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Christianson’s Holiday Open House and Art’s Alive! Celebration

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Christianson’s Holiday Open House and

Art’s Alive! Celebration

Kick off your holiday season at our annual Holiday Open House and Art’s Alive! celebration. As twilight settles over the Nursery on Friday evening, twinkle lights, luminaries and lanterns illuminate the walkways from our Garden Store to Primrose, and from our freshly wintered greenhouses to the tropical Conservatory.

Friday Evening, November 2, 5 – 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 3, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Friday Evening, November 2, 5 – 8 p.m.

In keeping with our yearly tradition, this Friday night event marks the start of our Holiday Open House and features light refreshments and appetizers served in our Conservatory. A highlight of the evening is the eagerly-awaited ‘opening of the doors’ of Primrose at 5 p.m. for the holiday unveiling. For those who haven’t yet experienced this event, imagine a Norman Rockwell scene where bundled up shoppers are gathered around a twinkling little shop, some on tiptoes peering in, and then, when the doors swing open at 5 p.m., the party begins!

Friday will also be an evening of art exploration as we host a wonderful array of visual and jewelry artists as part of the Art’s Alive! celebration that occurs throughout the La Conner area.

Saturday, November 3, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Holiday Open House and Art’s Alive! celebration continues Saturday. As always, Primrose will be adorned from floor to ceiling with inspiring seasonal displays and creative ideas for gift giving and entertaining. Our Garden Store and Conservatory will also be dressed up for the holidays and will feature a wonderful selection of seasonal plants, wreaths and trees, garden antiques, gifts for gardeners, and whimsical holiday decorations.

The Conservatory and Greenhouses will also be filed with a thoughtfully curated group of artists who will be showcasing their seasonal best, providing you with a wonderful opportunity to expand your collection of art and winter-themed gifts. Join us for this festive event filled with holiday inspiration, local artists, and abundant good cheer!

Please note: Primrose will be closed all day on Thursday, November 1st and Friday, November 2nd, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so that we can put the finishing touches on our holiday displays.

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Congratulations to the Winner’s Circle
Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival


First Place: Gerry & Dani Gadberry (Team Gadberry), Battleground, WA:  #1322.5

Second Place: Jim Sherwood, Mulino, WA:  #1285.5

Third Place: Jack LaRue, Tenino, WA:  #1234

Fourth Place: Jeff Uhlmeyer, Tumwater, WA:  #1173.5

Fifth Place: Dick Kilburn, Anacortes, WA:  #945.5

Sixth Place: Mike Radach, Camano Island, WA:  #885

Seventh Place: Monte Wetzel, Puyallup, WA:  #875

Eighth Place:  Geoff Gould, Mount Vernon, WA:  #748.5

Ninth Place: Joan De Vries, Mount Vernon, WA:  687.50

Tenth Place:  Patrick Obukowicz, Ferndale, WA:  #612



2018 Top 10 Average: #976.9

2017 Top 10 Average: 973.7

Difference: +3.20 Pounds

Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival 2018 Facts

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The excitement is building in Mount Vernon as the Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival prepares for the arrival of tractor-sized pumpkins to arrive for the Weigh-off next Saturday, September 22, 2018 from 9 a.m – 4 p.m.
What is a Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off?
It’s all about farming the biggest, beefiest, burliest behemoth for the grand prize of $1500 cash and bragging rights for 2018.  Last year we had a record-breaking entry by Jim Sherwood whose Giant weighed 1,702 pounds-try to beat that!
Growers start lining up at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the weighing will begin at 1 p.m.  Winners will be announced at 4 pm!

The Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival

Voted the Second Most-Improved Weigh-off in the
World for 2017!

The GPC has about 110 sites world wide.  For most improved site we take the average weight of the top ten pumpkins for each site from the previous year (2016).  For Skagit their 2016 average top ten weight was 583.0 pounds and compare it to the present year (2017) average which was 973.7 pounds. Next we run a percentage of improvement which for each site. Skagit had an improvement percentage of 67.02% the second best improvement in average weight in the GPC for 2017.  

Using forklifts and special harnesses, the gargantuan gourds will be carefully placed on a 5-ton capacity, industrial-strength digital scale under the watchful eye of officials from the Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers. Skagit Valley’s Giant Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-Off will serve as an officially sanctioned Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) site.
The top two grandest gourds will be displayed in front of Christianson’s Nursery, Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23,
9 am – 6 pm at 15806 Best Road, Mount Vernon, WA.
Interested in competing?   Download the forms here: http://www.christiansonsnursery.com/whats-happening/2014-giant-pumpkin-participant-info/
The Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival is proudly and officially sponsored by:
Christianson’s Nursery is an official Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) site. The GPC has about 110 sites worldwide. To learn more about the sanctioned record-recording group, click here: http://www.gpc1.org/

Lavender Bunches: $2.00 a bunch or write a poem

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At it peak, we placed bundles of lavender at our cash wrap along with a sing which read:
“Lavender Bunches: $2.00 a bunch OR…Write a poem for any season!”
The following poems resulted. To read all, follow the link here:
Unicorns are the most beautyfall on earth.
Frequent blooms.
In time,
ready for harveting,
bees still linger.
The smell of sunshine on ferns,
The peace that comes from a shady forest grove on a hot summer day.
And the childish joy of tossing rocks in the creek
with someone who makes your heart flutter…
-Ellen Smith
Soft and calm
Collecting stones
A bright, delicious apple
My partner’s arm
Warm coffee
Baby sharing flower petals
dew-covered leaves
walking slow
savoring jasmine, daphne, honeysuckle, and honeybees.
-Jen Gustafson
Have her lavender
steer the deer away
to play at the neighbor’s
it okay.
Cut me a sprig
to tuck behind my wig.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Lavender is gorgeous,
and so are you!
Lavender, you make my heart sing,
You make the rhythm of my heart ring.
Lavender so strong and sweet,
So much like my country.
It makes me weep,
United we stood,
Divided we will fall.
What a tragedy it might be
for one and all.
Speak up!  Speak up!
Before it’s too late.
Perhaps we can still change our fate.

2018 Tri-Valley Rose Society Winners

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Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and shoes

Congratulations to the award-winning gardeners who were chosen by a community vote in the Tri-Valley Rose Society display for the best in the following categories:

Best In Show: ‘Fragrant Plum’ by Chris Eubanks

Best Fragrance: ‘Larks Ascending’ by Donna Smith

Best Miniature Rose: ‘You’re the One’, by Larry Sawyer

Best Climber & Rambler Rose: ‘Cloud 10’, by Ellen Smith

Best Old Garden Rose: ‘Linda Campbell’, by Larry Sawyer

Best Hybrid Tea & Grandiflora Rose: ‘Fragrant Plum’, by Chris Eubanks

Best Floribunda Rose: ‘Drop Dead Red’, by Stephanie Banaszak

Best Shrub Rose: ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, by Larry Sawyer

Best David Austin Rose: ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, by Larry Sawyer

Best Other or Unknown Rose, by Denise Hollister

Thank you to all of the participants, attendees, and volunteers at Christianson’s 15th Annual Rose Festival last Saturday.

Pictured here, the Rose Tri-Valley Society community rose display winners hold their prized stems for a group photo: John Christianson, Ellen Smith, Donna Smith, Cisco Morris, Chris Eubanks, Denise Hollister, and Stephanie Banaszak

#christiansonsnursery #arosydayout #rosefestival #ciscoe #trivalleyrosesociety #prizewinners

Rose Care for Health

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Roses are easy to grow, long-lived, and remarkably tolerant. With  a little extra care and attention the more healthy and disease resistant your roses will be.  
When planting roses, make sure you place them in a sunny spot that gets a minimum of four hours sun and space them about 3-4 feet away from other plants.   
Watering is unarguably the most important aspect of growing any plant.  But how much watering should your rose get?  According to David Austin, breeder of English Roses, water the following amount per rose according to the seasonal schedule below:   
Watering Schedule for Spring:  
Watch out for particularly prolonged dry spells.
Newly planted roses – water every two or three days.
Established roses – water once or twice a week as needed to keep the soil moist around your roses.
Watering schedule for Summer:

Established roses – water as needed to keep the soil moist around your roses.  As your rose starts blooming, take note if your flowers are wilting. This will happen in extreme heat but is a reliable sign that your roses need more water.
Newly planted roses – water every other day.
Shrub roses –   1-3 gallons
Climbing roses – 3-6 gallons
Rambling roses – 3-6 gallons
Standard roses – 3-6 gallons
Roses in pots – 1-3 gallons


Since roses use so much energy during the blooming months of late May to mid August, it is vital to nourish them, especially repeat blooming varieties.  E.B. Stone Organic Rose Food is a great fertilizer that may be used every 2 months starting mid April and after the first bloom cycle has finished to promote stronger repeat flowering.  Do not feed from mid August on.
We recommend mixing up a batch of the following homemade Organic Rose Tonic to ensure thriving roses:  
Other important rose care includes pruning and mulching your roses.  Pruning creates shapely forms and it also encourages new growth.  Mulching helps retain moisture and fosters weed control.    
Visit the Nursery to pick up a copy of our 2018 Rose List and view our rose selection located just south of the Greenhouses.  


Cut Flowers in June

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It is a joy to pick whatever is in bloom and bring inside. June is an exciting month because so much is growing and blooming, and it seems the choices in creating a fresh cut bouquet are only limited by what grows in or around your garden.


Adding more variety to June-blooming flower gardens  takes a bit of research.  A good place to start is to know what plants you already have and continue with or diversifying from the color scheme you have already chosen. 


We have defined basic plant types below to help you understand their flowering habits followed by a list of suggested flowering plants to get the most blossoms to be used throughout the season.  


An annual is a plant that lives for one season. They tend to flower all season long and are inexpensive, bright with color and are less of a commitment.    Gardeners pair them with perennials and biennials as they are sizing up to fill in the gaps with fresh color.


Perennials come back year after year, and have shorter bloom times than annuals.  Often, gardeners will pay more for a well-established plant to get a jump start on a landscape design or replacement.  


Biennials need care over the winter and may be a bit trickier to get established.  Biennial plants grow for two seasons and don’t bloom until the second year.   


Shrubs are small to medium-sized woody plants that are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems above ground and shorter height, and are usually under 10-feet tall. 




Bachelor Buttons (Centaurea cyanus)

Cosmos, (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Larkspur (Delphinium consolida)


Zinnias, (Zinnia violacea)






Bellflower (Campanula)

Centranthus (Centranthus ruber)

(Early) Dahlias


Iris-Japanese and Siberian (Iris ensata and I. siberica)

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla)

Lily (Lilium) 

Lupine (Lupinus) 

Peony (Paeonia)

Hollyhocks (Alcea)



Foxglove (Digitalis)

Hesperis (Hesperis matronalis)

Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)



Roses (Rosa)


Lilac (Syringa)

Mock Orange (Philadelphus)

Snowball (Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’)





Thanks to our Veterans and their families!

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Natural bridal inspiration

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Natural bridal inspiration in botanical gardens

Washington Bridal Inspiration & Wedding Inspiration

Magnolia Rouge

“We are smitten with the clean fresh feeling of this shoot by HEATHER PAYNE and Erin from FLORET that we featured in Issue 14 of MAGNOLIA ROUGE MAGAZINE. Captured at CHRISTIANSON’S NURSERY in Mount Vernon, Washington, it features the most stunning of floral arrangements by Erin. The simply wedding dress by BADGLEY MISCHKA is perfect for the modern bride with it’s clean lines, and fresh natural make-up is the perfect accompaniment. And as always I’m obsessed with the organic paper goods by the fabulous BROWN LINEN DESIGN.”

View this timeless bridal style shoot on the Magnolia Rouge blog:



Solitary, hardworking mason bee a Northwest native, all right

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Did You Know…

If there ever was a Pacific Northwest native that is the personification of this region, it is this tiny, overlooked creature.

Let’s give the unheralded mason bee its due.

Yes, the mason bee, a bug that maybe you kinda, sorta have heard of.  This is the time of year when seed catalogs begin to arrive in the mail and you home gardeners daydream of warm days.  Consider these bees for your garden. They hardly take any maintenance (maybe 45 minutes a year, says one expert) and cost no more than a dinner out. 

A true Northwesterner can relate to the mason bee. It just wants to be left alone. It is mellow. It doesn’t want fancy digs. Actually, it prefers a hidden dwelling.  But laid-back as it appears, admirers say it will outproduce any competitor.   It is frequently mistaken for a fly by homeowners who see it coming out behind a shingle on the side of their house.  The shiny, dark-blue mason bee does look like a common fly.  So out comes the insecticide spray to kill the bee that helps their garden flower and that apple tree produce great yields.

Sure, the mason bee doesn’t have those cute orangish-yellow rings that the bigger bee has. The mason bee doesn’t even produce honey.  But its admirers say that it can do one astounding thing: It is considerably better than the honeybee when it comes to pollinating many of those crops that make up the one-third of our food supply that depends on bees.  (Although a major drawback for commercial orchardists, says one entomologist, is they reproduce only once a year, as opposed to the honeybees’ continual reproduction during warm weather. Mason bee admirers say this can be addressed by keeping mason bees in a cooler until they’re needed.)

Among the mason bee’s recent converts is an Eastern Washington orchardist.  On 42 acres in Omak, Jim Freese grows apples, pears and cherries. Every year he rents honeybee hives at $57 each for pollination.  After going to a presentation about mason bees, he decided in 2015 to use them alongside honeybees on some cherries and Bartlett pears.   He didn’t see an increase in pear production, but he says the post-mason-bee pears were a “nice, big fruit.” It’s hard to say if that was because of the bees, says Freese. “There are so many variables.”

The presentation he heard included Dave Hunter, 54, who in 2008 started Crown Bees, based in a small industrial park in Woodinville.  He has become a passionate promoter/advocate for these insects. That passion is captured in the title of a book he wrote, “Mason Bee Revolution: How the Hardest Working Bee Can Save the World One Backyard at a Time.”  

It didn’t start out that way for Hunter.  He is 54, a civil engineer, and for years was real-estate director for Airborne Express, a now-defunct Seattle firm.  Back then, he says, his gardening consisted of, “I mowed the lawn, putting down chemicals.”   Then Hunter was out of a job in 2004 and pondering what to do. That coincided with a friend explaining that mason bees were the secret to his apple tree being overflowing with fruit.  Something about them just intrigued Hunter.  “I had a midlife crisis handed to me. I was no less intelligent than when I had been laid off,” he says.  He says, “I interviewed every possible researcher in the nation.”

One quickly finds out that honeybees were introduced to North America by early European settlers. Before that it was the native bees like the mason bee that did the pollination.  There are big differences between the two.  Honeybees live in hives and have a complex society with different bees doing different jobs. They have one fertile queen bee.

Mason bees are solitary, and every female is fertile. The role of the male is to mate and then die. (Insert your own snide remark.)  Mason bees don’t build hives. The female builds a nest inside holes left by tree-boring insects, or in a crevice behind a home’s shingles.  They do not damage homes; they simply use an available space they’ve found for laying eggs and cap the eggs’ cells with mud.  Big deal. A little dry mud behind your shingles.

“No controls are recommended,” says a Washington State University Extension leaflet about mason bees.  Mason bees are much more efficient pollinators than honeybees because of the way the female carries pollen from a flower.  As Hunter explains on his website, the female carries pollen on the underside of her hairy abdomen, then scrapes the pollen off within her nesting hole. But because the pollen is carried dry on her hair, it also falls off easily as she moves among flowers. 

Hunter decided he’d make a business out of mason bees.  Initially he worked out of his home, selling mason-bee cocoons and kits.  Hunter says you can host mason bees on your property by spending nearly nothing (with a rolled-up piece of paper and an empty pop bottle), or get fancier kits that range from $44 (a plastic nesting tube) to $100 (a wood home in the shape of a raindrop).  That first year in 2008, revenue for his company was $2,000. He says it could reach $2 million this year.

Hunter is not the only one selling mason-bee kits.  You can find them in nurseries, through Amazon and from a Bothell firm called Rent Mason Bees.  With the latter, for $25 or $50 you pick up the kit, hang it up in your yard, and when the bees are done, bring it back to an agreed-upon location.  This year, says owner Jim Watts, he anticipates renting 1,500 kits.

For Hunter, the mason bee is really a revolution waiting to happen.  To pollinate 12 pounds of cherries, you need only one mason bee, but would need 60 honeybees, he says.  He will need to change a lot of minds.  Says Steve Sheppard, chair of Washington State University’s Department of Entomology, “Mason bees only emerge during a certain time of year, and their life span is only several weeks.”  But Sheppard says about honeybees, “You can put them on a truck, drive them anywhere, and the next day they’re pollinating. They’re portable.”  Hunter says that the cocoons of mason bees can be refrigerated to control their emergence.  In soft-drink coolers at his Woodinville headquarters, Hunter keeps 550,000 to 600,000 bees in cocoons. As the weather warms up, he ships them out to customers.

“We’re going to change how we get food,” he exclaims.  So. Even if you live in an apartment, are there flowers or flowering trees within 300 feet?  Mason bees.  Really real Northwest.