Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poinsettias...a bit of history

In 1828, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, was visiting the Taxco del Alarcon area of Mexico when a plant on the roadside containing brilliant red blooms caught his attention. The ancient Aztecs, who noted that the plant bloomed in the tropical highlands during the short days of winter, called it cuetlaxochitl. Poinsett was so impressed with the beauty of this plant that he immediately sent some of them back to his home in South Carolina, where he began propagating them and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.
One of the recipients of Poinsett’s plant was Robert Buist, who sold the plant at his nursery under the name Euphorbia pulcherrima. The popularity of Euphorbia pulcherrima grew quickly, and William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give the plant a new name. At the time, Mr. Prescott had just published a book called The Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

ImageToday there are over one hundred varieties of poinsettias. They range from the traditional red to other, exciting new colors. It is not the flowers that give the poinsettia their color, but the leaves that surround the flower, also called the plant’s cyathia. The colored leaves are known as the bract. Quite a few traditional red varieties are grown; availability depends on whether you purchase your poinsettia in early or late December. The red varieties are improved every year, and they have been bred to retain their red bracts into late winter. It’s not uncommon for them to hold their color through St. Valentine’s Day. Poinsettias also come in different shades of pink, burgundy and white.

(My niece Taylor volunteered for our Greenhouse photo, Thanks!)

Novelty Poinsettias

ImageThere is also a trend of what are collectively known as novelty poinsettias – poinsettias generally grown in a smaller pot which is 4 to 5 inches in diameter. The smaller size pots make the novelty poinsettias ideally suited for use as a decorating accent. They also make a great last minute hostess gift. Novelty poinsettias have either uniquely shaped leaves, or some sort of non-traditional coloring. These plants have been specifically bred with these traits. My favorite novelty variety is called Chianti (pictured at the left). This plant has holly shaped bracts, in a rich red color. The novelty Sonora White Glitter is another great variety. The bracts are dark red with a splash of creamy white. Previously available only in red, the variety, Winter Rose has a unique crinkly bract that curls under, much like a gathered seam. It resembles a large rose-like bloom. Winter Rose varieties are now available in pink, white, and marble, which is a two-tone pink and white.

Can I eat them?

If you really wanted too eat your poinsettia...you could. They are NOT poisonous. There is no nutritional value, and if you made yourself a poinsettia salad, people would think your having some sort of a breakdown, but you wouldn't die. Poinsettias are not toxic to animals or children, so they are perfectly safe in any household.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Family Traditions - Model Railroad Club of Union County

Ever ride down Route 22 and wonder what those train show signs mean? The Model Railroad club is nestled in a building behind the Home Depot in Union. Its open to the public every saturday during the year, but they put on a special holiday show on the weekends in December. (This coming weekend is the last one for the year) I take my son every year. The show is an interesting mix of music, and local train history. The layout is a work in progress. So you actually get to see how they build some of these great layouts. I snapped a few pictures to share with you. Make sure you check out their website for hours, and that you arrive at least an hour before the last hour posted.

Oh and its quite a bargain. Tickets range from $4-$7.

Have Fun!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas 101

Earlier this week Fedex picked up the Trees for Troops Trailer. I want to thank again all of the hard work that my staff put into the event. We had 86 trees donated, and then Williams donated 15 more for a total of 101 trees. (Lucy made it 102).

Thanks to friends and extended family for their donations. (Great to hear from you cousin Darren in Va). Thanks to the Westfield Leader, and NJN for the great PR). This has been quite an experience, some heart warming moments, and lots of smiles. (I am still smiling about reading the one card some child wrote and said "I hope you win".

We took a few pictures of the weekend events, and Meryl helped layout this card that we all signed and put inside the truck. We wanted to share what happened here with the troops.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lucy Sneaks into the Truck!

I went over to the Fedex truck to put a card with the load, and found that Lucy jumped into the truck. "Lucy" happens to be a Tree that was grown at the Keris Tree Farm in Allentown NJ, she grew up on a beautiful small town tree farm with many other trees. Someone from the Girl Scout Troop, dropped her in the truck last night with this card attached. What a great bonus gift to our troops.
Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 71692 of Allentown NJ for taking part!

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Santa Spends some time with the Williams Elves

Santa got to spend a little bit of quality time with the Williams Nursery Elves:-)

Santa shown in our new Photo Set area.
Bring the family on Saturday or Sunday from noon until 3pm for a Free picture with Santa. Or bring your camera and stop in any other time and use the photo set as a backdrop for your holiday card.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cubscouts Decorate Cards

My Son's Cub scout Troop from Wilson School stopped in this morning to decorate cards for the Trees. They then picked out a tree and helped load it on the truck. State Senator Tom Kean Jr., stopped in to help with a donation of ten trees. The extra cards that the cub scouts made were then attached to the trees. Thanks Tom, and thanks to the scouts and their parents that stopped in.

Getting the Word Out - NJN TV

NJN stopped by, to help us promote Trees for Troops. You can see me in the last few minutes of this clip.(advance to 23:00)

If any techno geek out there can help me figure out how to actually capture these last few minutes of video, I'd be delighted to know. The clip expires on Wednesday.

Trees for Troops - Friday

We had a great time with the fifth graders from Brookside School in Cranford. They raised over $500 to purchase 11 trees. They helped move and load them on the Fedex truck. They also made and brought laminated cards to attached to the trees. The kindergarten children also wanted to help, so they all made paper gingerbread men to put on the trees!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Truck is Here! Getting Ready for Trees for Troops!

Fedex is a great partner to work with! They just delivered the truck for Trees for Troops. And they delivered it a week early so that we could display our banner on the Truck.

Trees for Troops Weekend will be December 5th through December 7th. 

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holiday Photo Spot Now Ready

Ready for a new Holiday Photo? We've set up a set where you can stop in and snap your own holiday picture. There's no charge for this, and you can use it at your convienence during business hours. ((Remember to bring your camera!) 

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Trees for Troops online ordering

Just a quick note to let everyone know that you can now order a Tree to send to our Troops direct from our website. Click Here to go to the order page

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Trees For Troops

I'm finishing up preperations of our participation of Trees for Troops and should have the information up on our website by the end of the week. Trees for Troops Weekend is Friday Dec 5th - Sunday Dec 7th.

Here is a short video that shows some pictures from last years program...you can see why I'm so excited that we are participating this year.

Saying Goodbye to the Garden

I was taking down the Halloween decorations, and cleaning up the rest of my pots, and I noticed a few annuals and perennials that even after a few heavy frosts, still looked pretty good. Its amazing how some annuals and perennials will tolerate cold temperatures way better then some others.

Generally ones that look good after frost now, are also good candidates for planting early in the Spring. (Yes I am looking forward to Spring already)

The Osteospermun (Sunscape Daisy) shown in the picture was fine. I've tried to get a few growers to produce these in the fall since they outlast Mums by a long shot, but Mums are such a traditional plant, the grower couldn't sell enough of the Sunscapes in the fall to make it worthwhile.

Lobelia still looks pretty good.

The Bouvardia which is a tubular orange flower survived, but the orange bonfire begonia didn't.

The Perennial Gailardia was also still blooming, and it handled the frost very well.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Fall Back to Spring Bulbs

On a crisp autumn day in 1593, an elderly botanist named Carolus Clusius planted a handful of tulip bulbs in a small garden at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The act is considered by the Dutch as the birth of their famous flower bulb business. In the U.S.A. alone, more than 270 million tulips will be planted this fall by home gardeners coast-to-coast. Given this amazing quantity of flower bulbs that are planted, it amazes me even more that there is a large number of people stopping into our garden center in April that don’t realize that those beautiful tulips needed to be planted as bulbs in the fall. Since Tulips, along with bulbs like daffodils, crocus and hyacinths are spring bloomers. They are collectively know as ‘Spring Bulbs.’ This name sometimes confuses the consumer but if you remember that it’s the flowering time that gives the bulb group its name, you’ll be fine.

You can read the rest of this article in the Knol that I have published on google here.

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RU Ready for Some Football?

We we're extremely excited to get the exclusive on the official liscenced Rutgers Football ornament produced by Joy to the World. Myself, Dad, and my sister are all Rutgers Alumni. We will be donating 10% of the Retail to the Rutgers Gardens.

Each ornament is created by artisans in Poland. Each one is hand blown, silvered and exquisitely hand painted to become a collectible work of art.

Ornament is two sided. The Front has the big "R" rutgers logo. The back is in Red and has "Go Scarlet Nights"

Williams Nursery has the exclusive for this ornament for this year, and will be the only place online that you can buy it for 2008. So its the perfect gift for the Rutgers Fan in your life.

You can go direct to our Mail Order site and order it online. We can ship it anywhere in the country.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Winners of the Scarecrow Contest.

Scarecrow Winners

The First Place winner of the Scarecrow contest for a $500 Cash Prize is the Muenzen family of Fanwood for Rest in Peeps.

Second Place $250 Gift Card is Pie Eating Contest by Jo Wayner of Westfield for Pie Eating Contest

Third Place for $100 Gift Card is Don't be Chicken Recycle by Alyssa, Bridget & Kim Gautieri of Cranford.

Honorable Mention a $25 Gift Card is tied and goes to Grim Weeper and Luci & Luigi

Thanks to Everyone for their incredible job! You can visit our picture page to look at the other winners.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This Years Halloween Costume Contest Photos 2008

Thanks to everyone that braved the misty weather!
Lots of great costumes this year...Being the Geek that I am, I was very happy to see a bit of Sci Fi make its way into the contest this year. Three Cheers to R2-D2 and the Borg...(for those that don't know who they are...hint...my Mom and Sister....R2 is the dome looking kid, and the Borg is a human machine cyborg...resistance is futile)

Below is the link to the photo library and the second is a slideshow of the event. If anyone wants these pictures at hi-res let me know and I can send it.

I was glad to have two cameras taking photos today. One of them's pictures was completely blurry. So I apologize if I've missed anyone.

halloween costume contest 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wooden Pumpkins

My sister and brother-in-law have a friend who stopped in this week
with some large wooden pumpkins that have he carved out of giant
blocks of wood. Sizes range from 12 inches to 30 inches across.
They're very cool and you don't have to worry about the squirells
eating them.

These are only here for a few days on consignment.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nostalgic Costume Review

After my last post, I started to reminisce of previous costume contests.
Unfortunately I've only had a digital camera since 2003. Hard to believe its only been five years.
Here are the pictures from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.
Click on any slide show to see it bigger, and see the photos individually.




Costume Contest - Saturday Oct 25th 2pm

I really can't believe we've been having a costume contest for sixteen years!

Wow...It's still one of my favorite events.

Here's the press release from the paper:
Win at Williams’s 16th annual Costume Contest
Williams Nursery at 524 Springfield Ave. in Westfield will have its 16th annual Halloween Costume Contest on Saturday October 25th at 2 P.M. Please arrive early
There will be 3 age categories:
5 years & under, 6-12 years, and adults (age disclosure not required).
Prizes will be awarded for First place winners for both the 5 and under, and the 6-12 year olds and adults. First prize is a $50 Gift Card, Second prize is a $25 Gift Card, and third is a $10 Gift Card
Call (908) 232-4076 for directions or further information.

Here is the slide show of last years contest:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just Me in the bogs

Me in the bogs
Originally uploaded by williamsnursery
Yesterday I got a little bogged down with work....

Actually I got to spend the afternoon in the cranberry bog at Lee farms. Many people have a list of things that they want to eventually do...and instead of driving in a fast race car, or going to the moon, I've always wanted to partake in a cranberry harvest.

NJ is third nationwide in the amount of cranberries that are produced. There are only three fruits that were native to this part of the country. The concord grape, the blueberry, and the cranberry.

There are approximately 3500 acres of cranberries in production in NJ. Most Cranberries in NJ are wet harvested. To wet pick, floodgates on the reservoir feeding the selected area are opened and water flows into the ditches and over the vines to a depth of about 18 inches, just enough to allow the water reel, which resembles a large egg beater, to work. The rapidly rotating water reels stir up the water with sufficient force to dislodge the ripened-cranberries, which float to the surface in a brilliant red mass of color. More info here.

I've included a slide show of some of the pictures I took below. The colors are amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bulb Planting Results

Here are the results to my bulb planting poll:
Do you plant flower bulbs?

Yes - in the Garden
39 (82%)
Yes - in Pots
1 (2%)
8 (17%)