Friday, August 26, 2011

Fall Flowers in Vermont

Fall is around the corner and our early mums are showing color. If you see mums in full bloom right now here in Vermont it is because they have been tricked, with the use of dark covers, to think the days are shorter than they really are, forcing the flowers.

Once the mums really get going I like to use them for bouquets, as they are long lasting. Typically I will combine whatever perennials are blooming with with annuals I have on hand. One of my best performing annuals this year has been "All-Around Purple " gomphrena" which has supplied blooms on long stems for months now.

'All-Around Purple' Gomphrena

Another annual that I like for bouquets is didiscus, kind of a light blue Queen Anne's Lace. I hope next year I remember to somehow stake this one.


'Little Joe' Eupatorium ('Joe Pye Weed') is supposed to be a a diminutive version of the species, at 3-4' feet. Not so in my garden - it's still at least 5 feet tall, but the flower is smaller and more refined than the species and it lasts a good long while in a bouquet.

'Little Joe' Eupatorium

Sanguisorbia canadensis ('Canadian Burnet') does its thing right now. I like the foliage of this plant all season and am always happy to have some spikey white flowers for bouquets in the end of summer. Verbena bonariensis is always a favorite of mine providing loads of flowers and I never go without pink lavatera. I don't find the white lavatera is as long lasting in bouquets. It also seems more attractive to insects.

Lavatera 'Silver Cup'

I was a reporter for a daily newspaper for seven years and managed to write something just about every day. You would think keeping a blog would be a piece of cake. Apparently not.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Marches On ....

The daylilies continue their show and we have started transplanting for next year. The mums are growing fast and need to be spread out. Hard to believe!

'Red Ribbons' (above) is a pretty spider daylily which won 'best spider' daylily in 1992.

Above is a close-up of 'Howard Goodman' and a shot of the row in the gardens. Interesting that I also grow a daylily called 'Howard Goodson.'

Among the new and impressive blooms -

Starman's Quest

Snow Blizzard

Ruth Whitten

Moses Fire

My planting by the milk house did nicely this year

and 'Jackmanii' clematis did particularly well.

Tomorrow I deliver flowers to a wedding in Thetford, so it will be the first time I have missed farmers' market. I'm sure they will survive without me!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer is Definitely Here - The Sale Continues

The hot weather and high humidity slowed me down last week, although the plants seem pretty happy. I like to water in the evening when it is cooler and the water will have more time to do its job. We have put our shade cloth on the biggest greenhouse, so that makes things bearable inside.

All baskets are now $10 each, perennials in quart pots are $2.50 and six-packs are $2.

I have planted containers for a wedding Aug 6. The requested colors are yellow and white, an informal country look, sand I think these will be fine.

The daylily sale (buy five at $6.50 each, get the sixth free, your choice) is moving right along and quite a few happy campers have left with full cars.

Siloam Ury Winniford is one of my favorites. I like all the 'siloams,' but this one is particularly floriferous and perky.


I love the blended colors on Smokey Mountain Autumn.


I sell quite a few white daylilies, and Gentle Shepherd is probably the whitest, but it also has thin pedals and doesn't hold up all that well.


Because of the nasty "lily beetle" I no longer sell Asiatic or Oriental lilies. Neem oil is recommended when you first see them and I did manage to control the bugs on my one planting of lilium superbum with one timely spray. However, they have returned with a vengeance.

Researching these insects I learned that they squeek when held. The first beetle was officially sighted in Cambridge, MA in 1992. Females lay up to 450 eggs and it is the larvae that are quite repulsive. They look a bit like slugs with swollen bodies and black heads. The reason they start to look particularly gross is because they secrete and carry their excrement on their back. I wonder what THAT is all about.


I do love these lilies and with the exception of the lily beetle, they are easy to grow. I guess I will offer them next year, although tall plants are hard to handle when grown in pots.

Our three other greenhouses are filled with ... mums. The seasons march on.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vermont Daylily Sale

The daylilies have started to open and mine are ALL offered at $6.50 a piece. AND - if you buy five, the sixth one is free - your choice. This is retail only, as I don't ship plants. We grow all our daylilies in the field and pot up large plants. Many of the pots have more than five fans.

- Here's a quick sampling from the more than 100 cultivars offered -









We are closed Monday, so it's nice to have the time to pop outside (in the drizzle) and take these photographs. I hope everyone is having a lovely summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vermont - Sale on ALL Annuals

Finally I have a moment to post. How do people maintain their blogs?

All annuals are on sale at the greenhouses. Six-packs are $2, as are 4 inch pots. Terra cotta 4 inch pots (things like 'Wave' petunias) are $1. All quart (4/5 inch, deep pots) are $3 and this includes some neat perennials that were planted last summer and overwintered in the pots.

The customers continue to roll in, many returning year after year and some visiting for the first time through "word of mouth." I like to think it's a combination of quality and low prices. That's what I'm told anyway! Now here are some quick photos I took yesterday afternoon. First, a shot outside the greenhouse. I am often advising customers to concentrate on foliage, not the flowers, for contrast. This is an example, although the hosta in front ('Sun Power') is blooming I notice, and I left the allium standing, because I think their seed pods are kind of cool.

Last year a customer asked me to sell 'Morden Centennial' rose. The online photos make it look like a double light pink, and mine is more glowing rose. That could be the first blooms. At any rate, it's a beauty.


I mentioned in another post that I didn't care for the double wave red petunia, because its spent blossoms are so messy. I won't grow it next year. But I do like 'Double Wave White' which is not quite so full, carnation-like, and has a pretty, clean white airy look to it.

'Double Wave' White Petunia

I have an elderly customer who comes back year after year for one flower - 'Twinkle' phlox. I usually end up planting the rest for myself, as they seem under appreciated. They are short and adorable.


Marigolds are always good sellers - not the most exciting of flowers, but you can count on them. I try and offer some unusual varieties along with the standard yellow and orange. 'Mr. Majestic' marigold is a dwarf, consistently striped marigold.

'Mr. Majestic' Marigold

And for bright and flashy - I like 'Bonanza Bolero' Marigold.

'Bonanza Bolero' Marigold

I still have some 'Phantom' petunias left, but the all black and 'Pinstripe' sold out right away.

'Phantom' Petunia

As if running four greenhouses and perennial gardens wouldn't keep me busy, I also attend two wonderful farmers' markets, one Wednesday in Danville (see below) and one Saturday in St. Johnsbury. Poor old Danville is undergoing road construction so we have moved to a new (lovely) spot.

Loading the truck, setting up, breaking down and then unloading is a lot of work, but it pays off later in the summer when visitors to the greenhouses slow down. And there's great food at those markets!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rain in Vermont ...and then more Rain

We have had record breaking rains here and the poor village of Cabot really got "hammered" with flooding. The local hardware store got hit the worst. Over the years I had been building up a nice perennial garden next to the building. That's gone now.

Bridges, driveways and culverts were washed away all over the place and many roads were closed. Memorial Day weekend is normally our busiest time, but the rain sure slowed people down.

Unless folks have raised beds or very dry gardens, they have been unable to plant. We have not tilled once and our gardens are embarrassing. Meanwhile we did have some flooding in the greenhouses and the cellar took on 8 inches of silt, but we're better off than most folks.

The perennials are loving all the rain. Our shade garden is thriving (as are the snails) and the hostas are in seventh heaven.

Early this spring I tossed some slow-release fertilizer on some peonies. It lets the fertilizer out every time it rains. Well, those peonies are more than one foot taller than usual.

Fern leaf peonies are blooming now.

If we have to have extremes in weather, I far prefer too much rain to a drought, and so do most of the plants. Daylilies seem to do well in wet conditions, and of course Siberian iris prefer moist locations.

I am hoping for better gardening conditions for all of us!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Busy and Blooming

Ideally, at least once a week I would submit something horticulturally interesting and educating to this blog. I am grateful to be incredibly busy right now, but the people waiting for their pots to be planted (not to mention seeds I MUST get in the ground) come first.

Saturday morning was the first day at farmers' market in St. Johnsbury. After setting up with Rose I returned home and was then picked up by Ed Smith to participate in a one hour radio call-in show about gardening. I was surprised by the number of questions that came in - and the fact that I could answer most of them.

Despite the late spring, everything in the greenhouse has been blooming right on schedule. Here are two of the new introductions.

Calibrachoa Minifamous Double Amethyst

Double Wave Red Petunia

The double wave is quite spectacular and surprising. I'm not so crazy abut the fact that once the bloom has gone by it really needs to be removed, unlike other petunias grown from cuttings. Those blooms just kind of shrivel up and disappear. These are so full I don't think that's going to happen.

Business is booming here, which is a fortunate thing, as the fuel bill averaged $500 a WEEK in March and April. It will take a lot of six-packs to cover that expense!

I have had some of the same customers for 20 years, so there has been much hugging going on in Cabot. Gardeners are good people.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Greenhouses are Open!

It is way past time to get new photos up on this blog. The plants in the greenhouses are doing great and if anything, are a bit ahead of schedule. But outside we are 2 - 3 weeks behind when it comes to digging perennials and getting plants potted and laid out.

Last year the ice out at Joe’s Pond was April 5; this year it was April 27, a good indication of the difference between the two seasons.

We officially opened Sunday and the weather was lovely. Next weekend is Mother’s Day and I hope there are a lot of appreciative children out there in a flower-buying mood, as we have lots of blooms ready.

I have a huge soft spot for violas and pansies.

Some of the perennials that we over wintered in pots, like the above columbine, are blooming already.

'Dark Eyes' has always been the most popular fuchsia and it is the hardest for me to size up, but this year the fuchsias are huge and walking down that aisle is like being in a blooming tropical forest.

At the moment some of our perennial gardens are swamp-like and I am hoping those plants will survive until we can get in there with our shovels.

Meanwhile, I am giving an illustrated talk (and plants as door prizes) Tuesday, May 10, at 6:30 in the Cabot Public Library about "new" perennials and annuals for the northern Vermont gardener.