As our days get shorter and the nights get cooler, it’s time to start thinking about fall colors and decorating for the season!

One of our staple fall plants here at the garden center is traditional fall mums. They’re available in a wide range of colors, which means you can create a beautiful fall container to match any décor. So what pairs well with mums? Mum buddies! (Or at least that’s what we call them.) There’s really no shortage of mum companion plants, especially given the large variety of colors. We’ve rounded up a short list of just a few of our favorites.



What goes better with mums than more mums? Mix and match colors for a striking combination.


Cabbage & Kale

We love using these hearty, leafy plants in containers since they’ll continue to look great even as temperatures start to drop. They’re even known to withstand snow.



There’s a wide range of grasses you can use in your fall containers to add a touch of color, texture, and interest with varying heights. We especially love varieties that turn red and burgundy as it gets cooler.



Daisy-like blossoms, with a resemblance to a star, will give your garden a fresh new shade of color. While many fall color pallets are in the conventional red, orange, yellow, Asters offer some cool alternatives in purples, whites, and pinks.



For bright fall color which nearly resembles tie-dye, we love using Croton in our containers, and later bringing it back inside as a houseplant.



One of our favorite spring flowers makes a comeback in the fall! With lots of colors available you can match your flowers to any arrangement, or add a contrasting pop of color.



Celosia offers fun textures for your fall containers or landscapes that last all the way into the fall.



These late bloomers are great for adding fall color right as more tender plants begin to die back.



Stunning fall texture comes from both the foliage and flowers of sedum. Both drought and heat tolerant, sedum is especially ideal for late summer/early fall containers which may still be exposed to hot temperatures.


Ornamental Peppers

With constantly ripening fruit, you can expect to see a range of colors on one single plant, for an evolving fall display.


Once you have the perfect fall container planted up with mums and their buddies, you can pair it with pumpkins, cornstalks, hay bales, and even some Indian corn. Your space will be feeling like fall in no time! Need Help? Stop by the garden center and we can give you a hand selecting your fall plants and accessories!

Fall is here which means cool weather and frosty mornings are headed our way. Unfortunately for your plants, there’s no heater or jacket that can help keep them warm, and as a result, some of your plants will begin to look a little sad once temperatures start to drop. If you’re like many gardeners, that means it’s time to hack everything back! Well…maybe not. If you have any of these plants listed below, you’ll want to avoid cutting them to the ground later this fall, or in some cases, cutting them back at all.

We’re just a couple of days away from the official start of fall which has us looking forward to Autumn colors, decorating our front porches with pumpkins, cornstalks, and mums, and all of the fun fairs and activities that the new season has to offer.

With everything going on, it can be easy to forget about your garden, but good news! We have an updated, easy fall checklist you can reference throughout the season to make sure your yard is in its best shape before winter hits.

Be sure to stop by Van Wilgen’s for all the plants and supplies you need. We’re here to help!

FallChecklist web

Voles may appear to be smaller and cuter versions of mice but don’t let their outward good looks fool you. For those of you who are not very fond of winter, I am going to give you one more reason to put winter on your “naughty” list…Voles! Voles love warmer winters and continue to breed, tunnel and feed. They happily girdle roots, gnaw on bark, and munch on bulbs. They tunnel freely in the soft earth and snow, damaging trees and shrubs all the way up to the snow line. Their kissing cousins, moles, are a pest too but they are meat eaters and don’t do the extensive damage that voles do to our plants. Our focus is voles this fall & winter, but fortunately treating for voles will also greatly help to reduce mole populations in unwanted areas.

Get ready now! Keep a bag of Mole & Vole Repellent in your garden shed or garage. When the weather station gives us a warning of our first snowfall, grab that bag you tucked away, head out into the garden, and protect your favorite plants before the snow falls. It is really important to get a repellent down around the roots of your plants. Voles will be much less likely to wreak winter havoc on their roots if they are deterred by something smelly and distasteful. Don’t let them have a field day under the cover of snow.

I know I am jumping way ahead now but as soon as the snow melts, heading into next spring, reapply vole repellent. This is often when you will see these crazy-looking runways all over your lawn and into your garden beds, a sure sign of voles. Don’t wait to take action or you will be kicking yourself later. Get ahead of the game and outsmart those critters

Come see us at Van Wilgens. We would love to help!

We have so few fall days to get outside and enjoy the little bit of warmer weather we have left. Grab the whole family and finish up the last of the fall chores together. Working as a family will make all the work seem lighter. Heck, have some fun while you do it. And…of course, enjoy some pizza and your favorite beverage when all done!


  1. Help mom & dad rake up leaves.
  2. Jump in leaf piles just raked up by mom & dad.
  3. Rake leaf piles again.
  4. Keep the dog out of the newly raked leaf piles.


  1. Dig up all summer bulbs such as gladiolus, cannas, callas, and begonias if mom has not done it already.
  2. Take several breaks to check Snapchat & Instagram. After all, what would fall clean-up be without social media to document it?!
  3. Clean out all the old veggies from the vegetable garden so mom can get going with the final veggie garden steps.
  4. Help dad with pruning out all the brittle, dead wood from the smaller shrubs around the foundation.
  5. Help mom cut back most of the perennial flowers. There are a few exceptions that you should leave to prune in the spring such as Russian Sage, Ornamental grasses & Roses. If you cut them now, mom might yell at you. (I forgot, us moms never yell)
  6. Complain a little that you are tired and hungry. Stand in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open, stare at it, and hope a snack will jump into your mouth.
  7. Tie up ornamental grasses (optional) if you want them to be easier for dad to cut back in the early spring.


  1. Your little ones took all that time to rake & jump in the leaves, so now it’s time to give the lawn its last mow of the year. Mow it shorter than 3 inches but do not scalp!
  2. Put down Fall Lawn Fertilizer. So important. Do not forget this last step, multi-tasking moms & dads.
  3. Apply lime on your lawn & cleaned up veggie garden. You will have the best yard on the block with the proper pH.
  4. Don’t just feed your children. Feed your plants too! Fertilize trees & shrubs now!
  5. If moles & voles are an issue, put down a granular repellent to sit under any upcoming snow. Yes snow is coming
  6. If keeping weeds down is a priority, mulch your garden beds & cover your veggie garden with chopped straw or winter rye.
  7. If you have fruit trees, put them to bed with a horticultural oil spray all over the branches & trunk.
  8. Buy your Wilt-Pruf, so you will be ready to spray evergreens, roses & hydrangeas before winter sets in.
  9. Give big hugs & kisses to your kids (if the teens let you) for all their help. Pig out on pizza and enjoy a cool drink.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Greenview Fall Lawn Food or Espoma’s Organic Fall Winterizer

*Soil Doctor’s Lawn Lime or Encap’s Fast Acting Lime

*Holly-Tone, Plant-Tone, or Tree-Tone

*Mulch or Mainely Mulch

*I Must Garden’s Mole & Vole Repellent

*Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil


With the end of summer’s heat comes the beginning of fall’s color. I love asters and fall brings lots of them. A favorite of mine is Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome.’ Nova-angliae is botanical Latin for New England where this aster is most happy. The flowers are a clear rosy-purple and the foliage is a healthy deep green. Height is close to 18 inches to 2 feet and rarely needs to be cut back to keep the plants compact. Purple Dome’s fame comes from its disease resistance, while most asters suffer from powdery mildew, Purple dome isn’t fazed by it! Purple Dome is a good color contrast to Rudbeckias and a great compliment to Sedums.
Much of the charm of Purple Dome comes from its origin. Discovered by plantsman Dick Lighty, former director of Mt. Cuba in Delaware, whose position it was to map and catalog plants of the Eastern piedmont. Always looking for outstanding plants for American gardens, Dr. Lighty found Purple Dome growing in the wilds of the eastern seaboard, in the days before we discussed GE and GMO’s and their impact on the environment. Aster Purple Dome is a great example of natural selection. And while most of my favorite plant picks are chance discoveries, Dick Lighty’s Aster Purple Dome is a classic example of finding good genetics by observing nature. Purple Dome is a simple plant that simply fits in every fall border.

It’s been a busy season. The summer has flown by and like many people I spent far less time in my garden than I would have liked. Fortunately, the fall weather has been fantastic for planting and I am still taking advantage of it!

My second tree is finally in the ground and I think it looks terrific! For the somewhat sunnier side of the yard, I’ve chosen a Japanese Red Maple. Acer palmatum “Red Emperor” is a beautiful, fast-growing tree, maturing at about 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. The leaves develop later in the spring than other species and this helps the tree avoid damage from late spring frost. The brilliant red foliage of this variety will last throughout the summer, then warm up to an incredible crimson red late in the fall. At maturity, this beauty will provide just the right amount of shade over my patio while remaining small enough to fit the scale of my cozy backyard retreat.

No garden is complete without a strong evergreen foundation. Winters are long in Connecticut and planning for four-season interest is very important to me. I walk through my garden at least twice every day on my way to and from work and I love to sit by the window on a cold winter’s day, sipping a hot cup of tea and enjoying my cozy outdoor space from inside my warm home.

On the other side of the fence in my neighbor’s yard is a tall blue Colorado Spruce. I wanted to echo the color of my neighbor’s tree but not the size, so I planted a Blue Globe Spruce (Picea pungens “Glauca Globosa) on the south-facing side of the yard. This delightful globe-shaped dwarf evergreen shrub will slowly grow to about 5 feet tall and possibly 6 feet wide over time but this will take many years. The Spruce prefers full sun and fortunately, this location is sunny all day long. It’s deer resistant and the steely blue foliage creates an excellent contrast in front of the rich red Japanese maple.

Closer to the walkway and a little bit to the left of the maple is another new addition to the garden that goes by the name of Goldilocks. This Dwarf Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora ‘Goldilocks’) is a multi-stemmed slow-growing evergreen with a gracious sweeping habit. The long, soft bluish-green needles are frosted with gold and the color won’t quit during the long winter months.

We have nearly reached the end of October but the weather and soil temperature are still great for planting! I’m hoping to add a few perennials before putting the garden to bed for the winter. I can’t wait to see how the things I’ve planted this year look next spring and I’m already planning and dreaming of the new additions that will come next year.

Happy Gardening!


Caring for your hydrangea can make all the difference for next year’s blooms. Hydrangea’s are strong and can come back from almost anything when given enough time and proper care.


Just follow these fall tips for pruning and maintenance. It isn’t complicated.



It is important to identify your variety first because some hydrangea varieties do not like being pruned in the fall.

If your garden has hydrangeas, then you need to know that there are two types of hydrangeas. One type produces flower buds on old wood and the other produces flower buds on new wood. Stems are called old wood if they have been on the plant since the summer before. New wood are stems that develop in the current season. Most varieties found in gardens are old wood bloomers including Mophead, Big Leaf, Lacecap, and Oakleaf hydrangeas. Double check your variety with your local garden center.

When to Prune

Hydrangeas can grow for years without being pruned, but if they get unruly, over take an area of the garden or lose their growing capabilities – it is time to trim. But when to prune them?

Prune fall blooming hydrangeas, or old wood bloomers, after they bloom in the summer. If you prune old wooded hydrangeas in fall, you are cutting off next seasons blooms.

Summer blooming hydrangeas, or those that bloom on new wood, are pruned in the fall, after they stop blooming.

Hydrangeas are colorful and vibrant in the early season, but are hard to preserve after being cut. They are easier to care for after they start drying on the bush.

How to Prune

Near the bottom of your plant, you will see thin, wispy, weak growth. Cut those down. They will take up energy that your plant could use for blooms.

Look for any dead stumps on your stems. They will not have grown any new wood or buds out of the original old wood. Cut the dead stumps down to their base to completely remove them. This will allow the new growth underneath to have a chance to succeed.

Dead and old blooms need to be removed to make room for new buds to come through. Cut the flower head off right above the first few leaves to encourage blooms for the next summer.

Stand back from the plant and observe its shape. You’ll want to prune the shrub into the shape you prefer, a sphere is the typical style but you could prune it into any shape you want!

Clean the Debris

Remove any debris that fell off from the base of the plant. You want to make sure your soil is free of any weeds, leaves and dead flowers.


If you’re growing blue hydrangeas, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic and the blooms bright. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone.

For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is from spring until fall.

Follow these few steps and your hydrangeas will be happy and vibrant for years to come.

Put on your garden shoes, gloves and hat. It’s time to get back outside and tend to your yard. It missed you and suffered during the August heat. Ugh! Poor, poor yards.stacey tips art 1


•Fertilize all trees, shrubs & perennial flowers with one of Espoma’s “Tones” at half the rate instructed on the bag.

•Use Plant-Tone for most deciduous shrubs except Hydrangeas. Use on Arborvitae & Boxwood.

•Use Plant-Tone for all perennial flowers.

•Use Holly-Tone for all evergreen shrubs such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, & Andromeda.

•Use Holly-Tone for all evergreen trees & Dogwood trees.

•Use Tree-Tone for most deciduous trees such as Cherry, Maple, & Fruit trees.

•Fertilize the lawn:

•Use Greenview’s Lawn Food in the green bag for a great conventional choice.

•Use Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer if you want a boost of Iron for quick green-up.

A good organic choice:

•Use Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food to help with summer recovery.

•Seed the lawn:

•Now is the perfect time to seed. Warm soil and cooler nights make for quick seed germination.

•Start a new lawn or thicken up an existing lawn.

•Use Van Wilgen’s Premium grass seed.

•Use Greenview’s Starter Fertilizer in the blue bag or Espoma’s Organic Lawn Starter.

• Begin Veggie garden clean up:

•Get rid of any dead plant debris.

•Purchase a cover crop of Winter Rye, Buckwheat, or Clover.

•Refresh soil with Espoma’s Garden-Tone.

•Apply Garden Lime in all beds except for where potatoes are planted.

•Think about bringing houseplants inside:

•Spray all plants with Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil or Neem Oil before

bringing indoors to control hitchhiking insects.

•Treat all non-edible plants with Bonide’s Systemic Houseplant Food.

• Fertilize all houseplants. There are many good choices:

•Conventional: Van Wilgen’s All-Purpose Slow Release Plant Food, Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food, VanWilgen’s Root Boost, or Bonide’s Liquid Plant Food.

Now your chores are done. Kick off your garden shoes and relax! Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help.

The best time to plant a tree or shrub is in the fall. A well-placed tree will cool your home in summer and block cold winter winds. Not to mention that the aesthetics can increase your home’s curb appeal and add value.

Even though you may be prepping for winter, you can still set your new tree or shrub up for success by planting it in a spot where it can thrive for generations to come.

Decide on the right tree for your yard and needs before you plant. Choose a tree based on the characteristics you want — shade, wildlife habitat, privacy or to block the wind.

6 Easy Steps to Plant a Tree or Shrub

You’ve found the right tree and the perfect spot, now it’s time for the fun part. It doesn’t take much to plant a tree — just a shovel, tape measure, and hose. To help your new tree survive, you’ll need to put in the extra effort. Use these tips to help your new tree to grow.

  1. Size up your yard for the perfect spot. Take the amount of sunlight, ground vegetation, and hazards like wires or pipes into consideration. Plant at least 15 feet away from your house, sidewalks, driveways, and other trees. Allocate enough space in the yard for your new tree to grow. Consider its mature height, crown spread, and root space. A fully grown tree will take up much more space than your tiny sapling. Look up to make sure a fully grown tree won’t interfere with anything overhead.
  2. Start digging. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Then, arrange the tree at the same depth it was growing before and fill half the hole with compost, Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix, or Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil.
  3. Give trees a boost. Mix in organic fertilizer with the soil. For a trunk diameter up to 1.5 inches, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone. If the trunk is 2-3”, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone per inch. So, if your tree trunk is 2.5 inches, use 10 pounds of Tree-tone. And, for tree trunks over 3 inches, use 5 pounds of Espoma Tree-Tone per inch.
  4. Stake the tree. Use two opposing, flexible ties to stake the tree. Place ties on the lower half of the tree to allow trunk movement.
  5. Help your new tree become established by watering it weekly for the first two years.
  6. Finish with mulch. Use 2 ½ -3 inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch around the plant. Do not over-mulch up to the trunk or “volcano” mulch. This can kill the tree.

Planting a tree is an investment in your home and your community that will pay off for years to come.