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April inside Primrose Antique & Gifts

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“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

 – Leo Tolstoy


As we turn the calendar to April, it feels like a switch has flipped. The air is filled with birdsong and sweet fragrances, the Skagit Valley tulip fields are bursting into color, and our gardens are coming to life. It’s a time of putting plans into action, cleaning and clearing, digging and planting.

This is also a great month to rejuvenate our homes. Aside from throwing open your windows and doing the Happy Dance, here are a few simple ideas for refreshing your living spaces this month (p.s. everything in bold is something we carry in Primrose or at the Nursery):


1.)  Add little touches of artwork, found objects, or vintage items with a springtime vibe; perhaps new throw pillows, a bird’s nest, a little wall art, or a sentimental greeting card in a pretty frame? Smaller keepsakes look extra special under a glass cloche. Pick out a few favorite colors or themes from your new object(s) and build on those in your spring decorating.

2.)  The tried-and-true method for refreshing the vibe of a room without lifting a paintbrush or spending a fortune is to change out your decorative pillows, lap throws, and smaller area rugs.

3.)  If you do happen to have a little time and energy, paint!  You don’t need to paint entire rooms. Simply updating the color of one accent wall or one object can transform a room.

4.)  Bring the outdoors in!  Simple flower bouquets, lush green plants, budding branches, or even a bowl of fruit will bring energy and freshness to the air, and to your living spaces.

5.)  Add a mirror or two! Adding mirrors will open your spaces and can give the effect of an additional window or room. Find strategic places to hang mirrors throughout your home so that you’ll see reflections of pretty views, bouquets, plants, and vignettes.

6.)  For your dining areas, a few new table linens can completely uplift the look. For a finishing touch, add fresh new candles, a flower bouquet or a natural centerpiece (perhaps a nest with eggs and pussywillows). Even a row or grouping of a few favorite bedding plants or living herbs makes a lovely table accent.

7.)  In your bathroom, switch out your shower curtain and towels, add a humidity-loving plant or small flower bouquet, put some natural bristle scrub brushes and pretty soaps in a sparkly, vintage or rustic container, and ta da!  It may not be springtime in Paris but it’ll bring you a bit of cheer on a daily basis.

8.)  Refresh your home with natural cleaning products and essential oils. You can put a few drops on a couple cotton balls and put them in your vacuum bag to freshen the air or put a few drops on a damp cloth and throw in your clothes dryer with your wet clothes.  Here’s a link with many more ideas: https://www.aromatherapynaturals.com/pages/how-to-use-essential-oils

9.)  Change out your mantel decorations, sweep out the ashes in the fireplace, and fill the space with something new and bright, such as a fresh stack of white birch logs or a mirror (in back) with a lush green plant or spring flower basket (in front).

10.)  Find a spring-themed picture book that you love and display it prominently, someplace  where you sit most often. Use the color palette of the book’s cover to inspire your spring decorating, repeating those colors in your throw pillows, lap blankets, area rugs, dining linens, and so on.

Most importantly, have fun, experiment, and enjoy the Happy Dance of spring!

As author and interior designer Bunny Williams once said…“If you love something, it will work. That’s the only real rule.”

Skagit Valley’s Tulip Season Arrives!

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A tulip update from RoozenGaarde, the largest flower bulb grower in North America:

“A few early tulip blooms are now in bud and we expect to see them showing some color very soon. Cool weather is in the forecast, so their bloom could be another week away – but we do expect some color as we near the end of March. As always, the exact bloom dates will depend entirely on the weather!”

Plan your trip to Skagit Valley by keeping updated with the blooms: https://www.tulips.com/bloommap

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The best bare root selection of the year is now 20% off already low prices!

Choose from fruit, flowering and shade trees, berries, lilacs and hydrangeas!


“Farmers Hope New ‘Cosmic Crisp’ Will Be America’s

Next Top Apple”


Move over, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious: Farmers have a new apple they hope will be the next big fruit in the produce aisle, and it’s called the Cosmic Crisp.

Apple growers in Washington state — responsible for growing 70% of the country’s apples — have been planting millions of these new trees, reports NPR’s The Salt, though the apples themselves won’t be in stores until fall 2019.

The first plantings in the state will come out to five million 40-pound boxes of apples that will eventually be delivered to grocery stores. In comparison, it took Honeycrisp 20 years after its introduction to pull off that feat, The Salt points out.

“Hitting five million boxes right away, that’s never happened with any other variety that we’ve ever planted in Washington state,” one farmer told the blog.

Every Cosmic Crisp tree is a clone of one mother tree that started out as WA 38, in a research orchard funded by Washington State University’s breeding program.

Though the general public will have to wait a few years to try a Cosmic Crisp, those who have tasted it say it has that all-important crispy snap when you bite into it, as well as sweetness and acid creating an “almost a sensory overload for your tongue,” as The Salt puts it.


4:23 PM EST



Christianson’s Calendar of Events

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Always thinking of ways for our customers to plan their year with us.

The Nursery’s backstory in preparing for the second largest flower and garden event: The Northwest Flower & Garden Show

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nwfgsDormancy in some plants may suggest February is a slow time of the year at the Nursery. However, a behind the scenes look shows our staff is busy, busy, busy getting our booth designed and plants prepared the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, one of the biggest shows of the year.

Customers delight in our lush-green garden display mixed with unusual plant selections and age-old antiques. It is an experience of contrasting forms and products (silver creamers and ironstone dinnerware atop moss place mats) along with varying height racks of healthy, beautiful, flowering plants and evergreen conifers: some not to be seen at any other booth.

This year, we wanted to show you the behind the scenes look of how we reach that point of historical charm and describe some of the considerations it takes to present an award-winning booth.

Many structural components are needed to create the vignettes inside the 20 x 20-foot space: a cash wrap, plant racks, a form for architecture and layers of unusual plant material all nested into fullsizeoutput_64c5the purposeful aging display of the Nursery, as if to pay homage to the Naturalists of the 1880’s. Toni Christianson oversees a four-person design team: Hardgoods and Pottery Buyer, Lily Hirdler, Primrose Merchandiser, Brenda Cornett and two staff members skilled in fabrication, Fred Bell and Katheryn Shiohira. The team often discovers overlooked objects from around the Nursery to incorporate into the booth that will support and highlight product bought specifically for the show. Aged, green, mossy wood from our shade house was salvaged and redesigned into boxes to be placed at the high corners of our prominently displayed rusted arbor with sprays of volunteer ferns nestled inside. Our hope is for our customers to walk into a well-planned environment and be transported into their imaginative past; immediately loving it without wondering why.

Our plant buyers have been talking with vendors since November about arranging delivery of the best plant material in time for the show. It is always a fun challenge for our buyers to forecast plant trends as it is based on many factors; what speakers may be discussing or introducing for the new year; which garden designers may be using as a feature in their container wars and what is available during that time in February, etc. In good humor, they admit to never knowing an indicator, but they always hope it is something unusual. Last year’s hot seller was a fragrant camellia with light pink blossoms named ‘Fairy Blush’.

EdgeworthiaRecently our staff has been moving plant material into the Greenhouse to keep it perfectly happy and looking exquisite for the show. One variety of paper bush shrub to watch for: ‘Edgeworthia Akebono’. A cousin to the daphne, it is a rarer shrub with unusual crayon-orange flowers (instead of yellow) that stay open through mid-April.  A surprise offering (we won’t reveal all our secrets before the show!) will be Leptospermum; the specimens are in a perfect state of bloom with tens of tiny, pink, ruffle-edged blossoms against dark green needles.

This year, it will take two trucks and all hands-on deck to load up the structures, plants and supplies. Plants need one final soaking and feeding before getting transported down the I-5 corridorIMAG7474 and then the game begins. Watching everything be loaded is likened to the game Tetris, an addictive puzzle game where players strive to make organization from chaos. John Christianson and our staff do their best to fit the pieces into place. It is amazing to see how much can fit into a box truck! The loading process is dialed in so narrowly, it seems there is scant room for a mouse to climb aboard afterwards. And even though many, many items are packed tightly, there is always a need to make a trip or two back to the Nursery to restock the hot sellers for the busy weekend.
John and Toni Christianson, along with the Nursery staff, and volunteers, have been participating in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show since 1989. Every year the show is different. Being one of the most seasoned participants in the Pacific Northwest nursery industry makes all of us here feel eager to experience, share knowledge and curiosities with other like-minded novice, hobby and professional gardeners.

Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show begins Wednesday, February 7 and runs through Sunday, February 11. Don’t wait in lines for tickets at the show. Adult early bird entry tickets are on sale now for a discounted rate of $19.00 and, once the show begins, tickets will still be available but the price will be $24.00.

Garden Planning Guides 2018

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It must be January.  Stacks of seed catalogs clutter the kitchen table along with new seed packets from the Nursery.  All of them needing consideration for when to be planted.  With so many choices, it can still be somewhat overwhelming.

Thankfully, there are two no-fail resources I consider for my garden planning year after year:  1.) “Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide” and 2.) “Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades”.

Seattle TilthSeattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide is an excellent tool for year-round organic gardening.  The Guide is organized in a month-by-month format and is rated the best gardening guide for the Pacific Northwest’s unique growing conditions.

The Guide contains:
•    lists of what and when to sow, plant and harvest
•    simple crop rotation plans
•    soil fertility, composting and fertilizing naturally
•    recipes, tips, and folklore

Visit http://www.seattletilth.org/ for vast garden resources.
Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades

The second book is Steve Solomon’s classic ‘Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades’.  Steve Solomon, a founder of the Territorial Seed Company, was one of the early proponents of organic gardening.  Solomon was the first to codify and refine the best practices of small-plot vegetable gardening in the Pacific Northwest.

This book gets specific on growing vegetable crops and offers insightful tips for growing herbs and ornamentals in Cascadia.   Learn how to choose starts, when to sow seeds and the science of soil and garden planning.  Refer to this experience-based advice to offer low-cost ideas for season extenders on either end of our main growing period.

In its 35th Anniversary Edition, Solomon’s advice will help you plan and grow your best garden ever!

Both guides are available in our Primrose Antiques & Gifts and our Garden Store.


Nancy Stewart
Christianson’s Annual Plants and Rose Buyer

It’s Bare Root Season!

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January through March is bare root season at Christianson’s and that means it’s time to save on the plants you plan on adding to your garden this year. Many plants (fruit, flowering and shade trees) are available as bare root selections.

Beech-Bare-Roots-60-90After dormant plants are dug up, growers wash the soil off the roots and the plants are packed in sawdust (to keep the roots moist) once they arrive at the Nursery. This type of system works well for many woody-based plants, like fruit and nut trees, Hydrangeas and lilacs, cane fruit and some herbaceous edibles such as strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb.

Planting bare root stock comes with several advantages: Bare root plants typically cost far less than container-grown selections and traditional balled and burlap (B&B), and without the cost of soil and a container, the savings are passed on to you! Another advantage bare root stock has over container-grown is its stronger and wider root system that adapts more quickly in our native soil. Ask one of our Nursery experts about how to properly condition and plant a bare root tree or shrub while you’re here.

Our Carefully Cultivated 2018 Rose List is Here!

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Have you been thinking about which roses you will add to the garden next spring? 22695_2018 Rose List-1We have and encourage you to start planning!

Our rose buyer, Nancy Stewart, is already mapping out hundreds of roses to bring in for the winter of 2018. “We are making a strong effort to carry the range and depth in rose varieties with many suggested by author Nita Jo Rountree in her book, Growing Roses in the Pacific Northwest,” states Stewart.

Be sure to study our 2018 Rose List insert to discover over 50 new or returning varieties totaling our beautiful collection to over 450 varieties of roses!

Download our 2018 Rose List

10 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays… Just Like the Ones Our Grandparents Used to Know

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Embrace the attitude and traditions of an earlier
generation for old-fashioned holiday fun!


Experiencing an old-fashioned holiday season centers on choosing what really matters to you. Reflecting back and practicing meaningful traditions not only pays homage to relatives and friends with whom you shared time, but also shapes the traditions you practice today.  Consider the following suggestions for inspiration in making your holidays intentionally slower while infusing the wisdom of generations past.


1. Use Cash Only
Many of our grandparents had a budget and stuck to it out of sheer necessity. Spending with cash can make it feel more real.  It also gives you a moment to stop and think about what you’re buying, which makes spending more focused.


2. Bake From Scratch
Dust off the old recipe books or cards and try your hand at making homemade butter cookies or a friend’s no-fail brownie recipe.  You have to slow down enough to read the recipe and may find that the nostalgic act of remembering those who gave you the recipe makes everything just a little sweeter.gallery-1478627859-gettyimages-563963167


3. Send Holiday Cards
In the age of social media and instant updates, real honest-to-goodness cards are a way to reconnect with family and friends far and near.  You can buy boxed holiday cards – or look to craft websites for inspiration and make your own – then take an afternoon and write a handful of cards to send via snail mail!


4. Save Those Ribbons!
As a child, my grandmother taught us to carefully open packages and save the ribbon and wrap.  Not only was this a thrifty means to re-use packaging (remember ironing your ribbon to make it look new?), but it extended the anticipation of what lay underneath.  And today, it is environmentally friendly.


5. Spend Time Together
Bake cookies with your kids. Plan a family game night. Attend services at a house of worship. Go caroling. Drive around and look at holiday lights. Make ornaments. Arrange a potluck party with friends. The point is to interact and be present in the moment with your family and friends.


6. Make Your Gifts
We all have talents so think about ways you can give your talents as your gift.  For example, maybe you could paint your mother-in-law’s bedroom, or bake homemade goodies, or put a ribbon around a jar of homemade jam that you made last summer. The possibilities are endless!


gallery-1478629882-gettyimages-5639658417. Dress Up!
When you look at old photos, you see that everyone is dressed nicely at big holiday gatherings – even the children; faces washed, hair combed and cheeks oiled.  Most days in our lives are casual.  To make your gathering feel special and different, dress up!


8. Send thank you notes
In our digital age, a handwritten card or thank you note reigns supreme.  Sit down and write a real thank you note this holiday season, whether you’re thanking someone for a lovely party or a special gift.  This simple act of thoughtfulness will go a long ways.


9. Share Your Memories
Part of the joy of the season is reminiscing about what makes your family unique. Sharing stories, traditions, and values defines your family and is a great gift to each other that doesn’t cost a cent.


10. Give Back
Our grandparents shared what they had with neighbors when times were tough. Your gifts don’t necessarily have to be monetary. Collect coats for homeless shelters. Help an elderly neighbor put up her tree. Send care packages to military members who are deployed away from home this year. Invite someone who’s alone and may not have family nearby to your own holiday dinner.

Holiday Wreath Making!

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Deck the halls with your own handmade wreath with ease by using our wreath-making machine! We provide a stunning array of fresh greens and berries (sold by the pound) or bring your own. Questies

The cost of one small wreath form beginning at 6-inches to 16-inches in diameter is $7 and 18-inches to 24-inches in diameter is $9. Wear warm clothing and bring your own pruners and gardening gloves.

Reserve time for this fun and explorative D.I.Y. project now through December 24. Visit the Nursery or call us at 360-466-3821 or 1-800-585-8200.