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Fall 2015


Holiday 2015


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White Flower Farm Our Gift Certificates Click here to browse our HOLIDAY 2007 Catalogue Online New for Holiday Amaryllis Holiday Decorating Forced Bulbs Indoor Plants Gift Ideas

This year our annual containers
lasted through October.


Down on the Farm, Fall is for Planning

Dear Gardening Friend,

Despite an October that can only be described as sultry, winter IS coming and, for us, a killing frost is, at this writing, already a couple of weeks late. Shutting down the garden can be a dreary job if you view it as the end of the gardening year, and we much prefer the notion that fall is simply a transition to a different kind of gardening that takes place indoors. Here's how it works.

First is the salvage stage. Take a long, hard look around your outdoor garden, including both the beds and the containers, which are often sadly neglected or even partly frozen by mid-November, and see what remains alive both above and below ground. The tubers of Dahlias, Gladiolus, and Begonias need to be lifted, dried, and tucked away in trays of sand or peat moss in a cool, dry space. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how many you harvest, then conflicted about discarding the excess, which you can do now, as the saying goes, or do later. It's a task that will make you feel like the thrifty ant and will give you an early start next spring.

Rather more stimulating is the process of preserving examples, or perhaps stock plants, of the tender varieties that kept the garden bright all summer. We routinely dig, prune, and pot 2s and 3s of Geraniums (really Pelargoniums), Lantanas, Fuchsias, Salvias, and a variety of succulents, all of which seem to thrive in the dry, 63-degree air of our dining room where they roost in front of the tall, south-facing windows. We water heavily once, then lightly through January when we increase the water, feed lightly, and start snipping off cuttings to set in shallow dishes of water to root. We don't get much of a show from these plants in winter, because there just isn't enough light where we live, but they somehow look right and smell right, and allow us to feel like we are doing something that is about our own garden.


Forced Bulbs

We pot and pre-chill spring bulbs,
so you can enjoy the blooms.

Lavender 'Goodwin Creek Grey'

Lavender 'Goodwin Creek Grey'
thrives indoors in winter.


Lily-of-the-Valley will transform
a room with its sweet scent.

  A second technique for keeping your "inner garden" alive is to bring in plants whose genetics or provenance allow them to thrive indoors in winter. Whether your taste runs to lush tropicals like Gardenias, Orchids, Abutilons, Jasmines, and Lavenders, or you'd rather have big, colorful bowls of spring-flowering bulbs (Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, Scillas), the options are abundant and we are pleased to say, utterly without embarrassment, that NO ONE offers a better selection from both groups than we, all delivered to your door at the time you require with a mere stroke of the pen or click of the mouse. Did we neglect to mention Amaryllis, those gloriously lovely and entirely foolproof bulbs that produce (when acquired here) two stems each with at least four blooms? Their grace and beauty is unmatched, as is the fragrance of forced Lily-of-the-Valley, which we offer as part of a complete kit or separately with potting mix for your own container. The pips will bloom about 3-4 weeks after potting. Please note we are not talking about gifts to others here, though that behavior is, of course, encouraged as well. It's your soul we are saving from the dreaded darkness and cold. Simply click here to begin the therapy.


This is also the time of year when we button up our own greenhouses, bring all the crops inside, and get down to the serious business of commercial propagation. Barbara Pierson, who runs our production operations, grew up in the nursery business and she has seen first hand the risks of monoculture, the term scientists use to describe concentrations of one species in one place. In simple terms, when one gets sick, they all get sick, and when a bug or other pest gets started, all hell breaks loose. Unfortunately, monoculture is what nurseries do, because there is no alternative. Years ago, the techniques for control of pests relied on carpet bombing with pesticides that did the jobs we needed done, but were, as we now understand, doing a lot of less desirable things as well. Over time, as our knowledge expanded, sensible people started looking for alternatives while, at the same time, the pests were developing resistance to many of the established products. The first meaningful improvement was known as Integrated Pest Management, a grandiose term for looking carefully at all the factors in a growing environment and picking your controls with some care to address only the problems that actually exist. Not surprisingly, careful observation combined with good sanitation practices using natural products (insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, Neem, and other plant-based products) made a big difference.

Our industry is beginning to turn to "biological controls," which means the introduction of natural organisms that prey on or otherwise suppress pests. We are beginning with predatory mites that consume the larvae of gnats and thrips, predatory nematodes with similar tastes, and pirate bugs that dine on all stages of aphids and thrips, though only during the long days of summer. Our internal program is now under way as we seek to master the necessary balance of temperature, moisture, and nutrients to sustain these beneficial visitors and we have high hopes. One little step that we are proud to make.

Amaryllis to 3 addresses

Send Amaryllis to 3 addresses,
standard delivery included.


Jasmine provides an
explosion of bloom in January.

Mr. David Smith explains how Jasmine are grown.

Mr. David Smith explains
how Jasmine are grown.


We're quite proud of our gift offering, which has been refined over many years to include those plants that are absolutely guaranteed to exceed even the most optimistic imaginings. That said, we are equally proud of the people and systems that allow us to deliver your gifts, with complete instructions and your holiday greetings enclosed, at the time you select. It's not easy to ship live plants in full lush growth through uncertain winter weather but our staff has been at it for decades. They use Internet weather maps combined with computerized shipping schedules to assure success, and there is seldom a disappointment. If you have not given this service a try, you should.

The one thing we can't do is to stop the clock, which means that late orders are a challenge for us, as they are for you. If you can possibly find a moment, please cut us a little slack by making your selections early and if not, be assured that we will do our darnedest to deliver what you need when you need it. Of course, a gift certificate (which our wife describes as being, like patriotism, the traditional refuge of scoundrels) can be delivered electronically until late on Christmas Eve, a practice we do not recommend but also will not expose. We look forward to serving you.


David Smith, one of White Flower Farm's first employees and director of horticulture from 1954-1990, kindly spent several days at the nursery this year recounting his adventures with plants and people. He grew up in Shropshire, England, where his father was head gardener at Weston Park. It was on a trip back to England to visit his family that he obtained one of our signature holiday plants, the exquisitely fragrant vine, Jasminum polyanthum. We think you'll enjoy watching the video.


Amos Pettingill

White Flower Farm
P.O. Box 50
Litchfield, CT 06759
©2007 White Flower Farm, Inc.

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