A Tribute to David Austin & His Exquisite English Roses

Late last year, on Dec. 18th, David C. H. Austin, Sr., the legendary English rosarian and founder of David Austin® Roses Ltd., passed away at the age of 92. According to representatives, he died peacefully at his home in Shropshire surrounded by his family, an end befitting a man who brought so much beauty and wonder to the lives of others.

Rose hybridizer and writer David C. H. Austin founded David Austin Roses in 1969 in Shropshire, England. The Austin nursery, display gardens and plant center in the village of Albrighton draw visitors from around the globe.

Born in 1926 and raised on a family farm in the Shropshire countryside, Austin’s interest in flowers blossomed early. As the story goes, he was just a schoolboy when he found in the school library an issue of the great garden magazine Gardens Illustrated. What he saw on the pages ignited a passion that would last a lifetime. Austin’s father, a farmer, did not initially approve of his son’s interest in breeding flowers, but when the younger Austin turned 21, his sister gifted him with a copy of A.E. Bunyard’s book, Old Garden Roses. The rest, as they say, is history. Austin devoted his adult life to breeding what eventually became known as “English Roses.” His groundbreaking varieties combine the beauty and fragrance of classic varieties with the diversity of color and repeat-flowering habit of newer Roses. Austin eventually achieved worldwide success, but it did not come overnight. Austin’s first rose, introduced in 1961, was ‘Constance Spry.’ Industry professionals told him buyers would never be interested in what they called his “old-fashioned roses,” but Austin persisted, initially selling stock from his own kitchen table. By 1969, he had developed and was offering repeat-bloomers. But his real breakthrough came in 1983, when he introduced three of his English Roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Back at Chelsea the following year, Austin won the first of many gold medals. With a subsequent increase in sales, Austin was able to upgrade and expand his business and also his garden at Albrighton, which today is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful Rose gardens in the world.

The Austin gardens in Albrighton, England. The photo was taken in 2018 by White Flower Farm’s Eliot Wadsworth.

To best understand the patience, perseverance and wonder of what Austin accomplished in his lifetime, it helps to know that from pollination to sale, the process of creating a new Rose takes nine years. For each new Rose released, roughly 120,000 unique Roses are grown for research.

Rose Olivia Rose Austin™: Any Rose named for a member of David Austin’s family must be exceptional, and this lovely Shrub Rose is certainly that. Cupped, double blossoms of blush pink expand into old-fashioned rosettes that pale to pearly pink at their edges. They carry a rich perfume with sweet fruity notes.

Austin has 240 Rose varieties to his name. Although he was awarded countless honors during his lifetime, he has been quoted as saying that his greatest satisfaction was “to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers around the world.”

Rose Claire Austin™: This intensely fragrant, double-flowering beauty is named for David Austin’s daughter. The shrub and its flowers are an elegant presence in any garden. Plants have an arching form that makes them well suited for use as small climbers.

At White Flower Farm, we are honored and privileged to have worked with David Austin’s company over many years. We are delighted that David Austin® Roses Ltd. and its remarkable breeding program will continue under the guidance of Austin’s eldest son, David J.C. Austin, who has been with the company since 1990 and who assumed the role of managing director in 1993, and David Austin’s grandson, Richard Austin. We look forward to doing our part to perpetuate David Austin’s remarkable legacy and to encourage the enjoyment of his exceptional Roses.

New for Spring

Each year, our staff spends a significant amount of time searching out and sourcing new plants. The process can involve world travel, internet searches, phone calls, and visits to breeder’s and grower’s fields. It also involves growing new plants in our greenhouses and garden beds and experimenting with ways we can best offer new and old favorites. The results of our journeys and discoveries for spring, which also include a number of exceptional garden accents and tools, can be seen below and on our website.

Cafe au Lait Trio

Create a spectacular display in your late summer sunny border with this trio of Dahlias from the Café au Lait series. Each plant produces large, 10″ blossoms that arrive in profusion atop tall, sturdy stems. The color mix shades from the mocha pink of the original ‘Café au Lait’ to the lavender-pink of ‘Café au Lait Rosé’ and the unabashed fuchsia of ‘Café au Lait Royal.’

Clematis ‘Taiga’

For beautiful colors, extravagance of blooms, and graceful habit, nothing compares with Clematis, the queen of the flowering vines. Attracting attention at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show, Clematis ‘Taiga’ combines a compact growth habit with abundant double blossoms bristling with bicolor petals. Bred in Japan, the blooms feature a central nest of purple petals tipped in cream against an outer star of rich purple.

Tomato ‘Madame Marmande’

From France comes Tomato ‘Madame Marmande,’ a gourmet beefsteak with fruits that tip the scales at 10 oz of delicious flavor. The handsome, ribbed, broad-shouldered fruits do not crack while ripening. Indeterminate. Fruits ripen about 72 days from transplant.

Sculptural Garden Stakes

Add a bit of botanically inspired sculpture to your garden with charming decorative accents that can be displayed in any season. British master craftsman and sculptor Paul Cox creates these ornamental stakes in his Sussex studio. The metal stem on each arrives gray in color before gradually and naturally oxidizing to become a rust orange color that blends beautifully with the plants in your garden.

Hydrangea Endless Summer® Summer Crush™

Hydrangea Endless Summer® Summer Crush™ is a vibrant Mophead that delivers a color breakthrough of riveting raspberry to purple flowers (depending on your soil) that pop from a distance. Plus, the plump blooms are densely held on a compact, conveniently container-sized shrub. Great planted in multiples along a walkway or a stone wall, too.

Growing Roses Is Easier Than Ever

Today’s Roses are not your grandmother’s finicky, high maintenance plants. Thanks to the efforts of talented and patient breeders, many of today’s Roses are vigorous plants that more readily shrug off pests and diseases and bring years of classic beauty, and often fragrance, to the garden. What this means for gardeners is that growing Roses is easier than ever. For novices or those who could use a refresher, our nursery manager Barb Pierson offers these simple tips:

Helpful Tips for Growing Roses

1. If you live in a colder climate, as we do here in Connecticut, try growing Roses close to the foundation of your home. This provides plants with some degree of winter protection. Walkways are also good spots provided there is full sun. This is generally defined as at least 6 hours per day of direct sunlight.

Rose Suñorita™

2. Remember that light changes as the angle of the sun shifts throughout the season. If you live in the upper half of the U.S., choose a site that will offer full sun year-round. The more sun you have, the more flowers your plants will produce. In the lower half of the U.S., choose spots with a little bit of afternoon shade. This protects blossoms from the scorching sun and helps your flowers last longer.

Rose Ebb Tide™

3. Roses love sandy soil. Amend your soil accordingly to provide the best footing for plants. Also choose sites with good drainage, which helps ensure that Roses overwinter more successfully. They do not like wet, cold feet.

4. Do not crowd your Roses. Plants that don’t have adequate air circulation and sunlight are more susceptible to powdery and downy mildew. Remove any spent foliage from the ground around your Roses. The leaves contain natural fungal spores that can transfer to your Roses.

Rose Olivia Rose Austin™

5. Artificial liquid fertilizers tend to promote plant growth that is soft and tender, and this type of foliage can attract aphids and other pests. Instead, rely on compost and natural fertilizers to feed your plants.

Rose Julia Child™

6. If problems develop, horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can help control insects and mildews.

Rose Pretty Polly™ Pink

7. When pruning, be judicious. If you prune too hard in autumn, plants can be damaged beyond recovery. Instead, wait until spring, when plants begin to leaf out for the new season. (Roses are often not the earliest plants in the garden to respond to spring’s warming temperatures, so be patient.) Give the plant time to show its leaf buds then prune above that level.

Staff Favorites for Holiday Gifting

Around the farm, our staff is a wee bit busy picking and packing gifts for customers all across the land, but between things, we’ve all been placing our own orders holiday gifts. If it helps you wrap up your shopping, we put together a collection of some of our staff members’ favorites for holiday gifting. Please bear in mind, the standard shipping deadline for online orders is Dec. 19th at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Resplendent Reds Bouquet with a Vase and Starlight Bouquet with a Vase

‘I especially love the pinecones in the Starlight Bouquet, and the rich reds of Resplendent Reds. They’re both terrific for seasonal decorations, or for any day you or someone you love could use a lift.

Chinese Evergreen

Also great for gifting and getting are our houseplants. Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’ and Chinese Evergreen, shown above, are great choices for low light. Draceana ‘Jade Jewel’ will add great color and interest to a bright spot. They’re all so easy and beautiful!!’

~ Lorraine

Honeybells

‘While I am typically a plant enthusiast, there is nothing like biting into our incredibly juicy Honeybells. Perfect to give or receive, as there aren’t many people who would pass up that incredible flavor in the dead of winter.’

~ Rob

Mini Red Cyclamen Quartet in Ceramic Cachepots

‘In addition to adding easy, festive color to a holiday dinner table, mantelpiece, or side table, these long-blooming little charmers are perfect for brightening small nooks around the house or the corners of office desktops. I’m giving my daughter a set to share with her coworkers to lend a touch of holiday cheer to their workspace. And the graceful blossoms and silver-patterned leaves will continue to provide enjoyment long after the holidays are gone. Plus, no green thumb is required to grow them.’

~ Ann

Armscote Bee Pot

‘I’m going to fill the Armscote Bee Pot with a few gardening supplies, a trowel, gardening scissors, and a pair of gloves. It makes a terrific gift for gardening friends.’

~ Mary

Organic Culinary Herb Set in Art Seed Packs

‘If you love gardening and cooking then you can’t go wrong with gifting or receiving the Organic Culinary Herb Set in Art Seed Packs. This set has an excellent variety of herbs that you can use everyday. Plus it’s so fun to get them growing indoors, it will help take your mind of the winter blues.’

~ Shantelle

 

Red Amaryllis to 3 Addresses

‘I have 3 favorite picks for gift giving: Red Amaryllis or Bicolor Amaryllis to 3 Addresses, and Holiday Cactus. The#1 is Red Amaryllis to 3 Addresses: It’s fast and easy, and foolproof. Holiday colors! #2 is Bicolor Amaryllis to 3 Addresses: I sent this last year. I don’t like to repeat colors so this year I switched to red.’

My #3 pick is Holiday Cactus Blush: It’s easy, takes all light levels, and plants are easy to keep alive.’

For receiving, I’d be happy with any Amaryllis.’

~ Cheryl D

Anthuriums in Terra-Cotta Cachepots

‘I love to give and receive anthuriums as gifts because they add a decidedly tropical flair to almost any location and  provide a welcome splash of color during the snowy months of winter.  Add to this that they are easy care and tolerant of a wide range of conditions and you have a winning combination!’

~ Martha

Pine Cone Party Holiday Wreath

‘For giving, I love the festive feel of the Pine Cone Party Holiday Wreath, and the simplicity of the colors and tones go with anyone’s holiday décor.’

‘For receiving, I’m asking for our Leaf Brush. Big-leafed houseplants are so fun to grow, but sometimes they need a little help in getting the dust off of their leaves. This brush is the perfect tool to gently clean them. It’s one of those items that I didn’t know I needed until I learned it existed.’

~ Liz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragrant Blooms Banish Winter Blahs

In the depths of winter, there is nothing quite so lovely and transporting as the natural fragrance of flowering plants. The heady scent of Lavender conjures sultry summer days in the fields of southern France. Jasmine and Gardenia can carry your spirit to a tropical garden where warm breezes blow. And Paperwhite Narcissus summon spring in a southern garden. As winter settles over much of the country, enjoy the escapes these beautiful, carefree plants can provide indoors until it’s time, once again, to return to the garden.

Lavender ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ in Woven Basket

 

Paperwhite ‘Ariel’ Kit in Glass Vase

 

Gardenia in Embossed Metal Cachepot

 

Jasmine in Grapevine Basket

 

Scented Geranium Duo

Amaryllis: Trumpets of Winter

Written by Tovah Martin

Illustrations by Michelle Meyer

Reprinted with permission, excerpted and adapted from the December 2001/January 2002 edition of The Gardener magazine.

Gardening is not, in general, overburdened by foolproof flowers, but Amaryllises are as  close as you’ll come to foregone conclusions. Tuck an Amaryllis in a pot at the proper time of year, and chances are that in eight weeks you’ll see big, luscious blossoms —no cold treatment, no fuss, muss, or bother. In the realm of houseplants, these South American natives are a dream come true.

They’re embarrassingly easy, and I wouldn’t be without several Amaryllises staged about the house, planted in a staggered sequence for a long season of bloom. Because in winter who wouldn’t welcome big, bright blossoms? There’s nothing discreet about an Amaryllis, and that’s just what we crave in winter.

This particular brand of midwinter drama is a fairly recent affair. The history of Hippeastrums in cultivation is lengthy, but their presence in the trade has been brief. (Hippeastrum is the proper botanical name for the plants that we call Amaryllis, although botanists ousted them from that genus decades ago.) Like the true Amaryllis, A. belladonna, Hippeastrums are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Beyond technical botanical differences, Hippeastrums differ in their region of origin. Amaryllis belladonna, with cheerful red, 4″ wide, tubular blossoms in late autumn and early winter, is native to South Africa. Hippeastrums, on the other hand, originate in South America, with species scattered through Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

A handful of Hippeastrum species arrived in Europe late in the 17th century, and though they tended to have thinner petals and didn’t boast the broad trumpet look that we associate with today’s Amaryllises, the species’ flowers were flamboyant. And for plant breeders, they held great promise.

The first hybrid appeared in about 1799, when an enterprising British watchmaker took H. reginae (5″ long, bright red flowers) and bred it to H. vittatum (striped red-and-white 6″ flowers).

Amaryllis undoubtedly reached the U.S. not long after they arrived in Britain, given that bulbs are able to withstand long journeys intact. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that they had any presence, commercially speaking. Moreover, until the 1950s their popularity was restricted to the southern U.S., where they were used primarily as bedding plants. They worked well in that capacity, providing color when other bulbs were in a lull.

At some point around the 1950s, someone saw the potential for Amaryllises as indoor plants. Breeding for this purpose progressed by fits and starts for quite some time, but 20 years ago hybridizing suddenly became frenzied. As a result, petal and flower size increased substantially, and the color spectrum has expanded similarly, moving beyond the longstanding palette of white, pink, and red. Not only have oranges and peaches appeared (my favorite is ‘Nagano’), but picotee-edged, striped, streaked, and flowers with throats of contrasting color have also shown up in greater numbers.

On their normal schedule, Amaryllises grow for eight to nine months after flowering, typically slipping into dormancy in September. They then require a nine- to ten-week dormancy period before beginning the cycle again. In Holland, where Amaryllises have traditionally been hybridized and grown, the October harvest makes it difficult to produce flowers by the holidays. That’s why South African hybrid Amaryllises are also popular.  There’s another solution to the desire for early blooming plants: smaller flowering types, which tend to bloom more rapidly than their outsize kin. This explains the downsizing of a flower that everyone worked so hard to inflate. The so-called miniatures aren’t actually smaller in stature than regular Amaryllises—the overall size and the length of the flower spikes are virtually the same, sometimes even greater than the large-flowered types. But the blossoms are one-third the size.

Hyrbidizers are continuing to expand not only flower size but also the spectrum of colors. The push is on to create a true golden yellow. And blue might be in the future, too.

Getting the Best Flowers

Amaryllises are as close as you’ll come to no-fail flowering houseplants, but they still have their druthers. Achieving the first spike can hardly be avoided—they’re so eager to blossom, in fact, that Amaryllis bulbs often arrive with the snout of a flower bud poking out of the bulb. Even if that spike has made progress, it always straightens out and greens up when you get it potted.

Soil is not a big issue, although a well-drained potting medium is preferred. Much more crucial is proper watering. Over-generous watering when you first pot an Amaryllis can cause bulb rot and poor root development. Better to let the bulb dry out between drinks.

Plant Amaryllises so the top quarter of the bulb is exposed above the soil level. Firming the bulb into the soil helps prevent the plant from tipping over when balancing a full head of flowers. Potting in a clay pot also anchors plants. Staking the stems is another good preventive measure.

I always assumed that Amaryllis spikes stretched long or stayed short depending upon environmental conditions—longer spikes being the result of too much heat and too little light. But in fact certain varieties are bred for longer spikes (though it’s true that any Amaryllis grown in a dark corner with the heat cranked high will get leggy). A distinct, long-stemmed breed has been developed to fuel the cut flower trade. Furthermore, all Amaryllises tend to make shorter flower spikes late in the season.

A temperature of about 55˚-60˚F is ideal for keeping your flowers in prime condition. This will prolong a spike’s bloom for roughly six weeks. Then there’s always the promise of further spikes to come: as many as two or three are typical if you continue to water the
bulb regularly but sparingly.

After blooming finishes, the growth cycle begins. Rather than struggling to keep your Amaryllis content indoors, you might as well entertain it outdoors in the garden, watering and fertilizing the bulb as you would any other garden plant. Reduce water around Labor Day to provoke dormancy, and when colder temperatures arrive in autumn, bring the bulb back indoors, storing it in a cool (but not cold—45–50 degrees F works well), dark place. Then begin the potting-blooming-growing cycle once again.

Sounds simple and easy. All the same, I often have trouble coaxing Amaryllis to bloom for the second time. I always assumed that the fault lay with inattentiveness on my part during the busy summer months. But Thomas Everett eased my conscience.  Apparently, he experienced the same problem, and in his Encyclopedia of Horticulture he explains that, unlike other bulbs, Amaryllis roots are accustomed to growing year round. However, the bulbs are cut clean for shipping. Everett’s theory is that the effort of regrowing roots often precludes flowering in the second year. So, there’s always year three and beyond.

I’m never without an Amaryllis in winter. Every year there’s another shade, or a different spin on the same theme to try. Something with more green in the throat, or with more petals — there is always some new temptation waiting to lure me in. And I’m willing. An Amaryllis in winter is worth a whole brigade of spring bulbs.

 

 

Memorable Host & Hostess Gifts

Set your holiday table in style, or send a favorite host or hostess any of our charming botanical or botanically themed decorative accents. All are distinctive gifts that make for memorable gatherings. Holiday colors abound in our array of living greens, fresh-cut flower bouquets, and a treasured collection of Italian-made ceramic serving pieces. From tabletop to sideboard, and living room to kitchen, these festive accents bring the beauty of nature to all your seasonal celebrations.

Scroll below to choose your favorites.

Mini Red Cyclamen Quartet in copper-colored ceramic cachepots

 

Holiday Euphorbia Trio in ceramic cachepots

 

Handcrafted Woodland Ceramics made in Italy by Italian artisans

 

Christmas Colors Holiday Bouquet

 

Mini Orchid Quartet in 3″ white ceramic cachepots

Front Door Decorating

Share the joy of the season with family, friends, and neighbors when you decorate your front door for the holidays. Using beautiful evergreen wreaths and garlands, you transform your front entrance into a beacon of holiday cheer. Annual planters also help create a festive look outside your home by making beautiful use of the decorations Mother Nature provides for the winter months. Take advantage of variously colored and textured evergreens, bright red winterberries, pine cones, seed pods, and colorful twigs. Scroll below for a bit of inspiration and to see some of the products we offer, and telegraph a little cheer around your neighborhood.

Holly and Greens Garland and Wreath

These handsome and traditional decorations hail from Oregon where members of a family-owned firm harvest holly from their own groves then combine it with the fresh-cut foliage of locally grown evergreens and Ponderosa pine cones. The sweet and tangy fragrance of these lush greens will fill a room with the classic, all-natural scent of Christmastime.

Huckleberry Crescent Ring

The rich, warm tones of Huckleberry add vibrant holiday color to this beautiful and inviting wreath. Arrayed on a gold-colored metal ring is a crescent of fresh Manzanita overlaid with red Huckleberry stems and finished with a burgundy satin bow.

Canella Berry Door Greeter

Welcome all who stop by your house with this eye-catching arrangement of holiday reds and greens. Freshly harvested, lush branches of fragrant Noble Fir, Incense Cedar, and berried Juniper are accented by clusters of red Canella berries and pine cones, then topped with a bright bow edged in gold.

Winter Containers

In the planting on the right, we feature live Chamaecyparis ‘Boulevard,’ paired with Dogwood stems and topped with frosted Pine Cones. The container on the left combines gold-rimmed Euonymus ‘Aureomarginatus’ and Chamaecyparis ‘Sungold’ complemented by berried Juniper stems. Both containers are brightened by Winterberry stems.

Touch of Gold Decorating Greens

For those who enjoy a DIY project, we offer boxes of freshly harvested greens that are ideal for filling outdoor containers and window boxes. Our Touch of Gold collections include gilded Nigella, Flax and Lotus pods to add sparkle to your decorations.

Growing Citrus Indoors

The benefits and delights of growing Citrus indoors are numerous. For starters, these small trees with glossy green leaves are lovely to look at. When in flower, the scent of their blossoms is pure heaven. Then, of course, there is fresh, homegrown fruit to enjoy. A few easy tips will help you succeed in maintaining a healthy and productive Citrus plant.

When you receive your plant, do not be alarmed if it begins to drop flowers, fruit, and/or foliage, as this is the plant’s reaction to being shipped. Citrus plants need at least 4–6 weeks to acclimate to a new location and this acclimation can take longer if the plant is receiving less than 6 hours of direct sun per day. During this time, DO NOT fertilize the plant, as this will cause further stress. Once the plant is acclimated—which means the plant is able to produce and maintain new growth—you can begin fertilizing according to our recommendations mentioned below.

The juice of Key Lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) gives a sparkling tang to pies as well as Mediterranean, Mexican, and Asian recipes. (It will also spruce up any drink from ice-cold water to something stiffer.)

In most of the United States, these plants must be grown indoors, at least during the winter. Fortunately, their rootstock will keep them a manageable size (to no more than 4–5′ in a container), so they can summer on the patio and spend the winter in a greenhouse, an enclosed porch, or near a sunny, south-facing window. Move the plant outdoors in late spring if you’d like, but wait until the weather is warm and settled.

Gardeners in Zone 10 and warmer can grow Calamondin Orange and ‘Meyer Improved’ Lemon outdoors. ‘Meyer Improved’ Lemon is hardy in Zone 9 as well. Set the pot outdoors in a sheltered, lightly shaded spot, increasing the exposure to sun and wind each day. Check the moisture of the potting mix and water thoroughly if it’s dry. At the end of one week (give or take a day or two), your plant will be ready to go in the ground. Choose a spot for your plant that receives full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun each day) and is protected from drying winds. Planted in the ground, our Citrus will grow approximately 10′ tall.

‘Meyer Improved’ is a hybrid between a Lemon and an Orange, which makes it a little sweeter than regular Lemons. It’s also a prolific bearer. You’ll enjoy the heavenly scent from luscious blooms followed by fruit in midwinter.

Since Citrus plants are heavy feeders, we include a nutrient spray and a slow-release fertilizer with all varieties. For the nutrient spray: Once your plant has acclimated to its new home (about 4-6 weeks from receipt of plant) and when it is warm enough to spray your plant outdoors in your area, add all of the product to 4 oz of water in a spray bottle (not included). Move the plant to a shady location and spray the leaves. Avoid spraying the blooms. Apply weekly until gone. For the slow-release fertilizer: Once your plant has acclimated to its new home (about 4-6 weeks from receipt), uniformly spread complete package contents on the soil at the base of your plant. Do not mix with water or apply to foliage.

Prune Citrus at any time of the year except winter. Pinch growing tips and cut back leggy branches to help a spindly tree fill out. Suckers (shoots growing from below the graft or emerging from the soil) should be cut back as soon as they’re noticed.

To learn more, watch our short video “How to Grow Citrus Plants” below.

Learn About Hardiness Zones

If you’ve spent any time on our website, or read any of our catalogs, you’ve likely encountered the term “hardiness zone.” We’d like to de-mystify this term a bit, and explain how location should play into your selection of plants.

What Is a Hardiness Zone?

Using historical temperature data, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has divided the country into 13 hardiness zones, ranging from 1 (coldest) to 13 (warmest). Each of these zones is further divided into “A” and “B” for greater accuracy, with A being colder than B. Click here to see the USDA’s hardiness zone map. These zones are defined by average annual minimum temperatures. For example, a zip code in which the average annual minimum temperature is between -15 and -10 Fahrenheit is assigned to hardiness zone 5B.

The idea behind the map is that a gardener may look up his or her hardiness zone and use it to identify plants that will thrive in their area. For example, a gardener in Northwest Connecticut (hardiness zone 5) may confidently plant a variety that has been rated hardy to zone 4 but would generally not plant a variety that is rated hardy only to zone 6, because the zone 6 plant is not likely to survive the typical winter in that area.

How To Find & Use Your Hardiness Zone on WhiteFlowerFarm.com

First, go to www.whiteflowerfarm.com. At the top of our home page, just under the Search box, click on Find Your Hardiness Zone and enter your zip code in the box that appears, then click on Look Up. When the page reappears, your zone number will be listed at the top of the page (in the spot previously occupied by Find Your Hardiness Zone). As you navigate our site, use the filters on the left side of the page to narrow down a listing to display only plants that will thrive in your zone.

If you choose a plant or plants that are not considered hardy in your zone, our site will offer a gentle warning at checkout. This is not intended to dissuade you (in fact, plants can sometimes be “pushed” to grow outside their hardiness zones), but we wish to help you avoid any possible disappointment if a plant fails to perform well due to a climate mismatch. Please be aware that we cannot honor our usual guarantee on plants that have been shipped outside of their suggested hardiness range.

Sometimes Hardiness Ratings Include “S” or “W” – What Does This Mean?

When listing the hardiness range of a plant, we often “split” the warm end of the range—for example, you might see a plant listed as Hardiness Zone: 3-8S/10W. In this instance, the 3 refers to the “cold hardiness” of the plant—all else equal, this variety should overwinter successfully in zone 3. The 8S refers to the humid Southeast (the ‘S’ being for ‘South’) and the 10W (‘W’ for ‘West’) to the comparatively dry Pacific Coast states of CA, OR, and WA—this plant can tolerate zone 8 temperatures in the South, and zone 10 temperatures on the West coast. In Northern climates, summer heat is not typically a consideration.

So to summarize—a plant listed as 3-8S/10W should successfully overwinter in zones 3 or warmer, tolerate humid heat up to zone 8, and tolerate dry heat up to zone 10.

We realize this is complicated; the problem is that the USDA zones are really not sufficiently specific. For example, our nursery in Connecticut is in the same hardiness zone as Taos, NM—a climate that could hardly be more different than ours. Furthermore, there are innumerable other variables that may determine how a plant fares in a given site. We find that customers, over time, gain a good understanding of which plants do and don’t work for them, and that this understanding is much more helpful than a strict reliance on hardiness zone. When in doubt, please contact us—our customer service team is extremely knowledgeable and ready to assist.