Avant Gardening

Avant Gardening & Landscaping

Archive: February 2015

Avant Gardening and Landscaping: Why This will Help You get Ready for Spring

We have spring fever. It may still be winter, but after our Avant Gardening and Landscaping team enjoyed a great weekend talking with so many of you at the Garden Expo, we are ready for spring.

Unfortunately, it is still winter, but it can’t stop us from dreaming about getting out into the garden. And sometimes looking at books for ideas can help. I love a beautiful gardening book, and my bookshelf is stocked. But as I recently searched through my choices, I realized I didn’t have the right book to help address our colder Wisconsin climate.

Then I found Annuals for Minnesota and Wisconsin by Don Engebretson and Don Williamson.

This book is actually an incredible guide to species, varieties, hybrids, and cultivars. It is written in an engaging, straightforward manner, and is logically organized for easy reference. The book begins with a Flowers at a Glance pictorial, followed by average last-frost date charts.  The subsequent chapters address:

  • Getting Started
  • Preparing the Garden
  • Selecting Annuals
  • Planting
  • Annuals from Seed
  • Caring for Annuals
  • Problems and Pests

This is followed by a 200+ page comprehensive annuals guide which is organized alphabetically by most familiar common name, with botanical name listed after it. The Quick Reference Chart at the back helps summarize the different features and requirements for various plants, and is a handy guide while shopping. The glossary offers definitions of terms commonly used in gardening.

This book contains just about all the information you may need on annuals, and I would consider it a must-have for those who enjoy these abundant, adaptable, and welcome additions to the garden. Once you read this, you too, will be ready for spring!


Book Review: Annuals for Minnesota and Wisconsin by Don Engebretson and Don Williamson (Lone Pine Publishing)

Avant Gardening and Landscaping: Our Top 5 Things at this year’s Garden Expo

Relax, plan, prepare for spring at Avant's Garden Expo booth

Relax, plan, prepare for spring at Avant’s Garden Expo booth

It is a mid-winter oasis– and our Avant Gardening and Landscaping team is looking forward to spending the weekend at the 2015 Garden Expo! This event is sure to get you ready for all your spring gardening and landscaping adventures. The expo runs February 13- 15, and hours are 3 pm-9 pm Friday, 9 am-6 pm Saturday, and 10 am-4 pm Sunday. And while there’s a long, fun list of things to do throughout the weekend, here’s a quick look at our team’s top 5 favorites, including the brand new farmer’s market:

1. Learn:  Free Seminars and Demonstrations

The Garden Expo offers 150+ free seminars and demonstrations to learn the latest in gardening and landscaping trends. Our own Becky Kielstrup will be sharing tips for starting and maintaining an organic landscape. Her educational seminar is scheduled for Saturday at 3:45 pm in the Monona/Wingra Room.

2. Share:  Ideas and Techniques

Avant Gardening and Landscaping will be one of the many businesses, contractors, nonprofits, and artists on hand, and ready to answer any of your questions throughout the weekend. We also invite you to visit our booth where you can take time to relax, and share your tips and techniques with others. And we’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary in business, too!

3. Explore:  Farmers Market

New, and something our team is excited about at this year’s Garden Expo, is the inaugural farmers market! It will feature food from farmers, along with food artisans. It is scheduled in the Exhibition Hall Atrium on Sunday, from 10am to 4 pm.

4. Enjoy:  Central Garden

Take a walk through the central garden. It’s 1600-square-feet of colorful flowers, gorgeous greens, and vibrant designs– and all with spring in mind. We’re pretty certain you’ll love it.

5. Prepare:  Purchase or Win 

Buy your seeds, tools, and almost anything else you may need to get your spring garden and landscape projects underway. The Avant team can help with all your plans! We’ll also be giving away a great basket full of garden goodies. Stop by and register to win at our booth.


Your February Garden Checklist

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” – Gertrude S. Wister
Are you feeling as if winter will never end? We’re about to hit mid-February and it seems everyone, including the team at Avant Gardening and Landscaping, is tiring of the snow and cold. Fortunately, the days are getting longer. So why not put a smile on, shake off the SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and hang in there, because – Spring is almost here!
Meantime, here’s a few garden-related items to put on your checklist, while you’re waiting:
1. Look for Early-Flowering Bulbs & Plants: With such small stature, the early blooming bulbs can be easy to miss. As the snow melts a little, keep an eye out for winter aconites (Eranthis spp), snow crocus (Crocus chrysanthus), and of course Snowdrops (Galanthus spp). Some Witch hazels (Hamamelis spp) start to bloom as well, its striking contorted petals actually curl inward on chilly days, an adaptive mechanism to protect it from freezing.
2. Stretch Your Legs! Winter is good at keeping us inside… now is the time to just bundle up and get back outdoors. Wait for a sunny day and pull on your snow pants, scarves, mittens & boots (or snow shoes!), and venture over to a local park or nature preserve. There are some really dramatic ice formations that occur by Raymer’s Cove in the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve – go check it out!
3. Start Planning for Spring: Most landscape contractors have to maintain a constant state of frenzy the first few months of spring. Contacting Avant Gardening and Landscaping now to get the process started, could really expedite your project! Even with snow, we can come meet with you, discuss your vision and goals, measure your site, and start on a design. If you don’t need us this year – start paging through those plant and seed catalogs.
4. Brush Up on Your Horticulture Knowledge: Many local botanical gardens and garden clubs have educational events, lectures and workshops throughout winter. Peruse the UW Arboretum‘s “Winter Enrichment” lectures for a topic that interests you, or you can also join 20,000 others interested in gardening at the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo this February 13-15. There are more than 150 free educational seminars and demonstrations – including a talk on Organic Landscape Maintenance by Avant Gardening’s own Becky Kielstrup!
5. Forcing Flowering Branches Indoors: Trees and shrubs that flower before the leaves emerge work best for forcing – just cut the branch, keep in a cool room with fresh water and wait! Early spring blooming trees and shrubs that work well, include: forsythia, flowering quince, pussy willow, crabapple and serviceberry.