Archives for January 2016

February is All About The Birds

February is an exciting month for many. Why? The main reason is the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a free, fun and easy way for bird lovers of all ages to help create a real-time snapshot of bird populations by counting the birds they spot right in their very own backyards between February 12 – 15, 2016. winter_bird

How to Participate

Visit The Great Backyard Birdcount, register for the event online, then count the birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC. Once you’re finished, all you have to do is submit your observations online.

Not only will you be enjoying the adventure of watching and counting birds in your backyard, you’ll also be helping scientists get a better picture of the health of native bird populations in your area and around the world.

If you want to attempt to lure more birds to your yard during the GBBC, it’s a good time to do so since it February is National Bird-Feeding Month. National Bird-Feeding Month was designed to help supplement the diets of our feathered friends during winter months, as well as to encourage backyard bird watching. prize pack

Tips on Getting Started

  1. Do a little research on birds that are commonly found in your neck of the woods this time of the year
  2. Leave a notepad, binoculars and a good bird book by a window that overlooks your yard
  3. Head to the Family Tree to get a bird feeder and bird seeds
  4. Get home and set up your feeding stations in your yard
  5. Start watching!

The Family Tree in Snellville, GA has everything you need to get started on this exciting event. Whether you are looking for bird seeds or the perfect birdhouse or feeder, we’ve got it all!

P.S. – Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Photo Contest and you could win a special bird package valued at over $100 including a $50 gift card. Details can be found here.

Blooming Early Spring!

With January almost over, it feels as if spring is right around the corner! We definitely feel that way here at The Family Tree, especially with all the early blooming spring plants arriving this week! The best feature of these bloomers is that they will begin flowering in mid-winter before anything else does and thus make lovely focal points. It’s never too early to start working on the perfect spring landscape!

Here’s a quick guide to early spring bloomers

Daphne Odora – Oh, smells so good! This lovely rounded evergreen shrub can bloom with purple and daphne odorowhite flowers as early as January and will continue into early spring! As its name implies, the plant is extremely fragrant, which only adds to its appeal and leads many gardeners to place it near a patio or deck. This is the perfect shrub for an area that is mostly shady. This garden gem demands excellent drainage so make sure to amend your soil well, even add a layer of rocks under your planting hole. Once your Daphne is established, it will bloom like crazy each year from January through March.

Winter Jasmine – This deciduous plant can be grown as a winter jasmineshrub or on a trellis, which gives you many planting options. Its quick growing habit makes it ideal for beginning gardeners. Winter Jasmine’s bright yellow flowers look best when cascading over a retaining wall or down a hillside. To plant, bury the root balls until it is level with the topsoil in your ideal spot. While it thrives in both sun and light shade, Winter Jasmine produces more blooms when planted in the sun.

Edgeworthia – By far the most dramatic winter bloomer, Edgeworthia is a tree-like shrub that features fragrant yellow flowers from mid-January to early-April and wonderfully textured bark. One of edgeworthiathe benefits of this deciduous shrub is that it provides year round interest with its tropical looking leaves during the spring and summer, gorgeous bark in winter, and clumps of fragrant blooms in early spring. Edgeworthia can flourish in both full sun and part shade and therefore is an excellent choice as a specimen plant in your garden.

Forsythia – Welcome spring with this cheerful yellow bloomer known for its tremendous growth rate (up to 2 feet a year!). Forsythia grows best in full sun and requires little watering once established, so you can plant them and then sit back and wait for their glorious winter flowers and strapping green foliage. Forsythia can take heavy pruning so whether you love the free-form growth habit or manicured look, this plant will look beautiful either way.

Helleborus (Lenten Rose) – One of the most sought after spring bloomers, Helleborus, or Lenten Rose, begins blooming late Winter and into the spring. This evergreen shrub prefers to be shaded during the warmer months, and can take a bit of sun during the winter. While they are known to be drought and neglect tolerant, Helleborus thrives in soil that is wet the majority of the time, so daily watering is recommended. They are also known to be great deer resistant shrubs, so there will be very little danger in having this beauty in your garden this spring!

Quince – This deciduous shrub is known for its striking, early color. Once this shrub begins to bloom you’ll do a “double-take” at its vibrant pink and red color. Quince makes a wonderful hedge, as it has a habit to spread while reaching around 3-4 feet in height. In order to get the most blooms out of your Quince, plant it in an area that gets a large amount of sun. Watering regularly is important, but Quince is known for being very tolerant to drought! This shrub is a beautiful and easy-to-care-for addition to any garden.

 

 

Be sure to stop by The Family Tree this week to pick up some of these beautiful early bloomers because they sell out quickly; everyone wants some bright winter color in their gardens!

Houseplants & Their Many Health Benefits

Did you know houseplants provide real health benefits, both physiological and psychological? It’s true! Here are some of the reasons why you should fill your home with houseplants:

Increased Happiness 

Research has shown that the presence of plants leads to reduced stress and anxiety, increased feelings of calm, a marked improvement in mood and self-esteem.

Lowers Your Blood Pressure + Faster Recovery From Illness houseplant benefits

Studies performed in hospitals showed that patients with plants in their rooms had lower blood pressure and heart rates than patients whose rooms did not contain plants.  Patients also recover faster from illness when they had plants in their hospital rooms. What a great reason to give a plant as a gift!

Humidifying the Air

Plants are natural humidifiers! They infuse moisture into the air we breathe, which is helpful for preventing dryness in the skin, throat, nose and lips. They also help ward off cold and flu symptoms, which is a huge plus during cold and flu season!

Improved Sleep 

Sleep easier with plants. They are known to help promote deep sleep by giving off oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide.

Sharper Focus and Mental Acuity

By increasing the oxygen in the air you breathe and removing pollutants, plants improve your concentration and memory. Plants can even heighten your attention and improve your creativity.

Living with plants could well be the best decision you ever made for your health. If you don’t need any more convincing, head over to the Family Tree and make one of the best investments, ever.

Great Backyard Bird Photo Contest!

Enter our Great Backyard Bird Photo Contest!

With the Great Backyard Bird Count right around the corner, we want to inspire you to love the bird season even more. To make things a little more fun this year, we have developed a photo contest that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s how to enter: 

1.  Attract birds to your yard by way of food, water, and shelter. Take a look back through our blog posts to get some ideas!

2.  Take pictures of your birds.  Here are some ideas for you:green finch

  • Lots of birds at your feeder
  • Birds taking baths in your bird bath
  • Birds building their nest in your bird house
  • A bird sitting on your hand
  • Birds chasing squirrels
  • Fun, unusual pictures of your bird’s antics

4.  Like our contest image and comment with a picture of your backyard birds.

We will be accepting submissions until February 7, 2016 and then we will choose the top 6 photos. After, a round of voting will begin on February 8-12, 2016. The participant witmerleh the most likes on their photo will win a special bird package valued at over $100 including a $50 gift card.

Contest Rules & Terms

  • To be eligible to win, each participant must like and comment with a picture of a bird on our contest image on our Facebook page.
  • Enter as many photos as you’d like.
  • By entering our contest, you are giving The Family Tree Garden Center permission to use your picture for future posts and promotions on our social media and/or website.
  • prize packContest Dates: 
    • Start Date: January 15, 2016
    • Submissions: January 15-February 7, 2016
    • Voting: February 8-12, 2016
    • Winner Announced: February 14, 2016
  • Winner will receive a special backyard bird package valued at over $100 including a $50 gift card with everything you need to entice happy, singing birds to your yard.  

Feeding Your Backyard Birds This Winter

Have you seen some hungry looking birds this winter?  It’s hard for them to find adequate food this time of year.  Feeding and housing them now will be beneficial in the spring and summer because they’ll need to feed their babies grubs and caterpillars and will already be comfortable in your yard, knowing that you’re a good provider.

High fat foods such as sunflower seeds are ideal for giving birds the energy they need to survive the cold cardinalnights. Birds don’t mind shelling their own seeds but you can buy already shelled seeds if you don’t like the mess. Suet cakes are readily available and inexpensive. Suet provides much needed fat and nutrition for your birds during the winter. Birds will flock to your yard for this treat!

Birds such as bluebirds and wrens build their nests in bird houses.  To attract birds to your birdhouses, place them in a relatively sheltered area from predators and provide a food and water source nearby. Even in the winter, birds need fresh water.  Instead of draining your bird feeders and fountains, add a de-icer or water wiggler to keep the water from freezing.

Squirrels  – GRRR.  This is a hard one!  Many people like to watch the antics of squirrels but you also want your bird feed to feed the birds.  There are a number of squirrel proof bird feeders and baffles made by Droll Yankee and Auduban. Some bird feed by Cole’s has hot pepper added, which seems to winter_birdwork pretty well; birds don’t mind it and squirrels don’t like it! You may also consider feeding squirrels in an area farther away from your feeders and houses.

Once the cold weather passes, your birds will gladly set up house in or around your yard.  In the spring and summer they will be looking for grubs, beetles, mosquitoes and more undesirable pests to feed their families. This is quite an added benefit for your lawn and garden!

Visit The Family Tree for all your birding supplies; we have everything from mealworms to birdhouses and are happy to give help or advice as needed!

 

Want to Keep Your Poinsettias Long After Christmas?

Did you receive any poinsettias as hostess gifts over the holidays and now are wondering what to do with them? Some people throw them away once New Year’s is over and life goes back to the normal routine. However, these crimson-leaved plants don’t have to be consigned to Christmas time! Here are a few tips to keep your poinsettias alive well into the new year.

Light – Just like any other plant, poinsettias require sunshine to remain perky. They are tropical plants poinsettiaand love bright indirect sunlight, so placing them near a windowsill that gets lots of sun will encourage them to flourish.

Temperature –You’ll need to keep your poinsettia in a warm place without any drastic temperature swings; between 60 and 80 degrees is ideal. If your plant is sitting near a window, beware of cold drafts and windowpanes, which can cause shock to the leaves and cause them to fall prematurely.

Water – Water your poinsettia whenever it feels dry to the touch; it’s a good idea to give it enough water that it begins to drain out the bottom. The frequency of watering will depend on how dry your environment is; the dryer the air, the more often you’ll need to water.

If you have any questions about caring for your poinsettias or any other houseplants, feel free to stop by The Family Tree for tips and advice; we’re here every day and happy to help! Be sure to check back soon to read about making sure your poinsettia blooms again next Christmas!

Grow Your Own Food, Improve Your Health

Have you made your 2016 New Year resolutions yet? Well, the Washington Post reports that 40% of Americans make annual resolutions, but only 8% actually stick to them. We can help you make a resolution you will want to stick with: growing and harvesting your own food with a backyard garden.

The truth is, eating more food harvested from the ground and less from packages can help you and your family become more healthy! backyard garden vegetables

Here are the health benefits to growing your own food:

  • It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • You get to decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact (or don’t come in contact) with your food.
  • It lets you control when to harvest your food. Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early.

Growing your own food may seem like a huge feat to take on, but the fact is, it’s quite simple! Here are some tips:

  • Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat.
  • Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light and access to water.
  • Use contaminant-free soil.
  • Consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend.
  • Talk to our experts at The Family Tree to get a sense of what grows well in your region and when.

It won’t be long until you become amazed by how much fun gardening can be! Not to mention the pride you will take in your garden and the healthy food that will come from it. Now is the perfect time to start planning, so be sure to stop by The Family Tree soon to get the scoop on everything you’ll need for an abundant garden!

Happy 2016!

The new year is upon us! I hope you’re excited by what 2016 has in store; we sure are over here at The 2016Family Tree! Since it will take some time to get used to everyday life again after all the excitement and festivities over the holidays, why not use that time to change your routine and get into some better habits? Even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, it’s still an excellent time to start fresh.

Organization – I don’t know about you, but my house still has Christmas gifts lying around looking messy! Going into 2016 with a plan for organization is a wonderful idea. In fact, the #1 New York Times bestseller is a book titled The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. The key to successful organizing is going through everything and deciding what is worth keeping and what you don’t really need anymore. Kondo states “Having devoted more than 80 percent of my life to this subject, I know that tidying can transform your life.” Organizing your home and workspace will have a positive influence on your life, empowering you to make other changes as well!

Exercising – Maybe you want to work off all those sweets you ate over Christmas or maybe you’d just like to feel more fit. Either way, studies have shown that, on average, people who exercise regularly lead happier lives than those who do not exercise. Over here at The Family Tree, we tend to think that gardening is a superior form of exercise. Sure, gyms are nice, but nothing beats planting seeds and then watering, weeding, and caring for them until they are mature and bear a bumper crop of blooms or veggies!

sproutsHealthy Eating – After weeks of cookies and other Christmas treats, January can feel like a letdown. However, you can make that work to your advantage by changing to healthy eating habits. Gradually introducing low-fat, organic, and other good-for-you foods into your diet will make it easier to make the change. Another way to begin healthy eating is by growing some of your own food! Gardening was mentioned above as good exercise; why not combine the two and grow your favorite veggies and herbs?

Happy New Year from everyone at The Family Tree! We hope that you have a fantastic year and that at least one of your resolutions involves more gardening in your life! We have many great gardening ideas for the new year, so we can help with your outdoor endeavors by sharing some tips and tricks for successfully planting and caring for a healthy garden.