Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coming soon - Treat your plant to some tea

Just catching up with my blog. Last week I spent the majority of the
week at the inner harbor at Baltimore. One of our distributors was
having their Spring goods show.

Most of the merchandise is scheduled for Spring 09 arrival. We made an
exception with these cool self watering pots that will arrive in early
November. Plant a houseplant inside, fill the water resevoir every few
weeks and that's it.

I think it's a great holiday gift item. We will also have a few animal
style pots to go with it.

What's all the Stink about?


I caught this guy running across the desk in my office. Unfortunately in the past several years, the end of September has become the time that the Stinkbugs begin to get into the house. The first US sighting of Halyomorpha halys (Stål), the "Brown Marmorated Stink Bug," was in Allentown PA in 1996. It has since moved east, and every year there seems to be more in the fall.

They spend the Summer feeding on plants in the garden, and as opposed to other species of Stink Bugs that hide out in dried leaves in the garden. These stinkers want to move inside to where its warm. The best way to keep them out is to keep your screens closed. Also they tend to find an easy path past the window mounted air conditioners.

When you piss off a stink bug (squishing them is one way, but startling them is another) they tend to give off a stinky odor. Once they are inside, the best way to remove them from the house is to vacuum them away.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension has more information here.

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The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

Well this week it was my father Ed's turn to go with me for apples. It was tricky to get him to stop sampling the apples, but at least I got him to help me load them.

New varieties this week include:

  • Red Delicious - Dad's favorite, but I'm not really fond of them
  • Johnagold - Dakota's favorite - a cross between Johnathan and Gold Delicious
  • Honey Crisp - Super Popular - and one of my favorites
I've put together a spreadsheet that lists which apples we have in stock, and shows their best attributes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Fresh-in. The cider donuts have arrived this morning!
Available in sugar coated, cinnamon coated, and plain!

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, September 26, 2008

Someone stole my idea!

Today's Garden Center Magazine just featured one of my blog ideas on their "Steal this Idea" section. (and generally among my garden center owner peers its more of a borrowing or sharing of ideas than an actual theft...and Richard Jones the editor asked first :-)

Here's the quote:

Give Your
Customers Tools

I’m not sure how many of you have a blog for your garden center, but if you’re considering starting one and looking for some inspiration on how to do it, your first stop ought to be Dave’s Garden Talk.

Dave Williams runs Williams Nursery in Westfield, N.J., and he’s one of the first garden retailers I’ve met who really seem to “get” what you can accomplish with social media like blogs.

He’s great at offering inspiration, advice, and even helpful tools to his readers, most of whom are also his customers. For instance, check out this recent post from Dave’s Garden Talk. It’s got that inspiration, advice and a tool for gardeners, and a great idea you can steal to share with your own customers. And if you want to steal the whole blog idea, that’s ok too:

"It's time to start thinking about transitioning your pots and gardens into a new season. Before you begin, its the perfect opportunity to evaluate what performed great, and what were the duds.

"You may be convinced that you'll remember what you planted next year, and what did well, but I think when Spring excitement starts, most people forget what was going on in the garden two seasons ago.

"If you have a camera, take some pictures of your containers, your annual beds. and your perennials. If you know the names of the plants I've created a simple inventory spreadsheet were you can keep notes. You'll be amazed at how much time you'll save next year by filling it out."

[Editor’s note: I don’t want to overwhelm Dave’s blog with direct downloads from our site, but if you’d like to see the spreadsheets he put together, just click on the link above and check them out in his blog. He’s happy to share.]
Richard Jones, Sep 23, 12:09

Lovely Lavender! It Works!

The following post was written by a long-time customer of ours, who I also consider a friend. Millicent is a writer-photographer, you may have seen her work many of the local papers.

Thanks Millicent!

Lovely Lavender! It Works!
by Millicent K. Brody
Who'd ever think I'd be one of those who'd curse the day a dearly beloved, sweet, darling, Bambi would visit my yard? And my yard? We live in a typical Westfield neighborhood. There are no farms or fields surrounding our house. True the cemetery is not that far away, but it has been the same distance from our front door, since the day we moved into our home, some 47 years ago.Lavender Blue
Each year I take pleasure in visiting Williams Nursery and buying an array of plants. I especially love lavender. I especially love yellow daisies, daffodils, and sunflowers. In addition to a June birthday gift of a gaggle of wonderful herbs, I always look forward to my writing group honoring my special day with an assortment of plants.
This year they delivered a beautiful hydrangea bush and an assortment of lilies. Because the plants arrived rather late in the day, I decided to put them in the ground the following morning. Bad decision. I thought I left them in a safe place directly in front of my door. (A safe place, but not safe enough.)
The following morning, they were all gone. Totally swiped down to the dirt. Not a bud or bloom, anywhere. I did not flinch. I dug holes and planted these poor wretched plants. I watered them and fed them. They grew. There were buds. However we hardly had a minute of beautiful pleasure. Along with their new growth, they hardly made the day. As soon as a bud appeared, it was gone. All the plants were gone. Chewed down to the quick! Nothing!
In looking over the battleground one thing stood out. Not a bite was taken out of my lovely lavender. Not one bite!
Hmmm...I thought......Not a bite was taken out of my big, beautiful, blue, hydrangea bush, either. Hmmmmmmmmmm.
I called my friend Master Gardner Eleanor Dean of Bernardsville.
Her advice: "Deer do not eat blue or gray plants."
So what did I do? I returned to Williams Florist and purchased a full selection of lavender plants. Then I barricaded my yellow daffodils, daisies, lilies, and newest hydrangea bush.
So far so good.
Stay tuned.
Millicent K. Brody
public relations consultant

Event Update

Pony Rides & Hayrides
Sat & Sun 10-5pm & Oct. 13th
Hayrides Only (No Ponies) Oct 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th ,30th 3-5pm

Scarecrow Contest-$500 First Prize-Judging Throughout October.(See website Or stop in for details)

Food Drive Weekend
Sept 27th & 28th
Free Hayride with a can of food

Pumpkin Weekend
Oct. 4th & 5th
Free Mini-pumpkin for kids.

Apple Tasting Weekend
Oct. 11th &12th.
Stop in for a FREE taste of one of the many great locally grown apples.

Costume Contest
Oct 25th 2 pm-Prizes!

Gift Shop Open House
Nov 14-16th. All Giftware 20% Off as we kickoff the holidays.

Trees for Troops Weekend
Dec 5th-Dec 7th
Help us in supporting our troops. Its important that soldiers and their families receive a Real Christmas Tree for the holiday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our 88th Year

I got such great feedback on the Enews that I'm repeating the story on our history here.

Celebrating our 88th Anniversary!

In honor of our anniversary I have to tell you it's hard to believe that 88 years ago my Great Grandfather William Edward Williams, and Grandfather Roy Williams started a business selling plants in Union County. Originally called Williams Floral Farm. Last night I went through some old dusty boxes of pictures that my Grandmother Helen had saved, and found a few great shots to share with everyone.

Originally anniversary 2.jpg the property was 13 acres, but in the late 1920s roughly half of the property was deeded to the Union County Park System through the newly created Green Acres program.

The store consisted of an open building with a large overhang. A brightly colored camelia flower from the then named “Williams Floral Farm” proved to be a well-sought item.

The next decade brought diversity. Roy Williams became the known local expert on plants and flowers. When the Depression hit, much of our inventory was sold to Echo Lake Country Club for pennies on the dollar.

After the Depression, the store was moved to where the existing store is now. Roy Williams began traveling throughout the United States for new and exciting plant varieties. Many of these rare plants were sold to the Doris Duke estates, and many were planted in the quickly developing Westfield community.

In the early 1950’s the store was rebuilt into a gift shop with a glass greenhouse roof. (shown at the right) “Williams Floral Farm was the only place in the state that offered gorgeous camellia plants in bloom”. The 1950’s also brought a large cut-flower boom. Ed Williams, then a teenager, was following in his father’s footsteps,” He said his father taught him that hard work leads to success, and the entire spring season would pass without a day off.”

anniversary 1.jpgThis of course gives me the opportunity to share this picture of my father Ed. Taken in September of 1938. (I'm assuming at this point that twenty years from now my son Dakota may be showing some sort of embarrassing photo of me when it's our 108th anniversary)

First the trend was cut gladiolus, then as the market shifted it was cut dahlias. We adapted our crop to meet the market demand. In the early 1960’s the cut-flower market tapered off, our focus was diverted to selling plant material again. At this point the name of the business was changed to Williams Nursery. I did find a shot from inside the giftshop. I'm thinking its from the 50's since it has the large bouquet of gladiolus. For those that haven't been in the giftshop, it's worth visiting inside of the brick building. (We retrofitted the giftshop with an apartment on top in the mid 60's. Mom and Dad were living up the street from the nursery renting a house from the Geigers. After my sister Denise and I were born, my grandfather Roy built the apartment, and Mom, Dad, my sister and myself moved into the house) anniversary 3.jpg

In Roy and Edward Williams’ travels they found new suppliers in California and Oregon. In a first for the nursery industry, they brought these unusual plants to the east coast.

They began selling these plants to other garden centers, and became the first plant broker in the eastern United States to bring in west coast material. Now 50 years later, almost all garden centers receive some material from the west coast. While we take for granted transporting things across the country in 2008, it was something unique in my grandfathers’ day. What my grandfathers did was start a legacy that we are proud to carry on. It’s still on my mind to bring you interesting plants for your home and family.

As a family business we try to stick to our roots. I am proud to work with my sister Denise who manages our giftshop, and my brother-in-law Greg, who is in-charge of day to day operations. We appreciate you allowing our legacy to be shared.

Special Anniversary Sale

Don't miss this once a year Sale event.
Now thru Oct 1st we are having a celebration Sale. The more you buy, the more you save.
Buy 1-3 Shrubs get 20% Off.
Buy 4-8 get 25% OFF.
Buy 9+ get 30% OFF
Some items have been reduced even more, including Fruit & Shade Trees, Rose Bushes and Native Rhododendrons. These are 50% OFF.
Sale ends Oct. 1st. Sorry but does not include previous purchases.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How do you like them apples!

Wow, I didn't know that going to the apple farm was a favorite of more than one member of the Williams family. First when I said I was going, my son Dakota said, "Oh can I go" then when my father Ed heard he said, "Oh, can I go."

Since our truck only seats two, it was a tough call, but I compromised. Dakota went with me this week. Ed goes next week.

This weeks just picked, Jersey Fresh, apples are
  • Gala
  • Macintosh
  • Greening
  • Cortland
  • Golden Delicious
  • Macoun
Also appearing this week Bosc Pears and Melick's Apple Cider

Snowberry Update

I've had a few questions and comments on snowberries from my earlier post.

Symphoricarpos are considered Deer resistant. Although there is no plant that is 100% Deer proof, deer don't tend to like this particular plant.

The following statement may seem a bit scary, but there are many things in the garden that you should never put into your mouth. The fruit and foliage of snowberry are suspected to be mildly toxic; ingestion can cause mild digestive tract upset and possibly mild sedation. Death is unlikely. I always recommend instructing the kids to never eat anything in the garden unless it has been researched by Mom or Dad beforehand.

Birds like the snowberries, and will eat them from the fall into the Winter. I say like not love, which is a good thing, since they'll take their time eating a few berries here and there. This is much better than attracting the birds by the flock, and have them all disappear at once.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Slowly I Turn ---Niagara Falls

My Dad turned 70 several years ago, and I had bought him a gift certificate to the Fallsview Casino Hotel on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Last weekend Mom and Dad (pictured at the left) decided to make the treck up to Canada, and I volunteered to go along as their tour guide.

Niagara Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world, but for those that don't know, it is also one of the must see places for garden lovers. If your only mildly interested in plants, you may want to know that there is also a huge concentration of really good vineyards within a half hour of the falls that offer tours and tastings.

The weather was a bit on the rainy side, but there's so much to do, that it didn't dampen our spirits. (Also for a family that has their business based outside, we're quite used to an occasional rainy spell. ) It did keep me from taking quite a few pictures of the gardens, but the sun did break out on the last day, and it gave us an opportunity to get some great pictures.

The series of pictures posted are part of the Floral Showhouse, which is about 1/4 mile from the horseshoe falls. In a few weeks they will remove the annuals on display here, and switch the greenhouse to a reiger begonia exhibit.

Inside the greenhouse they had an amazing orchid display. The third picture is of one that I thought was extremely fascinating. (Please excuse me for not getting the name of it...I'm blaming the above mentioned vineyards as the main reason).

If you do make the journey to Niagara Falls, make sure you do drive to Niagara on the Lake. I've visited quite a few towns, and looked at their gardens, but I must say that Niagara on the Lake is the most beautifully landscaped towns I've ever seen.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poll Results - Where do Mums Go

In the ground replacing annuals
29 (32%)
In the Ground in a different location
21 (23%)
On the Front Steps in Pots
67 (75%)
On the Deck in Pots
21 (23%)
On a table in Pots
10 (11%)
Hanging Basket
4 (4%)
Window Box
9 (10%)
2 (2%)
I don't Use Mums
2 (2%)

Total Votes: 89

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Arrivals for Week of 09/10/08

We just had the following arrivals in the perennial department:
From Top to Bottom
Echinacea Big Sky Sundown
Echinacea Big Sky Harvest Moon
Echinacea Fragrant Angel - Note this is a must have. Largest flower I've ever seen on a Cone Flower and Super Fragrant!!!
Echinacea Magnus - Traditional Pink, tight in bud.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spooktacular Gifts

For those that have never seen our giftshop. (It's in the large brick building adjacent to the parking lot). I've created a new photosynth of the giftshop. Take a peak. My sister Denise, who is the gift shop manager has really outdone herself with some great new displays.

Unfortunately for those that can only access the internet via the mac, photosynths won't run on your computer. I do get a chuckle about this post from microsoft regarding it not being mac worthy:
Originally Posted by Microsoft Photosynth
Unfortunately, we're not cool enough to run on your OS yet. We really wish we had a version of Photosynth that worked cross platform, but for now it only runs on Windows. Trust us, as soon as we have a Mac version ready, it will be up and available on our site.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Time to Inventory the Garden

It's time to start thinking about transitioning your pots and gardens into a new season. Before you begin, its the perfect opportunity to evaluate what performed great, and what were the duds.

You may be convinced that you'll remember what you planted next year, and what did well, but I think when Spring excitement starts, most people forget what was going on in the garden two seasons ago.

If you have a camera, take some pictures of your containers, your annual beds. and your perennials. If you know the names of the plants I've created a simple inventory spreadsheet were you can keep notes. You'll be amazed at how much time you'll save next year by filling it out.
You can see the spreadsheet below, but I've also created two other links. One is to access the full screen version, and the second is the excel spreadsheet version. (The excel version has a few extra features) If anyone wants to fill their's out and email it too me, I'll post it for my blog readers. I'm also open to suggestions as to modifying the form.

Monday, September 08, 2008

There's no Berries like Snowberries

Just arrived at Williams!

If on Family Feud the question was “What is the Color of a Plant’s Berries?” I’m sure that the number one answer would be red. I think part of this association is with the red berried hollies that many decorate with during the holidays. Even though red is extremely popular, there are quite a few other colored berried plants that one can use for the landscape.

Last September, I was at Garden Center of America’s Fashion in Bloom, and found a great improvement on an old fashioned berry producing plants at the Monrovia Grower’s display. I first saw this plant in one of my horticulture classes at Rutgers, and thought it was pretty cool when I saw it twenty five years ago. When I saw these this year, I stopped in my tracks and was 'wowed.' This Plant is from the Genus Symphoricarpos. Commonly known as either a Snowberry or Coralberry, the Symphoricarpos is a plant that is native to the North Eastern United States. A French botanist Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau classified it in the 18th century. Virtually all Native American tribes in its range used this plant as a medicinal for treating a wide variety of ailments from upset stomach to eye inflammation. When its twigs are honed in a fire, they were converted into sharp-tip tools. The plant has been cultivated for several centuries but its true garden worthiness has only just started to be proven with recent advances by a Dutch breeding program. These newer varieties produce more uniform fruit, and the berries tend to persist for an extremely long time.

Before there’s a berry there needs to be a flower. These produce a small whitish pink flower in the summer. Berries are produced in clusters. Sometimes these clusters can have over 25 berries in just one of cluster. The plant is then covered with these clusters. The fruit starts to color up in the fall.

Each variety has its own appealing colors: Bright Fantasy’s berries show a bright snowy white color, Charming Fantasy offers a range from pink to white, and Scarlet Pearl produces a larger berry whose color is reddish purple. The berries hold up well as a cut flower and will last several weeks in an arrangement.

Although snowberries are pretty in the fall, they are outstanding in the winter. Once the fall has left this plant without its leaves, the berries hang on the stem into the winter. It’s a great plant to have outside of a window so one can look upon its beauty in January when everything in the landscape looks drab and dreary.

ImageThe snowberry grows moderately fast and will generally mature to a height and width of about 4’. It will produce its best berries in Full to partial sun. It’s extremely tolerant of cold winters and can survive even into zone 3 where temperatures dip to 40 below zero. Since I’ve seem them flower profusely in a growers container, I’m thinking that they would be great in a patio planter, but I haven’t tried this out yet. Since they flower on new wood in the summer, and berries are produced in the fall, pruning should be done in the early Spring. I would remove some of the interior wood when pruning, so to let light into the center of the plant to increase the fruit production.

Snowberries are a great addition to the landscape since they also become a late season food for many wildlife species. They can make a great hedge plant, since they are far easier to manage than privet or forsythia. They would also make a great accent for the edge of a woodland garden. If you plant one in the front yard, you may have to be careful since you may get people knocking at your door asking “What is that cool plant with the berries?”

Friday, September 05, 2008

I'm a believer - Asters Part II

Just wanted to share a few more aster pictures. We have six varities in stock. Most of them are just starting to bloom. Shown here on the top is 'Patrica Ballard'. On the bottom is 'Believer'

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Aster of my Domain.

Aster of my Domain.
Originally uploaded by williamsnursery
For those that aren't Seinfeld fans forgive me. And for those that are
fans of the original Saturday Night Live cast I would be remiss not to
add the reference to the bees buzzing off.

Fall is a fabulous time for perennial asters. Many of the newer
varieties are types of Aster Novi-belgii. This variety is 'Thyra
Viking' produced by the Yoder company. Colors range from ultra bright
pinks, to violets to purples.

Asters should be planted in the full sun if you want them to bloom the
following year, or you can treat them as an annual if the buds have
already formed to add bright color anywhere.