2006 Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 20

Week 20 (8/10/2006)


An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her neck to haul water from the stream.


One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.


The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection.  After two years of arriving at the house only half full, it finally spoke to the woman.


‘I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.’


The old woman smiled and said ‘Didn’t you notice there are flowers on only one side of the path?  I’ve always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side, and every day, while we walk back, you water them.  Without you being just the way you are I wouldn’t have beautiful flowers to decorate my table.’  Old Chinese Proverb


It’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.  Today, as you take time to smell the flowers blooming by your path, take a moment to think about how great it is that each one of us is unique in our own special way. 


At America’s Best Flowers, Ed and Carol Knapton operate on the principle that every employee has something special to offer our customers.  Some are outstanding at organizing thousands of plants, some know how to fix anything that breaks, some have great people skills, while others are great at running the cash register.  The list could go on and on.


We have Master Gardeners, who have completed special training to learn about gardening; and gardeners who have mastered what it takes to be successful in Wisconsin through years of experience.  We have people who have come to us from many different backgrounds; and the skills they have brought with them have come together to make us what we are today


Our goal is to be as wise as the old woman in the proverb.  To take each person for what they are and always look for the good in them.  We hope that by applying this principle in the daily management of the business that we will provide a friendly, family-like atmosphere for our customers. 


This week we had a customer write to us, “I love America’s Best because it feels like I am visiting family, more than a retail location.  I am allowed to browse as long as I like, but if I have a question there is always someone close at hand to answer my inquiry.  The floral design at the Vilas Hope location lures me to bring my chair and sit among the flowers, bathed in the sweet scents.  Everyone I encounter is kind and appears sincerely interested in pleasing my urges to garden.”


We sincerely hope that all of our customers have a similar experience when they visit us.  We would welcome any comments you have concerning your shopping experiences at America’s Best.  We always share what you tell us with our staff.  A kind word can help make even the most tedious and hot task a little easier.  And we truly value constructive


If you have only visited America’s Best Flowers in the spring, we invite you to come out now.  You’ll find a relaxed atmosphere to browse in and a knowledgeable staff with plenty of time to spend with you.




Saturday, August 12, at 10:00 AM America’s Best Flowers is extremely pleased to offer you the opportunity to attend a Hosta Workshop led by Ed Schulz, President of the Madison Hosta Society.  Ed will talk about the many different varieties of hostas, as well as the proper way to take care of them.  Whether you have a yard full of hostas, or are thinking about planting your first one, this workshop is for you. 


“Why is the time of the day with the slowest traffic referred to as ‘rush hour’?”




America’s Best Flowers often has customers ask how to divide different types of perennials.  Beginning Saturday, August 19, we will be hosting a series of hands-on workshops designed to show just how it’s done.  Iris will be discussed at this first workshop.


To provide a better learning experience and a lot more fun, we encourage you to bring along a clump of your own iris that need to be divided.  We will demonstrate how it’s done, help you do your own, and provide facilities where you can trade divisions, if you choose to, with other gardeners who come to the workshop.


That same day, Saturday, August 19, we are also offering our Fall Container Workshop from 10 until 3 and will be serving free sweet corn for lunch. So plan to spend the day at America’s Best Flowers.  It promises to hold lots of fun for everyone.


“A sign at a Propane Filling Station, ‘Thank heaven for little grills!’”




Hosta Workshop Ed Schulz, President of the Madison Hosta Society will present a free class on the many varieties of hostas and their care. Saturday, August 12th10AM (see above).


Autumn Container Workshop Thursday, August 17, 5 – 8PM (see below)


Customer Appreciation Days August 19 and 20th:




            CREATE AN AUTUMN CONTAINER Ongoing Workshop – Bring your own pot    or choose from our colorful collection. ABF will provide Free Soil and assistance.        Saturday & Sunday, August 19th & 20th10-3pm.


            DIVIDE AND SWAP How to divide your Iris – Saturday, August 19th at 10AM by       Bev Wilson, Master Gardener. (see above)


ABF DOLLAR DAYS Saturday, September 9th-17th.


DIVIDE AND SWAP How to divide your Daylilies – Saturday, September 9th at 10AM. Workshop by our own Bev Wilson, Master Gardener. Bring in an overgrown clump of daylilies and Bev will show you how to divide them, then trade with others to get more varieties for your garden!


MAKE A SCARECROW WORKSHOP Two weekends September 23rd and 24th and September 30th and October 1st.


“SCARECROWS IN THE GARDEN CONTEST” for elementary schools. Entries will be on display from September 21 – October 22 so you can vote on them with a canned food donation for the Atwood Community Food Pantry. The winning entry will receive a gift certificate from America’s Best Flowers for beautification of their school.  Watch for more details.


How to Winterize Roses Quick Class by our own, Sharon Stickford. Sunday, September 17th 1PM and Saturday, October 21st 10AM.


Holiday Open House Saturday, November 18th and Sunday, November 19th.  Free picture of Santa with Second Harvest Food Pantry donation.




“Can you buy an entire chess set in a ‘pawn-shop’?”


Perennial of the Week


This week’s Perennial of the Week features the ‘Big Sky’ series of coneflowers.  The beautiful ‘Sunrise’, ‘Sunset’, and ‘Sundown’ come in a range of yellows and oranges.  This series was bred by Richard Saul of Saul Nurseries in Atlanta, Georgia.  These hybrids are strong, upright plants that bring a new dimension to the reliable coneflower. These unusual plants would make fabulous gifts for that gardener who has everything.  Come see us today to get the best selection and take advantage of our special perennial of the week pricing.


“If you can’t drink and drive, why do bars have parking lots?”


Tip of the Week – Winning Entry


Our tip this week comes from Vickie of Cambridge, “I have arthritis and a disk problem in my lower back.  Therefore, I use two rubber gardening mats to sit on when weeding or planting.  Many times I have to sit on cement to weed my front flower bed.  I take both mats and stack them on top of each other and then I wrap a full size old bed blanket around them for extra height and extra softness and I can usually work for a longer period of time.”


Vicki will receive a $10 Gift Certificate to America’s Best for her entry.  We hope this tip will help others with back problems be more comfortable while they garden.


“What do you call a hot dog bun without its hotdog?   A bun.”


Question Corner


“In last week’s newsletter you talked about hornworms damaging tomato plants.  Is there any way to keep them off the plants other than to hand pick them?


Yes there is. Plant dill around your tomatoes.  It repels them naturally.


“I get confused about hibiscus.  Some people say they are hardy, some say they aren’t.  Who’s right?”


Both, there are three groups of hibiscus.  Hardy shrub hibiscus, commonly known as ‘Rose of Sharon’, are woody shrubs that can reach 10 feet or more.  They begin flowering in early summer and continue until fall.  ‘Rose of Sharon’ are very hardy for this area and come in shades of pinks, purples and white.  Perennial hibiscus, herbaceous perennials which die back to the ground every winter, are also hardy in this area.  These are the hibiscus you see with dinner plate size blooms.  America’s Best has several different varieties to choose from.  The hibiscus that is not hardy here is the Tropical Hibiscus.  These plants have glossy foliage, and beautiful flowers in many different vibrant colors.  They perform well when it’s hot, but must be brought into the house if you want to over-winter them.


“I want to do a mound planting next to an existing tree, but have heard this might cause damage to the tree.  Why is that?”


Most trees’ root systems can be found in the top 30 inches of the soil.  This is because the deeper they go, the less oxygen there is and the more dense the soil becomes.  In some cases the deep soil also contains less moisture, making fewer nutrients available to the roots.  This is especially true where there are a lot of light rainfalls that don’t penetrate deeply.  If you pile soil on top of the existing soil level, you cut off oxygen to the tree, as well as change the amount of moisture that is available to the roots.  The roots decline, and when roots decline so does the top of the tree.  This can result in the death of the tree over time. 


Keep this in mind when you are mulching, too.  Never pile mulch against the trunk of the tree.  This causes decay, rotting, and the eventual decline of the roots.  We advise a two to three inch layer of mulch to control weeds and prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil.  Fall is the perfect time to renew your mulch layer.  Hard rain and heat can bake it into a nice crust that gets so hard it can actually repel water.  Take your garden rake or spading fork and fluff it up.  This will help to keep the top of it dry and prevent the growth of mushrooms or fungus in your mulch.  It’s also a great time to add an inch or two.  Several types of mulch are available at America’s Best Flowers.  Come on in and let us help you pick out the best one for your application.


If you have gardening questions you would like addressed in this newsletter, please e-mail them to ed@americasbestflowers.com

Please put “Question for Newsletter” in the subject line.  Otherwise it may not

reach my desk.


“If swimming is good for your shape, why do whales look the way they do?”


Bonnie’s Kitchen


This is one of my daughter’s favorite recipes.  They are so much better than the ones you buy and are a lot more fun to make.


Hannah’s Corndogs


1 package cornbread twists

spicy brown mustard (optional)

8 hot dogs

2 large egg whites, whisked until frothy

1/3 c bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 375′.  Spray cookie sheet.  Separate cornbread twists.  Roll each piece to a 4×5 rectangle. Spread with mustard, if desired. Place hotdogs on dough, roll them up and pinch ends to seal. Roll corndogs first in plate of egg whites, then in a plate of bread crumbs.


Bake until golden brown–about 25 minutes.


“How do you make a hot dog stand?  You take away his chair!’”

Carol and Ed Knapton, owners of Americas's Best Flowers You’ll Love Your Garden … It’s Our Promise! May the Holy Spirit Guide You! God Bless
Edward Knapton says Keep on Smiling!
Sec – Treasurer Berry Hill Farms, Inc.
DBA Americas Best Flowers Garden Center
4311 Vilas Hope Road
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
608-222-2269 Fax 608-222-1234 Cell 608-698-5627