O Gourd! So many pumpkins!

Newsletter 34 – Thursday, October 8, 2015


Cottage Grove

Mon-Fri 9-6
Sat and Sun 9-5


Mon-Fri 8:30-5:30
Sat 8:30-5:00
Sun 9-4

Beautiful Bulb Blends

Planting spring-blooming bulbs is such a joy this time of year. No bugs, cool weather, and a fresh breeze. It doesn’t get much better than that!

We have bulbs in all sorts of varieties and colors. This gives you the freedom to get any combination, but sometimes it can be hard to choose. We have just the solution with our bulb blends! Each package of Beautiful Blends has a variety of bulbs that look great together, so you don’t have to think about it. Just pick the blend, and you’ll be planting in no time!

Plus, many of the bulbs in these combinations have different bloom times, so you’ll have blooms over a longer period than if you only had one variety. Look for the bloom time range on each individual package.

Don’t forget the Espoma Bulb-tone!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower

Fresh Pie Pumpkins

Who needs store-bought canned pumpkin, when you can have it fresh?! Pumpkin is super yummy and nutritious, and when you use it fresh, it’s even better. It can make an average recipe over-the-top delicious!

We have fresh pie pumpkins for making the absolute best pumpkin pie or any other pumpkin treat. They’re better for baking than carving pumpkins because they are sweeter, have a thinner skin and a finer texture. They are also smaller, making them easy to handle.

Pumpkins are limited in supply this year, so get them early! They freeze well once prepared so you can get them now for Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pie. See this week’s recipe below to learn how to prepare pumpkins for a recipe.

Once you use fresh pumpkin, you’ll never want to use canned again!

What happened when the wheel was invented?
It caused a revolution.

Scarecrow Workshop

Lila and Lena with their new friend
Click for Larger Image

Scarecrows have traditionally been made to scare crows out of fields, and over the years they’ve become a fun decoration for fall! They don’t have to be traditional; they can be silly or scary too. You can make it into a character like Batman, a Packer fan, Einstein, a clown, Dracula, or whatever you want. You could even do one in a friend’s likeness. We have two special scarecrows in the likeness of our very own Ed and Carol greeting customers by the road!

If you do make a scarecrow to look like a friend, just make sure you don’t stick ‘em out in a field to actually scare crows. They may not find that very flattering!

Why do birds fly south in the fall?
Because it’s too far to walk.

60% Off Perennials, Trees, and Shrubs

This week all perennials, trees, and shrubs are now 60% off! This is part of our progressive sale, in which the percentage off increases by 10% each week. Take advantage of this sale now to allow plants more time to become established before winter.

This offer excludes mums and asters and is not valid on previous purchases or custom orders. There is no warranty on perennials, trees, and shrubs purchased through the remainder of the season.

Why were the teacher’s eyes crossed?
She couldn’t control her pupils.

America’s Best Flowers Fundraising Program

Did you know that America’s Best Flowers has a fundraising program for non-profit organizations?  It is such an easy, straight forward and profitable fundraiser, that many non-profit organizations participate year after year.

Most fundraisers sell products that people don’t really want or need, and in order to realize a profit, the cost of the item is usually inflated. This one is different! Click here to see how!

What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a 4-leaf clover?
A rash of good luck.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

By Lauren, the Bug Lady

Woolybear Caterpillar
Click for Larger Image

Fall has truly arrived! Not only is the weather cooler and the leaves are changing color, but the woolly bear caterpillars are on the move. These unofficial autumn ambassadors are everywhere this time of year, searching for a suitable place to overwinter beneath bark, leaves, or logs. As they press on in their determined search, it can be a challenge for us nature-lovers to avoid stepping on them, but they’re surely a delight to see. In fact, some people enjoy their presence so much that they hold entire festivals in their honor.

The woolly bear caterpillar hatches from an egg in the fall and when it overwinters, it actually freezes and survives by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues to protect from damage. It then pupates in the spring to become the Isabella Tiger moth, which is pale yellow and less showy than its caterpillar form. It’s adapted to the cold and can even tolerate Arctic winters.

Woolybear moth. Still cute and fuzzy…?
Click for Larger Image

The well-known folklore is that the brown/orange band in the middle of its body can predict what kind of winter we will have. A wide band means it will be a mild winter and a narrow band means it will be a harsh winter. Of course this is merely folklore, but it’s still fun to look and hope for a wide band all the same.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’
She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

Vote for us!

We’ve been nominated for a chance to be the Best of Madison!

This annual poll conducted by Madison Magazine allows voters to choose their favorites in a variety of categories. Last year, we got 2nd place in the Lawn, Garden, and Landscape category and we hope to get your vote this year as the best garden center around.

We strive to live up to our name, so if you like (or love!) what we do, please vote for us! You can vote once a day, every day through October 17, so please vote often! Click here to vote!

If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?
Very large hands.

Indoor Flea Market Vendor Info

Our final flea market for the season is October 17th 9-3, and this time, it’s indoors! Protected from wind and cold, you can to turn your garage and basement clutter into cold hard cash! Flea markets are fun and easy to participate in! Just bring your treasures out to the greenhouse, display them like you would for a garage sale, sit back and sell.  That’s all it takes!

And, for the first time at our flea market, School Grounds Café will be selling their fine coffee and assorted pastries!

There’s still time to register to be a vendor.

Ask Irene: Hydrangea

Q: Hello! We planted ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea in June and they have never really looked good. Most of the branches are just laying in the ground and the color is very washed out. Will they ever look good?

A: Your hydrangea likely looks floppy from big flower heads weighing down long stems. I believe the washed-out color is simply mature flowers showing their age. I recommend a very light pruning right now just below the flower heads.

Ideally, you would have tipped back the plant by about a third right after flowers started to fade, no later than late summer, early September. Then those shorter stems would branch and form flowers on the tips next season, making for a sturdier, tidier shrub. So that is your game plan next summer.

As fall has just started, I think you can get away with a light pruning. Hopefully bud tissue has not started forming at the stem tips. The conservative thing to do would be nothing at all, but since you are not liking its looks, some pruning may be in order to guide growth.

‘Endless Summer’ is a variety of Hydrangea macrophylla, or mophead hydrangea. Mopheads typically bloom on old wood — that is, flower buds form in early fall on this year’s growth or older, particularly at the very tips of branches. ‘Endless Summer’ is unique in that it blooms on both new and old wood. This ostensibly allows for a longer bloom time, or at least in our northerly climate, means some flowers will form in summer in spite of winter dieback. Dieback has traditionally been the challenge of growing these borderline-hardy plants in Wisconsin, and the varieties of H. macrophylla that preceded ‘Endless Summer’ were absolutely abysmal at producing flowers year to year. ‘Endless Summer’ is not without its challenges — I have heard gardeners ruefully nickname it, “Endless Frustration.”

Good luck,

We want you to be successful in your gardening efforts. Please send any questions you have to Irene, at abfirene@gmail.com. She’ll give you solid advice from years of gardening experience.

Upcoming Events

Sat, Sep 19 – Sun, Oct 18
Scarecrow Days

Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
Sat-Sun 10am-4pm
Bring family and friends out to build one-of-a-kind scarecrow(s).

Sat, Oct 17
Flea Market

9am-3pm – Rain or Shine

Sat, Oct 17 – Sun, Nov 15
Miniature Garden Container Workshop

10am-3pm Every Weekend – FREE soil and assistance. Create a beautiful miniature garden in our greenhouse. Customers may bring in their own EMPTY containers, but all accessories must be purchased from America’s Best Flowers.

Sat, Nov 21 – Sun, Nov 22
Holiday Porch Pot Workshop

9am-3pm Create a festive porch pot for the holiday season. Customers may bring in their own EMPTY containers, but all accessories must be purchased from America’s Best Flowers. Pre-Registration Appreciated.

Sat, Dec 5
Wreath Workshop

9am-3pm Design and create a holiday wreath that will cheerfully welcome all holiday guests. All accessories must be purchased from America’s Best Flowers. Pre-Registration Appreciated.

Sun, Dec 6
Holiday Centerpiece Workshop

9am-3pm Add that finishing touch to your holiday table with a festive holiday centerpiece! All accessories must be purchased from America’s Best Flowers. Pre-Registration Appreciated.

Funny Workplace Signs

Outside a Radiator Repair Shop:
“Best place in town to take a leak.”

In a Non-smoking area:
“If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.”

At an Optometrist’s Office:
“If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

In a Counselor’s office:
“Growing old is mandatory. Growing wise is optional.”

Our Kitchen

We were talking about pumpkins in the office the other day, sharing some of our favorite recipes, when one of us remembered Bonnie’s method for baking pumpkins. I thought I’d share this method with you again, since it’s the best way to prepare pumpkins for any recipe to really bring out the flavor!

How to Bake a Pumpkin


Fall is the perfect time for pumpkin recipes.  And for the best tasting results, I always start with fresh pumpkin.  Contrary to popular belief, baking your own pumpkin is soooo easy.  And the taste… ooh-la-la.

The most important thing is to start with a pie pumpkin.  Do not use pumpkins that are sold for jack-o-lanterns.  Their flesh is watery, stringy, and less flavorful.  Pie pumpkins, which are bred for flavor, are dark orange and about the size of a cantaloupe.  Come on out today and pick up a couple so you can impress everyone with the wonderful pumpkin creations straight from your kitchen.

Although you can microwave pumpkins, I strongly suggest using a regular oven.  It only takes a bit longer, but the result is definitely worth it.

Start by cutting the pumpkin in half, discarding the stem and seedy pulp.  Be sure to save the seeds for roasting.

Place the pumpkin halves face down in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 1 ½ hours, until the pumpkin is soft when you apply gentle pressure (use a hot pad and test right through the foil).

Allow to cool, scoop out flesh and puree in a blender or food processor, or mash.  A 4-5 pound pumpkin should produce about 2 cups puree.  Use in recipes like you would canned pumpkin.