23 May 2013

Our Blog is Moving!

Hello Thyme With a Green Thumb Followers!

We wanted to let you know we are always trying to update and improve, and so have decided to move our blog hosting to Wordpress.  The new blog's address is: www.vanputte.wordpress.com and we would so appreciate you heading over and following us there!  All you need to do is click that link, input your email address into the "Follow Us" box, and click "Follow" and then you'll get all the new Van Putte updates.  All of our past blogs, archives and comments have been transferred so you won't miss a thing -- instead you'll get a more streamlined reading experience, and we'll have the opportunity for even more photos, links and informative posts!

We appreciate your support over the past few years on the blog and hope to see you over at www.vanputte.wordpress.com soon, liking and commenting on our new blog!

Green Thumb Staff

09 May 2013

By the Numbers: Civic Center Garage Green Roof

The roof of the Civic Center Parking Garage after Van Putte got done with it!
Another view of the green roof of the
Civic Center Parking Garage with some of
the new stone, sod and trees we installed.
We're very happy to say that after three summers of work, the Civic Center Parking Garage has a new park on its roof, completed by our landscape division!  And, we won an award to boot!  The NYS Nursery and Landscape Association awarded Van Putte Landscape the NYS Environmental Beautification Award for excellence in landscape design and construction this month.  Green roofs are a really neat method of re-purposing old, broken or under-utilized space in cities, while saving money and energy over the long term.  The roof is now a 3.5-acre public park, so the next time you're downtown, check it out!

Some of the 10,000 original granite
pavers on the roof of the Civic Center
that Van Putte removed.
Now, for the project "by-the-numbers" :)

  • Installed 75,000 square feet of sod, sedum, trees and shrubs = 8.25 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • Installed 2,500 cubic yards of lightweight growth material = over 31 full semi trucks or 250 Van Putte dump trucks
  • Installed 160,000 square feet of drainage board = about 3 football fields
  • Installed 6,500 tons of new stone = weight of 5,200 Honda Civics
  • And.... removed 10,000 4-ft by 4-ft granite pavers, which if you laid them end-to-end, would be the same distance as climbing up and down Mt. Marcy (highest point in NYS) 4 times!
Wow! (...and whew! :) )

28 April 2013

Pallet Planters -- Add Color and Height to Your Garden!

A pallet planter is a great way to add height and
visual interest to your garden.  We think the brightly-
colored coleus is just stunning in this version!
Bursts of color from overflowing hanging baskets and annuals in flower beds will be seen around town soon enough.  We love flowers in all shapes and sizes, but when we come across something unique, it's even better.  Re-purposing an old pallet is a great way to dress up a less-than-perfect fence or wall, save space, and give some flowering height to your garden all at the same time!  You can use almost any flowering plants you like, and as a bonus you won't be weeding every day :)

Tools You'll Need:
Drill and hammer (only if there are broken spots in your pallet)
Paintbrush (if you want to paint your pallet)
Staple gun

Materials You'll Need:
Nails (only if there are broken spots in your pallet)
Waterproof paint (if you want to paint your pallet)
Landscape fabric
Staple gun staples
Potting soil (around 3-4 cubic feet)
Flowering annuals or other small-leafed plants
Water and sun!

Step 3: Staple the landscape fabric to your pallet.

  1. Use your drill to make starter holes and then hammer in nails to fix any broken spots on your pallet.  We recommend using a drill to prevent further splitting of the slats.
  2. Paint your pallet with the waterproof paint if you want to -- otherwise you can move on to step three and keep a natural color.
  3. Cut and then staple the landscape fabric to the back and bottom of the pallet (see picture), leaving the top open for more plants and watering if you're going to display your garden vertically.  If you are going to leave it horizontal on the ground, staple the fabric over both ends, leaving just the top open.
    Step 4: You cannot overstaple this project!  Make sure to
    pull the landscape fabric tight so that the soil won't escape.
  4. Don't be afraid of overdoing the staples... you'll want plenty of support for the soil and plants and definitely don't want the fabric to come loose halfway through the season!  Staple everywhere you think soil could fall out of the pallet -- every two inches is a good bet.
  5. Bring the pallet near its final destination (it will be heavy to move after filling with soil and plants.)
  6. Fill the pallet with potting soil.
  7. Plant flowers and plants tightly into the spaces so that the soil will remain where it belongs.
  8. Leave your pallet horizontal for about 3 weeks, watering it just after planting and
    Step 6: Fill your pallet with potting soil.
    then deeply watering every few days, so that the plants can take root.
  9. 3 weeks later, lift the pallet up vertically and enjoy your dressed up fence for the rest of the season!


  • To find a pallet, think garden centers and other large retailers -- places that get large, heavy deliveries!  Give us a call at (585) 225-7770 and we'll let you know if we have any.
  • Remember if you're using a recycled pallet that you want a heat-treated one -- it will have HT stamped on it -- rather than a chemically treated one.  Your flowers will grow better without a chemically-treated home.
  • Unfortunately, we don't recommend growing herbs or veggies in your pallet planter because you never know what was transported on it before it arrived in your garden (lots of pallets are reused over and over by different companies in different places), and if they are left outside in damp weather there can be bacteria and mold within.  Then again, if you can find a new pallet to buy (check online) then you could mix some veggies and herbs into your pallet garden too!

Try painting your pallet garden for an even more unique look.

19 April 2013

Welcoming Spring with the Kids Grow Club – It’s Germination Time!

The Kids Grow Club members prepare their "pets" for germination.
They'll need lots of water and sunlight in order to sprout!
It’s hard to believe that the Kids Grow Club is in its 18th year this year... the original members must be graduated from high school and possibly even college by now!  For a business whose owners both have young kids (and who used to run around the garden center themselves), seeing kids interested and engaged with plants is just plain awesome.  Sue started the Kids Grow Club to encourage a love of gardening in the youngest part of our population, and we had 21 members attend our April 6 meeting.  Sadly, Beth, who had taken point on the Grow Club in the past, is moving to Maine and wasn’t able to run this meeting.  On the other hand, it gave Holly and Sue the chance to channel their “inner-green-thumbs” and lead the meeting!

Bobo, the Garden Center's pet,
has some pretty lustrous locks.
Without getting too corny, germination is always something of a miracle – through the snow and mud of late winter (finally) come the springtime shoots of bright green – and we covered the basics from seed to seedling.  The kids examined the inside of a seed, and toured the greenhouse to check out seeds, shoots and plants in all the early stages of germination and growth.  Then they created what will soon be a gorgeous planter by each ever-so-carefully planting a seedling.  We've got the planter on display so they (and you!) can visit it over the summer as it blooms and grows.

Audrey and Puss, just a couple of
weeks after the Grow Club meeting!
Then the kids learned how to take care of their new "pets," whose heads have already germinated and are starting to sprout a thick crop of grass "hair.”  Audrey clearly remembered the basics of germination (water and sunlight!); check out the picture of her and her pet “Puss” to the left!  For as loud as they were determining what pet to take care of (will it be the dog or cat, or a little more unconventional with the pig or monkey?) and what color markers to use on their germination worksheets, you can't imagine how careful the kids were with the fragile seedlings at planting time.  They all seemed to have a laser-sharp focus on being as gentle as possible with the fragile little sprouts.  And they were excited to use Grandpa Van Putte’s antique dibble to plant their seedlings.  The next meeting is in July at the Greece Public Library and we’ll be learning all about butterflies… our busy season is just starting to ramp up at the garden center and lots will happen between now and then, but we’re all looking forward to seeing the little Green Thumbs in action again in a couple months!
The Grow Club seedlings are coming along nicely!
Grandpa Van Putte's antique dibble
(a planting tool).

(If you know a child age 5-12 who would like to join the Kids Grow Club, membership is free and they can join by visiting Van Putte Garden Center and asking a member of the staff, or by downloading the application here and dropping it off or emailing it to Sue.)

19 March 2013

                          “Timing is everything”

As usual, we are subject to the whims of Mother Nature when it comes to our gardening efforts.  Last year we experienced unseasonably warm weather in March which allowed us to get a jump start earlier.  This year we have just the opposite situation and are getting unseasonably cold weather.  That cold weather which has prolonged Winter(much to our dismay) hasn’t stopped us from anxiously wanting to get outside to prepare for the coming season, but wait—“timing is everything!”  Many of the preventative and treatment products we use for our lawns, trees, shrubs and gardens are temperature-sensitive and will not be effective if applied too early  while it’s still cold outside.  So, although the calendar says Spring is here, we must curb our enthusiasm somewhat and be hopeful that Old Man Winter will soon lose his grip!
Submitted By Hope Fox

06 March 2013

It's that time to think seed starting :)

Seed starting isn’t really all that difficult, once you know some basic information and tips. We could go on for a long time about this subject but for now let’s keep it brief. In seed starting there is a plethora of equipment and tools you can buy, you can go super thrifty or extremely professional, but you really just need a few basics.

A. Trays- Black plastic trays are simple to keep water from ruining your furniture and floors. This will also hold in heat and contain your plants. If you try to use something too flimsy or with sides not high enough, they tend to fall over and get damaged.

B. Watering- 2 items are ideal, a spray bottle and a watering can with a small spout. This way you can mist the soil surfaces and water seedlings without damaging young plants. The small spout watering can allows controlling the flow and not knocking over tender plants.

C. Seeds- Good quality seeds will yield good quality plants. Organic seeds and Heirloom seeds are also available
Thats all there is to it, now it's time to have some fun in the dirt :)
Posted by Ian Stillman

19 October 2012

Spring Garden Color Revival

                                                 Spring Garden Color Revival

Now is the time to get a jump start on having that early Spring burst of color in your garden.

Initially, with the first bout of warm weather after a long, cold winter, many of us are itching to get outside and “scratch that itch” by buying and planting annuals for color.  Unfortunately, that warm weather can easily be followed by a killing frost or two or three—Mother Nature can be so cruel!  It’s best to hold off on those annuals and get your color fix with Spring bulbs that you plant in the Fall of the previous year.

Tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinths are just some of the bulb choices you have.  Plant them in clusters for maximum effect, add some Bulb-tone fertilizer, and you will be rewarded in Spring with a riot of color.
Written By Hope Fox