January E-News from Viette's                        Volume 9: No. 1

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                         January/2013

Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'
2013 PPA Plant of the Year -
Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'

Happy New Year
from Your Friends
at Viette's!

Here's to a great year
full of good gardening weather, beautiful blooms, and bountiful gardens!

Be sure to plan a visit to our
nursery and gardens this spring
for some exciting new ideas for
your 2013 gardens! 
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Polygonatum odoratum Variegatum Polygonatum
2013 PPA
"Plant of the Year"
Each year members of the Perennial Plant Association choose an outstanding perennial to be their "Perennial Plant of the Year". This year, we are especially proud that they have chosen the beautiful variegated Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'. You see, Andre's father, Martin Viette, was responsible for introducing this beautiful plant to the nursery trade in the United States.

Three years before the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Martin Viette brought Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' to America from Yokohama Nurseries in Japan. He recognized this stunning variegated Solomon's Seal as a valuable addition to the shade garden, woodland garden, and as an excellent ground cover for shade.
The beautiful foliage is a blend of white, cream, and shades of green. It is lovely in the garden and also provides a wonderful, long-lasting backdrop in fresh flower arrangements. This perennial is very hardy and performs extremely well in the garden.  
Polygonatum odoratum Variegatum
Dazzling foliage brightens
the shade garden!
Beautiful blooms
From spring through early summer, rows of lightly fragrant, white bell flowers dangle from the strong arching stems. These dainty nodding flowers with their lovely foliage are excellent for cutting and using in fresh spring flower arrangements.
Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'
Variegated Solomon's Seal makes a beautiful ground cover for shade.
Versatile in the landscape
Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum' grows to 36" tall. These beautiful plants are ideal for a shady border or as an attractive woodland ground cover. Their showy variegated foliage makes a striking accent under deciduous trees. They are a natural companion to other foliage plants such as Hosta and Heuchera and also combine well with woodland ferns, Epimedium, Pulmonaria, and Astilbe.
Polygonatum odoratum
'Variegatum' performs best in well-drained, humusy soils in light shade or dappled sun. In cooler regions, they can tolerate full sun if adequate moisture is provided. Afternoon shade is recommended in regions where summers tend to be hotter. Spreading by way of underground rhizomes,
Polygonatum is easy to divide and propagate. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Watch the Viette's video tip on Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'.
Bottom line -
This wonderful perennial is a must have for the shade garden or natural woodland garden!

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The Fragrance of Spring in Winter
Sweetly scented paperwhite narcissus are easy to force into bloom.
Sweetly scented paperwhite narcissus are very easy to
force into bloom.


Get a little taste of spring in the midst of winter by growing your own bulb garden filled with sweetly scented flowers right in your living room.
One of the easiest bulbs to coax into bloom is the paperwhite narcissus. These delicate narcissus flowers have a giant-sized fragrance!!
To get started, choose a container with no drainage holes. The container should be at least 5 inches deep. For a nice display, get one wide enough to hold six bulbs closely spaced (so they touch or almost touch each other). One of the rectangular or round glass containers with tall sides will keep your paperwhites from flopping over as the grow taller and flower.
Glass marbles or decorative pebbles can be used as your "soil" to hold the bulbs in place in the container. Colorful, flat-sided marbles inside a glass vase makes a lovely container for your beautiful flowers. You can also use small clean stones or pea gravel.
Fill your container with about 2 inches of whatever you chose as your growing medium then carefully place your bulbs on top so they touch (or almost touch) and are perfectly straight up. Nestle them down into the pebbles a little bit and then fill in around the bulbs with more pebbles. Do not cover the top of the bulb. Be sure at least 1/2 to 1/3 of the bulb is exposed.
Add water to the container so the level is just below the bottom of the bulbs. Do not let the bulbs sit in water or they may rot.
Place the container in a cool room that gets low light or no light (a room without windows works well) until the roots begin to grow well and the shoots start showing - usually about 1-2 weeks. Keep an eye on the water level and replenish as necessary to keep the level just below the bottom of the bulbs.
Once you have good root growth, move the container into a warmer bright, sunny window and watch them grow!
When they begin to flower, move them out of direct sunlight so the blooms will last longer!
Paperwhite narcissus
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


Early emergence of spring bulbs
When spring bulbs come up early ...
A Major January "Thaw"?  


The temperatures are predicted to soar up into the mid to upper 60's and even into the 70's in the Shenandoah Valley this weekend. I guess we usually have a January thaw but this is more like a January heat wave! I heard them say this morning that the low temperatures this weekend are going to be higher than the average daytime highs! So warm!  

In fact, the daytime temperatures have been consistently above average through most of the winter so far and the high temps are predicted to be above average for the next couple of weeks as well. Our nighttime lows have hovering around normal but are still slightly above average.  

Gosh Andre, I'm still waiting for the cold winter you predicted for us this year! 


What does this mean for the plants in the garden?

The warm temperatures this weekend would not normally cause issues with plant growth because it's just a few days; but because we have had warmer than normal temperatures through December and into January, you may begin to see some early growth occurring in some plants - especially your spring bulbs.  


Here are some things you can do to try to protect your bulbs and other early risers:

  • The best thing to do when your spring bulbs start to pop up in the middle of a warm winter is to cover them with a layer of pine boughs. Cut some branches off your old Christmas tree and lay them on top of the emerging bulb foliage. 
  • You can also cover the foliage with straw or dry leaves to protect it - just make sure you don't pile it on too thickly or you might smother the bulb foliage.
  • Another solution is to add an extra inch of mulch over the bulbs, but be sure to remove it in the spring. 

Remember - The early emergence of foliage will generally not affect the spring bloom except that your bulbs may bloom a little earlier than usual! 

Tip of the Month
Tips for January 


Planning for Spring
Mid-Atlantic Gardening GuideJanuary is the perfect time to relax and reflect on the future of your gardens and plan some changes and additions you might want to make during the upcoming gardening season. Sit down with some good books to help you "dream and scheme"! The Viettes have written many great gardening books to help you choose just the right plants for your special situations, plus learn how to create the perfect "below-ground" environment for your plants so they will start the season off on healthy "footing".
Giraffe-like bark of crape myrtle is beautiful in the winter garden.
The giraffe-like bark of crape myrtle is beautiful in the winter garden.
the "January thaw" comes this weekend, take some time to wander through your gardens. Look for places that could use some winter interest or "garden bones" as they say - perhaps a small ornamental tree or shrub with colorful bark like crape myrtle or red osier dogwood.

Watch Mark's "video tip" on great trees that have winter interest.


Think about adding an interesting piece of hardscaping like a statue, a bird feeder, or even a pergola to your garden. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!
Speaking of planning ... 

The seed catalogs ought be be rolling in about now. This is a great time to begin planning the best vegetable garden ever. The delicious, wholesome crops you produce will lead to healthier eating habits and tending a vegetable garden, whatever the size, is great exercise. Plus, home-grown vegetables tend be of high quality and have fantastic flavor when fresh picked.

There are some really exciting new varieties of vegetables available now but in most cases you will only find these new and different vegetable seeds in catalogs or online.

  • Purchasing vegetable seeds from a seed company will give you a huge selection to choose from that you won't find in most garden stores.
  • Click for a list of some of Andre and Mark's favorite seed companies.
  •  Order your seeds early so you have plenty of time to start some crops indoors under lights to get a jump on the vegetable gardening season.
Watch Mark's "video tips" on vegetable garden planning.
Don't Forget the Birds this Winter
Even in winter when your perennials are "sleeping", you can still enjoy your garden! Our wild bird friends can be very colorful and are fun to watch from the comfort and warmth of your home. One of the tricks to attracting a variety of birds to your home is to provide a variety of feeders and food choices. Here are some examples:
A colorful pair of cardinals feast at the sunflower seed feeder.
A variety of different feeders brings a variety of different birds.
  • Platform feeders will attract the ground feeding birds such as juncos, mourning doves, and sparrows.
  • Tube feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seeds bring in the titmice, chickadees, cardinals, and both white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches.
  • Thistle seed feeders are especially good for attracting the various finches  
  • Suet feeders attract different species of woodpeckers as well as nuthatches, chickadees, and wrens.

Once you begin feeding the birds, be sure to keep your feeders full throughout the winter as the birds will come to depend on this source of food. 


As you can imagine, it is often hard for birds to locate open water in the winter so, in addition to a variety of feeders, it is also very important to provide a source of clean fresh water for the birds. A heated bird bath or even a simple bird bath heater will keep the water from freezing. The bluebirds flock to our water trough all winter long!
Bluebirds enjoy fresh water in the middle of winter.
"Recycle" your greens for the birds 

When you take down your Christmas tree and greens, don't send them to the landfill, use them to create a place for the birds to hide between foraging trips to your feeders. Set the tree near your feeders and birds will use it for cover throughout the winter. You can place the tree on its side or prop it upright. You will be amazed at how many birds will take shelter in the branches. Even stacking pine boughs in a pile near the feeders will create a wonderful safe haven for your feathered friends. For a real bird treat, decorate the tree with delicious (to birds!) peanut butter pine cones and other "yummy" bird treats

On the Viette's Views Gardening Blog 

12-30-2012 17:50:14 PM

Greetings from snowy Vermont where we have been spending a lovely Christmas holiday! I'm so excited that there have been two nice snow storms since we've been up here. Friday night, the night of the full moon, was beautiful; crisp and clear.  The moon was incredibly bright and, combined with the fresh covering of 15" [...]...�


A majestic oak silhouetted against the winter sky 12-20-2012 11:52:42 AM

Have you ever looked at trees in the winter? I mean REALLY looked? I'm talking about the deciduous trees with their bare limbs silhouetted against the sky. Many of them are really quite beautiful in a simple kind of way. Driving to work the other day I happened to focus on a large, solitary maple [...]...�


One of Andre's beautiful outside Christmas displays 12-14-2012 17:43:46 PM
Andre Viette loves Christmas! He also loves to decorate! Walk into his home after Thanksgiving and you will be greeted with the sounds of Christmas music; Mitch Miller (one of my favorites), Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Burl Ives ... all the old greats, plus many others. The carols just lift you up and get you [...]...�
Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
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