February E-News from Viette's                       Volume 9: No. 2

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                          February/2013

HelleborusNiger Enjoy a bit of Spring
at a Flower & Garden Show near you!!

It may be the middle of winter but spring is right around the corner
at the Flower Show!

Find out what's new in gardening this year!
Join Mark at the MAC Events Home and Garden Show on Saturday, February 9th
Details below
Quick Links

Plant of the Month 

Helleborus niger
Helleborus niger has lovely white flowers that fade to a pale pink 

Helleborus spp. 

"Perennial Plant of the Year" in 2005!


Imagine ...   

beautiful flowers blooming in the garden during the cold and snow of January and February! These would be the hellebores. Helleborus are versatile perennials can be used as specimen plants, massed for a ground cover, or naturalized in a woodland garden. Their magnificent shiny, dark green foliage is evergreen in most zones and is attractive year-round. The leathery leaves are deeply divided and form a neat rounded mound that adds texture as well as beauty to the shade garden. As an added PLUS, they are very deer resistant and make a great ground cover that the deer just won't touch! 

Helleborus makes a lovely ground cover for shade.
Helleborus makes a lovely
ground cover for shade.

And the flowers ...  

Unique nodding blossoms in shades of greenish white to deep maroon appear as early as late January. These blooms are the finest and most long-lasting of any winter flower, persisting for 2-3 months! What a wonderful treat in the midst of an otherwise dreary winter! 

Helleborus niger
A light frost covers this beautiful Helleborus niger

Helleborus are particularly well suited for planting under tall evergreen shrubs like Rhododendron or in a mixed woodland border in combination with other shade loving perennials such as ferns, Hosta, Epimedium, and Pulmonaria. They also make attractive plantings along  woodland paths or planted in the rich, moist soil near a pond or other water feature. 

Helleborus orientalis
Helleborus orientalis flowers come up through a layer of oak leaves.

Helleborus are tough, hardy, and easy to grow.  

They perform best in well-drained, humus-rich soil in heavy to light shade. Established clumps are relatively drought tolerant and very deer resistant.

Another great Helleborus species is Helleborus foetidus which has finely cut foliage and bears airy clusters of apple-green bell-shaped flowers edged with maroon. This is one of the longest blooming of all the hellebores with its unique flowers appearing as early as December!

Helleborus foetidus
Helleborus foetidus has clusters
of unique green flowers held
well above the foliage 
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


More Gardening Tips for February 

Cut back old Helleborus foliage in February.
Cut back last season's Helleborus foliage in February.

In the Garden

Begin cleaning up your perennial beds towards the end of the month and replenish the mulch to maintain a 2"-3" layer. 


Trim off last year's Helleborus foliage to make the plant look neater in the garden. Be careful that you don't cut off any of the new growth.
pray your fruit trees with Bonide All Seasons Oil  
to smother over-wintering insects and their eggs.


Forsythia, quince, and other spring flowering shrubs can be thinned by 10% - 20% this month but do not prune or shear these now or you will loose the spring bloom. If the buds have already begun to swell, bring the cut branches inside to force into bloom for an early touch of spring indoors. 


In the Tool Shed

Clean up your shears, shovels, forks, and garden rakes. If they have any rust, remove this with a wire brush.
fter cleaning your metal tools, use a rag to wipe them down with a light motor oil. 
reat the wooden handles of your tools with applications of 3/4 boiled linseed oil and 1/4 paint thinner (follow label directions). 
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 8:00-11:00 on 
"In the Garden
with Andre Viette"
Click for a station list or

listen live from our flagship station WSVA. 

Listen to podcasts.  


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Discussion Board


Use the convenient search key to see if we have already addressed your problem!   


If you don't see the answer - post your question!  
It's easy.
Tip of the Month 
Coleus brough inside over the winter will brighten up your home.
Coleus brought inside over the winter will brighten up your home.
Healthy Houseplants
Keep You Healthy!


There is a lot of scientific evidence showing that plants can actually help improve air quality both indoors and outside. 

With the increase in energy-efficiency in new homes, indoor air pollution is on the rise. Buildings are being sealed tighter to restrict outside air exchange in order to lower heating and cooling costs. While this does reduce energy consumption, the recirculated air can accumulate a host of pollutants which come from everyday products and activities.
Spider plants are great houseplants.
Spider plants make great houseplants.
Research conducted by NASA has demonstrated that various plants have rather impressive air-cleaning abilities. In general, NASA found that plants that can grow under low light conditions and have large leaves are the most effective at removing indoor pollutants. Spider plants, Peperomia, Schefflera, pothos, Dracaena, and Aloe are some of the best "air purifiers".


Keep Them Healthy

Maintaining healthy houseplants  will help them perform this important "air-cleaning" task most effectively. The easiest way to ensure that your houseplants remain healthy is to understand their preferred growing conditions. There are many different types of indoor plants and each has its own optimal light conditions, water requirements, and temperature levels. If you provide them with the right conditions, they will reward you with their beauty and some clean, pure air.    

The following are some general tips to promote the health of your houseplants.  

Plants bring a bit of nature indoors.
Plants bring a bit of nature indoors.

ater Correctly

More houseplants are probably killed due to improper watering than anything else!  

The rate of water loss and thus the need to water your houseplants depends upon temperature, humidity, and light levels as well as the type of plants you have. Because of this, it is hard to set a strict watering schedule.  

Know the requirements of your plants and use the "touch method" to evaluate soil moisture and the need (or not) to water.
  • Press the tip of your finger about 1/4" into the soil.  
  • A cool, damp feeling indicates there is still adequate moisture in the soil  
  • A dry feeling indicates that you should water.

Feed your houseplants!
Fresh potting soil contains a reservoir of nutrients but as your plants grow, they absorb this "food" and the nutrients eventually need to be replenished with fertilizers.  

Fertilizer for houseplants comes in many different forms. 

  • Dissolving powders are one of the most economical ways to fertilize your houseplants.
  • Fertilizer spikes and slow release fertilizers are even more convenient and easy to use for your potted plants. Bayer Advanced makes plant spikes for indoor and outdoor potted plants that control certain insect pests and also contain a slow-release fertilizer. 
  • Liquid fertilizers are also popular and easy to use.   

Keep your houseplants clean 

Dust and dirt on leaves block light and reduce photosynthetic activity. This causes decreased vigor and gradual decline in the plants. There are many ways to clean your houseplants. 

  • Wipe dust off large shiny leaves with a soft cloth
    Wipe dust off large shiny leaves with a soft cloth
    Larger plants can be put directly in the sink or shower and sprayed with water.  
  • Smaller and more delicate plants can be turned upside down (use your hands to hold back the soil) and dunked and swirled around in a sink or bucket of water.  
  • Always let the leaves dry completely before exposing them to direct sunlight.
  • For a glossier surface, wipe the leaves with a piece of soft cheesecloth.
MACEventsA Little Bit of Spring in the Middle of Winter!
Don't Miss It!

MAC Events
Home & Garden Show
ebruary 8th - 10th, 2013
Three days full of great ideas for your home and gardening needs including remodeling solutions, landscaping ideas, the latest in interior design trends, furnishings and how to make your home more environmentally friendly!
ll Under One Roof at the  
Greater Richmond Convention Center!
earn Tips & Tricks from Gardening Pros
Launch your spring gardening plans with timely tips from the experts. Relax as entertaining speakers share their know-how and answer your gardening questions. Held in the Bouquet for the Day area, these seminars are included in your ticket price.
Mark Viette
Join Mark Viette
for an informative gardening seminar on Saturday,
February 9th at 1:00 pm 
Container Gardening
"Mardi Gras Style"  

In this interesting gardening seminar, Mark will discuss and demonstrate how to incorporate annuals, perennials, bulbs, herbs, and even small shrubs and vegetable plants into fabulous looking container gardens.
ark's seminar is sponsored by Blue Ridge Organics. Visit their booth at the MAC Events Home and Garden Show to learn about their amazing "Super Compost" and their new "Garden Soxx"
Click for more information about
the MAC Events Home and Garden Show

From the Viette's Views Blog ...
  01-23-2013 10:46:05 AM

A toasty warm fire in the fireplace or wood stove is a great comfort on cold winter days but what can be done with the wood ashes that accumulate over the winter season? A common question that we get this time of the year is whether or not it's a good idea to spread these [...]...�


  01-17-2013 13:43:27 PM

This past summer I decided to set up a small raised garden planter on our deck to try and grow a few vegetables. It was just an experiment because I wasn't sure if the deck got enough sun. I had a raised bed kit from Scotts Miracle-Gro that I thought would be perfect for the [...]...�

Gardening Tips for February  
Coleus provides bright and unique color to container gardens.
Coleus provides bright and unique color to outdoor container gardens.
Annuals with colorful foliage make great additions to your large container gardens. Coleus are one of the most popular of these but also consider Amaranthus tricolor, Ipomoea batatus (the colorful sweet potato vine), Perilla, or Euphorbia marginata (Snow On the Mountain). There are many others!
  • Check your local garden center for colorful foliage plants in the spring or browse your seed catalogs now for ideas. Be sure to order your seeds soon though, so you can get them started! 
  • If you have started seeds indoors (either flower or vegetable), be sure they have plenty of good light and fertilize them every two weeks with a houseplant fertilizer at half strength. 
  • Do not fertilize transplanted seedlings until you see that they have produced 2 or 3 new leaves. This is a sure sign that the root system has recovered and is growing.


Large leaved tropicals such as Colocasia make a bold statement in large outdoor containers.
Large leaved tropicals such as Colocasia make a bold statement
in large outdoor containers.
For sensational container gardens and summer color, take the tropical plunge! Discover the exciting world of big, bold tropicals! Tropical vines such as Mandevilla and Allamanda add a unique vertical effect to your large outdoor containers giving height with flowers bursting forth all summer. The giant leaves of Colocasia and Alocasia (Elephant Ears) are striking planted directly in the garden or in large containers.
  • Many of these tropicals can be over-wintered successfully indoors. This usually means giving them a rest period of 1-4 months in which you provide less water and light. Be sure to check specific requirements for each plant.
This American holly was pruned to bare branches
This American holly was pruned to bare branches
Overgrown shrubs can be a real problem, especially if they are blocking windows, walks, or roadways. Rather than dig up these shrubs and discard them, do what's called renewal/rejuvenating pruning. Severe pruning of certain overgrown shrubs such as holly, boxwood, rhododendron, and yew 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.
  • Late February or March when they are still dormant but after the threat of extreme cold weather is a good time to do this type of pruning.
  • Fertilize with Holly-tone, rock phosphate, and green sand following pruning.  
  • You should have good growth the first summer but keep in mind that it may take a few years before they regain their former beauty.
When You're in the Area
Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club.
Got Clubs?

Visit our friends at Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club and enjoy a breathtaking round of golf after a visit to the beautiful gardens at Viettes.

Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club received a 5 Star Rating "Best Places To Play" by Golf Digest, 2008/2009.
This public 18-hole championship golf course is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and features a challenging course with incredible views of the Appalachian Mountains and the valley below.

3067 Packsaddle Trail, Keezletown, VA 22832
Phone: 540-269-8188  ♦  Web:
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