May E-News from Viette's                                        Volume 8: No. 5

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                                      May/2012

Peonies are the highlight of the May gardens!April Showers
Bring May Flowers!

The end of April finally brought us some much needed rain...

and some cooler temperatures that thankfully slowed everything down a bit!
 The peonies and iris are just beginning to bloom in the display gardens! They are a couple of weeks early but still just as amazing. Come see the show!

Iris display beds

The iris display gardens are vibrant with color in May.

Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Rhododendron flower
Rhododendron flower cluster
Rhododendron and Azalea

The genus Rhododendron is a large and diverse group that includes not only the "rhodies" but also Azaleas.
These shrubs are some of the most popular of all the shade tolerant flowering shrubs. Their huge clusters of blooms create a dazzling display during the spring and into early summer.

Beautiful Diversity
There is great diversity within this group with many different growth forms ranging from dwarf varieties that grow only a foot tall to the towering native giants that can reach up to 20 feet in the wild. Many varieties have beautiful deep green evergreen foliage and some are deciduous. Most require little pruning as they have a very attractive natural layered growth form. They are like the "perfect" garden shrub when planted in the right location!
Azalea blooms in May
Beautiful azalea flowers
Rhododendrons and azaleas are typically grown for their beautiful displays of flowers and they have been widely hybridized over the years to create an even greater diversity in flower color, foliage, and growth form.

Plant Wisely!

Rhododendrons thrive in moist, well-drained, acidic soil that is high in organic matter. The optimal pH for these shrubs is between 4.5 and 6.0. If your soil tests higher than 6.0, it is advisable to add a soil acidifier to bring the pH down to within the recommended range. See the section below for our recommendations for lowering the soil pH.
Wet feet are deadly for these plants! Be sure to plant them in an area that is well-drained as they are prone to root rot and other fungal diseases when the soil is constantly soggy.
In general, Rhodies and azaleas prefer bright dappled shade but there are some varieties that can tolerate full sun and some that will grow and bloom well in dense woodland shade. They will not tolerate hot, dry, or windy conditions. Plant them in a location that is sheltered from high winds that can desiccate the foliage and cause damage especially during the winter.
Fertilize these plants with a slow-release organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants in the fall and again in the late winter or early spring. Espoma Holly-tone is a great choice for rhododendrons.
Rhododendron yedoense
Double blooming variety of the very hardy evergreen Korean Azalea, Rhododendron yedoense.
Pruning Rhododendrons
Pruning is generally not necessary except perhaps for light pruning to remove wayward branches and spent blooms or to maintain the desired shape or size. This light pruning should be done right after they finish blooming. To remove the spent flowers, carefully cut or pinch them off without damaging the small leaf buds that have formed just behind them. If your Rhododendrons have gotten a bit too tall, bring them back down to size by cutting the stems back to just above a whorl of leaves. Be sure to prune carefully so that you maintain the natural layered look of these beautiful shrubs.
Severe pruning
of very overgrown rhododendrons and azaleas is a great way to bring them down in size if they have grown too large for your space. Because these plants have dormant buds on the interior bare wood close to the main stem, they can be pruned heavily until just bare branches remain or you can even cut them back to one to three feet above the ground. This type of hard pruning should be done in late winter or early spring  while the plants are still dormant. Severe pruning like this is not always 100% successful but a very high percentage come back with beautiful new growth!
Azaleas in the landscape
Azaleas blooming in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the Duke University campus in Durham, NC
Acidifying your soil
It is a good idea to have your soil pH tested before planting your rhododendrons or azaleas. Providing the plants with the best growing conditions will help ensure their success in the garden.  
in some form is the most effective way to acidify your soil. Straight chemical or elemental sulfur is commonly used but it is slow to affect a change in soil pH.
Aluminum sulfate causes a more rapid decrease in soil pH but the aluminum can become toxic to plants if it is overused.
Iron sulfate adds iron to the soil as well as lowering pH.
Organic amendments for lowering soil pH include peat moss, pine straw, or sphagnum moss. Though these amendments are beneficial to soil structure, they must be added in large quantities in order to affect pH and then the pH change is very slow.

If you have the right conditions, these beautiful shrubs are a "must have" in the garden!
Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
Listen to Andre on the radio every Saturday morning from 8-11 on  
"In the Garden
with Andre Viette".
Click for a station list or
streamed live from our
flagship station WSVA.
Listen to podcasts.  



Mark Viette  answers a listeners call during a live broadcast. 

Now you can listen to Mark every Sunday morning from 8-10 on  


"Easy Gardening"  

with Mark Viette.

Visit the "Easy Gardening"
website for live streaming and podcasts of Mark's radio show as well as tips and other gardening information.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Having trouble getting through on the radio?
   Visit our
Discussion Board!

Use the convenient search key
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Don't see the answer? Post your question!
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One of a Kind! 
A NYO Viette Daylily
Our very unique
"Name Your Own Viette Daylily"
Looking for a unique and unforgettable gift? 

Don't know what to get the special person in your life who has everything?
Show someone close to your heart that you really care about them by naming a daylily in their honor. Each of these personally hand selected, one-of-a-kind daylilies are hybrids of some of the very best Viette daylilies.

There is nothing like  
it in the world!

What could be more memorable than giving a gift of a beautiful one-of-a-kind daylily named after someone special to show your love or appreciation? 

These show quality Viette hybrids will also make a wonderful heartfelt tribute or memorial. Honor a holiday, a birthday, an achievement, an anniversary, or a special occasion with this unique gift.  
You can officially register your daylily on the Daylily Registry of the American Hemerocallis Society. 
This is such a cool idea! Divisions of your beautiful daylily can be shared with family members and be enjoyed all summer long right in the back yard! 

Give us a call today at 800-575-5538 for more information on purchasing this unique gift.

The Viette Gardens are BEAUTIFUL! 

Come for a visit and spend some time wandering through our lovely spring gardens.

Peony display bed
Peony display bed

Our Garden Center is full of beautiful plants, including many unique hosta dug right from Andre's display gardens.
You won't find some of these anywhere else!

Don't miss our May Lectures beginning May 5th at 1:30 pm:

"Spring Pruning"   
a fantastic Pruning Workshop lead by Bart McDowell of Bartlett Tree Experts.
See below for May lecture schedule.
Tip of the Month 
Controlling Lawn Weeds!
This month's tip from Bonide Products
Persian speedwell
Persian speedwell is a common broadleaf lawn weed.

There are many types of broadleaf weeds which are commonly found in home lawns. These weeds often thrive in lawns that are growing in poor soil or where incorrect lawn maintenance is followed. The best defense against lawn weeds is to maintain a healthy, vigorous lawn by keeping your lawn adequately fertilized, properly watered, and mowed at the correct height.  Sometimes, however, weeds persist in spite of good maintenance. For small lawns or where there are only a few weeds popping up, hand pulling as weeds appear can be good exercise and often provides good results. The use of herbicides to control weeds is more practical for large areas, difficult-to-pull weeds with deeper root systems, or small patches of persistent weeds. 


Below are a few common lawn weeds and some suggestions on their control. 


Dollarweed thrives in moist,
infertile soil.

Dollarweed or pennywort as it is sometimes called is a perennial broadleaf weed which is common in warm season grasses. It looks like a small lily pad and will thrive in weak and infertile soils where the ground is wet. Because dollarweed reproduces several different ways (seeds, tubers and rhizomes), controlling this weed is difficult, especially when the weed has been left untreated for a season.  

  • If Dollarweed is a problem in your lawn be sure to reduce your irrigation frequency and duration.
  • Chemical controls for Dollarweed vary depending on where the weed is a problem. In lawns, the weed can be controlled by using a high quality selective lawn weed control such as Bonide Weed Beater Ultra or Bonide Weed Beater Plus. Both products list Dollarweed on the label and offer full control in a variety of lawn types without harming the grass. 
  • Dollarweed can be controlled in planting beds by applying glyphosate to the weeds being careful not to apply to desirable plants. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and is the active ingredient in Bonide KleenUp Grass and Weed Killer. 
  • Because of its extensive root system and the various ways that Dollarweed reproduces, multiple applications of weed control in lawns and in beds may be necessary.  
  • Be sure to read and follow the label directions carefully and pay attention to the temperature guidelines if applying in the summer. 
Ground Ivy; Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,
Ground Ivy; Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Ground Ivy:

Whether you know it as Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, or Creeping Jenny, this annual weed can be very difficult to control in lawn areas. The difficulty comes from the fact that the plant spreads using both above ground stems called stolons and below ground shoots called rhizomes. This combination of root and stem systems means that, in order to control this weed, you not only have to choose the right product, but your timing has to be good as well.  

  • Chemical controls currently available include:  
  • Best control is achieved with 3 separate applications of products, once in spring just after the plant flowers, one following up 3-4 weeks later and a final fall application to kill any residual weeds and to prevent any re-growth in the spring.  
  • Cultural practices including mowing to a height of at least 3", applying a fall fertilizer, and overseeding with a quality grass seed can also help control this challenging weed.
Yellow Nutsedge
Nutsedge or nutgrass:
Yellow nutsedge is a perennial plant that reproduces primarily by small underground tubers called nutlets. It can also spread by rhizomes (below ground stems). Farmers have difficulty controlling this weed, and as farm land is converted to home sites, yellow nutsedge plants and nutlets, are often found in the soil of lawns.
Nutsedge is most easily identified by the triangular shape of the stem ("sedges have edges"). If you roll the stem of the plant in your fingers, you should be able to feel the triangular shape. The leaves are light green to yellowish in color and are very slick or waxy to the touch. Yellow nutsedge grows most actively during the hot months of summer. Often the leaves of yellow nutsedge will grow 2 to 4 inches above the turf canopy. During spring and fall, when temperatures are cooler and growth is slower, yellow nutsedge is not as easily noticed.
Nutsedge thrives in moist soils. One of the best ways to control it is to improve the drainage so that the area dries out. This will make the conditions less favorable for the
nutsedge and allow your turfgrass to take over and fill in.
Herbicides may be required when large patches of nutsedge are present in the turf area.
  • For homeowners, herbicides like Bonide Weed Beater Complete containing Prodiamine and Sulfentrazone provide good control when applied according to directions. Bonide Weed Beater Complete offers an effective control for all varieties of nut grass in your lawn.
When things get really bad ...
When weed infestation becomes serious (greater than 40%) and the turf condition is poor, consider a total renovation of your lawn. Be sure to replant with a turfgrass mixture that is well suited for your particular site.

May Lectures at Viette's
Bart McDowell, arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts, demonstrates proper pruning techniques.
Bart McDowell, arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts, demonstrates proper pruning techniques.
Saturday, May 5 - 1:30pm

 Spring Pruning

Learn from an Expert! Special guest, Bart McDowell from Bartlett Tree Experts will present this timely workshop on pruning in the spring. Don't prune at the wrong time! Certain trees and shrubs should be pruned in the spring, while others should be pruned in the summer or fall. Learn the proper timing and techniques for pruning a variety of trees and shrubs, including fruit and nut trees. Diseases of trees, shrubs, and evergreens will also be discussed!

Pre-registration is suggested by calling 800-575-5538;  

$10 fee, two for $15


Wednesday, May 9 - 1:30pm

Container Gardening and Raised Beds

Join Andre Viette for this great seminar and learn how to combine different types of plants in your containers. He will talk about using annuals, tropicals, vines, even ferns and shrubs to provide your container with beautiful foliage, flowers, and fragrance. Andre will include many that will bring butterflies and hummingbirds right to your back door! 
Andre will also talk about gardening in raised beds including building the bed, soil mixes, and planting techniques.

Free lecture  


Saturday, May 12th - 1:30pm 

The Backbone Perennials of Spring: 
Peony 'Gay Paree'
Peony 'Gay Paree'
Peonies and Iris 
Discover the beautiful flowers that symbolize spring in the perennial world! You will learn how to select, plant, and maintain these wonderful plants plus other early bloomers for a stunning spring display. A tour of Andr�'s perennial beds and the peony and iris display gardens will follow the lecture.
     Free lecture 

Wednesday, May 16th - 1:30pm 

Vegetable Gardening "Outside the Box"
With the increased interest in "going green", eating healthier, and saving money, backyard vegetable gardens have become very popular. But perhaps you don't have a lot of space for a garden or maybe you are looking for some innovative new ideas for growing vegetables? Join us for this great workshop lead by our garden center manager, Gerry Coggin. You will discover some very different and unique ways to grow vegetables and herbs. From "upside down" gardens to gardening in tires; raised bed gardens to planting vegetables in containers right on your patio or deck; vegetables in your flower gardens to planting a kitchen garden; you'll learn all kinds of fun, productive, and space saving ways to grow vegetables this year. Find out how to create great soil for your vegetables by adding the good organic fertilizers and your own nutrient rich compost. Gerry will also discuss grafted vegetables. Free lecture

Saturday, May 19th - 1:30pm 

Wednesday, May 23rd - 1:30pm
The Viette's Top Gardening Tips for the
Most Beautiful Gardens!

Andre will share the Viette's top secrets for achieving the very best gardens for 2012. During his talk, Andre will discuss lawn care, sun gardens, woodland gardens, vegetable gardens, container gardens, trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, and much more.
Learn the Viette's secrets: proper soil preparation with the best amendments, proper watering practices, pruning techniques, planting, and garden designs.
Free Lecture

Saturday, May 26th - 1:30pm 

Techniques of Plant Propagation -
Dividing daylilies   A Hands-on Workshop

Our annual spring event! Plant propagation is an exciting, self-satisfying, and money saving activity! Learn how to landscape your property using your own plants. Mark will teach you the best methods for many different plants including techniques of dividing, taking cuttings, layering, and seeding. Take home loads of plant divisions! A propagating demonstration tour is included.
Please pre-register by calling 800-575-5538;
    $30 fee, two for $50
From the Viette's Views Blog ...
Newly planted dogwood.04-27-2012 10:58:27 AM

Today is National Arbor Day! It's always the last Friday in April although some states recognize a different State Arbor Day that corresponds better with planting times in their state. Since Arbor Day was founded in 1872, it has been customary to plant a tree in observance of the holiday and on that first Arbor [...]...�  


Meadow vole04-20-2012 14:57:51 PM

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie O, what a panic's in thy breastie!" The beginning of the poem, "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns, came to mind when "Bo", our field manager, came to me this morning exclaiming, "I've never in my life seen so many voles before!" "Bo", a.k.a. Tim, was bush hogging a field [...]...�

 Upcoming Viette Appearances in May  
Saturday, May 5 - 9:00am - 12:00pm
Augusta Co-Op - Staunton, VA  
Mark Viette
Join Mark Viette in the
Lawn and Garden Section
from 9am to Noon!

Mark will be available to answer your gardening questions and help you with your gardening needs. Bring your questions!

Augusta Co-Op's Open House will feature: 
  • Drawings for door prizes every 15 minutes from 10 am to Noon.
  • Special 1-day coupons on peat moss, Pro-Mix, top soil, selected sprayers, and more
   Augusta Co-Op, Staunton is located at: 
1205B Richmond Road; (540)885-1265 

Click for details!   


Sunday, May 6 - 1:00pm
85th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Andre Viette      Winchester, VA
Join Andre for a gardening lecture:

"Gardening with Little
or No Work"

Andre will talk about the best gardening practices for flower gardening, vegetables, lawns, and fruit trees including tips based on three generations and 85 years of Viette gardening. He will discuss gardening solutions for various insects, diseases, mites and weeds. With spring here, Andre will also give you tips on spring lawn care.
Following the lecture, Andre will answer your gardening questions .
Click for more info about the Apple Blossom Festival

If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


Andre's Next AAA Trip

February 18 - March 1st, 2013


View from the Viette home in St. Thomas.
View from the Viette home
in St. Thomas.
11-Day Southern Caribbean Cruise


Mark your calendar to join Andre and Claire Viette on Holland America's Noordam for an 11-day Southern Caribbean Cruise. 


Explore the unspoiled natural beauty and tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy diving around colorful reefs, snorkeling in crystalline waters, or sailing on a catamaran. If shopping is your sport, you'll find plenty of places to splurge on duty-free treasures.  


You'll visit 7 beautiful islands of the Caribbean and have the opportunity to enjoy private shore excursions including the fabulous 5 acre hilltop home and gardens of the Viettes. 

 Watch for more details to come! 

Our Friends and Sponsors 
Harpers Statuary & Water GardensBonide

Clear  Choice
PureSpray Green

Black Gold Wet & Forget

Augusta Coop