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10 Steps to Winterize Your Garden

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10 Steps to Winterizing Your Gardenresidence

We’ve entered the blustery wet month of November. I don’t know about you, but I always feel energized and uplifted when the wind is blowing, and the leaves are flying like spinning dervishes all around.

As I follow the leaves, they lead me to consider the following steps to wrap up the harvests from my ornamental and veggie garden.

In the ornamental garden:

  • Let the fallen leaves lay where they land (unless they’re diseased).  Leaves are an excellent mulch, and if left alone they will provide shelter for important overwintering beneficial insects and spiders. Leave as much as you can to rot on its own and remove only what you need to satisfy your sense of tidiness. Hydrangea blossoms hold their rich color long into the season and many perennials, like eryngium, sedum, and echinacea, keep their form and lend interest to our gardens when we maybe forget to pay as much attention.
  • Drain and store hoses for winter.  If you have an irrigation system, make sure to drain it too so there’s no water left in the pipes to freeze.
  • It’s still ok to do a bit of rearranging in the garden.  Part of the beauty and fun of gardening is that nothing is static.  You can change anything you want to in your garden.  If you need or want to move perennials or shrubs, or even trees, fall really is the best time to do it.  Plants are going dormant so there is less chance of transplant shock.
  • If you haven’t planted any spring bulbs yet, don’t forget to pot up a few paperwhites and Amaryllis for the holidays.  The Garden Store has several different varieties of right now and the bulbs are giant!  Size matters when it comes to bulbs and these promise lots of color.   Paperwhites take about 6 weeks to flower and Amaryllis take about 8 weeks, depending on how warm or cool your home is.
  • If you have plants in ceramic pots outdoors, remove the saucers from underneath them so they don’t fill with water and then freeze.  This will help prevent winter damage to your pots.

In the veggie garden:

  • There’s still time to plant garlic, however your window of opportunity is narrowing.  Garlic should be in the ground by the middle of this month to allow time for the roots to develop before the ground gets too cold.
  • Mulch your empty veggie beds with fallen leaves or straw (NOT hay, as this contains seeds of whatever variety of grass it is and they will sprout in your beds).
  • If you are growing asparagus, now is the time to cut the tops off down to the ground.  Mulch to protect the crowns over the winter.
  • If you have cannas, dahlias, elephant ear, or other sensitive bulbs and tubers like these, then you need to dig them up before winter. You’ll want to place them in a dark, cool location like the basement—but research the best storage recommendation based on plant. Then in spring, you can replant them for another season.
  • A winter jacket for plants? Absolutely! When you’re trying to establish these trees, shrubs, and rosebushes in your backyard or garden, they often need extra protection from those harsh winter winds. Research online for a style that works for your plants.

By Rachel Anderson, Certified Professional Horticulturalist

Christianson’s Homemade Molasses Cookie Recipe

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cider and cooies1  1/3 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses (dark)
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps ginger

Beat butter until soft and add sugar; add one egg at a time, then molasses.  Combine all dry ingredients together and sift.  Add several tablespoons at a time.  Do not over mix.  Roll into 1″ spheres and then roll in sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes (depending on your oven).   Enjoy!

Holidays and Paper Whites

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Paper whites are a popular indoor plant for winter and the holiday season.  It’s festive to see a vase or basket of paper whites on display at a people’s houses when little other is blooming.

Paper whites (Narcissus papyraceus, a sub-species of Narcissus tazetta) are a member of the same family as daffodils, and resemble the yellow spring flowers except that the entire blossom is white and have a spicy fragrance.  Paperwhites are often forced into bloom indoors during the winter months, as they are not cold hardy like daffodils. Paperwhite bulbs can be grown outdoors in the garden if you live in USDA Hardiness zones 8 through 10, as the slightest freeze can kill these tender perennials.Paperwhites-3

Unlike other narcissus, paper whites don’t require a chilling period, so forcing them is almost as easy as putting the bulbs one -half to two-thirds of the way down in your planting medium (polished rocks or pebbles) and waiting. The fragrant flowers bloom within about 4-6 weeks of planting, for almost instant and guaranteed gratification.

Some articles also recommended adding alcohol (e.g., gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila), to your water solution once the bulbs root to stunt the growth of the paperwhites since the stems can become leggy. You will most likely need to be stake them if you don’t stunt the growth.

  1. Select a container that is about 3 – 4 inches deep (8 – 10 cm) with no drainage holes.
  2. Spread an inch or 2 of stones, marbles, soil or even gravel, along the bottom of the container.
  3. Position your paper white bulbs with pointed end up, on top of the stone layer. Fit several into your container. They not only look better in a large group; the tight fit will help keep them supported.
  4. Add more stones to fill in any gaps and cover the bulbs up to their shoulders. The pointed tips should still be showing.
  5. Add water so that the level just reaches the base of the bulbs. Allowing the bottom of the bulb to sit in water will stimulate growth. Covering the entire bulb with water could cause it to rot.
  6. The bulbs don’t need light at this point and they prefer to be kept on the cool side, at about 65 degrees F (18 degrees C.)
  7. Check your bulbs daily to see if they need more water.
  8. When you see roots developing, move the container to a sunny window. The sunnier the better, but try not to let them get too warm or they’ll grow leggy.
  9. Once the plants flower, they will last longer if moved out of direct sunlight, to a cool spot with indirect or diffused light.
  10. You can start pots of paper whites every couple of weeks, for a continuous display throughout the winter.


Right now, in the Garden Store, we have brought in several proven varieties of Paper whites and supplies you will need to bring blossoms and fragrance to your home this winter:

Paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’) – This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing and it blooms 4 to 6 weeks after planting. 5/$5.98

Narcissus papyraceus ‘Ziva’– To make a good thing even better, we select extra-large bulbs of ‘Ziva,’ which produce more bloom than you’ve ever seen on a Paperwhite. “Ziva’ tends to have a stronger fragrance, larger blooms, and sturdier stalks and some even have pale yellow blooms versus the classic white flowers.  .99 each

Grand Soleil D’ or Paperwhite Daffodil – Popular for forcing indoors as they have a delicate fruity fragrance and yellow petals that frame orange cups.  Grand Soleil D’ requires a couple of weeks longer to force compared to Ziva.  It produces bright-yellow flowers with orange centers on stems ranging from 12” to 14” tall, and exudes a marvelously sweet fragrance. 5/5.98

Narcissus Paperwhite ‘Inbal’– Inbal boasts a more delicate, pleasant fragrance, a flatter cup and stronger stems than other modern paperwhite varieties.  These bulbs are great for forcing, so plant 4-5 weeks before the holiday season bloom!  5/5.98


November 2017

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Holiday Open House and Art’s Alive!

Friday, November 3,

5 – 8 pm

Saturday and Sunday, November 4 and 5,

10 am – 4 pm


Friday Evening, November 3

5:00 p.m. – 8 :00 p.m.

This November weekend has become a popular highlight of Skagit Valley’s holiday season. To celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season and the Art’s Alive! weekend, the Nursery will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday night, November 3rd. Twinkle lights, lanterns and luminaries will light the walkways as you stroll from the Garden Store to Primrose, and through the courtyard to the greenhouses and Conservatory.  In keeping with our yearly tradition, this Friday evening marks the start of our Holiday Open House.

As always, our Primrose gift and antique shop will be adorned from floor to ceiling, sparkling with holiday cheer. For all of us – our guests and our staff alike – opening the doors of Primrose for her holiday unveiling is truly a joyous experience and we hope you can join us for this memorable evening!

Friday will also be an evening of art exploration as we host a wonderful array of visual and culinary artists as part of the Art’s Alive! celebration happening throughout the La Conner area.  Hosting our evening event, the La Conner Library Foundation will be selling wine for $5 by the glass (cash or check) to help raise funding for their new location. We will also be serving light refreshments throughout the evening by The Crepe Guy: savory french crepes made from locally resourced ingredients.


Saturday and Sunday, November 4 – 5

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Holiday Open House and Art’s Alive! celebration continues throughout the weekend. Our Garden Store, with its old Tillinghast seed counters and cubbies, will be dressed in its holiday best. Our Conservatory will be filled with garden antiques, gifts for gardeners, pottery, and holiday trees decorated with rustic and whimsical ornaments. As always, Primrose will be a wonderland of ideas for holiday decorating, gift giving and entertaining. With a theme of peace and wisdom, we hope to create an experience that leaves our guests feeling inspired and uplifted.

Our Art’s Alive! festivities continue throughout the weekend as well. Many of our visual and culinary artists will be doing live demonstrations and selling their creations. The Nursery’s greenhouses and beautiful grounds provide a unique venue for our featured artists. Every artist location will be intimate enough that you can have artful discussions with each artist about their backstory and artistic process. With arts and crafts ranging from painting to jewelry, sculpture to prints, and textiles to chocolates and crepes, this special event provides more artists an opportunity to exhibit their work. Gather your friends and family and please join us for this festive weekend filled with twinkle lights, holiday inspiration, local artists, and abundant good cheer!

Featured Artists:


Beach Castle Sweets, Connie Funk Mosaics, Crepes Guy 
Fat Dragonfly (Fine Art)  , Isola Handmade Originals
Jeanne Reis (Fine Art) , Julie Schei (Jewelry), Klt:works (Handmades) 
  Laura Campbell, Wreath Weaver 
Sky Valley Prairie Band,Cajun and Creole Louisiana (Satruday, noon – 3:00 pm)  
Suzi’s Glass Studio , Tracy Schafer (Fine Art) , Verso Jewelry (courtesy photo)

The Results Are In for 2017 !

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The Results Are In for

2017 Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off!


What a spectacular participation and weigh-off event at the Nursery last Saturday!  Congratulations to the winners (listed below) for growing the biggest giant pumpkins to ever be entered into the weigh-off!

First place winner and new record holder, Mr. Jim Sherwood with a 1,702-pound giant, goes to Coastal Farm Supply in Mount Vernon to be displayed throughout October.   Second place winner, Ms. Cindy Tobeck with a 1,526-pound winner, is now featured at the produce department at the Skagit Valley Co-op.  Both of these pumpkins shattered our old Nursery record of a 1450-pound pumpkin in 2014!

Place                Grower Name                     City                      State/Prov                     Weight (lbs)

1                        Sherwood, Jim               Mulino,                       Oregon                          1,702.00
2                        Tobeck, Cindy               Olympia,                  Washington                     1,526.00
3(EX)               Uhlmeyer, Jeff              Olympia,                  Washington                     1,510.50
4                        Holland, Joel                 Sumner,                  Washington                     1,452.00
5                           Roof, Lee                    Coupeville,               Washington                     1,050.00
6                       Kilburn, Dick                Anacortes,                Washington                        898.50
7                       DeVries, Joan              Mt. Vernon,               Washington                        664.50
8                        Barker, Ron               Bonney Lake,             Washington                        642.00
9                       Pelletier, Jeff          North Vancouver,      British Columbia                  629.00
10                   Robison, Michael               Deary,                          Idaho                             604.00
11                      Pringle, Monte             Wenatchee,                Washington                       569.00
12(EX)              Risi, Robert                Enumclaw,                 Washington                       489.50
13                    DeVries, Harm            Mt. Vernon,                Washington                       444.50
14                     Joyner, Ryan                 Graham,                    Washington                       432.00
15                      Risi, Robert                 Enumclaw,                 Washington                       404.00
16                      Chun, Jason                  Tukwila,                    Washington                       383.50
17(SQ)              Barker, Ron               Bonney Lake,               Washington                      339.00
18                Camparmo, Maurizio        Langley,                 British Columbia                 334.50
19                     Radach, Matt            Camano Island,             Washington                      186.00
20(SQ)            Risi, Robert                  Enumclaw,                  Washington                      156.00
21                   Radich, Steve             Mount Vernon,               Washington                      150.00
22               Snodgrass, Glenn                Lynden,                     Washington                       129.50

Another special thanks to our sponsors who not only supported the Festival the way sponsors do, and for encouraging the hobby of giant pumpkin growing in our agricultural community!!


Gorgeous Plant Combinations for Fall Gardens

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dreamstime_6719732Fall is the best time to choose plants for their brilliant autumn foliage-as well as planting trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses.  Sun-loving Japanese Maples steal the show in fall as their changing of colors range from apple green to dark crimson.  There are many varieties to choose from and now is an excellent time to view them to see which you like best.  As in some landscaping, their beauty stands alone, but we feel there are several noteworthy companions to add a range of depth.

A distinctive and rare dwarf evergreen conifer, Pinus contorta var. latifolia ‘Chief Joseph’, is prized for its stunning winter color.  ‘Chief Joseph’ is an accent in Fall’s landscape, as its showy deep green spring and summer needles mature to yellow-green in late summer, and by early winter the foliage turns brilliant gold.

Include layers of foliage in your fall landscape with flowers and berries to create a stunning under drop, starting with Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerester’ feather reed grass.  Versatile and reliable, they grow in a narrow, upright form and turn a golden tan color that lasts through the fall.  At only 18 inches wide and up to 5 feet tall, a grouping creates a dramatic vertical element in gardens.

One of our favorite low-growing evergreen shrubs is Leucothoe, with its spreading, arching branches drooping from the weight of the pendulous fragrant clusters of creamy white flowers. The leaves are leathery and dark green, varying in length from three to six inches long. They often take on a bronzy to purplish color in fall and winter.

Hypericum, also known a St. John’s Wort, is a perennial shrub.  It produces cheerful yellow flowers (often used in floral arrangements), and then an abundance of berries in fall which turn from cherry red to black.  Deer and bunny resistant, too!


By Heidi Klepper, Assistant Nursery Buyer at Christianson’s Nurseryresidence

Tomorrow is the 2017 Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival!

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John Christianson talks about the upcoming fun

tomorrow at the

2017 Skagit Valley Pumpkin Festival!

Click here to watch!

Please note event times listed below:

9 am – noon: (entry deadline-noon)
Entrants register for the Giant Weigh-Off categories
Amateur Pumpkin-Carving Contest

9 am – 3 pm:
The Scone Lady & Stompin Grounds Coffee

11:00 am – 3 pm:
Beautiful Face Painting with Chelle

Noon – 3pm:
Lang’s Pony Rides

11:00 am – noon:
A family favorite “Bats Incredible” class

11 am – 3 pm:
Random Acts of Food Truck

1 pm and 2 pm:
Decorate your pumpkin with Halloween Doodles in the Schoolhouse

Noon – 3 pm:
Musicians Laurel Bliss & John Clark

noon – 3 pm:
Giant Pumpkin and Giant Vegetable Weigh-Off

Giant Pumpkin, Veggie and Carved Pumpkin winners announced!

Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival 2017

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Saturday, September 30


Christianson’s Nursery is partnering with Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers (PNWGPG) to host the 7th Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival on Saturday, September 30, 2017.

Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off with over $2,000 in prizes! * Amateur Pumpkin Carving Contest * Pumpkin Doodling* Harvest Food * Pony Rides with Lang’s Traveling Ponies * Face Painting * Family Carnival Games * Toad Races*
“The Bat Lady” and more!


9 am – noon:  (entry deadline-noon)

Entrants register for the Giant Weigh-Off categories and
Amateur Pumpkin-Carving Contest

9 am – 3  pm:
The Scone Lady & Stomp’en Grounds Coffee
Beautiful Face Painting with Chelle

11:00 am – noon:
A family favorite “Bats Incredible” class

11 am – 3 pm:
Random Acts of Food Truck

Noon — 3 p.m.
Musicians Laurel Bliss and John Clark play old-time, Cajun and bluegrass

noon – 3 pm:

Giant Pumpkin and Giant Vegetable Weigh-Off
1 pm  and 2 pm:
 Pumpkin Doodling with Pauline in the Schoolhouse  (class fee: $15)
Giant Pumpkin, Veggie and Carved Pumpkin winners announced!

 Prizes given for Giants (pumpkins):

1st        $1,000

2nd       $500

3rd        $300

4th        $150

5th        $75

6th        $50

7th        $50

8th        $25

9th        $25

10th      $25

Entry forms for 2017 are available at our Garden Store and on our website at http://www.christiansonsnursery.com/whats-happening/2014-giant-pumpkin-participant-info/

A special thanks to our sponsors, Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers with Coastal Farm & Ranch, Skagit Valley Food Co-op, and Christianson’s Nursery & Greenhouse.


Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival Mission Statement:To create an awareness and interest in gardening within our Skagit Valley community in the spirit of fun and healthy competition. 

Christianson’s Nursery Best in Skagit Award 2017

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Christianson’s Nursery was awarded Skagit’s Best Greenhouse/Nursery of 2017 award as voted by goskagit.com readers!

Thanks to all who voted. We feel honored!https _cdn.evbuc.com_images_34063118_141975501067_1_original

Don’t count your giant pumpkins until they’re harvested

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I’LL NEVER FORGET the year I challenged my co-workers at Seattle University to a pumpkin-growing contest. The prize for the biggest pumpkin was a stash of extra-large peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies, one from each losing contestant.

The pumpkin I grew turned into a real honker, probably weighing in at around 150 pounds. There was little doubt that I was going to win, and I annoyed my fellow contestants by constantly bragging about the size of my pumpkin, and how good those cookies were going to taste.

Imagine my surprise on pumpkin-judgment day, when I sauntered out to harvest big “Gloria” only to find her gone, replaced by a can of pumpkin-pie filling!

Eventually, my cohorts gave my pumpkin back, and I claimed my bragging rights (and the cookies) as the champion pumpkin-grower of the Seattle University grounds.Seattle Times Article

As proud as I was, I can’t even imagine the esteem you would feel if your pumpkin were crowned the winner at the Seventh Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival, scheduled for Sept. 30 at Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon. Besides the giant pumpkin weigh-offs, this event includes a talk from “The Bat Lady” of Bats Northwest, an amateur pumpkin carving contest and much more. There’s even a prize for the prettiest pumpkin, which, you’ll realize, is somewhat of an oxymoron once you’ve seen what these behemoths look like.

As fun as all of these activities are, the pumpkin weigh-ins steal the show. If you haven’t seen one of these humongous pumpkins, you’re in for a treat. The sagging monsters are nothing like the round pumpkins we carve into jack-o’-lanterns. The weight gives them bizarre shapes, and the really big ones have midridge bulges that make sumo wrestlers look like ballerina dancers. There’s a $1,000 prize for the biggest pumpkin, but giant-pumpkin growers don’t do it for the money. It’s all about the prestige of growing the biggest pumpkin in the state.

Champion pumpkin growers earn their bragging rights. It takes an amazing amount of time and effort to grow a prizewinner. Competitors go to great lengths to find the perfect giant-pumpkin seed with the genetics to create a truly huge pumpkin.

To develop great soil with the exact right balance of nutrients, most growers work with private agronomists. Once the pumpkin is growing, it is kept at the perfect temperature, and fed and watered continuously.

Only one pumpkin is allowed to grow per plant, and the vines are buried at intervals to allow for maximum nutrient uptake. Elaborate pads and covers are constructed to keep the pumpkins clean and warm at night, in order to prevent the skin from drying and cracking.

Harvesting these monsters is a painstaking process, as well. Specially built cranes lift the pumpkins into padded truck beds in order to carefully transport them to the weigh-in without damage. During the weigh-in process, the goliath fruits are scrupulously inspected for any cracks or holes to make sure nothing could have possibly been injected into the pumpkin to add to its weight.