe to get the right amount of water exactly where it’s needed.
  • If using shapecrete, it may still be soft after 30 minutes of curing, so don’t put too much weight on it. It will continue to cure for 24 hours.
  • This is a seasonal project, so before winter comes find a new home for the plants, either in a greenhouse or indoors, in order to preserve them.

Watch Laura dive into this fun autumn fairy garden! Here is a list of supplies she uses.

Materials Used:
Old Suitcase
Heavy Black Plastic
Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
Small Plants
Tree Figurines with LED lights
Shapecrete
Native soil
Putka Pods (Look like Miniature Pumpkins)
Autumn Themed Fairy Figurines and Décor
Mulch
Embellishments

Plants Laura Used:
Tiny Tim Euphorbia
Irish Moss
Straw Flower
Creeping Jenny
Sempervivums

How to Create an Autumn Fairy Garden:

  1. Line an old suitcase with heavy plastic in order to preserve it and keep the soil in one place.
  2. Fill with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and trim the excess plastic from the container to make it look clean and precise.
  3. Add plants. Remember to work from back to front adding height and texture to the miniature landscape. Use plants that will stay small, so they don’t outgrow your garden.
  4. Add tree figurines. If they light up, keep them near the sides so the cords don’t get wet.
  5. Create a road or pathway for your fairies. Cut photo paper to make a guide where you want the road to go. Mix water with shapecrete and pour between the photo paper. Let dry 30 minutes before removing the paper. It’ll continue to cure for 24 hours.
  6. Now is the time to set the autumn scene and add in your fairy garden figurines. Laura used putka pods, miniature straw bales, apples in a barrel, a Farmer’s Market stand, a worker and a truck full of pumpkins! Feel free to add some mulch and native soil to give it an authentic field feel.
  7. Decorate the lid of your suitcase with fall themed embellishments. Laura added a bunting banner in fall colors.

Enjoy your new fairy garden!

Use Espoma’s organic potting mix in your fairy garden.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Fairy Garden DIY

Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, crisp apples and pumpkin picking are all signs that fall is here. Make fall come to life in your very own fairy garden!

 

Fairy gardens do better when in an area protected from the elements. When thinking about where to create or place your fairy garden, think about the environmental factors like wind and rain that can ruin the garden. When Laura is done creating her fairy garden, she will place it on her covered porch where it will be protected!

Before we begin, there are a few things to note:

  • There is no drainage in this miniature garden, so water lightly and only when the plants need it. Laura suggests using a syringe to get the right amount of water exactly where it’s needed.
  • If using shapecrete, it may still be soft after 30 minutes of curing, so don’t put too much weight on it. It will continue to cure for 24 hours.
  • This is a seasonal project, so before winter comes find a new home for the plants, either in a greenhouse or indoors, in order to preserve them.

Watch Laura dive into this fun autumn fairy garden! Here is a list of supplies she uses.

Materials Used:
Old Suitcase
Heavy Black Plastic
Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
Small Plants
Tree Figurines with LED lights
Shapecrete
Native soil
Putka Pods (Look like Miniature Pumpkins)
Autumn Themed Fairy Figurines and Décor
Mulch
Embellishments

Plants Laura Used:
Tiny Tim Euphorbia
Irish Moss
Straw Flower
Creeping Jenny
Sempervivums

How to Create an Autumn Fairy Garden:

  1. Line an old suitcase with heavy plastic in order to preserve it and keep the soil in one place.
  2. Fill with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and trim the excess plastic from the container to make it look clean and precise.
  3. Add plants. Remember to work from back to front adding height and texture to the miniature landscape. Use plants that will stay small, so they don’t outgrow your garden.
  4. Add tree figurines. If they light up, keep them near the sides so the cords don’t get wet.
  5. Create a road or pathway for your fairies. Cut photo paper to make a guide where you want the road to go. Mix water with shapecrete and pour between the photo paper. Let dry 30 minutes before removing the paper. It’ll continue to cure for 24 hours.
  6. Now is the time to set the autumn scene and add in your fairy garden figurines. Laura used putka pods, miniature straw bales, apples in a barrel, a Farmer’s Market stand, a worker and a truck full of pumpkins! Feel free to add some mulch and native soil to give it an authentic field feel.
  7. Decorate the lid of your suitcase with fall themed embellishments. Laura added a bunting banner in fall colors.

Enjoy your new fairy garden!

Use Espoma’s organic potting mix in your fairy garden.

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Answer’s Top 5 Low Light Houseplants (Extended Version)

Sometimes the perfect place for a houseplant has little to no light. But that won’t  stop these low light houseplants from growing big and healthy. Laura from Garden Answer shows off her favorites and gives tips to keep them healthy.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Low Light Houseplants

Houseplants are great for adding color, décor, texture or even a little bit of health to any space in your home. Sometimes the best place to put a houseplant isn’t the most ideal for the plant, but with these low light houseplants, they will thrive in even the darkest corners. Don’t forget, these plants can go anywhere indoors, like an office space that can use a little life.

Garden Answer’s Favorite Low-Light Plants

Peace Lily

Not many plants that tolerate low light areas have blooms, but this one does! It has interesting green or white flowers that are the same texture as the foliage, which is dark and glossy. The flowers bloom for long periods of time. Peace lilies can grow 18 to 36 inches tall and wide, depending on the container you have them in. Water every week or so, be sure not to overwater, and as a friendly reminder the foliage will droop if it needs more water.

Pothos

This houseplant thrives in places out of direct sunlight and is super low maintenance, so place them wherever you want to enjoy them. They can be planted in hanging baskets or on ledges to allow the foliage to drape over and trail down. Water every 10 to 14 days.

Sansevieria

Also known as a Mother-in-law’s tongue or a snake plant, this houseplant has striking foliage that grows upward. It is a very modern plant that comes in different shapes, sizes and colors, so it will truly work with any decor. It is very low maintenance — just keep an eye on the foliage for wilting and water about every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, you may go a month between waterings. Add water away from the plant – never pour over the leaves.

Spider Plant

This is another interesting plant to add to any space. It is multigenerational, meaning it is easy to propagate and pass on to others (even kids and grandkids) to start their own. The name Spider Plant comes from the off shoots on the foliage. They look like little spiders hanging from a web. Pinch an off shoot (or spider) and plant it in a pot with fresh Espoma Potting Soil to start a new plant. Water once a week to keep them happy.

ZZ Plant

The dark green healthy foliage on this plant is worth noting, though it isn’t always that way. The foliage starts off bright green when it is freshly planted and will darken as time goes on. While other plants can get little burns from being indoors, the ZZ plant is hardy enough to withstand anything, even the darkest of corners. This is probably the toughest plant of this list.

Remember, low-light houseplants need time to absorb water, so allow them to dry out in between watering. The peace lily is the only exception, as they prefer it a bit moist. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the leaves every month or so. This will help keep your plants looking better as dust settles on them. Be sure to keep the cloth damp as they need humidity to survive too. In addition to the cloth, spray a mist over the foliage with distilled water to amp up the humidity around the plant.

Feed your houseplants regularly with Espoma’s Indoor! liquid plant food. It is an all-purpose houseplant food to help give them the nutrients they need. Lastly, be sure to check the roots every six months to see if you need to move your plants to a bigger pot.

 

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants (quick cut)

Your houseplant’s health is extremely important. Laura from Garden Answer clears the air when it comes to re-potting in this step by step tutorial.

This is the safest and best way to re-pot your plants to enjoy them in your home for years.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

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:

 

 

 

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants

Plants can outgrow their homes. And by homes, we mean containers. Here are quick tips on how to re-pot houseplants.

Usually, there are two reasons to re-pot houseplants. The first is that you just bought a plant from a garden center and would like to put it in a more decorative pot. The second is that your houseplant has outgrown its current pot. Either way, the same re-potting rules apply.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

Hydrangea Hype: Garden Inspiration

Beautifully flowering hydrangeas are a telltale sign of summer. The white, blue, pink or purple flowers paired with bright green foliage look gorgeous in every summer garden.

With big colorful blooms and beautiful green foliage, summer’s favorite flower makes a bold statement in any garden.

Hydrangea Basics

Besides their obvious beauty, there are some facts about hydrangeas worth knowing before embarking on your hydrangea garden journey. With many varieties of the hydrangea species, it is important to keep in mind which ones thrive in your zone and garden. For example, if you live in a cool zone, the Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is a great choice to add to your garden.

Hydrangeas are acid-loving plants. To keep your hydrangeas happy use Espoma’s Organic Holly-Tone to fertilize.  You can even adjust the acidity of the soil to change the color of some hydrangeas. Do you prefer blue to pink? It’s easy to enjoy a garden full of blue hydrangeas by simply decreasing (lowering) the pH of the soil. We recommend amending your soil with Espoma’s Soil Acidifier to help turn your hydrangeas blue.

Hydrangeas in containers

Short on space? No problem! There are several varieties that will thrive in your small space. Our Hydrangea Variety Guide will help find the right dwarf hydrangea to put in your containers.

Next, find a spot that matches the amount of light they need. Be sure to use a good quality potting soil such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. Choose a container that is 1/2 or 1/3 bigger than the plant itself. It is important that the plant does not get crowded in its container. The last step is to water well and most importantly, enjoy the big beautiful blooms!

 

 

Don’t settle for bushes. Grow a tree!

While we’re typically used to seeing low growing hydrangea bushes, how great would it be to see hydrangeas on trees? Well, the good news is, you can! Hydrangea paniculata, also known as Grandiflora, produces white conical flowers instead of big spherical blossoms. With some pruning and proper care, it can grow up to 25 feet tall! Grandiflora, known among gardeners as Pee Gee Hydrangea, is your best bet for growing a hydrangea tree.  Check your hardiness zone, as hydrangea trees thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 8a. Hydrangeas prefer full sun for most of the day and a bit of afternoon shade, so be sure to choose a generally bright spot.

One of the most important parts of growing a hydrangea tree is pruning. The main difference between a hydrangea shrub and a tree is training, pruning and proper care.

 

Friends that bloom together stay together

Hydrangeas make great companion plants. Pair them with delicate foliage, bold flowers or subtle ornamental grasses for an extra pop of color in your garden. Pair with shrubs, flowers and grasses for a look that pleases.

Begonias and geraniums are beautiful flowers that come in many different shades making them a perfect companions for hydrangeas. Create a colorful rainbow garden by pairing blue hydrangeas with pink geraniums or white hydrangeas with scarlet begonias. Whichever you choose, look for companion plants that bloom around the same time.

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Multi-size, multi-color, and just plain beautiful

When we picture hydrangeas — with their larger-than-life blooms and immense foliage — we naturally envision large plants. Believe it or not, hydrangeas come in not one, not two, but three sizes! Dwarf varieties are petite beauties that pack a powerful punch. Scroll through our Hydrangea Variety Guide to find the right dwarf or full-size hydrangea for you.

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Hydrangea appreciation

Appreciate your hard work growing your hydrangea garden by putting together hydrangea bouquets to decorate your home, creative art projects, making a hydrangea wreath, or dry them out for year-round arrangements! There is no end to the beauty your hydrangeas will bring to your garden and your home.

 

Espoma Products Hydrangeas will Love:

5 Unusual Containers to Grow Strawberries

There are very few things better than a sweet, juicy strawberry from your garden. Summer and strawberries go hand in hand, so if you aren’t already growing them, get them in the ground now.

But not everyone has a spot in the garden for this berry, so sometimes you need to come up with interesting and unique ways to plant them.

Choose your favorite from our options below and head over to your local garden center to pick up supplies and some Holly-tone. Your fresh strawberries won’t disappoint!

5 Unique Spots to Plant Strawberries:

Bird Bath

If you have a bird bath lying around that you no longer need, plant some strawberries in there! Add large rocks or broken terra cotta to the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Fill it the rest of the way with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and plant your berries!

DIY Tower

Follow along with Laura from Garden Answer as she creates her own unique take on a strawberry tower. Need step by step written directions? Check it out here.

Gutter Planters

These planters, which hang on the side of the house, are perfect for anyone who needs a little space. Be sure they are fastened tightly before planting. Leave a little space between plants and the sides so they can have room to drape over the sides. Once planted, water them well with Espoma’s Grow! liquid plant food.

Pallet Planter

We’ve seen Laura from Garden Answer plant a whole vegetable garden in a pallet, but we think it would be a great place for an abundance of strawberries! Gently fill them with Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil to help them grow strong roots.

Flower Box Tower

This is another DIY-type planter. Stacking up flower boxes will help keep the planters off of the ground and away from any curious creatures that might want to eat your strawberries ! Plant a few of them up and watch them grow.

Espoma products to help you grow your best strawberries yet:

Grow! Plant FoodPotting Soil

Looking to learn more about growing strawberries? Check out all we have to say about this delicious berry!