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(860) 496-9624 x6220

A Simple Strategy for a Spectacular 2012 Garden
(White Flower Farm’s Strategy for a Spectacular 2012 Garden)

If you dream of having a garden that makes heads turn, but simply lack the space, there is good news for you. The gardeners at White Flower Farm have come up with a list of versatile and beautiful shrubs that prove that you do not need a large area to create dramatic effect. Rather, it is just a question of choosing the right plants. "You don't need the scale of a botanic garden to create an absolute gem. You can have a drop-dead garden anywhere -- on a rooftop, in a small urban garden, in containers, on a patio, in a condo setting." Says Barbara Pierson, Nursery Manager at White Flower Farm. "In fact, I always recommend starting small as a strategy for new gardeners. That way they don't get overwhelmed and give up!"

Some plants are temperamental beauties -- they require specific conditions to thrive, and even when these are met, they may turn up their noses and refuse to behave. As gardeners, we still love these varieties, but there is no need to reserve space for them in your garden if your space is limited. "When you have a small space to work with, each plant has to earn its keep" says Barbara Pierson. "I have found that people may be aware of a certain shrub, but they are not aware of all the different ways it can be used."

The plants that made it onto White Flower Farm's list are heavy hitters -- in addition to their stunning good looks and low maintenance needs, each shrub fills several gardening needs including fragrance, winter interest, flowers for cutting, screening and hedging. Pierson advises that "when you keep these multipurpose shrubs in mind when you are buying, you will end up with a well edited garden while saving yourself a lot of money."

Hydrangea macrophylla Cityline™ Mars
Hydrangea macrophylla Cityline™ Rio
These are two of the most exciting new developments in the world of Hydrangeas. In both strains, flower color is dictated by soil pH, but the flowers of these two varieties are bicolor, which is a huge departure from what has been available in the past -- Cityline™ Mars can be either blue and white or pink and white. Cityline™ Rio flowers are deep blue-purple with green eyes or pink with green eyes. In either case, the magnificent blooms will "stop you in your tracks" says Pierson. The eye-popping blooms will last for weeks in the summer. Unlike other Hydrangeas that reach a height of 4 to 5 feet or even higher, these reach a height of 2 to 3 feet and do very well in containers.

Rosa Floral Fairy Tale™
The biggest benefits of this new strain of Floribunda Rose are its strong disease resistance and the fact that it reblooms -- mature plants will flower all summer long. It has been a standout in the trial gardens at White Flower Farm, and its glossy green foliage are rivaled only by its sweet fragrance. Again, you will not need to reconsider your entire landscape to make room for this beauty -- its mature height is 2 to 3 feet.

Forsythia intermedia Show Off™
This is a brilliant choice for a hedge because you won't be signing on for a lifetime of pruning and fussing to keep it a reasonable size -- it only grows to 3 to 6 feet high. After blooming in Spring, its dark green foliage acts as a screen. It is deciduous, but you can clip a few stems in mid-winter to force spring blooms for decorating inside.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Knaptonensis'
With this visually stunning semidwarf shrub, you will get the "wow" factor that comes with any plant that you don't see in every garden center. An evergreen, it is an excellent choice for any shady spot that needs to be filled year-round.

Buddleia Lo & Behold® Blue Chip
Buddleia Lo & Behold® Purple Haze
Buddleia is a wonderful, low maintenance workhorse of a shrub, which typically grows to 5 feet tall and equally wide. This keeps it out of many small gardens. It also has a reputation for taking over, but the Lo & Behold series are bred to fit into even the smallest space -- reaching a height of only 2 to 3 feet. They still attract butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, but instead of being a main feature, they can be an accent in the front of a bed or border.

Chaenomeles Double Take™ Orange Storm
When most people think of Flowering Quince, they think of a delightful spring flowering shrub that is less than lovable the rest of the year. Its thorns and fruit overshadow its wonderful attributes, so people tend to plant it in a remote spot and admire it from afar. The Double Take™ varieties are thornless and bear no fruit, and are deer-resistant, which is a boon for many gardeners. Their stems work well for forcing blooms in mid-winter, too.

Syringa Bloomerang™
Lilacs are wonderful. For about two weeks a year. After that, they have a reputation for being a rather average looking shrub that can attract mildew and send up stems (suckers?) faster than you can clip them. Bloomerang™ lilacs grow to a width of 3 feet, and a height of 4 to 5 feet, making it an excellent choice for a low hedge that does not require constant attention. After their first bloom in the spring, they rebloom on and off until frost.

Amaryllis in the Garden
One of the most innovative things we have been experimenting with here at White Flower Farm is Amaryllis in the garden, rather than as a house plant. Gardeners in zone 7 and warmer are used to treating these lovely bulbs as garden perennials. In zones 5-6, gardeners can plant Amaryllis directly into any sunny (?) spot in the spring and expect to see blooms in about 8 to 10 weeks. Because it is not hardy in areas colder than zone 7, the bulbs have to be dug up removed from the garden in mid Fall, after the first hard freeze, and stored in a dark place for the winter.

This perennial plant is not technically a shrub, but it acts like one! This is an absolute boon, for gardeners in colder climates where it is one of the earliest plants to flower in the spring and given the right conditions, will flower all summer long. In milder climates, it can even bloom in the depths of winter. It acts like a low, evergreen shrub with a long flowering period.

Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.

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White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our Email list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogs or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.

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