2016-in-reviewThe time right before New Year’s is often a time for reflection on the past year and the year ahead. It’s only fitting that our last blog of 2016 would be just that! We’re reflecting on the gardening season we had and offering our thoughts – it has certainly been an interesting growing season with its fair share of surprises, and there’s plenty to be excited about heading into 2017.

The Weather

If we could summarize the 2016 growing season in only one word, that word would be: early.

Everything was early this year! We had customers shopping for perennials and nursery stock in mid-April, ready to get planting. We experimented with an extra-early tomato and pepper crop for those gardeners who were truly gung-ho about their veggie patch. It was a resounding success! We’re keen to do the same next year, and we will likely be expanding our early vegetable selection.

The summer was early, too. The summer of 2016 was marked by scorching hot temperatures and a wicked, long drought. We may not see the full consequences of the extended July/August drought until next year. Expect many of your more mature trees to require extra TLC next year, especially if our winter is particularly long and cold.

Our gardens didn’t just have dry weather to contend with, either. It was another banner year for the infamous Japanese Beetle as well as the Scarlet Lily Beetle. Thankfully, Nematodes came to the rescue against the Japanese Beetles in a big way (more on that later).

Fall was long, mild and beautiful. Our fall mums sold in record time this year and we were immensely pleased with how our crop turned out! Customers were buying and planting nursery stock right through to mid-November.

Looking Back

If we could summarize the 2016 growing season in a second word, that word would be: yummy!

As with the last few years, fruits and veggies were immensely popular. Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, peaches – you name it – if it could be eaten, there were dozens of customers excited about it! We’re proud to offer a huge selection of veggies with a healthy combination of the staples and the weird or wonderful.

Succulents and succulent gardens were also highly sought-after this year. Succulents are so low-fuss and available in so many different shapes, sizes, and styles that it’s no surprise they’ve exploded in popularity. Many are well-suited to indoor and outdoor conditions, making their utility virtually limitless.

In the nursery and perennial area, hydrangeas were a big hit once again, including the Vanilla Strawberry and some of the new, compact varieties like Tiny Tuff Stuff and BoBo. It was also heartening to see so many customers excited about native plants. Many customers were eager to build their own butterfly gardens this year; asclepias and butterflybush were popular for this purpose.

As mentioned, Nematodes have never been more popular as a natural control of Japanese Beetle and grub populations. Perhaps in the past, many people were rather reluctant to try them – because, let’s face it, they’re a little weird: “You’re telling me that these microscopic creatures hiding in a little sponge in my refrigerator are going to miraculously sink into my lawn and eat my grubs?” In spite of the strangeness, Nematodes work and are here to stay.

And speaking of all things natural, organic fertilizers were frequently sought after by our customers. This comprised largely of compost and manure, including Actisol, an all-natural product made from hen castings that also has shown promise as a way to ward off squirrels. Staff and customers alike are more conscious than ever of the impact our decisions as consumers can have on the environment, and we’re happy to provide environmentally-friendly alternatives where they exist.

Looking Forward

We can’t wait to dig in to 2017 — in fact, the growing has already begun in our greenhouses!

Expect an expanded selection of vegetables and fruit. We’re particularly excited about three new heirloom tomato varieties we’re growing that are from Italy – literally! Old World tomatoes for all! We’ll have even more pepper varieties, some unusual apple varieties (including some that will be espaliered), five-flavour berry vines, box-huckleberry, sea buckthorn, and more.

We’re also excited about some funky new annuals, perennials, and nursery stock. In 2017 we’ll be offering a brand-new, incredibly flashy bicolour petunia as well as a bicolour portulaca. In the nursery, we’ll have a number of rare and unique evergreens for the collector, a truly black rose, and four new hydrangea varieties to add to our already-hefty hydrangea roster. We’re also bringing in some particularly special Japanese Maples including a weeping palmate variety. Palmate Japanese Maples have larger, hand-like leaves while dissected types have thin, lacy leaves. Many dissectums weep, but it’s rare to see a weeping palmatum!

A final plant we’re intrigued to see growing next year is the Echibeckia, which as the name suggests, is a cross between two very popular perennials: Coneflower (Echinacea) and Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)!

And of course, next year is Canada’s 150th anniversary! We’ll have an abundance of red and white flowering plants ready for your beds, patio pots, and hanging baskets in preparation for the festivities.

From all of the staff at Van Luyk’s (and of course Kitsy), we wish you a safe and happy holiday, and all the best for 2017.