Category Archives: Garden

Fall Garden Clean-Up

Did You Know –

  1. Removing plant debris and raking in the fall can greatly reduce the pests and disease that can harm your plants in the over wintering process. Giving your garden beds that quick clean-up can keep them looking good longer into the fall season and will give your plants a better chance of surviving our cold winters!
  2. Don’t throw away those coffee grounds!
    After that fresh morning cup of coffee, don’t dump those coffee grounds into the garbage – use them to nourish your garden! Use them by adding into your compost or work the grounds straight into the soil around your plants.
    The grounds from coffee will benefit your plant in a few different ways – they add organic matter back into the soil and with that improves the aeration and drainage of the soil – and will attract those desired earthworms!
    The grounds will also slightly lower the pH of the soil – and in Manitoba, with our alkaline clay-like soil, that is a wonderful thing! Some of our customers even swear by using coffee grounds to deter slugs around their Hosta plants and also keeps cats from digging in the garden!

So once you’ve cleaned up your garden for the end of the season – throw in those grounds – your plants will thank you!

These are our two recommended steps to do in the fall to make sure that your garden is on its way to a safe and happy sleep for winter and will thrive come spring time!

Growing and Using Herbs

In The Garden

Herbs need a well drained, fertile soil to do their best. Prepare the soil as you would for a vegetable garden. Remove weeds, cultivate, and add organic material or fertilizer to your garden. Most herbs need a sunny location – If you do not have a bright spot, try planting them into patio pots – an advantage to this is that the pots can be brought inside in the fall. You can also place them close to your door for easy access while cooking your favourite dishes. Don’t plant your herbs outside until all the risk of frost has past. Dig a hole slightly bigger then the pot and scratch the root ball to loosen the roots. Place the plant in the hole and water thoroughly with a transplant fertilizer, as this promotes good root growth.

Harvest and Storage 

Herbs can be harvested at any time through the summer months as long as you leave at least one third of the growth behind. When cooking with herbs – the general rule is to use twice as much fresh as dried. If storing herbs for winter, the best time to harvest them is just before they flower – This is when their oil content is highest and peak flavour is reached.
Although there are some perennial herbs, many of the herbs that grow here must be treated as annuals. Some of the herbs can be brought indoors in the fall. Dig up the herb and plant in a pot. Use soil-less planting mix and spray for insects. Once inside, place the herbs where they can get six hours of light each day. Fertilize with each watering and only water once the soil is dry.

Drying Herbs

The traditional way to preserve herbs is to cut their stems and hang them in bunches to dry upside down, here are some other ways that your herbs can be dried:

  1. Wash lightly and hang upside down in a brown paper bag (save your wine bottle bags!) – hanging upside down causes the essential oils to flow from the stems to the leaves where you want them
  2. Wash lightly, place on a cookie sheet (not more then 1″ deep) and dry in 180 degree oven for 2-4 hours
  3. Wash lightly, place on paper towels or a paper plate and microwave for 1-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds
  4. Wash lightly, blot dry, then place in a shallow pan of non-oxidized salt – this will take 2-3 weeks
  5. Wash lightly, place on a cookie sheet and dry in the sun for a week or so
    When the herbs are dry store them in an air tight container. It is best to dry the herbs whole and then crush when using for the maximum flavour

Freezing Herbs

  1. Chop the herbs and place them into ice cube trays, fill with water or olive oil/canola oil and freeze. Put those frozen cubes into freezer bags and they are ready to go when your cooking!
  2. Another way is to place the whole leaves and stems in freezer bags – this way will result in freezer burn faster then if they were in oil or water

Our Favourite Herbs

Parsley
There are three types of parsley: Curled, Plain and Italian. Parsley is easy to grow and can be grown indoors or out. Use the leaves as fresh or dried in all cooking.

Dill
No garden is truly complete without dill. Leaves and flower heads are used in pickles, but also tastes great with new potatoes or carrots, in salads or on fish.

Chives
Chives are also easy to grow. It is easiest to harvest by cutting with scissors. Chives add flavour to soups, salad, egg and cheese dishes.

Thyme
Cooking thyme is best treated as an annual. Thyme needs a lot of sun, and is very easy to dry. Used best in meat dishes or teas.

Mint
There are many different kinds of mint, each having a different flavour. Curled – mild mint with attractive light green curled leaves. Spearmint – Best cooking mint. Excellent with carrots, peas, potatoes, and in mint sauces. Peppermint – Favourite for teas

Oregano
This herb is very attractive when flowering. Used best in tomato sauces and other Italian recipies.

Sage
Most often used in stuffing.

Cilantro
Fresh leaves are essential in Chinese and Mexican dishes. Seeds are used to flavour soups, chili and sauces.

Rosemary
Rosemary is a very popular herb that can be used in various ways. Fresh leaves are appealing in biscuits, dumplings, and poultry stuffing. It can also be used in making shampoos and facial rinses.

Marjoram
Flowers of marjoram attract honey bees and is popularly used to treat upset stomach and headaches.

Basil
Sweet basil is the most popular herb, its used in flavouring most foods.

Tarragon
It’s flavour is suggestive of anise or licorice. It can be added to various dishes including omelettes, poultry, and hollandaise sauce.

Hot Peppers
Used in many Mexican or Chinese foods to give that punch of flavour. Some varieties include Hungarian wax, Jalapeno and Cayenne.

Garlic
Plant this bulb in fall or very early spring. Garlic can be used to flavour a variety of foods and is commonly used in Mexican, Chinese and Greek dishes.

Growing the Perfect Orchid

Orchids are a beautiful, rewarding exotic flower to have in your home.

There are many types of Orchids – up to 20 different species!

The most common being Phalaenopsis, known as Moth Orchids – due to their shape resembling a moth in flight. If you have a Phalaenopsis Orchid and it starts sprouting leaves instead of a flowers at the end of its spike – You have a very special orchid!  Your orchid is growing a baby and once that baby has 2 or 3 roots and those roots are 3 to 4 inches you can cut it from the stalk and plant it to create a new orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid

The Brassia Orchid blooms have elongated petals which gives them a spidery appearance. They are typically yellow or green with brown or maroon striping or spots.

Brassia Orchid

And the Paphiopedilum Orchids are a genus of the subfamily Cypripedioideae, commonly referred to as the Lady’s or Venus’ Slipper Orchids, named for the unusual shape of the pouch of the flower, said to resemble a lady’s slipper.

The first point to know about growing Orchids is – it’s EASY!

  1. Choose the right orchid for you, place it in a well lit environment – but not in direct sunlight.
  2. Watering your plant is important, do make sure not to over water or to let it stand in water. Adding a few (2 or 3) ice cubes once a week works really well – but a good thorough watering twice a month and fertilizing once a month will give your plant the added nutrients it craves! Most Orchids are planted in a well draining medium so water will run out the bottom. The best way that you can give your plant a thorough watering is to place the pot (with drainage) or take the plastic liner out of a decorative pot – and put it in the sink, watering until it drains out the bottom. Let the Orchid drain out until no water is running out the drainage holes and return it to its spot! A sure sign to know if your watering correctly is to look for the Orchid’s air roots, if these are dry and shriveling – it needs more water – if they look plump and healthy – then your doing it right!
  3. Many people don’t know what they are supposed to do after an Orchid finishes blooming. There are two steps to take * Find a triangular node under the lowest flower bloom and trim 1″ above that node. This will cause your Orchid to send off a new shoot and bloom again in about 6 months. OR * If your spike is brown and/or yellow trim the spike back to the base of the plant. Your orchid will have to now grow back a new healthy green spike. This could take up to 8-12 months. REMEMBER: Your Orchid goes through a resting period after blooming and an Orchid will only bloom once a year.
  4. Only transplant your orchid if you think that it has out grown it’s pot. Orchids have air roots – which usually look like regular roots escaping the pot – this is NORMAL! If you do transplant, make sure to use an Orchid medium. We at Oakridge can help you to choose the right medium for your plant.

These are a few easy tips to growing a beautiful healthy Orchid!
If you have any questions, feel free to stop by Oakridge and we would love to help you with your Orchid or Tropical Houseplant related issues!

Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Why would someone want to promote bird activity in their backyard? Birds are apart of the local ecosystem of your yard – and can provide a great many benefit to you as a home owner! (For example : Pest Control, Flower Pollination, Weed Control, Wildlife Conservation and even Stress Relief – they are so fun to watch!)

Attracting birds to your yard or garden is easy! All you need to provide is the basic necessities to meet their needs and keep them interested and returning.

FOOD: By supplying a variety of bird feed you will attract birds with different food preferences.

In early to mid May we expect the migration of the beautiful Baltimore Orioles through Manitoba – these birds are a wonderful addition to your common yearly bird but will only be a short visitor, so they are usually a popular one to try and attract. For hummingbirds and Orioles you will need nectar, which can be purchased ready-made or prepared at home.

  • Hummingbird Nectar – One part sugar – Four parts water
  • Oriole Nectar – One part sugar – Six parts water
  • Boil both mixtures to become a syrup (do not use food colouring or honey, which can be harmful to birds)

You can pick up the specific feeders here at Oakridge both for Orioles, which has a perch (just like the one pictured), and Hummingbirds. Besides the feeders many annuals and perennials, especially those with tubular flowers will attract Hummingbirds as well (ask us for suggestions).

For other backyard feeding options, Sunflower seed is great for Chickadees, Finches and Jays.
Nyjer seed is loved by Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches. Buy a good feeder that doesn’t waste seed as it is expensive.

Suet is a winter treat for Chickadees and Woodpeckers. Even though it is used mostly through the winter months, you should make sure that suet is available in very early spring. The babies need suet as their stomachs can’t yet digest seed.

Feed your birds through all the seasons of the year. Birds need food all summer as well as winter. Spring and Fall snow storms may stop birds from getting their natural food sources. If you don’t feed them they may parish.

Plan to have proper shelter for your birds as well! Plant shrubs and trees that will give them the shelter that they need and also some of the food sources to fatten up. Here is a list of trees and shrubs that can give your birds what they need.
Nanking cherry, Elder, Saskatoon, Mountain Ash, Sandcherry, Cranberry, Nannyberry, Flowering Crabapples

WATER: Provide a bird bath, fountain or fish pond for your birds. Be sure to always be refreshing the water to ensure that you don’t unintentionally breed the dreaded “Manitoba Mosquito” – which lay eggs in standing bodies of water.

NESTING SITES: Provide bird houses, nesting ledges, and plenty of shrubs and mature trees to provide cover and nesting sites.

If you do this, you’ll be rewarded with plenty of birds, less insects and less weeds to pull in your yard – and who doesn’t love seeing all the different types of birds that we get here in Manitoba!

Fertilizer and Weed Control For Your Lawn

Have you looked over at your neighbour’s lawn and thought “Why is their grass so much greener and thicker”? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Most of us want that beautiful, thick, green lawn and it isn’t as hard as you think to achieve it.

We all know that vegetables and trees require water and nutrients to survive and thrive. Grass is no different. Today I want to focus on the fertilizer and weed control. Look back at the mowing height blog and watering habits (coming at a later time).

Let’s start with weed control. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, how much weed control you put down, you need to come to terms with the fact that weeds will appear in your lawn at some point. What we are trying to do is limit how many weeds do emerge early in Spring so we can thicken up the lawn to choke them out. Since the provincial ban on pesticides has come into effect, there are very few pesticides allowed for use. Fiesta is one of those approved and in use by most companies. It is an iron based liquid and is applied directly to the weeds and not broadcast over the entire lawn. It is safe for pets and children which will give you peace of mind. While Fiesta is effective, for best results applying multiple times is required to ensure weeds are knocked out. Combining this with a good fertilizer program will help eliminate most weeds.

Now let’s discuss fertilizer. Just like people, lawns need energy. This is where fertilizers come in. There are many types of fertilizers and we are all familiar with the 3 numbers on the bag or bottle. We know these numbers are important but what do they mean?
Let’s start with the first number. This represents Nitrogen (N). Nitrogen is associated with growth. This will make your grass grow taller, thicker and greener. Generally, we choose a higher Nitrogen number in Spring and Summer but want it to be lower in Fall as we want the grass to stop growing before winter. The second number is Phosphorous (P). Phosphorous is generally associated with blooming. In grasses, we normally do not choose a fertilizer with any Phosphorous in it. The exception is when we are seeding to help promote root growth. The final number represents Potassium (K). Potassium is linked to disease resistance, cold tolerance and also aids in root development. Just as we choose a high Nitrogen number in Spring and Fall, we like to choose a higher Potassium number in Fall. This will help your lawn prepare for winter. So now we know what the numbers are but what are the actual numbers? These are percentages of each ingredient in the bag or bottle. A fertilizer that is 30-0-10 has 30% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorous and 10% Potassium. (A great fertilizer for Spring and Summer by the way!) Wait a minute that only adds up to 40%? What the…
Don’t worry the rest of the bag is filled with a filler. In this case 60%. Filler can be a combination of other nutrients and/or products to help your lawn take up the nutrients better and more efficiently. Finally, fertilizers come in a quick release format or a slow release. Slow release has now become the normal procedure. These fertilizers are applied at longer intervals as the nutrients are released slowly and evenly over a long period of time. This helps give your lawn the nutrients and food it requires in small doses. Quick release fertilizers release almost all the nutrients at once. These fertilizers must be watered in to prevent burning your lawn. By feeding your lawn regularly, you are creating a thick, lush lawn. This lawn will increase its root growth as well. By increasing root growth, there is less room for weeds to develop.

Oakridge offers different types of fertilizer and weed control programs to meet your needs. Our goal is to provide you with that picturesque, lush, green lawn that will make your neighbours envious and they will be the ones asking the question.

Call us for a free estimate today!

Dealing With SNOW MOLD!

The snow has melted, the weather is starting to warm up and we are getting excited because we can get outside and start working on our lawn again. We go outside and as we walk on to the lawn we see our grass has these round white and yellow patches everywhere. What is that?! Oh no! It’s SNOW MOLD!!! Ewwwwww! Don’t fret. I am here to tell you it isn’t as big a deal as you might think. There are some practices to help tackle this issue right now and to make it better in the future.

What is Snow Mold? Snow Mold is a common fungal disease that affects most types of grasses. The 2 most common types are gray snow mold and pink snow mold. They will appear as patchy spots on your grass that is matted down and web-like. The spores will often remain dormant during the season and then become active under a blanket of snow in Spring as the snow is melting. The more snow cover there is, the more chances of snow mold conditions. One of the most common ways to deal with Snow Mold, if you have it, is to rake it out in Spring then follow that up with a Spring Fertilizer to promote new grass growth. If the patches are larger and leave a dead spot on your lawn, you can throw down some soil and seed to help grow in the patch. Now that you have removed the problem, the next steps are to develop a strong lawn that will not be as susceptible to Snow Molds.

The main keys are to:

Water our lawns at least weekly (1 inch a week),
Mow at the proper height (2 ½ inches to 3 inches is perfect),
And fertilize throughout the growing season.

I recommend starting with a Spring fertilizer in May (I like to use a quicker release to promote growth right away). Follow that up with a Summer fertilizer in June (a slow release is great). Another Summer fertilizer again in late July (use the same one as in June) and put down a Fall fertilizer in September. The Fall fertilizer will help to create a strong root system and be more disease tolerant.

Finally, as the season is winding down, begin to lower your mowing height. Just one notch per week sometime in September (depends on the season and temperatures). Do not go lower than 2 inches though. The last step that will help to prevent Snow Molds is to rake up leaves on the grass before the snow flies. If the leaves were left on the grass, they create another layer for moisture to get trapped and this can create an ideal situation for Snow Molds.

There you have it. See? I told you it wasn’t so bad. Just some good lawn practices and you should be able to keep the snow molds to a minimum. With our winters and the amount of snow we can receive, it is hard to never have Snow Molds but we can limit it and deal with it properly in the Spring and Summer.

We offer many services here at Oakridge to help you achieve and maintain a healthy lawn. Call us now to book your Spring Cleanup and Lawn care packages for Fertilizer and Weed Control. We also offer weekly mowing programs.

Call now for your free estimate.

Spring Pruning Guide

Pruning is a fun and necessary gardening task but to most of us it can feel quite daunting. Don’t fret! Pick up those secateurs and let’s tackle this together!!

The main reasons we prune:

  • Improve health and vigour
  • Encourage fruit and flower production
  • Modify the shape or direct growth
  • Safety reasons

Bad reason to prune:

  • To control the size or height of a plant – if the tree is too tall, it shouldn’t have been planted in the first place!

The first step when preparing to prune a tree is to know the 4 D’s.

  1. Dead
  2. Diseased
  3. Dying
  4. Damaged

Always remove any of the above concerns on a tree or shrub. These cuts can be made at any time of the year. The four D’s, if left on the plant, are actually causing more damage and stress then if they were removed with a proper pruning cut.

Timing
The best time to prune most trees or shrubs is in the dormant (winter) season, before the plant has started to bud out. Trees that are dormant have an abundance of energy stored up. This allows them to repair any cuts made quickly when they come out of their dormant stage. They also spend lots of energy leafing out. This is why it is not recommended to do pruning in late Summer or Fall. If you remove too many of the leaves, the tree cannot produce enough food (energy) to repair itself. A tree can only do one thing at a time. This means it can grow, or repair itself from damage but not both at the same time.

How much to remove
A good rule is to never remove more than 20% of the tree. If you remove more than this, you will leave the tree without the means to produce enough food to repair itself or to prepare for its dormant season. Another good rule is any branch less than 2 inches in diameter is fine to remove. 2 inches to 4 inches should be carefully thought out before removing and if a branch is over 4 inches should only be removed for safety reasons. Trees will spend lots of energy to repair the pruning cuts. Remember, a tree can only do one thing at a time.

This is a good place to start when it comes to pruning. There is obviously much more to pruning depending on plant variety and proper pruning cut techniques. Oakridge Garden Centre has its own licensed arborist that can assist with any pruning concerns that may arise for you.

If you would like a free estimate on a pruning job, please contact us at 204-326-1015 to book.

NEW – Sprouting Seeds from West Coast Seeds

Macro shot of broccoli sprouts growing from seeds

Broccoli sprouts growing from seeds

Cold weather has us down! For those (like us) who are anxious for planting season to start – we have the solution! Indoor growing sprouts!

Brand new to us here at Oakridge is the Sprouting Seeds from the fabulous West Coast Seeds!
A British Colombia based company who are certified handler of organic seeds, they offer “800 varieties of untreated, non GMO, non GEO, open pollinated and hybrid seeds”.

HG987-Sprouting-Jar-with-Plastic-Lid-and-Seeds-1

Sprouting Seeds offer you the freedom to grow fresh and organic sprouts fast and easy and at any time of the year! West Coast Seeds promote sprouts as “easily digested, and they contain concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and amino acids. In short, newly sprouted plants are about the most nutritious food available”. According to healthycanadians.gc.ca “While sprouts are a healthy food option, they can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella which can lead to food poisoning” this can happen “in the farm environment, during packaging, storage and transportation” So growing your own can become a huge benefit in adding sprouts to your diet, WITHOUT any of the worry!

Find recipes to incorporate sprouts into daily meals!

Find recipes to incorporate sprouts into daily meals!

When starting your sprout growing journey we have a variety of options to choose from : Alfalfa, Mung Bean, Fenugreek, Broccoli, Clover, Yellow Mustard, Green Peas, Red Radish, Red Hard Wheat, Salad Mix, Go-Go mix and a Gourmet Mix – something for everyone!
After choosing your seeds – its time to start sprouting. The process is simple: Soak, drain and rinse 3 times a day! In a few days you will have sprouts ready for enjoying – wasn’t that easy!

Happy sprouting!

Choosing The Best Food For Your Winter Birds

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Winter is well upon us!
We have started to feel the effects of the cold and the piles (and piles) of snow we have received this winter have taken a toll – so we can only imagine how these frigid and harsh winters affect our winged friends. For those of us who delight in the spoils of bird watching, there is nothing easier than attracting the birds that tackle our cold Canadian winters to your own yard (and watching them from the comfort and warmth of your home!).

Over the winter a birds natural food source becomes scarce and many of them become reliant on backyard feeders to survive, so offering a high quality and consistent variety of food will be sure to attract visitors all winter long. Birds need a high fat or oil content in their food to give them the energy that they need to outlast the winter, the most popular way of providing this to them is Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Suet Cakes, Peanuts and a well-balanced quality blend seed never hurts!

Peanuts offer a high calories for many winter birds and are perfect to store outdoors because they wont freeze in your feeders! Mixing peanuts into suet cake is another fabulous way to give the birds a high fat and calorie treat, both of these options you can find right here at Oakridge!
Sun Country Farms says Black Oil Sunflower Seed is “hands down, the favourite choice among most seed eating birds. The high oil content, along with a high fat content, provides instant energy for birds. The shell of the black oil seed is thin and easily broken by birds, even those with small beaks.” Pick up a bag here at Oakridge and check out the other varieties from Sun Country Farm we carry.

Here at Oakridge we have committed to carrying a well-respected and leader in “economically, environmentally and socially sustainable birdseed companies” Sun Country Farms. Learn more about their philosophy and how they are changing the game on virtually emission-less farming, production and even the delivery of their birdseed on their website.

We want to make it easy for you to feed our feathered friends – so we have made sure to provide quality food and even feeders – everything you need is here at Oakridge! Whatever your choice for feeding birds in the wintertime, you can be sure that they will thank you by flocking to your feeders and come springtime will have very loyal visitors who know where to find the best food!

 

Six Days of Christmas Gift Giving

Christmas shopping has begun! Not only can the stress of the busiest shopping season of the year get you down but sometimes finding the perfect gift for the right person can be the hardest part!
Luckily here at Oakridge we are surrounded by many wonderful things – all that make excellent gifts, to help you out a bit this season we have chosen 6 unique gift ideas for those tough recipients on your list.

imag3102-01Day One
One of the highlights of the holiday season is the wonderful decor and a well placed arrangement can really add Christmas cheer to a room. For the outdoor lover or someone looking to add green to their space (but keep it low maintenance), one of our handcrafted fresh pine and cedar arrangements may be the place to look! We have a wide selection of creative pieces pre-made or you can talk to one of our wonderful staff and they can custom design for that special person. With pricing that fits most budgets there is sure to be a special arrangement for everyone!

Finchberry Soap in Ultra Violet

Finchberry Soap in Ultra Violet

Day Two
This gluten-free, vegan friendly and preservative free bar looks just like a delicious treat! Here in the gift shop we are now happy to offer Finchberry handcrafted soaps! Perfect for the person (maybe a teacher or a hardworking student) on your list who deserves a little extra pampering with these luxury soaps. Not only are these bars a treat for your skin but also a delight on the edge of any bathtub! And bonus that these soaps will keep your bathroom smelling amazing for months!

FitKicks on vacation

FitKicks on vacation

Day Three
Is there a guy on your list that you are having trouble shopping for? For that active living or adventurous man on the go, perfect for travel, exercise, on the beach and water sports – FitKicks will be a hit! “With a pair of mens lightweight FitKicks, available in navy or black, guys will also find it easier to be more active as part of their everyday lives, from taking the stairs to walking to the store, all in comfort and style.”

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Day Four
Whether you know a fantastic baker or a cook we have the perfect kitchen accessories to add to any kitchen! If your looking for a little gadget to make life in the kitchen easier or to jazz up some counter space there is something for everyone. Beautiful unique aprons and tea towels to mixing bowls and espresso cups. Anyone your shopping for from the timid to the experienced in the kitchen – we can help you to find the perfect gift!

imag3156-01

Milkhouse Candles in Victorian Christmas, White Cedar & Spice, Peppermint Pine Needle

Day Five
Milkhouse Candle Company proudly boasts the cleanest burning candles on the market. Made without the use of artificial dyes, make these candles the perfect accent to any room. With their wide variety of scents, there is sure to be a perfect match for that special person on your list. For anyone with concerns on what they are burning in their home, these candles are made of pure beeswax and natural soy wax, staying away from the harsh chemicals and carcinogens that many worry about in paraffin candles. Woodsy to sweet treats; there are many scents to choose from to find a favourite!

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Day Six
What better gift to give to someone on your list then the gift of time together! Here at Oakridge we offer many wonderful treats and homemade lunches full of fresh ingredients! Treat someone you love to a coffee date (and maybe sneak in one of our fabulous seasonal cheesecakes) or send them a gift certificate, available in any price denomination, so they can treat themselves! With so much to offer there is sure to be something on their list they will love!