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Down on the Farm - Even This Winter Must End
Spring Bulbs Blooming at White Flower Farm

To simplify your choices, consult our preplanned Garden Inspirations.
To simplify your choices, consult our preplanned Garden Inspirations.

Keep track of your plants with our Garden Journal kit.
Keep track of your plants with
our Garden Journal kit.

Learn how to create "luscious landscaping" in this new book from Lee Reich.
Learn how to create
"luscious landscaping" in this
new book from Lee Reich.

Our online Bulb Book shows you what spring could look like at your house. Act now.
Our online Bulb Book shows you what spring could look like at your house. Act now.

Dear Gardening Friend,

As we mopped up the water from our dining room floor (4 inches of rain on top of 30 inches of snow will do that to a former cow barn), we found ourselves yearning for spring with the kind of intensity that can lead to immoderate actions, including excessive and poorly considered purchasing, premature cultivation, and failure to consult with spouses on labor commitments. If you are experiencing the same urgency, may we offer a few restraining concepts that experience suggests will improve the outcome without sacrificing the enthusiasm.

FIRST - Take a fresh look around your property before you do anything. You will be amazed at all the things that will occur to you once the ground is before your eyes. There may be repairs or replacements to be noted, or design enhancements to be worked out, or even new gardens seeking to emerge from your unconscious. Both we and the land are different every year, and the possibilities for self-expression are limitless. If the snow is still too deep to get into every corner, read a book and try again next week.

SECOND - Review whatever written records you keep of your gardening, including plans, purchases, photos, even weather data. Again, the goal is to refresh and stimulate your brain, recreating the reactions you had while the gardens were in bloom last year. If yours were perfect, perhaps you would consider coming to work with us at our place.

THIRD - Make a list of all the ideas that occur to you as possibilities, then rank them (an Excel spreadsheet works very well for this purpose) as to:

• Most pleasing, interesting, or potentially important

• Most expensive, including a rough dollar figure

• Time required to create and maintain, including a rough estimate of hours for each

• When they need to be implemented, either by drafting plans, or ordering plants, or creating structures, or improving the soil, or even removing existing elements in the landscape.

FOURTH - Turn the list from number 3 into an action plan that fits with your calendar, and your budget and your space, and your energy. Doing a few things well is vastly more satisfying than doing a lot of things poorly, and will produce a garden that is a joy, not a burden. There may be an experienced gardener somewhere who has not learned the hard way about over-committing, but we secretly neither like nor trust that person.

FIFTH - Make a fresh pot of coffee and either open our spring catalogue or click into and start turning fantasy into reality. The time you have consumed in doing your homework has probably gotten you happily through a week or two of crushingly dreary early spring weather and we, like you, will be ready too when we receive your instructions.

The Kitchen Garden at our Retail Store

One of mankind's primal urges is the desire to bite into a sun-ripened Tomato.
One of mankind's primal urges is
the desire to bite into a sun-ripened Tomato.

We offer over 15 different types of fruit for the home garden.
We offer over 15 different types of fruit for the home garden.

Herbs are easy to grow in full sun (at least 6-8 hours a day).
Herbs are easy to grow in full sun (at least 6-8 hours a day).

The simple answer is that they look better, taste better, are free from unknown chemicals, and are both cheap and abundant, this in a year when food prices are sharply up across the board. Within this wide generalization, we offer our own view that if space and time are scarce, you get the best return for your efforts with Tomatoes and Peppers, both of which are incomparably better fresh from the vine, can be successfully cultivated in containers in practically any location, and can be grown without the fuss of seed starting by purchasing lush, sturdy plants of the very best varieties from us. Well, for goodness sakes, what else did you expect us to say? We offer over 100 varieties of Tomatoes, ranging from the best modern hybrids to the most distinctive heirlooms. You can find shapes, colors, and flavors that will invigorate your summer salads, or your winter sauces and relishes in ways that store-bought produce can never do. It is both a truism and true that there is NOTHING to compare with the flavor of a ripe Tomato picked fresh from the vine and warm from the sun. The same applies, of course, to our 20 varieties of Peppers, ranging from sweet to shockingly incendiary. They are the heart of a wide range of menus and make the plastic-wrapped commercial versions, fresh from 72 hours on a transcontinental truck, taste like cardboard by comparison.

For the record, both Tomatoes and Peppers are easy to grow. They like rich, well-drained soil, lots of sun and heat, and some stakes to support their stampeding summer growth. One or two sturdy bamboo stakes, preferably 6 feet tall with 2 feet in the ground, plus some sort of soft, stretchy tie, is all you need. Our plants will arrive at the right time for planting outside, in prime condition for transplanting, and accompanied with detailed instructions. It's a no-miss proposition with one caveat. With so many varieties on offer, we are obliged to do a lot of guessing about demand. If your needs are very specific, may we suggest that TODAY would be a good time to get your order in to avoid disappointment, both ours and yours.

The Unique 50 Daylily Mix

Hostas offer many handsome leaf colorations and form a rugged ground cover in shade.
Hostas offer many handsome leaf colorations and form a rugged ground cover in shade.

Echinaceas come in all sorts of colors and shapes now, including double 'Marmalade'.
Echinaceas come in all sorts of colors and shapes now, including double 'Marmalade'.

Within Iris there is scarcely a shade or combination of colors that can’t be found.
Within Iris there is scarcely a shade or combination of colors that can’t be found.

If you have a big garden, you already know how important it is to have the design anchored by a group of plants that are permanent, reliable, hardy, pest free, and, of course, beautiful. These are the building blocks around which you plan your annual embellishments and they become, over time, your friends and allies in the struggle to balance the needs of your garden with the rest of your life. Without meaning to talk down to old hands, we make bold to offer a bit of history on this matter.

In the days before there was a garden center on every corner, and a UPS truck in every driveway, home gardeners did not have access to a large selection of annual and tender plants from which to make gardens, and they relied very heavily, and happily, on herbaceous perennials, these being plants which die back to the ground at the onset of frost, then reappear in the spring to repeat their performance, often on an expanded scale. Perennials come in all the forms imagined by nature and then enhanced by the hand of man, and they offer a diversity of colors, forms, and bloom times that is nearly limitless. Several of the favorite plants in all horticulture, including Peonies, and Irises, and Daylilies and Hostas, are vigorous and hardy perennials, with metabolisms so durable that they are long-lived and absolutely carefree in almost all temperate areas (meaning at least 20 inches of rain and 20 days of frost each year). We grew up surrounded by small but elegant borders maintained by our mother and thought of the Zinnias and Pansies and Coleus in the window boxes as distinctly second-class citizens. We learned better, of course, but never lost our taste for the big, rich, and endlessly changing tapestries that can be created from thoughtful use of perennials.

With this in mind, we have been pleased and heartened to see new customers, many of whom we take to be beginning gardeners, finding their way to our offering of perennials that is, we believe, unmatched elsewhere in this country. If you have not found your way there, may we suggest that you click here and spend an hour or two perusing the 500+ varieties available for your selection. They have been chosen for sale after extensive trials in our garden and are guaranteed to be satisfactory in every respect, including of course their reappearance for many years to come.

Blackmore and Langdon Seedling Collection of Begonias

The time to order our legendary Blackmore and Langdon Tuberous Begonias is NOW. These extraordinary shade lovers are grown from tubers that we ship to you only from March to April. They need to be potted in a well-drained soil (offered here of course) and grow steadily toward their dramatic summer display, which begins in mid-June and continues into October. B&L Begonias are so stunningly lovely that they are widely assumed to be difficult to grow, which is not true. We think of them as being like a computer in that they do exactly what they are supposed to when they get the right management. Indirect light, careful staking, and regular feeding ALWAYS produce results that look like this. If you have a shady porch or terrace, with protection from wind, these British aristocrats offer a display unlike any other. We maintain roughly 100 plants in one of our display greenhouses every summer, just for the joy of looking at them and snipping blooms for the dinner table. That scale of commitment may not work for you, but think what this summer would look like with 6 plants in mixed colors to grace your view. To repeat, now is the time.

Without editorial comment, we present herewith our personal favorites from the new introductions for this spring. We generally look at 5-6 trial plants for every one we list, and are sometimes obliged to drop old friends when an improved form comes along. Expressing our views is, we realize, pure self-indulgence but after 36 years in this job, perhaps we are entitled.

Petunia 'Black Velvet'
Petunia 'Black Velvet'
The first truly black Petunia on upright, mounding plants. Use them straight or mix with your favorite colors. Fragrant, too.

Vaccinium 'Pink Lemonade'
Vaccinium 'Pink Lemonade'
The fruit of this Blueberry is pink when ripe, and we think the birds have not yet figured this out.
Hydrangea Great Star™
Hydrangea Great Star™ Discovered in a famous French garden and just recently available. The unique and showy sterile flowers are up to 4in across. Easy maintenance.

Cyperus King Tut®
Cyperus King Tut®
A vigorous form of Egyptian Papyrus, impressive for its quick growth and outstanding presence in annual containers.

Colocasia 'Thailand Giant'
Colocasia 'Thailand Giant'
This huge Elephant's Ear thrives on sun, water, and fertilizer. Leaves can reach 4ft across in a garden, 9ft tall in the wild.

White Flower Farm Store

The glorious display gardens at the nursery are maintained partly for our own education and our pleasure, and partly to share our joy in the world of plants with old friends and new. This latter objective cannot be met unless you plan a visit. We are roughly 2 hours from mid-town Manhattan, 2 1/2 from downtown Boston and can say, without hubris, that you will find the trip is worth it. We look forward to seeing you. Click here to see what we are planning for the season.

TOMATOMANIA! BOSTON STYLE -- Sunday, May 22 -- 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
In cooperation with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, we will present the first annual Tomatomania! event at the Elm Bank Horticulture Center in Wellesley, featuring over 75 varieties of Tomatoes from heirlooms to hybrids. Click here for directions. Please register for expert and author Scott Daigre's talks at 10am and 1pm.

Amos Pettingill

P.S. White Flower Farm is proud to be a sponsor of the 8th Annual Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium at the world-class Equinox Resort in Manchester, Vermont. The event begins on the evening of Friday, April 1 with The Complete Kitchen Garden: The Art of Designing a Classic Potager, a talk by Ellen Ogden, nationally known kitchen garden expert and cookbook author. Saturday's lectures by well-known experts include Mad About Blue (blue-flowering plants and using blue in the landscape); The Botany of Design (looking at garden design in a completely different way); Proven Winners Annuals; Exceptional Native Perennials for Creative Gardening; and Exciting New or Underused Perennials for 2011. Advance registration and payment is required. For more on the agenda, speakers, and registration information click here or call 518-885-3471 or writel


Shop our New Online Spring Catalogue

Look for the product review and 5-star rating feature. You can comment on every product we offer and read what other gardeners have to say. To tell us what you like and don't like, click the "Write a Review" link on any product page, located just under the item's photo and also at the bottom of the page.

White Flower Farm
P.O. Box 50
Litchfield, CT 06759
(c)2011 White Flower Farm, Inc.

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