Avant Gardening

Avant Gardening & Landscaping

Category: Local

Get Your $$ Worth at the Garden Expo!

If you have a bad case of spring fever and really want to stretch every last penny this month… a visit to the WPT Garden Expo may be the cure!

wisconsin landscape garden expo 2017

Make plans to join Avant Gardening and Landscaping at the 2016 Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo February 10th-12th at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. This event is sure to get you ready for all your spring gardening and landscaping adventures and with so many offerings it’s sure to please everyone in the family.

For more information and to pre-purchase tickets visit: www.wigardenexpo.com

A day at the Garden Expo costs $8 (in advance) and the list of fun things to do throughout the weekend is endless. Here’s a quick look at our team’s top 5 reasons to visit:

1. 150+ FREE EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS & DEMONSTRATIONS

If that’s not enough to get your gardening soul excited, we don’t know what will! There’s a huge variety of topics from beekeeping to landscape design. Becky Kielstrup, Avant Gardening’s General Manager/Horticulturalist, will also be presenting! Be sure to check out her seminar, especially if you are interested in reducing or eliminating pesticides and inorganic fertilizers in the landscape. She will discuss organic lawn care, sustainable planting bed methods, native plants, integrated pest management and simple tips on how to begin!

Organic Landscape Maintenance Practices
When: Saturday 11:45am – 12:30pm Location: Waubesa/Kegonsa OR Sunday 12:45pm – 1:30pm

2. EXCITING RAFFLE PRIZES

Need a new outdoor grill, gardening tools or maybe a whole new garden? Try your luck in the Garden Expo Raffle. This year, Avant Gardening & Landscaping has donated a gift certificate towards a Perennial Collection, a great prize whether you’re an established gardener or just starting out.

3. INDOOR FARMER’S MARKET

Back by popular demand, the second annual Farmers’ Market! It will feature farmers, food artisans and local food retailers. Products available include pickles and preserves, artisan cheeses, honey, olive oil, tea, chocolate, greens, coffee, and hand-crafted salami and cured meats. Stop by the expo on Sunday, February 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visit the Atrium of the Exhibition Hall to do some shopping!

4. BOTANICAL THEMED CRAFT COCKTAILS 

New this year – on Friday from 5-8 p.m. in the central garden there will be botanical-themed craft cocktails offered, developed by mixologists from Graze. A little cost but hey, when in Rome… View the cocktail menu here.Take some time to enjoy the beautiful plant and flower display put together by members of the Wisconsin Nursery and Landscaping Association (WNLA) and enjoy music from jazz pianist Dave Stoler, a featured member of the Tony Castaneda Latin Jazz Sextet.

5. SHARE IDEAS & GET INSPIRATION

Avant Gardening and Landscaping will be one of the hundreds of businesses, contractors, nonprofits, and artists on hand, ready to answer any of your questions throughout the weekend. Get new ideas about gardening, landscaping and local food production. You can even talk directly with experts from UW-Extension Horticulture and many local Botanical Gardens.

If money is really that tight – you can always get in free (and even FREE parking). For Garden Expo volunteer opportunities, visit Wisconsin Public Television’s Volunteer website to browse available positions and shifts. As a thank you for your help, they provide you with a free parking pass and admission to Garden Expo on the day of your volunteer shift.

We hope you venture out for this mid-winter oasis – Spring will be here before we know it!

 

Winter Daydream – Craftsman Small-Space Gardening

Sick of Wisconsin Winters yet? We decided that this week we are feeling the need to dream of summer.

Just pretend it’s a beautiful, warm July day… you’re out on your patio, sipping some lemonade, birds are chirping, flowers are nodding in the warm breeze…. How about we take you back to the 2015 Olbrich Botanical Garden’s Home Garden Tour?

For a little while, let’s forget about the cold and the snow… Let’s enjoy some lovely summer weather and look at a gorgeous garden.

garden design landscape madison middleton wisconsin  garden design landscape madison middleton wisconsin

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) are both examples of native plant species in this bird & butterfly friendly landscape.

garden design landscape madison middleton wisconsin

Meandering natural flagstone stepper pathway entices visitors throughout the garden. A small rain garden with native plantings, catches grey-water from the roof and slowly infiltrates it back into the aquifer.

garden design wisconsin landscape sustainable arbor garden design wisconsin landscape sustainable arbor

This lovely arbor invites visitors to wander throughout the garden. A natural Chilton flagstone pathway provides an informal way to access the perennial garden beds and various intimate garden spaces.

garden design landscape wisconsin madisonFront entrance to this craftsman-style home. Natural stone and abundant plantings create an inviting landscape.

To see more images of this garden, check out our Houzz Project Profile: Craftsman Small-Space Gardening

 

5 Questions Worth Asking Your Potential Landscaper

Local trade shows and expos can be awkward and intimidating! Do you get anxious wandering through a huge exposition hall lined with booth after booth of unfamiliar companies… New expo visitors can be hesitant for numerous reasons. Do any of the following situations below apply to you?

  • Just bought a new house and have no idea where to start…
  • Feel like if you stop and talk you will be pressured into a hard sale…
  • Just not sure what/how to ask questions to get valuable information…

With the Madison Home Show fresh in our memory and the NARI Remodeling Expo coming up this weekend, we decided to create a list of intelligent and important questions for you to ask your local landscaper before you hire them to work at your property.

These questions are not only important to make sure you will be working with a qualified, reputable landscaping company – but will also get the conversation going about your potential project and help you determine if they are the right company for you!

Here are 5 Questions we’d recommend asking – with answers from Tim Stenzel, one of our Landscape Architects at Avant Gardening & Landscaping.

1. What is your background in the field?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY. After graduate school, I spent several years working in and around Chicago and the North Shore communities.

2. How long has your company been in business?

We are proud to be celebrating our 32nd Year in Business! As our name implies, Avant Gardening and Landscaping has been at the forefront of the gardening and landscaping industry in Madison and Dane County since 1985. We couldn’t do it without our loyal clients and dedicated team.

3. Do you hire Registered Landscape Architects?

Yes! Having a registered landscape architect on staff is very important for the health, safety and welfare of our clients. We have 3 Licensed Landscape Architects, which is quite a few for our small office! Liza Lightfoot, Dan Schmitt & Tim Stenzel are all very talented and have experience working on complicated projects. Read more about them on our staff page.

4. Where does the bulk of your work come from?

Most of our work comes from Loyal Existing Clients coming back to complete another phase of their project or continuing to work with our maintenance team in their gardens. A large majority of brand new clients come from Existing Client Referrals. We also receive quite a few referrals from local businesses and public gardens (such as Allen Centennial Garden and Olbrich Botanical Gardens), our website & Google, and the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo. 

If the company answers with Yellow Pages, or doesn’t know where their work comes from, this is a red flag… It tells you that the contractor is either new, inexperienced, a low-baller in the industry or simply doesn’t get many referrals…

5. What are the most unique services your company provides?

  • Avant offers a very successful organic lawn care program using compost topdressing, compost teas, and lawn aerating.
  • We use a lot of natural stone in our patio, wall and walkway installations. This is becoming less common in our industry. We use eco-sensitive practices whenever possible and believe in sourcing local raw materials, such as natural stone, which means there is less processing of materials which ultimately creates more waste water.
  • We make our own soil blends! We recycle whenever possible and take all of the plant debris from jobsites and turn it continually throughout the year, once it breaks down into fine organic matter we mix it into our planting bed mix – the outcome is a very fertile soil mix that is periodically tested by UW Soils lab to ensure high quality.

Bonus question!
6. What is your company’s philosophy?

Our philosophy has always been to see ourselves as stewards of the environment. We believe in living by example, Avant’s office grounds are landscaped in a naturalistic style that attracts a diversity of birds, pollinators and butterflies. We’ve recently become an official Monarch Waystation! We also have a small pond that we keep open and functioning through the long winter months because it is an important water source for wildlife.

We hope this blog posts helps you prepare for the next home show or expo you visit! Speaking of… don’t forget to visit us this weekend! Stop by Avant Gardening & Landscaping’s booth #409 at the NARI Madison Remodeling Expo Jan. 20-22. For more information check out http://www.nariexpo.com/

#RemodelWithNARI #NARIMadison #MadisonWI

Top 3 Wisconsin Landscape Plants Attractive All Year Long

Many Wisconsin gardeners believe four-season interest means they’re limited to evergreens, but there are many other options! The three plants listed below are top favorites because they have either unique berries, bark or other interesting element in the winter – and they’re not evergreens!

1. Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides) has glossy leaves that emerge and remain attractive all season. Fragrant flowers bloom late in the season, followed by small fruits surrounded by a bright red/magenta calyx produces a late fall display. Light brown exfoliating bark adds winter interest.

Zone: 5 to 9     Height: 15-20 feet     Spread: 8-10 feet     Attracts: Hummingbirds

seven-son flower, heptacodium miconiodies, wisconsin landscape plantsseven-son flower, heptacodium miconiodies, wisconsin landscape plants

2. Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) is an early-flowering shrub. The orange-red flowers have strap-like petals that curl inward on chilly days (an adaptive mechanism to protect from freezing). The oval-shaped leaves turn a golden yellow/orange in fall and often hang on through winter.

Zone: 4 to 8     Height: 6-10 feet     Spread: 8-15 feet      Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Clay Soil

vernal witch hazel, hamamelis vernalis, wisconsin landscape plants

3. Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa ‘Autumn Magic’) exhibits white flower clusters in spring and dark green leaves through summer. The astringent berries contain about 3X MORE ANTIOXIDANTS than blueberries! Excellent fall color ranges from bright orange to reddish-purple. Fruit clusters persist into January.

Zone: 3 to 8     Height: 3-6 feet     Spread: 4-7 feet     Suggested Use: Natural, Rain Garden

black chokeberry, aronia melanocarpa 'autumn magic', wisconsin landscape plants

 

Why is Dormant Pruning Important? Expert Tree & Shrub Trimming

Do you have a large Dogwood, Viburnum or other suckering plant that is outgrowing its space? Dormant pruning maybe your solution!

What is dormant pruning?  

Well what does “dormant” mean exactly… with regards to a plant or bud, “dormant” means: alive but not actively growing. Think of it like a hibernation period for plants, their normal functions are suspended or slowed down in the winter time.

Dormant pruning is strategic pruning (or trimming) that is done during a plant’s dormancy period – winter or early spring, before the buds break. The plant is pruned aggressively, reducing its overall size by thinning out the canes, removing dead, diseased and crossing branches.

tree trimming madison wisconsin landscape maintenance

BEFORE – overgrown & crossing branches

tree trimming madison wisconsin landscape maintenance

AFTER – thinned, increased overall health

Why is dormant pruning important?

Dormant pruning is a great practice to increase the overall health of your landscape. Pruning in general helps you control the size of a plant, growth pattern, and helps rejuvenate old overgrown plants.

Although the snow and bitterly cold wind chills might make you just want to hibernate as well… dormant pruning is typically the best time to prune plants. You are able to see the overall branch structure more easily, and the insects and disease-causing organisms are not active during this time of year.

What about trimming large trees?

Mature trees are especially important to ONLY dormant prune to prevent the spread of diseases. Various insects and diseases are attracted to fresh, open ‘bleeding’ cuts on trees. One prime example is with Oak trees. They should only be pruned after October 15th, but if possible it is best if they are dormant pruned when the picnic beetle is definitely not active. Oak Wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. Picnic beetles are attracted to mats of the oak wilt fungus in infected trees, they pick up spores of the fungus on their bodies, and then carry the spores to healthy trees. The beetles are attracted to trees that have been recently wounded poorly timed pruning, and sometimes wind or storm damage.

What cannot be dormant pruned?

Evergreens, however, do not respond well to this type of pruning. Generally evergreens require very little pruning, especially since they are slower growing, but if necessary this should be done later in the spring or summer.

 

Your Wisconsin Landscape & Garden Checklist – January

“The wise gardener anticipates June in January.”  ~Author Unknown

Most of us in Madison, Wisconsin have already gone into hibernation – the below zero landscape outside and frigid wind chills make us cozy up inside and dream of spring (only venturing out if absolutely necessary!) But there are still plenty of things to keep us gardeners busy!

1. Take Down Your Holiday Tree

This is a task always dreaded in my family – but why not make it a positive experience by recycling it in your garden? Place your dried-out tree next to bird feeders and your feathery friends are sure to appreciate the added shelter and cover.

2. Appreciate Winter Landscape Beauty

You don’t even need to go outside for this one! Just by gazing out your window you can enjoy the twinkle of a fresh snowfall, finely textured plants frozen into lace, and seed heads with snowy caps. Ornamental Grasses (especially Panicum), Echinacea, Echinops, Liatris and Rudbeckia all provide great winter interest.Landscaping Madison Wisconsin Winter Landscape Seed Heads

3. Water The Flowers Birds!

Bird watching can really help Wisconsin gardeners make it through the long winter season. Consider investing in a heated birdbath, even more so than food, birds need clean, open water for bathing and drinking. Now these birdbaths can even be solar powered!

Wisconsin Winter Landscape, Madison, Wisconsin, Landscape Water Gardens

To keep water open in your garden pond, add an aerator and heater. Birds will appreciate you!

4. Evaluate Your Garden’s “Bones”

The monochromatic setting can help you see the structure of your garden. Now is a good time to take notes and sketch on photographs of your landscape, think about where additional evergreens could be sited or how pretty an arbor and bench might be – perhaps some outdoor lighting accents to make the long nights less dark and depressing!

5. Take a Trip!

If you can’t escape to a tropical paradise, think about visiting a local substitute! Check out a conservatory like the Bolz Conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens – a stroll through the warm, moist air on a sunny day is sure to make you forget about the inches of snow just on the other side of the glass! For more information: http://olbrich.org/gardens/conservatory.cfm

 

Ever Wonder What Landscape Designers Do All Winter?

Nothing. Ha- Just kidding! We design of course!

As the temperatures in our Wisconsin landscape get bitterly cold, our skilled team of Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers remain available for design and master planning projects during the winter months. We can help you with that rain garden, retaining wall, outdoor landscape lighting or just some curb appeal that you’ve been putting off.

Beat the rush! It’s best to get started now if you want something done in spring!

We develop creative solutions for residential landscapes and commercial landscape projects in a wide range of aesthetic styles.

Which landscape styles speak to you?  

  • A woven tapestry of colors and textures of the New American Garden style
  • Clean and simple elegance of Contemporary Minimalism
  • Informal beauty of Prairie-Inspired Landscapes and Gravel Gardens
Landscape Madison Wisconsin Gravel Gardens Landscaping

Sustainable Lower-Maintenance Gravel Garden Landscape Design in Madison, Wisconsin

  • Tranquility of Wisconsin Woodland Gardens
  • Asymmetrical balance and harmony of Japanese-Style Landscapes
  • Geometric, formal symmetry of Classic Traditional Landscapes

From smaller-scale garden design to landscape master planning, our team can help you visualize the Wisconsin landscape of your dreams. It is our responsive and immediate attention to the needs of our client that sets us apart from our competition.

Landscape Design Madison Wisconsin Conceptual Sketch Design

How Does the Process Start?  

Our iterative design process begins with a consultation. One of our experienced designers will meet with you to discuss your project. Yes, even when it’s snowing!

Things you may want to consider ahead of time:

  • How do you want to use your outdoor space?
  • What is your ultimate goal?
  • Do you want space for entertaining?
  • Would you like a place where children can play?
  • Are there views that you want to enhance or screen?
  • What is your comfortable level of garden maintenance?
  • What is your budget and timeline?

Contact the Avant Design Team today! Send us an email to or give us a call at 608-838-2054. You can also reach out to us via our website’s
Contact Form to schedule a meeting.

PLUS – It’s fun to dream of spring when the it’s SO COLD out! 

The Wonders of Wisconsin’s Winter Landscape

After the last snowstorm of 7+ inches of snow… some of you might be thinking…

Whyyyy do I still live in this Wisconsin landscape? What is the point of snow? Is this necessary?! Does snow serve any good purpose for my plants?!

  • Snow is nature’s way of offering a layer of insulation to plants from the extreme cold or fluctuating temperatures.
  • It offers a more stable environment when the temperatures vary greatly in a short period of time. Most damage done to plants is generally in the early fall or late spring if there is not a layer of snow to provide protection.
  • In Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, snow is called “the poor man’s fertilizer.”  When it comes through the atmosphere, nitrogen and sulfur attach to the flakes. Then during the melting period in spring, these elements are sent into the soil and absorbed by plants. ANd of course, nitrogen is essential to your plant’s overall health.
  • Snowfall lures more birds and animals to the food sources that you’ve set out for them since their natural food sources are more covered. This means that you will see more action at your feeders and birdbaths.

Okay, however…

Heavy snow can split columnar shrubs and trees and the added weight can cause branches to break, especially with bitter freezing temperatures and strong winter winds.

How do I protect my plants from the ravages of winter?

Gently remove snow as soon as  possible after a snowfall, before it completely freezes to the branches. Use a broom to reach higher branches that may get weighted down.

Hopefully you’ve already watered deeply in the fall to prevent drying out. You can also offer your plants some physical barrier protection from any salt source if they’re more susceptible.

 

Top 10 Perfect Gifts for Gardeners

Top 10 Gifts for Gardeners

With the holidays approaching it’s time to check your green-thumbed friend off your list! Shopping can be stressful… whether it’s for a fellow gardener or that aunt that doesn’t want anything. These gift ideas are sure to be perfect for the garden enthusiast in your life and maybe even those other hard-to-buy-for family members!

1. Garden Journal

Every gardener needs one! A garden journal is perfect for keeping track of all those pesky things we forget about! Help your friend stay organized in their garden and remember which plants they want to divide, phenological notes, ideas for next season, which plants the rabbits ate, and any other reminders!

2. DIY Wildflower Seed Bombs

3. Olbrich Botanical Gardens Membership

For the month of December, current members can gift a membership to new members for 1/2 price! It is the gift that keeps on giving all year long with free admission to the Bolz Conservancy, discounts in the Growing Gifts gift shop, discounts on Olbrich classes and trips, access to special members only events and reciprocal benefits to over 300 gardens nationwide!! Check out their website to fill out the application.

4. Hori-Hori Garden Tool

5. Magazine Subscription

There are so many fantastic garden magazines that provide inspiration and creative ideas all year long! Avant Gardening & Landscaping’s favorites include: Wisconsin Gardener Magazine, Garden Design Magazine & Horticulture.

6. DIY Hand Scrub

7. UW-Arboretum Winter Enrichment Lecture Series Registration

Since 1968, the Arboretum has offered lectures for naturalists in the greater Madison area. This winter program is also open to Arboretum volunteers, friends, and interested public as space allows. Great topics that branch out form birding to geology and everything in between! Check out their website to sign up.

8. Growing the Midwest Garden Book by Ed Lyon

9. Fiskars Knee Pads

10. Tilandsia – Air Plant Terrarium Kit

December Garden To-Do List

December

“From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens –

the garden outdoors,

the garden of pots and bowls in the house,

and the garden of the mind’s eye.”

– Katherine S. White

1.  Protection & Preparation

If you haven’t already, be sure to wrap special trees and shrubs to protect them against critters during the winter. Also, protect certain species that you know are attractive to voles/rabbits/deer, such as arborvitae, fothergilla, and oakleaf hydrangea.

Besides mentally prepping for snow accumulation, don’t forget to physically prepare. Now is a good time to make sure you have proper snow removal tools – Do you need a new scoop shovel? Did your winter boots leak last year? Where is that ice scraper…

dsci0034Once the snow starts to fly, monitor your garden. It’s peaceful and beautiful when snow piles up, but keep in mind too much can be damaging. Heavy, wet snow accumulations can put stress on the branches, causing them to hang down lower or worse, break! Don your most snow-proof winter clothing and get out there to brush off the snow! Focus on your evergreens, especially arborviate spp. and boxwood spp. are most susceptible. It is best to brush off from the ground up so that you’re not causing more damage batting down at the branches.

2. Winter Pruning

Winter is the perfect time to prune trees and shrubs, especially since all the leaves have dropped it makes it easier to see the structure. Another perk – most pests and diseases that are attracted to open wounds of trees are inactive this time of year, so less chance of infecting your plants!

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3. Decorate for the Holidays!

Try making a DIY wreath, reclaimed wood trees, or create some winter container displays this year! Not sure how to make a winter container? Read last week’s blog post here for step-by-step instructions.

img_20151124_145056677      img_20151124_122829513

4. Switch to Indoor Gardening Activities

Take an educational class from UW-Extension, they have an excellent 2017 Green Thumb Gardening Series!! There are plenty of workshops and classes to choose from at Olbrich Botanical Gardens too. Lots you can do to keep you active and thinking about your garden all winter long!

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5. Choose a New Book!

Bored with your winter surroundings already? Grab a new gardening book and start gathering inspiration for next year! Pinterest is also a fun place to see lots of ideas and pin photos to save for spring. Here a quick list of a few of our favorite gardening books –

  • Growing the Midwest Garden by Edward Lyon (former director of the Allen Centennial Garden, get your copy here)
  • Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening
  • by Lee Somerville (from the WI Historical Society Press)
  • Garden Wisdom: Lessons Learned from 60 Years of Gardening (another good one about vegetable gardening from the WI Historical Society Press)
  • Hot Plants for Cool Climates: Gardening With Tropical Plants in Temperate Zones by Dennis Schrader (pick it up here)

 

 


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