Kathy Van Mullekom: Monrovia's new Sunshine Blue blueberry makes a perfect plant for any garden in Hampton Roads

Sunshine Blue blueberry flowers

Sunshine Blue blueberry by Monrovia produces hot pink spring flowers. (Photo courtesy Monrovia / March 17, 2010)

A Daily Press photographer and I toured the elegantly expanded Anderson's Home and Garden Showplace this week and there's one plant there everyone should have in their yard.

Monrovia's new Sunshine Blue blueberry is a four-season shrub that gives you hot pink flowers early spring, followed by ripe blueberries and then reddish fall foliage. The plant may maintain its foliage through winter, depending on how cold it gets. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.

In addition to supplying songbirds with yummy treats, blueberry bushes make attractive ornamental shrubs when they are planted among other spring-flowering and fall-foliage specimens. Used alone, blueberry bushes can create an eye-catching hedge.

I have one blueberry bush in my yard but it's never enough to satisfy my bird's hearty appetites for fruits, so I usually empty my Costco blueberry container into their feeding stations. Bluebirds particularly like the fruits and need all the energizing foods they can get when they hang around your yard over winter.

Blueberries prefer an acidic, well-drained soil, much like azaleas, camellias and gardenias. They tolerate moist soil as long as it drains well, and endure drought once they are established. Before new growth emerges, prune off twiggy growth only on the main stems and feed with an acidic fertilizer.

Sunshine Blue blueberry is self-pollinating, meaning you can have one plant and still get a bumper crop. But, pairing it with another variety will get you even more treats for your songbirds ... and your breakfast cereal.

See more interesting plants for your yard at Monrovia.

Anderson's Home and Garden Showplace on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News has its grand opening 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 27.

WAY TO WATER

In the past, I wrote about a special watering device that Dan in Smithfield created. He used plastic pipe to water tomatoes and roses so their leaves stays dry, thereby avoid fungal diseases on foliage.

He buys whole pickle barrels with screw-on lids (snap-on lids do not work, he says) for $20 apiece at feed and seed stores. He uses a jigsaw to cut them in half to use as containers for growing tomatoes. The top half becomes the pot, and the bottom half is used as the tray.

The standpipe actually empties into a void area formed between the tray and the pot. Insert the PVC piping down through the 2-inch hole cut into the pot. Support the bottom end of the pipe so it is about 1 inch from the floor and seal the pipe to the pot with silicone sealant.

Read the entire story at watering device.

BUY SEEDLINGS

Each year, the VDOF grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. Seedlings are now available in bundles of 10 and 25; previously, the smallest quantity of bare-root seedlings available was 50.

Order by visiting the VDOF Web store at Virginia Department of Forestry. or call the Augusta Forestry Center at 540-363-7000.

FREE TREES

March 21-31. Join the Arbor Day Foundation now through March 31 and get 10 white flowering dogwood trees. Send your $10 contribution to Ten Free Dogwood Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410 or join online at Arbor Day.

JOIN ANDRE

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