So, here we are. Tomorrow was the original date of our bare-root shrub delivery. Considering that it is currently a balmy, one degree outside; that would not have worked well. Luckily, that realization came to us in time to reschedule. Heating a greenhouse when the night temperatures are below freezing is about as practical as fixing a fish net with glue. Another issue of great concern, was how we would move the sleeping shrubs between our heated shop and the greenhouse without killing them. Luckily, we have a van and next week is supposed to be more seasonally appropriate. We're still working out the details of thawing frozen potting soil, which we will be receiving tomorrow. Despite all of the challenges, we have this to look forward to!
Each year has its challenges. Last year, the lack of snow cover was a real issue. Along with most of the other growers in the state, we lost tons of potted fruit trees and other early bloomers. Winter also took its toll on many spring-flowering, ball and burlap trees. When you're dealing with crops that take years to produce, there is no easy way to replace what's lost. That's probably why I have been so pro-snow. Then again, I have always liked snow and the extra-curricular activities that it inspires. What I'm quite tired of, is the cold.
If you're wondering how unusual it is for us to be this cold in March, here is a great place to sleuth. If you're curious how this correlates with the past, you can also look at the weather trends from 1981 through 2010, via the same website. Don't have the patience for all of that? Check out these Minnesotan, meteorological conversation starters. Your friends will be blown away by your passion for the mundane. If you're like me, you might also enjoy looking at weather statistics from NOAA's Glencoe Municipal Airport log. Then again, I might find those facts more compelling than most.
What's most interesting to me, is how our memories play tricks on us. I have heard many people comment on how much snow we got last year. That always makes me giggle a little bit, since we really didn't have much snow at all until April. For those who may have blocked that memory, here is a reminder! This picture was taken on April 19th. If you find it easier to swallow this information via statistical format, here is our metro-area snow data, dating back to 1884.
I have found, that drastic weather events tend to stick with people through the duration of the season. The mind can easily turn a wet month into a wet year. Basement flooding can be hard to forget, even long after the tides have receded. That is why it is good to do a little fact check here and there. The health of your landscape can depend on it. This public service announcement was brought to you by a passionate cynic, who wants nothing but the best for your plants; come snow or high water.
2018 Video Tour
IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!
Our 2018 video tour of Kahnke Brothers Tree Farm is ready for viewing. Head "behind the scenes" with a guided tour of the site. This video provides our community of customers with an inside look at what is beyond our perimeter. There is SO much to see!
Considered a "time-tested classic" by ProvenWinners.com this big and bold shrub stands well above it's competition, 6-8 ft. tall to be exact. To sweeten the pot, maintenance of 'Limelight' requires only regular watering and pruning in late winter or early spring. Weeds don't stand much of a chance when competing for growing space and a harsh winter won't phase it's summer bloom. Healthy hydrangeas easily recover from the occasional insect infestation. A strong spray of water to wash the
Happy Thursday! Is everyone ready for this week's feature? It's gonna be big... "Bonanza" big! You may recognize the name, but no, I'm sorry it has much less to do with the Cartwrights and Virginia City than you think. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the ranch had some of these trees hanging around. This week's feature is called the Ponderosa pine.
The Ponderosa pine is one of the Southwest's tallest and longest living trees, often living past 500 years old. Through the first 150 (ish) years of it's life, the pine's bark is nearly black and begins to turn a rusty-orange color as it matures. It's scaly bark has been rumored to smell like vanilla or butterscotch to some individuals.
Given full sunlight, the tree can grow 1-2 feet each year. It also develops a deep tap root which allows itself to stabilize and resist wind. Individuals often consider this tree when planning for windbreaks or buffer strips, not to mention planting for it's unique look as well.
The Ponderosa pine was also highly utilized by the Native American population. By tradition, most each part of the tree was used. From the outer bark to the inner gum, no part of the tree went wasted.
If a tree was cut to make a new canoe, the leftovers were carefully kept. The seeds of the tree were often eaten raw while the young cones were boiled for food. The outer bark of the tree was harvested in early spring as a sweet treat on special occasions.
Not only will it's lumber beautifully furnish your house, but it will also provide the planted area with stability and hardiness. What I find most interesting about this tree's stout persona is it's ability to withstand the worst conditions. Living in Minnesota, "the worst" seems common.
Once established, this tree can survive through most anything. It's drought tolerant and withstands plantings at higher elevations (thanks to it's mountain heritage), extreme temperatures, even wildfire!
Until next time, we hope to see you soon. Thanks for reading!
Happy Wednesday everyone! We are halfway through the work week and it's been quite a nice week for weather (as compared to the scorch of last week). Our "lake" on the property has finally dried up and all the trees, plants, and shrubbery are growing faster than ever!
This week's "Perennial of the Week" comes with a little 'twist.' This segment will be highlighting the Peppermint Twist phlox. Also known as 'garden phlox,' this dazzling perennial blooms in shades of pink and white between the summer months of July and September. Often, Peppermint Twist reaches heights of 1-5 feet and spreads about the same. Blossoming in clumps, the upright perennial is known for it's fragrance and bi-color uniqueness. The striking pink and white colors alternate in stripes resembling the spokes of a wheel.
This perennial grows best in zones 4-8 (MN is zone 4), with full sun. This beauty will grow in partial shade, but prefers as much sun as it can get. In regards to heat, like many of us Minnesotans, it prefers the moderate summer temperatures and will require extra drink of water on those hot and muggy summer days (we've had a few of those lately!).
According to MissouriBotanicalGardens.org, derived from the Greek word 'phlox', the genus name means 'flame,' in reference to some varieties of the flower's intense color. A staple perennial for any border project, Peppermint Twist mixes exceptionally with fellow perennials and provides a lasting summer bloom.
We hope to see you soon. Until next time, have a wonderful week everyone.
Summer Wine Ninebark
Hello, hello! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and is back into the working groove after a (much-needed) 4th of July celebration. It's been quite a scorcher the past couple of days and it's beginning to look like some thunderstorms are going to be hanging out a bit as a result of the heat and humidity. The farmers' corn is past knee high and the shrubs around the farm here at Kahnke Brothers Tree Farm are reaching for the sky (see what I did there?).
This week's "...of the week" highlight is the Summer Wine Ninebark. This shrub's wine colored foliage stems throughout the entirety of it's growing season. Covered with soft pink- white clusters of spirea-like flowers in the late summer, Summer Wine provides the best of both world's with it's fine texture and compact branching. The shrub is easy to grow and flourishes in zones 3-8 (as a reminder, most of Minnesota is Zone 4- refer to the USDA Zone Hardiness Map for other locations across the U.S.).
If you have a place to fill that requires a plant's ability to sustain full sunlight, this shrub is for you. Once established, the plant requires less water but should be irrigated regularly in extreme heat. Plants need a drink, too! The shrub rarely needs pruning or other maintenance, so no need to add that chore to the "Honey-do" list.
Reaching a standard height of 5-6 feet, Summer Wine Ninebark boldly accents rustic or cottage style gardens. It's beautiful color touches any area with a sense of vibrancy and grace
"Summer Wine" came to be by crossing P. opulifolius "Monlo" to pollinate P. opulifolius var. Nanus. In 2000 it was propagated and one of the resulting seedlings from cuttings was used for further observation. The cross was successfully made by Timothy D. Wood of Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, Michigan. By the time this cultivar received its patent as P. opulifolius "Seward" in 2004, it began garnering well-deserved attention under its trademarked name, "Summer Wine."
We hope to see you soon! Thanks for reading, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, stay hydrated and have a great week everyone.
Hat trick crabapple
malus 'hat trick'
I hope everyone's week has been off to a great start! Minus the storm showers this morning, the sun has yet to peak out to start my Tuesday afternoon. I received quite wonderful feedback about last weeks perennial of the week (Blue Mouse Ear Hosta), so I'm hoping this week's "Tree of the Week" does not disappoint.
This is my first "Tree of the Week." Previous posts have included my "firsts" also. I've come to realize that I've chosen these particular plants because they were the first to catch my eye. I remembered them- and believe me, we have thousands of plants here on the farm. Remembering a certain specie can be tough to reconcile.
Hat Trick Crabapple had no problem grasping my attention. It's first impression was almost as memorable as David's first impression on The Bachelorette- he showed up in a chicken costume. Yes, yes... I watch "that" show.
Anywho, Hat Trick Crabapple reminds me of a hat trick in hockey, there are three main branch levels just as a hat trick signifies three goals in a row during a hockey game. Each branch grows a different variety of apple. The bottom branch grows 'Honeycrisp,' the middle branch grows 'Sweet Sixteen,' while 'Zestar!' grows on the top! How neat, right?
Harvest time for the apples are best between late August and late September and produce particularly high yields for such minimal space. The tree is self-pollinating and saves space as all the apples are grafted onto a single tree.
This miracle tree requires full sun (6+ hours) and grows optimally in well drained, slightly acidic soils.It's showy blooms produce an array of fragrant flowers in the spring and begin to produce fruit summer into fall.
The key is to start with a very small apple tree (preferably a small whip) which can be pruned low to the ground to start the tree with low branches. The form is created by pruning and tying the branches initially to a wire or wooden framework. All of this shaping and pruning takes time. It will take several years to get the tree into a beautiful form and have it start bearing fruit. This process can be a bit daunting and time consuming for the average home fruit grower.
It looks like something straight out of a whimsical movie, doesn't it? Make your dreams come true- stop by on Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. to purchase yours before they's gone.
Blue Mouse ear hosta
Hosta x 'Blue Mouse Ears'
Hey, hey, hey! It's me, Kirsten, again. We just can't seem to escape the rain lately. We've needed it though, near drought conditions (before these recent spouts of rain) were really taking their toll on the trees in addition to the harsh winter.
Are you ready for this week's "... of the week?" I'm excited, you are in store for a real treat!
During this week's segment of "...of the week," I'll be sharing about one of my favorite perennials- the Blue Mouse Ear Hosta. Growing up, I'd never understood why my mom loved her hosta plants so much. Maybe its an acquired love for the plant (or maybe because the name of the plant reminds me of the story 'The Tale of Desperaux'- great read, highly recommend it).
The Blue Mouse Ear's beautiful foliage forms a symmetrical mound of heart-shaped leaves that curl slightly on the edges, much like a mouse's ear, hence the common name. During bloom, lavender flowers stand tall above the clumps. The blue-gray foliage clumps can reach dimensions up to 6-7 inches tall by 12 inches wide.
Hostas are know to be quite the hardy plant, but ideally grow best in areas with full shade or filtered sun. They prefer slightly acidic, well-drained soils. Like most Hostas, they should be watered regularly, more often in extreme heat or when kept in containers. In addition, the thick foliage makes itself resistant to damage from slugs. Typically grown in zones 3-8 (most of MN is Zone 4), they can withstand various soil types, frigid winters, and even the occasional munch from a goat. Yes, this happens at our house all too often...
The herbaceous perennial was named "2008 Hosta of the Year" by In The Country catalog after catching Hosta growers by storm.Originally a mutation from a group of Blue Cadet Hostas, Blue Mouse Ears was almost discarded in 1987. The owner of the nursery chose not to throw it away, but rather give it to his friends, Emile and Jane Deckert, who began growing the mutation in their garden for the next 12 years. Emile and Jane were not Hosta fanatics, but after it's bloom several years later- it caught Emile's eye for its curved leaves.
Bring Blue Mouse Ears home next Saturday between 8:00 and 3:00 p.m. to add to your garden. It's companion plants include several varieties of Coral Bells, Astilbe, Mukdenia, and Bleeding Heart.
"No need to convince me, Kirsten, Blue Mouse Ears are just what I need to add to border the side of my house." Yes. Yes, they are. :)
Hello! I'm Kirsten Barott, the farm's newest summer intern. I'm a student of South Dakota State University where I major in Agricultural Communications, Public Relations, and Leadership. I assist in social media activity, sales, promotion, and production during my time here. I love my position here because everyday is sure to bring new adventure!
Welcome to Kahnke Brother's newest segment series "...of the week."
We have such a wide variety of shrubs, trees and perennials here on the farm. In an effort to reach and educate our customers about not only the farm, but the plants here on the farm, we've created a weekly segment to highlight the species we grow.
I've decided to start with a shrub- the Blizzard Mockorange. Fitting to be the first "...of the week" feature, this shrub is in full bloom right now! It first caught my eye as I was passing while assisting a customer last Saturday in the retail area. I should say, it first caught my nose- what a fragrant shrub! It's biggest asset, known to many, is it's fragrance.
Birds love to eat the seeds of
the Blizzard Mockorange
it's border growing
The shrub gets it's name not only from the white-out of
flowers it produces, but also from it's ability to endure harsh winters. Introduced from Canada, zoning for Blizzard Mockorange typically ranges from 3-7, which is perfect as most of Minnesota is within zone 4. It is very tolerant of most soils. This species of Philadelphus was named after Meriwether Lewis who found it in 1806 during his famous Lewis & Clark expedition to the northwest. Native Americans once used the wood for arrow shafts, combs, bows, cradles, and other products. Bruised leaves and flowers formed a soapy lather. Blizzard mockorange is produced for ornamental purposes and hedgerows in part because of its large, showy, fragrant blooms.
That's all for today folks! Please leave your experiences with these shrubs or further insight in the comments below. Catch ya next time on "...of the week."
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Typically, it begins feeling like spring to me when the first geese appear on Lake Kahnke. However, I actually took this picture because I wasn't completely sure that they hadn't frozen there in place. This cool weather does not upset me, though. In my line of work, keeping track of what the weather does from year to year is part of the gig. I know that it isn't normal to have 70-degree days in March; at least not in Minnesota. I also know, that unseasonably warm days can be bad for the plants. Slow and steady really is preferable, while not quite as fun.
Just for kicks, while writing this, I decided to look back at what the weather was really like last March. It's amazing to me how deceptive our memories are. We had a few really warm days last year, but we're not really that far off schedule. I think the local meteorologists have lead us down a rather negative path and I'm about to take a detour.
As Bob Dylan so aptly put it, "A Change is Gonna Come." I actually just stepped out of my office to try to catch a photo of the birds I have been hearing sing their little beaks off as I sit here at my desk. Unfortunately, the sun has become draped in clouds and it is difficult to capture the cheeriness of blackbirds singing on a dreary day. You get the idea, though. While temps are expected to hover in the "ho, hum" range for the foreseeable future, the critters seem to think that warmer weather is inevitable and far be it for me to question their logic.
What I CAN say, is that it is beginning to feel very much like spring beneath the cover of our greenhouses! Check out what a difference a week makes in the pictures below. On the left, is the "before" picture...
Excessive mud has been making life plenty interesting while we move plants from our potting annex to the perennial greenhouse. Said mud forced me to make a temporary path out of flattened, plant boxes; so that morale wouldn't plummet to January levels during the moving process. Of course, my cardboard path was immediately rained on. This lured me into a false sense of security, regarding its mobility in the wind. Needless to say, Mother Nature was a bit of a blow hard today; disassembling and disbursing my path over quite the impressive radius. What could I do? I picked it up, weighed it down with bricks and washed the mud from my hands. At least it's not snow. I must remind myself of the foot plus that the weather terrorists predicted less than a week ago. Things could always be worse and I really do believe that this is spring. At least it smells like spring!
My name is Connie Kratzke. I have worked with Kahnke Brothers for 16 years. During this period, I have done everything from watering the plants to designing our website. My role at the nursery involves selling stock, managing inventory, marketing plants and overseeing the production of shrubs and perennials. Sometimes I sit at a desk and other times I can be found in a Bobcat. During my career here, I have become a MNLA Certified Professional. I am also an at large member of the Minnesota Grown Promotion Group/Minnesota Grown Advisory Committee. Currently, I serve as City Arborist for Silver Lake, Minnesota, and a member of their planning commission. My focus is on helping our clients succeed with their landscaping efforts. Education is a huge factor influencing that success. Keeping it real is my strategy. Through sharing my experiences at the nursery and at home, I hope to debunk myths and eliminate concerns. At the same time, I want people to be aware of what doesn't work. Living things are somewhat unpredictable, but they all have basic needs. Understanding how to fill those needs while simultaneously achieving landscape goals is a process that I want to share with as many people as possible, because I truly enjoy it.