The Sequel

Whenever Hollywood makes a sequel to a movie, I cringe. By then I have watched the original movie about eleven times because I loved it. Maybe I watch the same movie over and over because I’m still waiting to see if the guy stayed on his horse or did he fall off again. As a general rule of thumb, movie sequels can be bad or just outright barftastic.

I stopped watching Pirates of the Caribbean sequels because they managed to simply repeat every memorable moment, wit or pun, so I’m pretty much over it. The Terminator sequels were no different. The Terminator series didn’t necessarily depend on its successor. You could pretty much watch any of them and have exactly the same experience as the first. The only difference is that sequels create less brain trauma and thought process.

But High Hand is going to have a sequel and I need to explain before you roll your eyes. Years ago, a store was going out of business. I went through a lot of effort to rush over there and to wade through the crowds to find my perfect pair of boots. But, in the coming months as I continued to drive by that store, they were still going out of business as a semi-truck was backed up by the dock loading more merchandise into the store. How irritating.

Our sequel? Name Your Own Price: The Twist. I recently traveled back East to a growers’ show. This is a place where growers from around the world show up to introduce new plant trends.

This hydrangea, Endless Summer, is not necessarily new, but it gives you a taste of my experience.
You could say that when I go to an event like this, it’s really difficult not to walk away inspired. It’s an opportunity to flush out the old ideas, old thoughts, and old patterns. It’s an opportunity to breath in new insight that exhales a new vision. So, in our sequel to Name Your Own Price, we are offering hydrangeas as well as other things we normally don’t get rid of. I’m doing it for a couple of reasons. Start new, be refreshed and energized. I’m also doing it to make room for many new hydrangea varieties we have not grown.

As I thought about my new fascination with hydrangeas I also thought about some of the troubles people have growing them and it comes down to tips and tricks. The number one comment I hear is “My hydrangea never blooms.” So, let’s solve this problem once and for all. Pruning a hydrangea really comes down to the variety. Most older hydrangeas set next year’s flower buds in late summer or fall, during the growing season. Newer varieties like Endless Summer (like the ones pouring out of the van, above) can set buds throughout the season. In a nutshell, prune during the summer just after the flower’s fade. This applies to the big leaf or florist hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla for all you Garden Rebels. If you have a grandiflora, or oak leaf, or paniculata hydrangea, these need to be pruned in late winter/early spring. And yes, there are climbing hydrangeas. Those should be pruned to control growth.

Have I lost you yet? The bottom line is once you have identified what you have, and most people have the macrophylla variety, you have to be willing, as painful as it may be, to prune just after the flowers fade.

Who made up the spelling rule “i” before “e”, except after “c”? To this day, I still repeat this rule in my head when I can’t figure out what is first in a particular word. Most of us have the “mophead’ hydrangeas. How do I make it change to blue? Well, I don’t have a catchy little phrase like “i” before “e”, but hydrangea color changes with different soil pH. Acidic soil is achieved by adding Aluminum Sulfate to the soil. Increased acidity causes the flowers to be blue. The Aluminum Sulfate sounds scarier than it really is.

Want to go pink? Go alkaline. Adding lime to the soil will help alkalinity. And FYI (for your information), hydrangeas do best with morning sun and afternoon shade.

However, having said all this mind bending stuff, white hydrangeas and lace cap hydrangeas simply don’t turn. And there are newer blue varieties that stay blue and pink varieties that stay pink. “What? Seriously, Scott. My brain hurts and you just threw all these rules out the window.”

In the plant world there are heirloom plants and original plants. Enter the mad scientist of modern day and you have hydrangeas that simply stay as advertised. I don’t know that I like this change in the plant world, personally I think it’s dumbing us all down. Yes, you can say it’s simplifying your life that blue is blue, pink is pink and white is white, but what’s the fun in that? Seriously? Who wants to be a dumb gardener?

That’s my hydrangea. I like it. This was what was pouring out of the back end of the truck, Endless Summer.

Here’s where the inspiration part comes in. Coming to Maple Rock next year, I’m building a hydrangea cut flower garden. Why? Why not? Would you like to come and cut hydrangea flowers next year?

To make all this happen, it’s out with the old and in with the new. I’m juiced about it.

This Saturday, 9-5, it’s the Name Your Own Price With a Twist. We are adding hydrangeas and a few other things we need to clear out to make space for my new venture. Hint: selected 15 gallon trees, $15 bucks. Boom!

I can feel them. Purchase your tickets by clicking here.

Have we solved the hydrangea mystery or have I made it worse? Bottom line, figure out what type you have.  Most likely it’s a common mophead, so prune in late summer.
See you this weekend at High Hand Nursery.

Plants Under Attack

Before we get into attacking plants, here’s the rundown on this Saturday’s, July 15th Name Your Own Price Sale.

Here’s how it works. We have isolated a group of plants and trees that we would like to move out into a new home. Naming your own price does not mean you get it for that price. And I’ll tell you why. Two things happen. A person makes an offer and sometimes that offer is higher than what we had in our mind. So we will lower it. Fun, right? And unexpected. The second thing that happens is that a person will make an offer that is a bit too low and we’ll, in the spirit of fun negotiation, bump it up a bit. That’s not necessarily the norm, but let’s say the item was $100 normally and the offer was $10. We might ask for $15. It’s just the spirit of the deal. It’s certainly not meant to confuse. We want it to be fun and lighthearted. It’s really that simple.

Round Two | Name Your Own Price Sale

24″ box multi-trunk ‘Muskogee’ crape myrtle, 8-9′ tall $100.
In this instance, if you would like to offer me more, I would REALLY appreciate it.

This is a partial list of shrubs. Sorry, too many to type. If you have the ability to blow it up and view it, don’t freak out about our internal wording. Saying “brown conifers in the citrus area” does not mean they are brown. It’s just an identifying word to us.

So, there you go. The Name Your Own Price Sale, this Saturday, 9-5.

Rules of Name Your Own Price Sale

  1. Be prepared to take them with you on Saturday.
  2. We love cash.
  3. Be nice to Adrian. He’ll be going nuts.
  4. Have fun.

I was thinking the other day about emails and the things I’ve talked about regarding the value of nature’s services and how root systems of plants are inter-connected. I was making an observation on our tomato plants at Maple Rock. This year, once again, has proven to be a little funky doodle when it comes to our tomatoes and WE’RE farmers. Our tomatoes were doing well and then when that week of 105 degree plus weather hit, it rained tomato blossoms. Fine. We’ll take a big breath. Stare at the tomato plants until new blossoms arrive.

But on a couple of plants I noticed caterpillars and I spied something curious. I noticed not poop on the leaves, but caterpillar juice. To put it bluntly, it was a half-eaten caterpillar and I thought if a bird had eaten it, there would be no carcass laying around. Who eats a half of a caterpillar and leaves it sitting on the plant? Doesn’t make sense.

So, the question I have, is it possible that a vegetarian caterpillar can become a cannibalistic caterpillar even when they’re crawling around on a salad bar? So, I looked into it. I don’t know all the answers. I just really have a lot of questions.

Is it possible that a tomato plant can taste so bad that the caterpillar turns on its buddy? Does a caterpillar become cannibalistic when the going gets rough? Is a plant rooted in place able to defend itself? A mouse can flee from a hawk because its little legs will make it run, but the plant is stuck.

In emails of the past we learned the interconnection that root systems have. A tree that knows it is dying can transfer its nutrients to another tree to help it survive. It’s kind of like the Avatar thing. Remember the Tree of Life?

So, here’s my real question. Can a plant that is under attack by insects warn other plants around it? Yes. Many plants can produce a defensive chemical that can deter their attackers. It’s kind of like a chemical screen. Airborne substances emitted by plants can be detected by other plants. In case they’re next on Mr. Caterpillar’s list, they can start the process of their own defense.

So, it’s kind of funny. Here’s what happens. It usually comes when the salad bar tastes nasty. It starts when one caterpillar bites another on the rear, which then oozes and everything hits the fan from there. At the end of the day somebody gets eaten. I think not only because the going got rough, but because war broke out. So, a plant nearby picked up the invasion, warned all the other plants, causing them to increase their defenses.

So, here’s Nature at its best, in all its perfect planning. The plant caused the caterpillars to become their own predators which is a victory for the plant.

Caterpillars are also coming out ahead, because they’re getting a lot of food by eating each other. Grizzly as it may seem, it’s just Nature doing what it does best. Transfer energy. It’s a win/win in a macabre way.

So, the next time you go out and pick your tomatoes, whisper at them. “I’m your friend. I come in peace.” Your tomatoes will surely be sweeter as they reward you for your kindness.

High-Hand is Changing | Step One:

A new sidewalk and landscaping along High-Hand’s deck. I’m excited. It’s been a decade of improvements that continue on.

And, something that is near and dear to our hearts, especially when you’re in the plant business. A new water service for a one hundred year old packing shed. For all of you engineers out there, the corroded pipe to the middle right to the picture was our service that fed from the road. A new service will come from the white pipe and be super duper totally groovy new. Can you tell we’re excited? Keep an eye on us. More changes to come.
I chuckled at myself the other day when I realized I wasn’t seeing spots in front of my eyes. I’d walked by the wall several times and thought there were several spots floating. Three or four times this went on. Is there something wrong with me? So, I put myself to the test. The next time I walked by and saw a purple spot before my eyes, I turned quickly to see if the spot would dart away. It didn’t.
It was just a calandrina flower, on a 5′ stem hanging over the driveway. I kind of chuckled at the way this succulent was teasing me. It was like it was saying to me, “Hey! Notice me. I want to play.” Nature always reminds me to look carefully, see beyond what is to what can be and you’ll see a deeper world within your yard. And you might chuckle just like me, thinking to yourself that it’s been in front of your face the whole time.

The trains are coming. I can feel them. Click here to purchase your tickets.

See you at High-Hand Nursery.


Name Your Own Price Sale

I made an observation the other day when driving through a neighborhood. I was going to call this email “Heading for a Train Wreck”. I thought I could tie it into the September train event and be clever. But “Heading for a Train Wreck” is not the most upbeat subject for an email, especially considering we are in the business of all things living and colorful in nature. So, check this out.

What a perfect place for a tree. During the years of drought, the secret to success was planting the right plant in the right space. My friend, the Zelkova tree here will grow to a nice 35′ height and beyond. Would you say somebody is heading for a train wreck?

The good news is that we are not heading toward a train wreck. We’re heading for Train Day soon.

We will keep reminding you that the train is coming down the track as we get closer to September 9th. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Name your own price sale. What? Try to name your own price while buying a car. July 8th, this Saturday, is High-Hand’s Name Your Own Price Sale. Here’s how it will roll. We have pulled from the nursery several trees, some of them have scratches and dents, some of them are simply trees we’ve had for a while and I’m making room for something different. Come in and talk to Adrian and bargain away.

Back in the day when I bought High-Hand, a dilapidated unoccupied shed, it was almost a Name Your Own Price Sale. It was two guys leaning up against the hood of a pick-up truck. We were silent as we slid a paper back and forth about five times. And with that sheds were bought. Pretty simple. And so is this sale. Make us an offer and if we don’t like it, we might make you a lower offer. So there.

This is Luis. He is standing in front of a group of Crape Myrtles of various colors that are part of the Name Your Own Price Sale. We have reds, pinks, purples, Pink Velours, and many other cool colors. Name Your Own Price. You might be pleasantly surprised.

In the heat of the summer we tend to think that gardening is over and that the garden shuts down. Poppycock! Not true. Crape myrtles are not the only plants that flourish and bloom in the heat.

So, let me take this opportunity to set the record straight on a very popular flower, the hibiscus. There are different forms of hibiscus and it can be a bit confusing. It’s kind of like the movie “Twins”. Do you remember the 1988 film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito? Do you remember Arnold went looking for his twin brother who ended up being a short, small-time crook?

They kind of look like brothers, don’t they? I watched the movie. I bought into it. Arnold, Danny, don’t get mad at me for using your photo. Please. I’m just making a point that things aren’t always as they appear in the world of flowers.

This is our friend, tropical hibiscus with its intoxicating “buy me” stare. Let’s go to hibiscus school. This is by far one of the most popular summer plants. I don’t buy a lot of them even though they sell well. I don’t want to set you up for a train wreck. This particular hibiscus most likely, if not given the utmost care, treatment and attention in the wintertime, will freeze dead. Here today, gone tomorrow. So, at High-Hand we have a hard time setting you up for a train wreck. That is not the most popular retail decision to make, but is simply a fact. If you want a hibiscus that you have to tend to all winter long, go for it, but I doubt you do.

This hibiscus is Rose of Sharon. It may appear to be a twin of a different color, but here’s the rub. It loses all of its leaves in the wintertime and for that reason people don’t buy it as much as I think people should. It blooms a gazillion times more than the tropical hibiscus and can be trained as a multi-trunk tree. I think it’s a great plant with great merit. It is very hardy in our area. Its many colors to choose from and its ability to survive in tough conditions makes it simply great.

But, as we were getting to know the twin of our hibiscus, little did we know we just gave birth to a triplet. So, off to the store for a third car seat. This is a dinner plate hibiscus because the blooms are as large as a dinner plate. This hibiscus astonishes me. It dies back completely to the ground in the wintertime. No sticks to look at. Nothing to trim. This triplet you will only have to touch once. Sure, you can nip and tuck a bit as it’s emerging from its slumber. It is dependable, predictable and perfectly scrumptious.

At High-Hand Cafe we actually use a hibiscus flower in one of our cocktails. It kind of looks like a red octopus sitting in the bottom of a glass. I know, not a pretty mental image, but actually the drink is quite lovely.

So, there you go. The trifecta of hibiscus.

So, as you roll in on Saturday to throw down and test your negotiating skills with Adrian, check out the hibiscus and the many other summer blooming plants we have grown right here at High Hand Nursery.

July 8th – Name Your Own Price on Trees
July 15th – Name Your Own Price on Shrubs

We will have two Name Your Own Price sales. First trees, then shrubs. Got it? Cool.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me “When is the best time to plant a tree?”, I would be obviously wealthy.

In my opinion, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, which makes the best time to plant a tree now.

See you at High-Hand Nursery.


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