Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Plants .... some Disappointments

Just like any other industry, the horticultural people have to come up with “new and improved” plants each year to peak the interest of gardeners. Unfortunately, when you are buying wholesale like me, this means purchasing at least 25 plants, rather than try just one out. But I want my customers to have a chance to grow something new, and of course I am excited to try new cultivars as well.

Last year I offered ‘splish splash’ perennial geraniums for the first time in quart pots. The photograph was irresistible.

I immediately had problems with mildew. The plants in the ground did OK at first and bloomed nicely this second year, but for a very short period, and again - the mildew has set in. And the blooms never lived up to the photograph. This may be a perennial that does well in warmer zones. I have read that it does rebloom if cut back to the ground after the first bloom. It is certainly unattractive right now!

I haven’t decided if I should give it more of a chance or send the plants to the compost pile.

‘Double Decker’ echinacea (cone flower) is another plant that got a lot of hoopla and even turned up on the front pages of a few catalogues. I encouraged customers to try it, as did I. I have yet to see anything resembling the following.

My blooms the second year are all single pedaled and nothing to write home about.

The standard echinacea purpurea is a great plant without any hybridizing.

Another plant that got a lot of hype was ‘big red’ begonia - a cross between fibrous begonia and angel wing begonia. Park seed catalogue called it “...the quickest-blooming, largest, most vigorous begonia the world has ever seen!” (Sounds like a circus barker.) And for this honor they charged $4.95 for 15 seeds.

It was supposed to do well in the sun or shade. Here’s a photo used to promote the new plant.

I put some in the front of one garden and they struggled along in the sum with the leaves turning dark and not a lot of growth going on despite lots of rain and good growing temperatures.

They did better in a window box that’s in part shade, but I won’t be offering this one again.

These are all minor disappointments, I'm already thinking about new plants to try next year.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daylilies Blooming in my Gardens Today

The dayliles are finally beginning to open. Here are some photos I took this morning in the "road garden." The first is 'Barbara Mitchell', a pretty pink 6" bloom that has been around since 1985 and was the top vote receiver in the American Horticultural Society popularity polls.


Next is a true white daylily, 'Gentle Shepherd.' I think this may be the whitest daylily available. 'Ice Carnival' and 'White Formal' both have an underlying yellow tint. 'Gentle Shepherd' can be variable with its flower form, but it remains my favorite white (until you ask me next time.)


'Sunday Gloves' is another nice white daylily, although not quite as pure as 'Gentle Shepherd' it probably has a more consistent form.


'Holiday Delight' makes a bright and bold statement in the garden.


And I will end with 'South Seas' which has an unusual bright coral/tangerine coloration.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Very Wet Summer in Vermont So Far

I far prefer too much rain over a drought any time, but this is getting a bit extreme. The slugs and ear wigs are really happy. I laughed when someone told me about slugs coming into their house on their dog, but then I discovered slugs coming up my front steps on their own.

One side effect of the constant wet and overcast weather, combined with a cool spring, is that the daylilies are late to bloom and the mums seem to think fall is here, so they are setting buds prematurely.

Here are some of my daylilies for sale.

Well, the foliage is nice and green! I actually do have some in bloom and they are coming along. This is a customer making her choice.

I was pleased to see Erngium ‘Blue Hobbit’ (sea holly) all over wintered without a problem, although I’m not quite sure how to use this flower yet. The descriptions says 8 - 10 inches tall, and mine are at least 20 inches tall, but that could be all the rain.

And I will end today's entry with three bouquets I made for farmers’ market.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hardy Vermont Perennials and My Story

As I get “into” blogging I realize I have said very little about myself. I am a single woman, no doubt considered elderly by many (will be 63-years-old shortly). My parents always loved gardening. It was more of a chore for me as a child, but as I got older I had to have a garden. It got a bit extreme when I married a local farmer and we ended up with 90 acres of small fruits and vegetables.

The farm thrived, the marriage didn’t, and 20 years ago I started “Amanda’s Greenhouse.” I now have four greenhouses and at least half an acre of perennial plantings which we dig and pot up in the early spring for sales. I pride myself on growing the perennials here (zone 4 at best) and only selling plants that I know will overwinter in the colder northeast.

About half my income is from perennial sales and the rest is from bedding plants and cut flowers.

My friends are wonderful and I love living in a small Vermont community. My other passion, besides horticulture, is vintage fashion. I also have four cats and a dog and I am a lousy housekeeper.

And now - to the gardens. Here are three quick and dirty photos I took by the house this morning before I opened for business. I have more gardens further from the house.

I was delighted to see this pretty new daylily, ‘Beautiful Edging’ which I will have enough of to offer next year.

I do have quite a few of the pretty Dublin Elaine to offer at the sale this year.

We have actually had a day without rain and we are closed tomorrow. My "To Do" list is already almost one page long.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I am having a HUGE daylily sale. Every single variety is on sale for $6.00 and if visitors buy ten or more, the plants are $5.00 each. These are all top notch plants with many fans and I have well over 200 varieties from which to choose. Now if we could just have more sun to get them to show their colors. Here are a few samples of what I am offering.

Brocaded Gown is a nice light lemon yellow with lots of ruffling on the petals. It has won the Stout Silver Award, which is the highest award a daylily can receive and only one variety is chosen for this honor each year. This one has is 6 inch blooms.

Chicago Weathermaster is a pretty dark lavender daylily with 6” blooms.

‘Flycatcher’ is what is called a ‘spider’ daylily. It has long narrow flower petals and to officially be labeled a “spider” the petal length to width ratio must be 4 to 1 or greater. This particular flower is 7.5 inches across and a nice strong red with a large yellow to green eye.

I like the name of this last one - ‘Scatterbrain’ (so apropos) and it is a lovely flower. It is a light peach pink semi double, 6 inches across.

All the daylilies I sell are grown here and are offered in one gallon containers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pleasing Perennials Blooming Now

While my all-time favorite perennial shasta Daisy is ‘Becky’ (great for flower arrangements), I like this shorter version, ‘Snow Cap.’

Heliopsis (“false sunflower”) blooms for a long time in my gardens and it’s another good plant for cuts. ‘Lorraine Sunshine’ is a relatively new introduction to the perennial industry. It holds its variegation, and as one customer said, “It makes me smile.”

Catananche, or “cupid’s dart” isn’t particularly showy, but it is an excellent cut flower and because it’s pretty darned close to true blue, it goes with anything in a bouquet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vermont Farmers' Markets ... and me

In my youth (sigh) I was quite good at keeping a daily diary. Somehow I must reinvigorate that energy for this abandoned blog. So I will start the easy way - posting photos with commentary.

Here are early pictures of my setup at the St. Johnsbury Farmers’ market. All of the baskets have long gone to new homes. I placed annuals on the right and perennials on the left and herbs, etc. on the table under the tent.

Here is a shot of the same area last Saturday (July 11). I bring a lot more perennials, no more baskets, and I have started making bouquets.

I have been involved with farmers’ markets for years and love the opportunity for customers to buy from folks who are actually growing the vegetables and plants. Both the St. Johnsbury Farmers’ market and the Danville farmers’ market fall under the “Caledonia Farmers’ Market” umbrella.

I was instrumental in starting the Waitsfield farmers’ market and the Waterbury farmers’ market, both of which I attended for years. I also participated as a vendor at the Montpelier market, but eventually left, as they wouldn’t let me bring perennials.

The Danville market is held Wednesday's from 9 - 1 on the green in town, just off Route 2. Because it is on grass with picnic tables and trees it has a real charm and the vendors are terrific. Many of those same vendors attend the Saturday market (also 9 - 1) at St. Johnsbury. That market is larger and a bit more sprawling and is also a great opportunity to get the freshest produce.

I enjoy both markets, but Danville is my favorite.