Baby, It's Cold Outside
- From Al's Experts
With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast, there's important work to be done in the garden!
- Turn off the outside water, if you already haven't
- Drain all hoses of water
- Remove hoses from outside water faucets, and store for the winter
- Mulch around established plants to provide insulation
- Wrap tender plants with burlap or bubble wrap to help protect against the cold.
- Cover tender plants
- Prior to freezing temperatures, apply Bonide Wilt-Stop® to the foliage of plants to help prevent freeze damage
- Move containers closer to the house
- Remove saucers from under all containers to eliminate the collection of water
- And if you're really concerned, bring plants inside your garage or covered area
So while you're staying warm and cozy inside, you'll know your plants have all been taken care of outside.
Deck The Halls
- From Al's Experts
Whether your style is traditional or over-the-top glamorous, there is something for everyone at Al's. So get your tree, wreath and garland going, by embellishing them with beautiful home décor. Add some ribbon, candles or special Christmas ornaments and you've really got something special.
A large lantern, block sign, or wooden horse can enhance the warm Christmas feel of your entryway or mantel.
Metal houses aglow on the mantle with greens added complete the Nordic look. Simple holiday seasonal signage adds that touch of Christmas to any room.
You may already have a couple of hurricane lamps, just trade out the candles to create your holiday look. A wooden deer and small decorative tree add to the festive woodsy look.
If you're going for glitz and glamour this holiday season, be sure to pick a strong color like red, and don't be shy with the glitter. This display should be the center of attention in the entrance hall or fit for the dining room table.
Have fun making your house that special gathering place for friends and family.
Hostess Gifts That Will Delight
- From Al's Experts
There is nothing worse than running short on time just before a large holiday party. Searching for a suitable gift for the hostess can often fall to the bottom of the list when getting ready. So Al's has a couple of suggestions that will please even the most discerning hostess.
For the Traditional Hostess
Hailing from our friends in Mexico, the Christmas Cactus makes an ideal gift because it will bloom throughout the holidays, but can still be enjoyed for months afterwards.
For the Stylish Hostess
Nothing says style quite like orchids. Their exotic color combinations and long lasting blooms will have your hostess remembering your thoughtfulness for months to come.
For the Hip Hostess
Succulents and Tillandsia are still the rage! These popular plants are easy to display, and even easier to care for.
For the Unique Hostess
When something truly unique is required, the Shooting Star Hydrangea is definitely one of a kind. You won't find this at your local grocery store. Plus, they can be planted outside come May!
For the Tropical Hostess
For the hostess that would really rather be laying on a beach somewhere, Antheriums & Bromeliads are the perfect gift. They will bring lasting memories of the warm trade winds and sandy beaches.
So if you're invited to a big Holiday party, or just stopping in to enjoy a piece of pie, make sure to not show up empty handed.
Fall and Winter Fruit Tree Care
- From Al's Experts
It's time to spray your fruit trees. These important preventative measures reduce your workload come springtime. With these simple steps, properly caring for your fruit trees is as easy as 1-2-3!
Spray your fruit trees in the fall with copper fungicide and horticultural oil as soon as all the leaves have dropped. This helps control bacterial blight, leaf curl, and other fungal diseases that can overwinter, as well as insects and their eggs.
Spray a second time in winter with copper fungicide and horticultural oil around the end of December.
Apply the final dormant spray application around mid-February. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions on label.
Steps to success
- Always remove any remaining leaves or fruit from your trees.
- Clean up any fallen leaves or branches from around your trees, as these can harbor bacteria and insects.
- Choose a dry, cool day above 40° - we don't want the rain washing away your hard work!
- Spray from the ground to the top of the bare tree, ensuring that all branches are covered
- Prune tree to promote good structure and help increase air circulation. Be sure to sanitize pruning equipment prior to and after pruning to help prevent the spread of disease.
- Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
Thankful for Poinsettias
- From Al's Experts
When decorating for Thanksgiving, you probably don’t think of poinsettias. But you may be surprised to find out there are special varieties that work just great for dressing up your bountiful Thanksgiving table. I’m sure thankful for the broad spectrum of varieties available. Here are a few of our favorite poinsettia picks for fall
The peachy pink bracts on this variety are speckled with slightly darker pink dots, making it look as though they have been sprinkled with cinnamon.
This beauty is absolutely irresistible, with unique tear-drop shaped bracts in warm golden-pink colors that vary in tone from plant to plant.
Rich true orange bracts and it’s narrow lancelet shape provide increased interest, as Orange Spice is the only true orange poinsettia available.
An Evening of Lights
- From Al's Experts
For sixteen years now, Al's has hosted a wonderful evening of holiday fun. Our Evening of Lights is a holiday open house for all ages, with all the sights and sounds of the season.
The Bigej Family poses for the camera at our event in 2011
It actually first started as an employee Christmas party at our Woodburn store. Everyone brought holiday desserts to share, but when the lights were turned off, the greenhouses became magical. Everyone exclaimed that we should share the beauty of the greenhouses at night with our customers. And the Evening of Lights was born.
So now you can stroll through up to 20 designer decorated Christmas trees, each with it's own unique theme. You can marvel at the trees festooned with unique ornaments, until one catches your eye!
Jack & Dee Bigej serve samples of Jack's famous homemade Ice Applesauce in 2014
Enter in the Season Greenhouse and behold the over 20 different varieties of poinsettias. Al's entire 2016 Poinsettia Collection will be on display, so come see the decades of breeding that go into cultivating these beauties.
I wouldn't be a party without Al's exclusive Ice Apples. These Fuji applies are out of Walla Walla, and are allowed to remain on the tree until after first frost. The change in temperature caused the applies to send all their sugar to their core, making them sweet and juicy. Make sure to get a taste of our Ice Apple Applesauce from Jack and Dee Bigej (Jack is Al's son).
And finally, step into the Main Greenhouse to see the Rose City Garden Railway Society's Christmas train display. Every child delights at the chance to push the button, and watch the train come through the tunnel.
Add in some food and drink, and don't forget the live music, and you've got a wonderful way to start off your holiday season.
Join us for this year's Evening of Lights!
- From Al's Experts
Whether you keep your decorations simple or simply ghoulish, signage is an easy way to scare up some Halloween fun for your front porch.
Welcome your trick-or-treaters with these fun rustic signs that light up for an eerie glow. Or go for a more contemporary look with these tin signs that twinkle when filled with lights from the back (lights sold separately).
Al's carries a frightfully large assortment of decorative pumpkins made with wood, tin, ceramic, or even textiles. If you prefer your pumpkins made of, well, pumpkin, we have a huge selection - and standard orange Grown By Al's pumpkins are only $1.99 each!
Of course, no Halloween look is complete without a few creatures that go bump in the night. Witches, skeletons, and black cats all come out to play on All Hallows' Eve
Since Halloween is now the United States' second most popular holiday for decorating,after Christmas, of course, it’s time to think beyond simple black and orange. Start by using fall decorating plants such as millet and mums, and fall classics like hay bales and corn-stalks, but then add in those unmistakable Halloween touches that will delight your kids or grandchildren. Best part is, once the decorative creatures have retreated back to the crypt (aka, the storage box in your attic), the remaining autumnal themes will last through your Thanksgiving.
Why Fall is the Best Time to Plant Perennials
- From Al's Experts
Perennials add color, texture and personality to any garden. Planting perennials in fall is a sure way to cut your spring workload in half. Your garden will take on a life of its own as the perennials continue to expand year after year.
We’re going to help you get a head start on spring by planting perennials in the fall. Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.
While fall is for planting, we still has a few tricks that will ensure your plants look their best in that first season.
Plant Fall Perennials in 8 Steps
- Start by preparing the soil. Dig out rocks, weeds and other debris.
- Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball and twice as wide.
- Gently remove plant from pot and gently loosen roots.
- Mix in 3 inches of compost or other organic matter.
- Remove the plant from its pot and loosen roots before planting. Place plant in hole and backfill the hole with a good quality garden soil.
- Water immediately. Cover the planting area with a natural mulch of bark or straw. Mulch keeps soil moist and protects new roots from freezing.
- Finish by adding an organic plant food such as Espoma’s Start!
- Water at least 1 inch per week until the ground freezes. This keeps roots growing and helps plants get established before winter dormancy.
Fall Perennial Plant Picks
- Choose perennials that add color to your garden in early spring such as hellebore and astilbe.
- Plant or transplant spring-blooming power-house shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas.
- Choose pollinator friendly plants such as phlox, coneflower and aster. You can plant, divide or transplant.
- Divide and replant hostas and daylilies.
- Peonies should always be planted or transplanted in the fall. Plant 2 inches above the root ball.
- Plant and transplant irises, Asiatic and Oriental lilies.
Fall Lawn Care
- From Al's Experts
Fall is a great time of year to plant, and an equally good time to take care of your lawn. With a little bit of maintenance this fall, you’ll have a green, lush lawn come spring.
FEED * AERATE * RESEED * WATER IN
For established lawns, it’s important to use lime to help raise the pH of the soil. With all our winter rain here in the PNW, it tends to wash the soil of necessary nutrients. We also recommend fertilizing with Scott’s® Winterquard or Espoma’s® Organic Lawn Fertilizer.
The next thing you are going to want to do is aerate your lawn. This allows both moisture and fertilizer to reach the lawn root bed. Fill the holes with Al’s® Compost or Gypsum, this will allow the soil to drain properly.
Next you’re going to want to reseed your lawn. We recommend fertilizing and adding lime first. It’s important to scratch the lawn surface first with a rake, this agitates the existing lawn making it ready for new seed. Using a spreader is the best way to apply seed, that way it’s nice and even. Then lightly cover the seed with Al’s® compost.
Finally you’ll want to “water in” all your hard work by gently misting the area, watching to ensure that the water does not puddle in any areas.
WATER * ROTOTILL * COMPOST * LEVEL * ROLL * FERTILIZE * SEED * WATER IN
When you are adding a new lawn, the following steps will ensure that you have a luscious green lawn in no time. Start by considering your seed selection and whether your lawn will be in the sun, or in the shade, or a combination of the two. There are drought tolerant seed choices, but you’ll always want to use a good quality of lawn seed to prevent ryegrass and other non desirable grasses. Start by considering your watering strategy, and installing that first.
You’ll next want to rototill your soil to a depth of 4” – 6”.
IF you have clay soil, add at least 2” of Al’s® compost as well as lime, per the instructions on the bag.
Next you’ll want to level your soil with a landscape rake, and roll your soil to create a firm seed bed.
Add 16-16-16 fertilizer now, and finally your base of good aerated, fertilized soil is ready for seeding!
Spread your seed evenly, and roll again. This will help the lawn seed to be pressed into the soil, and make it less susceptible to washing away.
Finally, you’ll want to lightly cover with Al’s® compost and keep damp by gently “watering in” your new lawn.
Now this wouldn’t be an article on lawn care, without a healthy conversation about weeds. There are many types of weeds including grasses and broadleaf plants like dandelions, cover, spurge and chickweed. We recommend controlling the spread of weeds by using Bayer ® Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer. Also Weed B Gon® is also a great product.
So, whether it’s a game of flag football or Frisbee, your lawn will be all ready for the fun fall times ahead.
Is Your Garden Ready for Fall?
- From Al's Experts
Any good gardener knows that fall is the best time for planting. It allows the roots to mature prior to getting chilly, making your plant that much stronger come spring.
Planting in the fall is an advantage because the soil is still warm, which encourages root development. The cooler evenings and cooler autumn days will slow down the loss of moisture. New plantings won’t dry out as quickly, as in the intense sun of spring and summer. The moisture that is available provides slow growing roots with plenty of water. When you plant in the fall you’re establishing those roots, so they will be less prone to damage, and more ready for their spring surge of top growth.
Fall & Winter Veggies
- An excellent solution for keeping the tilth and fertility of your garden’s soil at peak levels.
- PNW winters are usually not severe enough to damage carefully mulched winter vegetables.
- The key is knowing the average date of the first killing frost in your region. (Late October) Then plant your winter crops early enough (usually August) to let them reach their full maturity before that killing frost.
Early Maturing Crops
- Rootcrops – beets, radish, carrot
- Leafcrops – lettuce, kale
Fall is the best time of year for reseeding and refertilizing your lawn. Fall is best because the soil temperatures are warmer. They have had all summer to heat up, and this along with our frequent rains helps the seeds germinate quickly. The faster the seed germinates, the lawn becomes more established, and the less competition it has with weeds. The cool air temperatures also allow the young lawn to grown strong without the threat of the heat stress.
- One fall application with either a synthetic (Scott’s® Turf Builder) or organic (Espoma® Lawn Fertilizer)
- The nutrients will change into carbohydrates which improve the root system in your lawn.
- Like with the other fall plantings promoting root growth in the fall will help create a stronger healthier lawn for the next year.
- Fall and winter fertilizers are formulated to feed your lawn without causing a lot of blade growth.
- If moss is a problem, make sure to use a fertilizer with moss control. (Scott’s ® Turf Builder).
Air it Out
- Aeration is one simple thing you can do for you lawn each year to help it grow lush.
- Removes compaction of soil
- Allows for better water percolation
- Allows fertilizers to reach root zone
- Plugs allow microbes to decompose thatch
- Broadleaf weeds like clover and dandelions are in the same mode as your lawn, developing roots.
- Spray when temps are in the mi-50s or warmer
- Bayer® Advanced All-In-One Weed Killer for lawns or Ortho® Products
- Mowing the lawn shorter in the fall encourages rhizome development which will thicken the lawn and help choke out weeds…also allows more light, preventing moss.
- Begin September and continue through October.
- Gradually reduce the height so as not to stress out your lawn when the temps become cooler.
Over Seed It
- Weed invasions, and not enough sunlight will cause your lawn to thin out in areas.
- Simply spread seed over your existing lawn, after de-thatching & “roughing up” the surface.
- Lightly sprinkle some fresh grass seed over the area and cover with a thin layer of compost, fine potting soil, or coconut coir.
- Make sure to use the appropriate seed for the sun exposure in that area.
- It’s a good idea to lightly over seed your entire lawn to keep it looking uniform.
- Should be done at a rate of 3.5-5 pounds per 100 sq ft.
We often don’t think of bulbs until we see them blooming in the spring, but to get those beautiful flowers we need to do little work in the fall. Research the best time to plant depending on region. Planting is simple, and can be layered in the soil of a container with other annuals on top!
- Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the bulb height
- Set bulbs firmly in place, following spacing guidelines
- Sprinkle in a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Espoma® Bulb Tone
- Cover with soil
- Water thoroughly
So, if it’s a beautiful spring garden you are working towards, make sure to spend time in your garden now for the best results.