Rain Chains!

Rain Chains are a beautiful and functional alternative to traditional metal and plastic closed gutter downspouts. Rain water is guided down the rain chains in an “open” water flow system in a stunning display. For hundreds of years, rain chains have been used by the Japanese to collect rain water for personal use. Rain chains have made their way to the United States, where their concept has been expanded. There are now several designs and styles of rain chains to appeal to a wide audience of users. Rain chains come in several beautiful designs and are on display in the KV Garden Center. If you would like to see a rain chain at work, we have a re-circulating hose set up that shows off their beauty and function. You are sure to enjoy the sight and sound of rain water cascading down these elegant garden accents. They offer a striking and artistic touch to any...

A New Kind of Rhodo…

New Rhododendrons varieties have hit the Canadian and American markets that are hardier than any that have come before. They hail from Finland, which can have long, cold and wet winters that rival what we have here in West Michigan. Around 1935 a dendrologist named Carl Gustaf Tigerstedt from the Arboretum Mustila (just east of Helsinki) made a trip to the mountains of Northern Japan and Korea and brought back some seeds for the arboretums collection. In his collection were some Rhododendron seeds that were never identified. They grew and survived for decades in Finland’s harsh winters. In 1970 when Carl’s son Peter took over the collection, he realized the significance of having the only species of Rhododendrons to survive in the area. Peter discovered the name of this particular species and named a class of sub-species after his father (Rhododendron brachycarpum tigerstedtii). Throughout the 70’s and 80’s Peter hybridized the sub-species with other Rhododendron species (R. smirnowii, R. metternichii, and North America’s R. catawbiense) to come up with several new varieties. They ended up with over 22,000 hybrid seedlings and planted them in the arboretum and throughout Finland in collaboration with the Helsinki Parks Division and allowed the harsh Finnish winters to select which species to study further. From the thousands of seedlings only 80 were chosen and of those only 9 have been chosen as the best of the best. They have withstood long, wet, cold winters, even winters that have reached -49°F. For the past few years, at Knapp Valley we have retailed ‘Haaga’ and ‘Helsinki University’ with great success. They tend to have waxier leaves...

Le Primitif

Le Primitif Galleries’ Steel oil drum art is one of Haiti’s most unique art forms. Their artwork is currently on display in such prestigious institutions as the Museums of Modern Art in New York and Paris. The art form began in Haiti in the late 1950’s with a blacksmith named Georges Liataud, and many talented Haitian artists have followed in his footsteps. The process begins with recycled steel oil drums that are cleaned, cut open and flattened out. Next, the suns, moons, trees and other intricate designs are chalked out and cut out using a hammer, chisel and a nail. It is a labor intensive project which results in beautiful, unique art. No two pieces are the same. Le Primitif Galleries provides “prosperity wages,” insuring that talented artists in Haiti are paid fairly so that they may continue to work and create these beautiful pieces. Knapp Valley Gardens is proud to feature these striking sculptures that would add a whimsical touch to your home or garden. When you visit the Knapp Valley Garden Center, be sure to take time to admire the steel oil drum art from Le Primitif Galleries.  You will be...

The Allure of Lilacs

I have always loved lilacs, so much that when they come into bloom I fill my house with bouquets in every room. The blooming time can vary between Lilac varieties; as a result you can find lilacs blooming from the end of April to the end of May depending on the weather. The beauty of the blossom combined with the sweet fragrance has made the lilac an old time favorite in the spring garden for centuries. The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is the most popular and comes in many varieties.  Of those the most famous are the French hybrids. Some of our favorites at Knapp Valley include Sensation, Charles Joly and Monge. Hybrid lilacs can sometimes lose some of the fragrance but keep the beautiful blossom. I for one want it all, the fragrance and the blooms. The Beauty of Moscow Lilac has it all. This lovely hybrid features large, white double flowers with a hint of pink and are very fragrant. In addition to common lilacs, there are dwarf lilacs and tree lilacs. Some dwarf varieties include the Dwarf Korean Lilac and the Miss Kim Lilac. They are still showy and fragrant but are smaller in stature. Tree Lilacs can be used in the landscape for hedges, screens or as shade for your patio. Tree forms such as China Snow Peking Lilac or Japanese Tree Lilac are great ornamental trees for the landscape. Lilacs can be kept trimmed for a uniform look or left to grow free for a natural look. Be careful as to when you prune your lilacs, the best time is right after they are...
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