Fall-Blooming Bulbs

Magazines and TV talk shows exhort us to live in the moment, and gardening is a way to encourage that practice — to stop and smell the Roses. But Gardening is also very much about anticipation, eagerly looking ahead to the first ripe Tomato or the blooming of a favorite Perennial.

Crocus ‘Albus’

We find it’s easy to extend that sense of anticipation far beyond the summer growing season with Fall-blooming bulbs such as Crocus, Colchicums, Sternbergia, and Lycoris. These charmers provide a delightful way to bring the gardening year to a close.

Lycoris radiata

Like bulbs that flower in spring, most fall-flowering bulbs need a sunny or partly sunny site (although Lycoris radiata prefers partial shade in warm climates) and moderately fertile, well-drained soil. To improve drainage, incorporate organic matter into the soil and to boost fertility, apply bulb fertilizer on top of the ground after planting. Sternbergia often benefits from a bit of limestone worked into the soil.

Sternbergia lutea

Plant fall-flowering bulbs as soon as possible after you receive them because they need to establish their root systems. Plant Crocuses 2-3 in deep and 3in apart. Colchicum bulbs are larger; plant them 4-6in deep and 10-12in apart. Plant Sternbergia bulbs 6in deep and 4in apart. Set the bulbs of Lycoris so that the neck sits just below the soil surface and space them 5in apart.

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

As long as the soil is well-drained, pests and diseases are rarely a problem with these bulbs. Deer and voles do not bother them. Fall-flowering Colchicums and Crocuses usually bloom about 3-6 weeks after planting. Lycoris requires more time to settle in; it may not bloom until the following year, but the wait is well worthwhile.

New Plants and Bulbs for Fall

Among the great pleasures of the nursery business is discovering new and unfamiliar plant varieties. These can be plants that are new to the market and or simply new to us. Choosing which of these plants to offer, and which our customers might find appealing and useful, is a very satisfying part of our job. Over the years, we’ve learned that “new” doesn’t always mean “better.” For that reason, we trial plants in our gardens extensively to make sure that every variety we offer lives up to grower’s claims, and meets our expectations and yours. Highlighted below you’ll find a handful of the new perennials and bulbs we’re offerings for the fall season.  Several are brand new to the trade, others are treasured varieties we are pleased to have discovered.

Named after the Italian for “my love,” this exquisite Jonquil is easy to fall for.

Jonquilla Daffodils like hot, baking summer sun and are well adapted to growing in the Deep South. They also thrive in cooler parts of the country. These Daffodils naturalize well, creating beautiful sweeps of color. Narcissus ‘Amore Mio’ features round, pristine white petals that surround a gently ruffled white corona, subtly suffused with just the hint of blush. The light perfume ensures you’ll never forget her. A favorite of our Dutch Daffodil breeder.

Pastel shades of yellow and blue combine in this springtime confection.

Iris are among the best-known and best-loved garden plants. Say the word “Iris,” and visions of brilliant June flowers come to mind. The chosen habitats of Iris range from standing water to formal borders, and there is scarcely a shade or combination of colors that can’t be found. We love Iris ‘Easter Candy’ for the beautiful play on colors. The soft yellow standards rise above a watery cascade of pale blue falls that are each set apart by a central stripe of darker blue. These plants also offer multiple stems with heavy bloom.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Vibrant Dome’

We count Asters among the great garden plants because many hold off blooming until late summer and fall when most flowers are spent. Let the raspberry-pink Daisy-like blooms of ‘Vibrant Dome’ introduce some hot summer color to your fall plantings. A sport of ‘Purple Dome,’ the plant was discovered by landscape designer Bobbie Schwartz in her garden, and it exhibits the same compact form and prolific blooming habit of its famous parent.

Tulip ‘Flames Mystery’

Fosteriana Tulip varieties are good choices for bedding, forcing, and perennializing. Tulips are happy in any good, well-drained garden soil. Eye-catching in both form and color, the fiery flowers of ‘Flames Mystery’ have pointed, twisting red petals with yellow bases. Combine their intensity with clouds of blue Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) for a showstopping display.

Allium giganteum

The genus Allium (the Latin means “garlic”) offers colorful, distinctive, and long-lasting forms that are standouts in the early summer garden. Tuck them among clumps of summer-flowering perennials where the Alliums’ withering foliage will be hidden by the expanding perennials. The bright, 5″ lilac flowers on 3–4′ stems appear in late June and grow quickly to a colossal size. The intriguing flowers of Allium giganteum start green, coloring first on top of the ball, then slowly becoming lilac. As they mature, they revert to green again, from the top down. This rugged Himalayan survived a midsummer tornado in 1989 without staking.

Plant Clematis for Extravagant Blooms

There’s a Clematis for virtually every garden situation: choose the taller varieties to cover an arbor or a trellis, and grow the shorter and non-climbing types through shrub roses and small trees. You can also select Clematis varieties with different bloom times for flowers in virtually every season except winter. Flowering periods begin in early spring with the compact alpinas and macropetalas, then progress through early summer with the large-flowering hybrids, and continue through late summer with the texensis and viticella varieties to a flourishing finish with the exuberant Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. terniflora, also known as C. paniculata).

We’re particularly fond of Clematis paniculata that grows on an old stone wellhead at the nursery (shown in photo) that’s over 10 years old.

The vining Clematis climb upward on supports to create aerial floral displays. Try pairing two varieties with blossoms similar in form but different in color to play off against each other, or combine with Climbing Roses for a glorious contrast of color and form. Clematis also partner wonderfully with other vines, shrubs, and small trees, adding a second season to spring bloomers such as Lilacs or Crabapples.

Clematis Rosemoor™ Gardini™ climbing our Cedar Tuteur

Because a Clematis climbs by twining its stems and leaf petioles around any narrow support, it is equally happy on trellising made of lathe, wire, bamboo, or rustic twigs. If you want the Clematis to grow up through a Rose, shrub, or small tree, plat it about a foot away from the base. With large trees, choose a vigorous variety and attach black nylon netting on the trunk for something it can cling to.

Dawn and Dusk Rose & Clematis Collection

Non-climbing Clematis species have a more upright, clump-forming habit and can be supported by pushing twiggy branches into the soil near the plant’s crown in early spring or by placing grow-through supports (such as those for Peonies) around the crown. Or, just let them ramble informally through neighboring plants like Shrub roses or along the ground or stone walls.

Clematis Sapphire Indigo™ provides continuous bloom in the border, carpeting the ground around the feet of perennials.

In general, Clematis need at least six hours of sun; some varieties are adapted to partial shade, and all benefit from afternoon shade in the South. Plant the crown of bareroot Clematis fully 3-4in  below soil level. They require shade at their roots — apply a 2in mulch (keep mulch about 4in from the crown) or underplant with annuals or shallow-rooted perennials. A neutral soil is preferable, and provide about one inch of water weekly. Clematis is a heavy feeder; apply a low nitrogen fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 in spring, when the buds are about 2 inches long. Then, add a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season.

Clematis ‘American Beauty’

The main reason for pruning is to increase flowering, but not all clematis are pruned in the same way. They are divided into three major pruning groups depending on their bloom season; our Gardening Help section explains these specifics. However, dead or damaged stems may be removed at any time. Early in the first spring after planting, prune the stems of all Clematis varieties down to the lowest pair of healthy buds. Thereafter, prune to control size and shape or to encourage more profuse bloom. Older vines that are only flowering on a small area at the tops of the stems can be rejuvenated by cutting them back severely, to about 18in. Wait until after the first flush of bloom to perform the surgery. Gardening with Clematis can become a rewarding addiction — you can’t stop with just one variety or one type.

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