Hydrangea paniculata Limelight

Hydrangeas – Colorful, Easy-Care and Versatile

Hydrangea is a valuable genus of some 100 species of shrubs and vines grown for their large and spectacular flower heads. Beloved for centuries, they’re vigorous, of easy care, and attractive at virtually every stage of growth. In addition, they are at their showy best in summer and fall – a time when many woody plants are resting.

Hydrangea macrophylla Color Fantasy®
Hydrangea macrophylla Color Fantasy®

Most Hydrangeas are not fussy as long as they receive their preferred amount of sunlight (generally full sun to part shade) and are planted in moist, well-drained loamy soil. They will thrive in coastal areas since they can tolerate high winds and salt. Hydrangeas do need water if it doesn’t rain but are otherwise undemanding. Click here for the complete guide on growing Hydrangeas.

In recent years breakthroughs in breeding have produced exciting new varieties that bloom on old and new wood. ‘Blushing Bride’ and Endless Summer® are among these exceptional long bloomers. They flower on old wood starting late spring and then on new growth in midsummer. In warm climates, such as Zones 4-5, since bloom on new wood is reliable, even after a severe winter. Regular deadheading of these varieties helps encourage rebloom. For tips on pruning all varieties of Hydrangea, click here.

Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Strawberry™
Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Strawberry™

In addition to extended blooming periods, some of the newer varieties also display amazing color combinations. Vanilla Strawberry™ has red stems with large, creamy white flower heads that turn strawberry red to burgundy. As new flower heads keep coming, all three color stages appear together. Unlike varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla that produce blue flowers in acid soils or pink in alkaline soils, this beauty — voted Top Plant for 2010 by the American Nursery and Landscape Association — will remain pink and white regardless of pH.

The blooms of Everlasting Revolution create fascinating combinations of light and dark pinks (or blues with a more acid pH) and pale green.

In addition to creating a beautiful garden display, Hydrangea blooms make exceptional dried flowers. Mopheads and Lacecaps are the most widely grown varieties, and of these, is is the mophead that makes the best candidate for drying.

Monterey Hydrangea Wreath
Monterey Hydrangea Wreath

Both mature blooms and freshly opened flowers can be dried, each with a different technique. Late in the season (August to October, depending on the variety) cut blossoms that are starting to fade a bit, but before they turn brown, and include about 12in of the stem with them. Just strip off the leaves and dry the stems in a vase, either with or without water, away from direct sun. If you dry them in water, only use a few inches in the vase and let the water evaporated without replenishing. The stems can also be hung upside down in a cool, dry place out of direct sun.

Fresh, newly opened blooms can be dried in silica gel. Place about an inch of the gel in the bottom of a large container. Hold the blossoms upside down on the gel (make sure they have no moisture on them), and carefully sift gel over them until they are covered. Place a cover on the container. After four days, gently pour all the silica onto newspaper (you can save the gel for future use). The blooms are now ready to use in an arrangement.

Native Plant Garden

It’s June: What Can Be Done in the Garden?

It’s June in the garden. What are some of the things you could be doing?

For starters, with spring’s unsettled weather finally yielding to the more predictable warmth of summer, it’s time to consider giving your houseplants a summer vacation outdoors. Make sure to provide all houseplants with a sheltered, lightly shaded spot when you first bring them outside to protect them from sun and wind. Depending on the plants, some may require full shade all summer, while others will enjoy a real sunbath. Since most of your plants will be growing more strongly in summer, be sure to keep up with fertilizing as well as watering.

Amaryllis Alasca®
Amaryllis Alasca®

Amaryllis that blossomed for you in winter can be summered over outdoors, a ritual that rebuilds the bulb for another season of winter bloom. Plants will benefit from the stronger sunlight in the garden and are happy in a full sun location after a gradual introduction. Their strappy foliage is feeding the bulb for next winter’s performance. You can knock the bulbs out of their pots and plant them in a bed, or leave them as they are in their pots. If leaves turn yellow, cut them off at the base. We keep our Amaryllis outside until light frost blackens the foliage in autumn, then we store them in a cool (55 degrees F), dark place such as a basement for a period of 8-10 weeks. For more information on caring for these exotic bulbs, see our Amaryllis Growing Guide.

What else should you be doing in the garden?

  • Prune Lilacs now, removing spent blooms.
  • Tomatoes in Sausalito Self-Watering Container with Tomato Support
  • Tomatoes will start growing rapidly. Keep plants secure to their stakes or supports by using ties, clips  or cotton rags. We like to pinch off suckers, the additional stems that appear in the axils between the leaves and the main stem. For more information on caring for Tomatoes, see our Growing Guide.
  • Nepeta 'Walkers Low'
    Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’
  • Mature Nepeta (Catmints) can get floppy after bloom. After the first flush of flowers, cut back the plants  to just a few inches tall. They recover quickly and are more likely to maintain a mounded shape following a serious haircut.
  • Remove spent Rhododendron flowers as soon as the blossoms subside. Be careful not to remove new buds at the base of old flower stems.
  • When Lettuce gets bitter and starts to bolt, pull out the plants, compost them, and use the space for Bush Beans or Summer Squash. A late planting of Squash often fools vine borers.
  • Keep up with weeding and watering.
  • Harvest Basil by cutting off branches and then removing the leaves. Pinch off flower buds to keep your plant producing stems and leaves. Water when the top 1″ of soil is dry. Feed monthly with a balanced fertilizer.

 

 

Harvest Fresh Fruits & Vegetables From Pots on Your Patio

By Barb Pierson, Nursery Manager

lettuce as container gardens
The options for container pot edible gardening were once limited mainly to salad greens and herbs, but there is now a wide variety of plants that thrive in pots and smaller garden spaces.

For gardeners with limited outdoor space or the desire to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables a few steps from the door, container pot gardening is a great way to go. While the options for container pot edible gardening were once limited mainly to salad greens and herbs, there is now a wide variety of plants – from Tomato varieties to Peppers and Eggplants – that thrive in pots and smaller garden spaces.

Growing vegetables in containers can be done in any location that has 6-8 hours of sun per day.

The benefits are obvious: There’s no need to dig and prepare a garden bed. Gardeners enjoy easy access to the pots for watering, fertilizing and harvesting. Containers can be moved to suit the needs of the plants or the gardeners. And, best of all, there’s no weeding.

There are a few obvious drawbacks: Some varieties of vegetables such as large pumpkins cannot be grown in containers. And more water and fertilizer is needed to produce a good harvest in a container. But the extra bit of effort is worth the reward of a delicious harvest.

To start a container garden of edibles, here are 9 steps to get you started:

Barb with pots
Keep in mind that the pot or pots you select must be large enough to hold soil and the roots of whatever plant or plants you wish to grow.

1. Choose Your Pot

Keep in mind that the pot or pots you select must be large enough to hold soil and the roots of whatever plant or plants you wish to grow. Tomatoes and vining crops produce best in containers that are at least 20–22” in diameter. Peppers can go a little less at 16” diameter. Greens such as Lettuce prefer a broad flat pot such as a large bowl-shaped container.

Drainage is imperative! Make certain that each pot has several holes in the bottom. It is NOT necessary to put stones in the bottom of the pot.

As long as there is drainage, pots made of almost any type of material will work. Fiber pots work well but are not decorative. There are many plastic pots that are decorative, functional, and lightweight. I prefer something that’s easy to move and to empty at the end of the season.

bags of compost
Use a lightweight, high quality potting soil and mix it at 2/3 potting soil to 1/3 compost.

2. Soil

Use a lightweight, high quality potting soil. Never try and use garden soil from your yard. After you have purchased your potting soil, mix it at 2/3 potting soil to 1/3 compost. This mixture allows the plants to retain moisture and nutrients. Types of compost can include: leaf mold compost you have made, dried aged manure, or shrimp and seaweed compost. I create a mix in a wheelbarrow or garden trug. Lightly water the mixture before placing it in your pot so the peat moss in the mix isn’t too dry.

When filling your container, firm in the soil without compacting it too much.  Unpot your vegetable plant and place it in the center, if you wish, or spaced with other plants if you’re creating a combination. Add more of your container mix, pressing down gently and adding more soil until the pot is filled to about 2-3” below the lip. Always leave space at the top to create a watering reservoir.

3. Planting Depth

This is key. For Tomatoes, remove the lower leaves and plant the Tomato deep in the soil. Roots will form along the stem. (The only exception is Grafted Tomatoes, which should not be set in soil below the graft line, which is generally marked with a tie or piece of tape.)

For Cucumbers, Squash, Lettuce, Eggplant and most other vegetable starts, plant at soil level.

Tomato cage
Pepper ladders (shown here) or Tomato cages can be used to support smaller Tomato plants, Peppers and Cucumbers.

4. Support

Tomato cages can be used for smaller Tomato plants, Peppers and Cucumbers. Cone or pyramid-shaped trellises usually work better than flat types. Chicken wire can be bent and used to make a cage. A few stakes can be placed around the perimeter of the pot to form a teepee.

Pot platforms or deck protectors can be used to move your pots around, protect your patio or deck, and allow air to circulate and water to drain from the pots.

5. Watering

Container plants in full sun need to be checked every day. Using organic compost will help reduce the need, but the hot sun will require that you check your plants daily. The best way to see if your plants need water is to stick your finger in the soil. If it’s dry to the touch below the surface ½” or so, it’s time to water. Learning to see signs of wilting is something that will happen as you grow plants every season. Look for the plants to be flagging a bit, or for the soil to begin separating from the sides of the container. Those are signs your plant needs water. But overwatering can also be a problem, in particular for Tomatoes and Peppers, so make sure you observe carefully and do not water during cloudy or rainy weather unless you see that the soil is dry under the surface.

Tomatoes and Peppers need regular watering and feeding while they’re growing, but when the fruit starts to mature, it’s important not to overwater or over-fertilize as this will cause your fruit to be susceptible to disease and reduce the flavor.

6. Fertilization

After the vegetables have settled into their new pots and new growth can be seen, it’s time to fertilize your plants. If your potting soil has slow-release fertilizer, you should wait at least several weeks before adding more. Use fertilizer at the rates recommended on the label. There are many organic and synthetic fertilizers on the market, and some of them specifically are for vegetables. If you use a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium, it will promote more fruit. Read the labels carefully and apply what’s recommended regularly – in particular if you are watering often and the plants are actively growing prior to harvesting, make sure you are feeding. Hot sun and frequent water will leach out valuable nutrients.

7. Staking, Tying and Pinching

Stakes should be inserted into your containers at planting time. As the vegetables grow and produce fruit, tie the large branches so they have support but aren’t girdled.

To fully understand Tomato pruning, visit the Fine Gardening magazine website, www.FineGardening.com, and enter “tomato pruning.” They offer a detailed explanation of the process.

8. Insects and Disease

Prevention is the best organic method of pest control. Proper watering techniques avoid most issues with vegetables and herbs. Fertilization, full sun and air circulation are also imperative. If you do have insects or disease, use organic control measures such as horticultural oil and insecticidal soap.

9. Harvesting

Each type of vegetable has specific harvesting techniques. For Tomatoes, allow them to ripen to their mature color and feel the fruit to make sure it has soft give to it. Some varieties twist off easily when they are ready to be picked. Know the mature color and age, and resist the urge to pick too early!!

 

FAVORITE HERBS FOR CONTAINERS

pots on roof
Many herbs, such as Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Sage and Rosemary do well in containers.

Mint

Always plant Mints in pots! It’s very invasive in the garden, but so good for drinks and as a garnish. Plant in large pots with plenty of soil depth. Mint needs quite a bit of water so make sure you check it and add compost to the potting mix for better water retention.

Thyme

Thyme is pretty and creeping so it cascades nicely over the rim of a pot. Use a shallow container because Thyme has a fine root system and is prone to root rot when given too much soil.

Parsley

Cut Parsley often to keep it from flowering or “bolting.” (If it does bolt, it tastes terrible.) It’s best planted in a large pot.

Sage

It can easily be overwatered so plant it in a container that is medium depth or shallow and has good drainage. To promote drier conditions, don’t add too much compost.

Oregano

Delicious and aromatic, this is a fairly aggressive grower so use a large pot and treat it like Mint.

Rosemary

This favorite can be quite tricky when it comes to watering. Too much water, and it’s unhappy, not enough and it’s equally unhappy. Take care when combining it in a mixed container and be sure you have good drainage!!

 

FAVORITE TOMATOES FOR CONTAINER POTS

Note: Many of these are compact varieties. Some are “determinant” plants, which means they do all their fruiting in one flush.

grow bag, pepper mini red bell sweet
Many compact or dwarf varieties of vegetables are ideally suited to smaller quarters, but they can also be planted in small spaces in vegetable gardens.

FAVORITE VEGETABLES FOR CONTAINERS

Note: Many of these are compact or dwarf varieties that are ideally suited to smaller quarters. They also can be planted in small spaces in vegetable gardens.

Brazelberries
There are several varieties of Bushel and Berry™ compact berry bushes such as Peach Sorbet™ that do well in containers.

FAVORITE FRUITS FOR CONTAINER POTS

Allium Poppy Collection

Alliums and Poppies for Show Stopping Color

Visitors to the display gardens at the farm will see Alliums highlighted in many attractive plant combinations. Oriental Poppies make a particularly dramatic partner; others that we favor include Achillea, Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), Bearded Iris, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, Slavia ‘May Night’, and Stachys ‘Big Ears’.

Achillea Allium Collection
Achillea Allium Collection

Because the leaves of larger Alliums tend to fade away just as their distinctive flower heads are at their peak, we often plant the bulbs behind or among perennials in the first or second row of a border. The Alliums’ slender stems rise above the fresh foliage of the perennials, and their flower heads appear to be floating.

Allium Collection Garden Globes
Allium Collection Garden Globes

Alliums prefer full sun and need good drainage, especially in the winter; given the right spot, they will provide years of pleasure. Another plus: both deer and rodents find them distasteful.

Poppy 'Hearbeat'
Poppy ‘Hearbeat’

Now is the best time to choose Oriental Poppies to glorify your garden borders next summer. After their blossoms fade, the hairy, sold green foliage goes dormant, so plan to fill the gap with annuals such as Cosmos or Nicotiana, or with tropicals such as Daylilies or Shasta Daisies, Yarrow, and other cottage-garden stalwarts.

Poppy 'Doubloon'
Poppy ‘Doubloon’

Georgia O’Keeffe celebrated fiery orange-red Oriental Poppies in one of her famous paintings. Since then, a breeding bonanza has made other enticing colors as well. Intensely saturated hues, including brilliant oranges and reds, are still popular for their powerful impact, but new varieties also offer subtle effects with pastel blooms in pinks and soft salmon, warm whites, or vibrant shades of plum and purplish pink.

Poppy 'Royal Wedding'
Poppy ‘Royal Wedding’

This easy-care, long-lived perennial looks equally at home in cottage gardens or perennial borders. Plant your Poppies in full sun and well-drained soil as soon as possible after they arrive. They will thrive in the coldest climates but don’t hold up well in the heat and humidity of the deep south.

Allium Globemaster

Down on the Farm: Spring Has Sprung (At Last)

After one of the coldest Aprils since the late 1880s, spring finally broke through in early May (along with a few days in the upper 80s that felt like high summer). The temperature swings notwithstanding, our gardening season is, at last, underway in earnest, and there is no shortage of projects to keep us occupied.

The most fun is a major revision to our display gardens in Morris, CT. Last fall we cleared a large border that, for many years, featured flowering shrubs such as Hydrangea and Viburnum. These were lovely specimens all, and we came to know them well. This border’s next incarnation is as home to an extensive Rose trial and display garden that we expect to be in place for at least 10 years. We will be testing for color, height, fragrance, bloom time, hardiness, disease resistance, and, above all, visitors’ enthusiasm. The species and cultivars will be many and varied, including traditional favorites as basis for comparison for nearly countless new introductions and discoveries. The garden also will incorporate a changing palette of our favorite “companion plants” whose appearance and cultural requirements encourage cohabitation with Roses (and whose presence will support the garden’s overall health). The potential combinations are nearly infinite, a glorious opportunity for self-expression, which we trust you will enjoy and emulate. Our head gardener Cheryl Whalen is shepherding this exciting project, with support from our product development team, and we’re thrilled also to have the assistance of noted landscape architect/designer Julie Moir Messervy and her team at JMMDS (Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio).

Our greenhouses are loaded with annuals and perennials.

Elsewhere on the property, the spring punch list is less picturesque but almost as entertaining. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, we’re installing a sizable solar array, which we anticipate will provide roughly 80% of the nursery’s power needs. We’re excited to be taking a big step towards reducing our carbon footprint, and as old, inefficient infrastructure around the nursery is replaced with more efficient technology, we’ll continue to progress in that direction.

Corps de Ballet Tulip Mix

Then there’s the “off-site” work, which, although not immediately visible to visitors, is critical to keeping the array of products we offer to you fresh and interesting. This spring the team has already been in England, the Netherlands, California, and all over the Eastern seaboard researching new plant introductions and bringing home ideas for the catalogs of spring 2019 and beyond. We suppose that all businesses operate in both today and tomorrow, but because of the long lead times in the plant trade, we are especially cognizant of simultaneously working on long-term plans while carefully watching tonight’s weather. Such is the nursery business!

Refer a Friend

Across the decades, our customers have introduced us to a great number of their friends – fellow gardeners and flower lovers who have become valued customers in their own right. To encourage you to introduce your friends to us, we’re pleased to suggest our new Refer a Friend program. When you welcome a friend to White Flower Farm, he or she will receive a $5 coupon for use online, by phone, or via mail order. If your friend makes a purchase, you’ll receive your own $5 coupon, which is our way of saying thank you. Referring is easy. Simply click here and fill in a few blanks. You’re welcome to refer as many friends as you like. There is no limit to the number of coupons you can earn.

Join Us for the 13th Annual Great Tomato Celebration

Our greenhouses are spilling over with more than 100 varieties of Tomato seedlings, including heirlooms and top-rated modern hybrids (all non-GMO), plus fruit and vegetable plants, and a variety of growing supplies for this year’s kitchen garden. We hope you’ll join us Friday, May 18, through Sunday, May 20, when we put everything outdoors for sale at our 13th Annual Great Tomato Celebration. The three-day event is held rain or shine on the hillside adjacent to the White Flower Farm store in Morris, CT. Our staff will be on hand to answer your questions. On Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., our nursery manager and expert Tomato-grower Barb Pierson will give free talks on Top Tips for Growing Tomatoes and Veggies. A catering truck will be on the premises, with breakfast and lunch fare available for sale. Bring your shopping lists, your questions, and your appetite. We look forward to seeing you.

As you dig into the gardening season at your house, keep in mind we’re here to answer questions, assist you in finding the plants and supplies you need, and to help you create your best garden ever.

From all of us at the farm, Happy Spring!

Starter Shade Collection

Bold Hostas Brighten Your Shade Garden

Hostas are popular shade plants for good reason. They are easy to grow and have minimal maintenance requirements. They are the perfect ground cover for shady gardens, providing a verdant background for colorful bloomers such as Impatiens, Begonias, Astilbes, Foxgloves, and Coral Bells (Heuchera). They also combine well with Ferns, providing a pleasing textural contrast.

Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'
Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ reaches about 8″ in height.

Hostas come in a wide range of sizes that makes them suitable for gardens large and small. The diminutive miniatures grow only a few inches tall and wide while some large leaf varieties top out at about 4′ tall. Some of these large varieties form spreading mounds 8′ or more across.

Hosta 'Cathedral Windows'
The large, rounded leaves of ‘Cathedral Windows’ show-off the patterned bright golden centers with dark green borders.

Leaf colors range from all shades of green to blue-gray to golden yellow and creamy white. Foliage may be solid, mottled, or variegated. Many varieties sport a margin in a contrasting color. While most Hostas are grown primarily for their foliage, many produce lovely summer blooms as well. Flowers range from lavender to white. Those that are hybridized from Hosta plantaginea are often highly fragrant.

Hosta 'Aphrodite'
Hosta ‘Aphrodite’ has large, pure white, intensely fragrant flowers that open in late summer on 2′ stems.

All Hostas perform best in rich, organic, well-drained and slightly acid soil. Incorporating compost or aged manure into the soil prior to planting is recommended. If granular fertilizer is used after the first year in your garden, be sure it does not contact the leaves or it may cause burning. A topdressing with compost in the spring is usually sufficient.

Emerald Isle
Choosing a collection of Hostas makes designing a long-term carefree garden easy. Our Emerlad Isle Collection has 20 plants containing 4 excellent varieties, 5 plants of each.

Hostas will appreciate regular watering, particularly during their first year while their roots establish. A good rule of thumb is to provide about an inch of water each week. To help minimize moisture loss and moderate the soil temperature, cover the soil around Hostas with organic mulch. Eventually the leaves may form a solid ground covering and mulching will be unnecessary.

White Flower Farm’s Moms & Daughters Choose Their Favorite Mother’s Day Gifts

Wondering what to get your Mom this Mother’s Day? To help you select a great gift from White Flower Farm, we asked a handful of our female colleagues, all of whom happen to be Moms, to choose their favorite gift from our wide array of garden plants, houseplants, garden accessories, gift sets, bouquets and more. Here are their choices, which might help you with your own.

Rough & Ready Garden Clogs

I gave my Mom a pair of the Rough and Ready Clogs for Easter. She loves the spring pattern, and said they are very comfortable. She wears them around the house, loves the airy feel of a slip on after all winter in boots or shoes. They’re waterproof and good traction so she can wear them to get the mail and check on her garden. Yes- I want a pair! – Mary A

Coleus Confetti Classic Collection

I have lots of partial shade, so this collection gives great color all summer long in my back yard. The colors and textures create a stunning combination. – Cheryl D

Flora & Fauna Trowel and Secateurs Set

With the gardening season in full spring, the best gift to give or receive would be any of the Flora & Fauna gardening accessories. I love that the colors, and patterns are trendy, yet the products are practical for your basic gardening and everyday needs. – Shantelle B

Morning Light Bouquet

When our staff put together this bouquet, I knew it was exactly what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I was drawn by the pastel colors and their quiet radiance. The gray-blue leaves of the Eucalyptus help create a silhouette that’s airy and light. – Jan C

Lavender Lover’s Basket of Treasures

As a working Mom, I know a thing or two about stress. One thing that always calms me down is the natural fragrance of Lavender. That’s why my favorite gift for Mother’s Day is the Lavender Lover’s Basket of Treasures. It’s a beautiful collection that includes a Linnea’s Lights® candle, a triple-milled bath-size botanical soap with a nail brush, moisturizing hand cream, a sachet, and a bundle of dried Lavender. The bud vase is a beautiful way to display and enjoy the Lavender flowers you cut from your own garden. I hope my husband and kids are reading this . . . – Nikki F

Iris ‘Caprician Butterfly’

The Japanese Iris, ‘Caprician Butterfly,’ is one of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. It’s romantic and exotic and bold. From far away the flowers appear purple, but as you get closer it’s revealed that the petals are actually white with thin purple lines running through them.   Mother Nature outdid herself on this one and every mother, including myself, would appreciate a ‘Caprician Butterfly.’ – Mary V

Hand-Painted Hummingbird Feeder

With the return of hummingbirds in May, this makes an ideal Mother’s Day gift. It’s an attractive garden ornament that provides hours of enjoyment all season long. – Ann T

Gossamer Bouquet 

Each year I give my mom a bouquet from White Flower Farm and I always get an exuberant phone call and a beautiful photo of the bouquet. This year, I am excited to give her the Gossamer bouquet. I know she will love it. – Liz Z

Tree Peony “Kamata Fuji’

Any Mom who is a gardener will fall in love with this Tree Peony. These shrubs are so easy and undemanding, and they have so much to give. Plant them in a site with full or part-sun and well-drained, evenly moist soil. Allow them the first season to settle in. The blossom count will rise gradually each spring. Mature plants can produce up to 50 flowers. ‘Kamata Fuji’ sends up semidouble lavender blooms with ruffled petals and golden centers. This garden treasure is a special treat for Mom, and she’ll be reminded of your gift when the gorgeous flowers return each spring. – Deb H

 

 

 

Vintage Charm Planter

New Ways to Feature Your Favorite Plants

Creative gardeners like to display their old favorites in new ways. Perking up spring borders with bulbs and converting a section of sunny lawn into a field of Lavender are just a few ideas. Nevertheless, containers offer the broadest design opportunities for every plant type – from annuals, bulbs, and perennials to shrubs and trees.

Brown Acanthus Urn
Afternoon Tea Annual Collection featured in our Brown Acanthus Urn

Flank an entrance with a matching pair of flowering shrubs or evergreens; plant a magnificent urn for a garden focal point; train vines on tuteurs set in big tubs.

Clematis Rosemoor™ Gardini™ climbing our Cedar Tuteur
Clematis Rosemoor™ Gardini™ climbing our Cedar Tuteur

Window boxes, Strawberry pots, and hanging baskets offer versatile solutions that can change with each season.

Mara des Bois in Hanging Basket
Strawberry ‘Mara des Bois’ in a hanging basket

For spontaneous garden whimsy, plant colorful annuals in oddball containers: a rusted coalscuttle, wheelbarrow, rubber boot, doll cradle, colander, old tool tote – whatever strikes your fancy. Remember, though, that containers look best in groups of similar materials. (To allow for drainage, it’s best that each container have at least one hole in the bottom.)

Tremont Square Pots
Tremont Square Pots

Growing requirements for plants potted in containers are typically the same as for those planted in the ground, except that container plants will need more frequent watering and feeding. Use a moistened potting mix and give the pot a good soaking after planting, then let the soil dry to the touch before watering again. With shrubs, slower growing species are the best choice for containers; allow enough space to fit the root ball comfortably. Check our Growing Guides for information on the requirements for individual plants.

Look for more inspirations in the Gardening Help section of our website. Enjoy!

Spring’s Prompt Perennials

It was a heck of a winter here in the Northeast, and we use the past tense hesitantly because we’re now in the midst of one of the cruelest and coldest Aprils any of us can remember. The calendar says April, but it feels more like February. But even if the temperatures remain significantly below normal for this time of year, and even if our gardens are still being glazed by sleet and occasional snow, spring finally seems to be making a stand. At least that’s what some of our favorite, most reliable perennials are telling us.

These quiet stars of the early spring garden won’t upstage the colorful blossoms of Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips, but they’re among the first perennials to emerge and they go on to give the some of the longest performances of any herbaceous garden plants, finishing only with the arrival of hard frost. The sight of these stalwarts never fails to stir our hearts. They soldier through the most brutal winters, and as the first signs of spring begin to appear, they bring color, anticipation and even hope to a new season. A handful of these plants are past winners of the Perennial Plant of the Year award, and they’re among the most garden worthy plants we know. Below, we show each of them breaking ground in early spring, then, in a second shot, you’ll see the same plants at the peak of their development later in the season. The “spring” photos were all taken in mid-April in a Zone 6a Connecticut garden amid the snow, sleet and chill of this late spring. The plants, as you’ll see, were unfazed. Roused by the strengthening sunlight and longer days, their presence keeps insisting that spring has arrived, even if Old Man Winter hasn’t quite gotten the message.

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Prompt in its early spring arrival, the heart-shaped foliage of this shade garden favorite is a delight to behold. The green leaves, veiled and veined in silver, first appear as tiny as teardrops, and they gradually gain in size. Sprays of small blue flowers resembling Forget-Me-Nots arrive on slender stems in May and June, but it’s the foliage that counts. It continues looking beautiful straight through until autumn’s hard frost.

The enchanting leaves of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ emerging early in spring.
Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ fills in to create a lush mound of beautiful foliage. The tiny blue blossoms are a fleeting treat in May and June.

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)

A fuss-free beauty for the edge of part-shade borders, this tough but lovely plant is utterly distinctive in color and foliage. Pleated buds open into broad, kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. The soft green color of the leaves blends beautifully with purples, blues, and pinks, and the the frothy chartreuse flower clusters that emerge in June and July energize and enliven any border’s edge.

Achemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) emerging in early spring. Note the pleated leaves. They will gradually broaden and become almost smooth, developing their signature kidney shape.
The indispensable Achemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) topped by its chartreuse flower clusters. A superb plant for the edge of the part-shade border.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

This essential, drought-tolerant perennial for hot, sunny gardens is simply unstoppable. The thick, blue-green succulent foliage breaks ground at the first signs of spring then rises on stems to 18-24”. Greenish-white flower clusters cap the mounding plants in summer, and the flowers open rosy pink in August. Toward fall, they deepen to wine, and they can be left on the plant to dry and catch snowflakes in winter.

The stalwart Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ breaks early in spring. Here, rosettes of succulent leaves emerge amid last season’s cut stems.
The greenish flower clusters of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ open pink in late summer. As the season advances to autumn, the color changes to a rich burgundy.

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

This Lavender-lookalike is one of the great garden plants. Starting early, it sends up masses of gray-green leaves, which appear in tidy mounds that are perfect for edging a border or walkway. As the weather warms, plants produce flower spikes with the lavender-blue blossoms. Adding to the pleasures this plant provides is the tangy scent of its leaves, which stirs the senses at the start of the gardening season. To help plants maintain a neat habit, shear them back by two-thirds after the first bloom. Plants will continue flowering until frost.

A nest of grey-green Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ foliage defies spring’s tempests and heralds the arrival of spring. Brush your hand against the leaves, and the tangy, revitalizing scent is another welcome sign that winter is packing its bags.
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ putting on its show in our display gardens. After the first flush of bloom, shear plants by two-thirds to promote rebloom.

Geranium ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’

This Scented Geranium at first seems too pedestrian to belong on many must-have lists, but when you see the way it performs in your garden, you’ll want more. A superb ground cover for sun to part-shade, this rugged, carefree grower produces a mound of deeply dissected green leaves that look fabulous all season long. Spring brings a sprinkling of 1” pastel pink blossoms, but we love it best for the beautiful, aromatic foliage that blazes orange and red in the fall. These plants spread efficiently but are not invasive, they tolerate dry shade, and they smother weeds in the bargain.

A lush mound of Geranium ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ already filling in nicely in mid-April. Pink flowers appear in May and June. In autumn the leaves turn shades of orange and red.
Geranium ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ smothered in pink blooms in late spring. Weeds don’t stand a chance.

Iris pallida ‘Variegata’

Like rays of sun emerging from the soil in spring, the yellow-variegated blades of this exceptional Iris show themselves early. The warm golden color is welcome in the spring garden, but so too is the foliage form, which creates lovely contrast amid a variety of bulbs. Lavender-blue blooms appear in June, and they carry a scent that is one of the great perfumes of spring. As the season progresses, the yellow variegation in the foliage shades to cream, like shifting light in the garden.

Sunlight gives the blade-shaped foliage of emerging Iris pallida ‘Variegata’ a radiant glow in the spring garden. The yellow tones mix beautifully with spring bulbs. Later in the season, the yellow shades to cream.
The fragrant, lavender-blue blossoms of Iris pallida ‘Variegata’ are another reason to love this carefree perennial. As the season progresses, the foliage continues to add striking form and color to the garden.

Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’

The first leaves of this favorite Phlox emerge green suffused with deep maroon in a colorful celebration of the start of spring.  By summer, stunning flowers open in shades of blue and purple that change with the light of day. In the morning and evening hours, the flowers are deep blue. At midday, they change to purple. This favorite of Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s beautiful planted with Ornamental Grasses or amid the feathery foliage of Amsonia hubrichtii.

The colorful foliage of Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ emerges gratifyingly early in spring. The mixed green and maroon colors are a prelude to the changing colors of the blossoms, which shade from rich blue to purple, depending on the light.
Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ may have earned its name from the magnificent color of the blossoms at morning and evening. The rich blue tone changes to purple in the bright light of midday.

 

 

 

 

The Store Is Open!

Spring has not quite sprung in our neck of the woods (Sunday’s temperature is expected to drop again into the 30s), but the itch to begin gardening is transforming life at the farm. Our garden crew once again is working outdoors, clearing the grounds of fallen leaves and twigs, and preparing for new plantings. As we wait patiently for the emergence of Daffodils and other early spring flowers, the surest sign of spring’s arrival for now is that the White Flower Farm Store has flung open its doors for the season.

This handsome chap is waiting to greet visitors to the store.

New this year are plenty of plant discoveries, hard-to-find varieties, and an exciting collection of garden accessories, tools, supplies, and gift items, including several special gift sets that are ideal for Mother’s Day.

We’re stocked for the season. Among the offerings are our bestselling Rough & Ready Clogs, garden hats, a lovely English Garden Apron and matching Gauntlet Gloves.
We’re particularly excited about an expanding array of gift items for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The season’s finds include Linnea’s Lights diffusers and scented candles, fragrant botanical soaps, Lavender sachets, and a deluxe Caswell-Massey soap set created for the New York Botanical Garden.

Outdoors, the store’s display areas are filling up with tree specimens, evergreens including Rhododendrons, Junipers and Chamaecyparis varieties, and a wide variety of flowering shrubs. Among the trees, we’re thrilled to be offering beautifully formed ornamental favorites from Japanese Maples and Stewartias to spring flowering Cherries and Dogwoods.

Our Murano glass birdbaths are available in an array of rich colors and patterns.

Annuals and perennials both new and classic have begun to populate the yard. Richly colored Anemones and cheerful Pansies are blooming beautifully, waiting to be planted in containers, window boxes, and garden beds.

Early flowering Anemones defy spring’s twitchy weather.

The gleaming green leaves of Hellebores, some in bloom, and early flowering English Daisies are all ready to be transplanted into the spring garden.

Choose from an array of Dahlia tubers, then plant them in sunny borders or in container pots. Dahlias are indispensable for adding late season color to the garden. They begin flowering in high summer then keep the beautiful, colorful blossoms coming until hard frost.

Inside the store, it’s plain to see the staff has outdone itself. Amid a broad selection of Dahlia tubers, Lily bulbs, and premium houseplants, you’ll find an exciting selection of accessories – from hoses and decoratively patterned kneelers to professional-grade garden tools to our new English Garden Apron and Gauntlet Gloves, Linnea’s Lights candles and diffusers, Mooni Wander Lights, soap sets and Lavender gifts, stunning and colorful Murano glass birdbaths, and Peter Rabbit miniature garden ornaments. Additionally, look for favorites such as Renee’s seed packets and mixes, small plants for terrariums and mini pots, laminated field guides, and stationery and cards.

Miniature plants for terrariums are on offer along with Peter Rabbit miniature garden ornaments.

The store calendar is filled with a variety of special events for the season including the popular Annual Mother’s Day Make & Take Container Event, our annual Great Tomato Celebration, a book signing with author Tovah Martin, and more. For the complete calendar, click here.

We hope you’ll visit the store often and stroll the display gardens in every season. Bring your garden questions and challenges, and show us cell phone photos of your dream gardens or of problem areas in your yard or garden. Our terrific staff, led by store manager Tom Bodnar and team leader and hard goods and visual merchandizer Mary Valente, would be delighted to help and make suggestions.