All posts by Shantelle Brignolo

Stars of the Late-Season Garden

As summer draws to a close and blossoms begin to fade, it’s important to rely on plants that bring late-season interest to borders and beds. Among the autumn and winter stars of the garden are perennial favorites including fall-blooming Anemones, Asters, Ornamental Grasses, Perovskia (Russian Sage), Rudbeckias, Sedums, and Symphyotrichums, and shrubs including Aronia (Chokeberry), Itea (Sweetspire), Oakleaf Hydrangea, and Viburnum. Every garden needs a sampling of these easy-care plants to maximize the season of bloom or foliage interest and to carry the garden and landscape into autumn and beyond. A number of these plants also provide essential food for pollinators, who need nourishment and support as the season nears its end. Below are a few of our favorites.

Symphyotrichum 'Purple Dome'
Symphyotrichum ‘Purple Dome’

The first true dwarf among the New England Asters, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ offers perfect 1″ flowers of bright purple in such profusion that they completely cover the compact plant for a full month starting in mid-September. Plants are sturdy enough never to need support and they make a delightful mass of rich color. Late in the season, the seeds provide a high-energy food source for chickadees, titmice, and wrens. Try them with Japanese Anemones.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’

One of the best and most beloved garden plants of all time is the Black-eyed Susan, a glorious and traditional highlight of summer. While the native plant Rudbeckia fulgida is enchanting, sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ improves upon an already good thing by providing more and bigger flowers in a consistent bright golden yellow on upright plants that reach 40″. It blooms prodigiously from late July to early October.

Aronia Low Scape® Mound
Aronia Low Scape® Mound

From the UConn breeding program run by Mark Brand and Bryan Connolly comes Aronia melanocarpa Low Scape® Mound, an improved, low-growing form of our native Chokeberry. It welcomes spring with a profusion of white flowers that turn to nearly black fruit. The berries are a favorite of birds, including mockingbirds, warblers, and vireos. The glossy green foliage provides a lovely backdrop for the blooms before changing to red and orange for fall.

Symphyotrichum 'Purple Dome'
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (‘Herbstfreude’) is one of the highlights of the late-season garden. Its leaves are blue green, thick, and succulent. Its flowers, which begin to open in August on 18–24″ stems, start rosy pink, deepen to salmon, then to rust, and finally turn rich brown in an evolution that takes place over many weeks. The blooms are long lasting in a vase and are superb dried, whether brought indoors or left standing in the garden to catch light snowfalls.

Ornamental Grass "Karl Foerster'
Ornamental Grass “Karl Foerster’

As an exclamation point in a border, Feather Reed Grass is one of our favorites because of its upright habit and good manners. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ forms neat clumps of foliage 18–24″ tall. In June, the toasty brown, feathery flower spikes rise up to 5′ or more. By August they are narrow shafts of a buff color. Despite their delicate and graceful appearance they hold their shape through the winter.

Perovskia 'Blue Jean Baby'
Perovskia ‘Blue Jean Baby’

A hardy, compact Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Jean Baby’ is a great choice for anyone whose garden is too small for the original. Stems of silver-green foliage with small purple flowers erupt in a lilac haze in midsummer, and the color lasts until fall.

Viburnum trilobum 'Wentworth'
Viburnum trilobum ‘Wentworth’

‘Wentworth’ is an outstanding native Viburnum trilobum that has three seasons of interest. In late spring, it produces abundant heads of white flowers. The flowers are followed by clusters of ¼” berries that turn bright glistening red as they ripen in late summer, attracting thrushes and cardinals among other species. Finally, in autumn, the 3-lobed foliage takes on stunning shades of burgundy. ‘Wentworth’ has an upright habit that makes it useful as a screen or an informal hedge.

Roses & a Few Favorite Friends

Plants are like people in the sense that they thrive in communities, and they tend to shine brighter in the company of good friends. This June, our Rose Garden at the farm provided a glorious illustration of the power of harmonious relationships. In a long, meandering border planted with roughly 70 Roses, each variety is enhanced by its proximity to perennials that provide complementary or contrasting color, form, and texture. As the garden hit its peak in June, it offered visitors a textbook example of how to plant Roses and their preferred companions for best effect. While the peak has now passed, the garden will continue to provide rolling waves of bloom, thanks to the perennials that keep company with all the Roses. If you happen to live nearby or are in range to make a visit, we hope you’ll come by and take a stroll. In the meantime, we thought it might be helpful to showcase some of the perennials that do such a great deal to bring magic to the Rose Garden. We hope they inspire you to plant some of your own.

The red spires of Lupine ‘Red Rum,’ the lavender-blue spikes of a Nepeta, and stands of dark purple Salvia ‘Caradonna’ provide contrasting colors amid the white blossoms of Rose Easy Spirit™.
The golden blossoms of Rose Easy Elegance® Yellow Submarine are enhanced by the blue flowers of a Campanula, which have the charming habit of intermingling with their neighbors.
Rose Easy on the Eyes™ finds flattering company amid mounds of Baptisia australis (rear), red-leaved Penstemon ‘Dark Towers,’ lavender-blue Nepeta Junior Walker™ (left), and the felted gray foliage of Stachys byzantina ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’ (Lamb’s Ears).
The airy, creamy plumes of Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard) form a lovely backdrop for two pink-flowering Roses, while an Iris creates a dreamy pool of lavender-blue.

Click through to our website to find more perennials that serve as excellent companions for Roses, and consider adding some to your garden.

Beauty & Perfume in Our Rose Garden

A few years back, we repurposed a somewhat tired shrub border and installed a new garden highlighting Roses and some of their favorite companions. After all, there are sooo many Roses out there – we can’t grow them all, but we wanted to get to know a few new cultivars, learn about unfamiliar older varieties, watch for cold hardiness and disease resistance, etc. It’s been very educational and, in fact, we’ve had very few outright “misses”; no plants that clearly aren’t what we thought they were.

Aside from all that, it’s a lovely garden, and it’s perfuming the entire nursery at the moment. If you live in the area or can manage a visit, we hope you’ll swing by.

1. Easy On The Eyes™

Rose Easy on the Eyes™

2. Easy Elegance® Music Box

Rose Easy Elegance® Music Box

3. Easy Elegance® Yellow Submarine 

Rose Easy Elegance® Yellow Submarine

4. At Last®

Rose At Last®

5. Easy Elegance® Champagne Wishes

Rose Easy Elegance® Champagne Wishes

6. Double Knock Out®

Rose Double Knock Out®

7. Bonica®

Rose Bonica®

What’s Going On in the Garden?

At White Flower Farm, we welcome hundreds of visitors each year during the growing season, and we invite them to take leisurely strolls around our display gardens. But because not all of our customers and fellow gardeners are in range of the farm, and because even those who visit might like an occasional behind-the-scenes peek at what’s happening here, we’re introducing What’s Going On in the Garden?, a series of occasional emails devoted to providing glimpses of what’s blooming in our borders, along with notes about the activities in our gardens and greenhouses. We hope you’ll enjoy this chance to garden alongside us.

To start the series, we had to begin with this year’s Tulips, which were spectacular. In the midst of a cold and often gusty spring, these jewels of the early season taught us all something about beauty, resilience, and grace.

There is tremendous range of color and form in the Tulip world, and the variations extend to Tulip foliage. The bold colored blossoms of Tulip ‘Arjuna’ were enough to make this variety a standout in our spring border, and the rippled leaves with golden edges added another layer of interest.

The farm’s head gardener, Cheryl Whalen, and her staff always incorporate plenty of Tulips into display beds, but new this season, we had the pleasure of watching the Tulip trial garden we planted last fall come to life. Last October, our horticulture team and gardening staff worked together to plan and plant the garden, and the bulbs were laid out in neat, tidy rows, each carefully labeled. The purpose of the trial was to grow each and every variety we offer – roughly 130 in total – and watch the individual varieties develop, study their characteristics including color, height, and blossom time, and make certain their performances were consistent with what we advertise. The trial also allowed our staff to conceive of new Tulip combinations. The earliest Tulips began blossoming in early to mid April. Mid-season varieties came on strong shortly after, and the Tulip season ended with a grand finale in mid-May. As the trial garden demonstrated, planting an array of Tulips with various bloom times allows gardeners to orchestrate waves of color, a rolling sequence of bloom at a time when the garden – and gardeners – are starved for color.

On a chilly morning in April, members of the White Flower Farm staff review the activity in the Tulip trial bed.

This year’s unusually cool spring meant the Tulips were forced to endure a hard frost, and we all kept our fingers crossed that night. In the morning, the plants were bowed down and seeming to shiver, their stems and foliage showing the alarming watery appearance that indicates potential tissue damage. When this happens, the key is to leave the Tulips undisturbed. Touching them may cause tissue damage that could significantly worsen the effects of the cold. In this case, the sun’s heat soon warmed the atmosphere, and by that afternoon, the Tulips were standing themselves back up by degrees. Plants subjected to a freeze may not always rebound, but if the duration of the freeze is short, they are often able to shake it off. The Tulip show went on, the flowers bringing bright pops of gorgeous color to the landscape. The spectrum of Tulip colors, sizes, and forms – from classic goblets and Parrots to fringed and Peony styles, made the trial beds pure joy to behold, and they were a magnet for visitors to the White Flower Farm Store and display gardens.

Tulip ‘Purissima Blonde’ and other Tulips were bowed down in the trial garden after the temperature plummeted to 30 degrees F overnight. But the plants all shook off the cold and got on with the show.

Elsewhere around the farm, Tulips were showcased in a variety of ways that offer plenty of inspiration for home gardeners. Cheryl and her staff always plant bulbs in strategic places throughout beds and borders, and this year was no exception. In the beds nearest the store, Tulips were densely planted amid Daffodil bulbs. When the flowers emerged together this spring, the effect was a confetti of spring color.

Head gardener Cheryl Whalen creates new bulb mixes each year. This combination featuring two Tulip varieties and one Narcissus was a favorite that will be appearing in our fall catalog.

Along the Lloyd Border and in other display beds, clusters of colorful Tulips were planted out amid existing shrubs and emerging perennials, creating a river of bright, bold color to draw the eye along. In some cases, Cheryl and her staff planted Tulip bulbs amid perennial ground-covers such as Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not), Ajuga (Bugleweed), or Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (Creeping Jenny).

Different Tulip varieties in a range of harmonious colors are woven into the display beds at the farm. The blue ground cover is Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not), a pretty partner for Tulips.

Tulips were also positioned in front of emerging shrubs such as Viburnum carlesii Spice Baby™ and Cotinus coggygria Winecraft Black® (Smokebush), so the emerging foliage or flowers could serve as an attractive backdrop. The colors provided by ground covers and shrubs heighten the effect of any Tulip display, creating a layered look and lively color contrasts.

Tulip ‘Sweet Light’ glows in the early spring garden with the fragrant flowers of Viburnum Spice Baby™ and our Hyacinth May Day Bouquet Collection adding color and perfume in the background.

Tulips, generally speaking, should be treated as annuals. While some varieties, including Species Tulips and Perennial Tulips such as Darwin Hybrids and Impression Tulips, may flower for up to three years, the majority should not be relied upon for repeat bloom in subsequent springs. At the farm, we are in the process of digging up and composting all of this spring’s Tulips and ordering the varieties we will be planting this fall. The fun of this process is that each autumn brings the opportunity to try new varieties and color combinations. Removing spent Tulips from the spring garden also opens up bare spots that can be filled with annuals or perennials that add a different kind of beauty to the garden as the season progresses.

What are we planting in the trial garden in place of the Tulips? Loads and loads of Dahlia tubers. And we’ll have plenty to tell you about that as the flowers begin to emerge in late summer.

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.

Early Spring Bloomers

Start the spring color show early in your garden with a variety of early blooming perennials, shrubs, and trees. From Witch Hazels, which blossom in late winter, and Hellebores, which generally flower before the last of the snow has melted, to Virginia Bluebells, Brunneras, and Magnolias, there are countless ways to incorporate a rainbow of rich colors into your spring planting schemes. What better way to celebrate the arrival of a new growing season?

Witch Hazel ‘Jelena’

The best antidote to winter is a planting of Witch Hazels. This genus of 5 species of upright, spreading shrubs or small trees provides the first big display of color, beginning in late February or early March and continuing for 6 weeks or more depending on the season (the flower petals sensibly curl up if the temperatures plummet). For an even earlier display, cut some branches in January and force them into bloom indoors. Plants thrive in average, well-drained soil.

We love Witch Hazels for the color they bring to winter gardens and for their hardy, problem-free nature. ‘Jelena’ is a favorite, with large ribbonlike petals that gleam coppery orange. In autumn, the shrub lights up again as its matte green leaves turn fiery shades of red and yellow.

Hellebore Gold Collection® ‘Madame Lemonnier’

Hellebores are considered aristocrats of the woodland garden. Native to Europe and western Asia, the genus contains about 20 species of perennials that bloom in early winter in mild climates and in late winter or early spring where the soil freezes hard, which makes them either the last or the first flowers in the garden. In our gardens here at the farm, they are among the first plants to bloom, bringing a splash of color to the late winter garden, sometimes blossoming amid the last of the snow. They require a moist but well-drained site under the shade of trees. Take care to amend the soil with plenty of organic matter, such as well-aged leaf mold and compost. You’ll be rewarded with long-lived, deer- and vole-resistant plants that will spread nicely on their own.

Hellebore Gold Collection® ‘Madame Lemonnier’ is a large-blossomed beauty that was discovered by a gardener in Normandy, France, where her passion for growing Hellebores turned into a full-fledged hybridization program. The plant’s 3″ upfacing blooms are rich purple red, and are held above lush green foliage on tidy, clumping plants. Under greenhouse conditions at the nursery, many of these impressive blossoms exceeded 4″. A magnificent addition to shade gardens.

Forsythia x intermedia Show Off®
Forsythia x intermedia Show Off®

It is impossible to live in a northern climate and be unfamiliar with Forsythia. The durability, vigor, and abundant yellow flowers of this early bloomer make it one of the most popular and important ornamental plants known. Forsythia Show Off® is perfect for a tight hedge or a specimen in a border. From France comes this compact variety whose golden flowers are brighter, larger, and stacked closer along the stems from soil to tip. Another bonus is the dark green foliage.

Magnolia ‘Genie’

Magnolia is a genus of over 100 species of trees and shrubs widely distributed from the Himalayas to East Asia and in the Americas. Introduced Japanese and Chinese species and their hybrids, such as the showy white Star Magnolia and the pink Saucer Magnolia, draw the most attention in spring. The handful of species native to Eastern North America include the magnificent, evergreen Southern Magnolia (M. grandiflora), Sweet Bay (M. virginiana), and the large Cucumber Tree (M. acuminata).

Magnolia ‘Genie’ is a fairly compact variety, growing 12–15’. In early spring, lightly fragrant, 6″ cupped blossoms appear on slender branches, like goblets of burgundy. A second, lighter flush of bloom arrives in midsummer when provided with full sun and adequate moisture. Bred in New Zealand, this slender, well-branched variety blooms for a longer period, even when young. An ideal small tree to feature alone, in pairs, or to put the finishing touch on a mixed border.

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

A friend of ours once referred to this charming plant as “prompt” because of the way its beautiful silvery green leaves break ground quite early in spring. They’re followed by a haze of tiny azure flowers, which give this plant one of its nicknames, False Forget-me-not. (It’s also sometimes known as Siberian Bugloss and Heartleaf Bugloss.) Brunnera is most at home in woodlands or along shady stream beds, where it will form a lush understory of quiet beauty. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is a standout variety with frosted leaves veined and outlined in green. The plants grow to 12″ tall and as wide, and while the blossoms provide a fleeting show, the foliage looks superb all season long.

Mertensia virginica
Mertensia virginica

Everyone loves Virginia Bluebells (M. virginica) for their sapphire blue flowers on 18″ stems that gleam from shady spots in April and May, making them an ideal underplanting for shrubs and trees. Plants thrive in deciduous shade and moist soil, where they will seed themselves to create a charming colony.

Trillium grandiflorum 'Flore Pleno'
Trillium grandiflorum ‘Flore Pleno’

Trilliums are spring-blooming wildflowers much prized by woodland gardeners for their delicate, 3-petaled flowers and distinctive foliage. Trillium grandiflorum ‘Flore Pleno’ is an exquisite double form that produces pure white flowers in April and May, which will enchant you and all visitors to your garden.

Gifting and Receiving Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) for Christmas

Whether they’re a traditional gift you love giving to friends and family every December, or it’s your first time receiving an Amaryllis bulb for Christmas, the Amaryllis is a perfect way to brighten the darkest days of winter for your loved ones. Native to the subtropical regions of the Americas, with brightly colored flowers now available in myriad color combinations, the Amaryllis rivals the Poinsettia as the official holiday season plant in the Western Hemisphere. With a few easy steps, you or your giftee can enjoy stunningly colorful blooms this winter

Amaryllis for Christmas Gifts

If you guessed that the Amaryllis became a popular Christmas gift because it blooms in the winter, then you’re correct. But the Amaryllis’ winter bloom is not its primary bloom—in its natural state (planted in the ground) it flowers primarily during summer. The bulbs can be potted and induced to rebloom in the winter, making a perfect gift to add glorious, lively color to an indoor setting. In other words, by forcing dormancy, we can encourage this summer flower to bloom in winter, resulting in a vibrant display.

Ensuring Your Amaryllis Blooms for Christmas

Though it can bring colorful life into any home throughout the winter, many prefer the Amaryllis to bloom at Christmas, while others feel there is enough color during the holidays and prefer the company of the Amaryllis in the dark days of January that follow. This versatility allows you to buy an early-blooming South African Amaryllis for yourself or a loved one, with a planned blooming around Christmas, or to give later blooming Dutch Amaryllis as Christmas gifts to be enjoyed after the holidays.  

When you buy or receive an Amaryllis bulb, it’ll likely come packaged as a dormant, bareroot bulb, or already potted with soil. Pre-potted bulbs need only water and the proper temperature to grow healthy, tall flowers. While many bareroot bulbs will need to be properly potted before watering, the large size of White Flower Farm’s Amaryllis bulbs allows them to be potted with nothing more than stones and water, if you prefer to show them off in a glass vase. Larger bulbs in any variety also produce more stalks and therefore more brilliantly colorful flowers.

Once planted, a dormant bulb takes about eight to ten weeks to begin blooming, which means that to ensure a lovely, full Amaryllis for Christmas, you should plant and water them in early November (to be on the safe side). Keep in mind, this estimate is for dormant bulbs without stems (which is how White Flower Farm will ship them to you) under optimal conditions, with proper care. Retail stores and other shops that do not specialize in Amaryllis bulbs may sell bulbs that have already started to grow stalks, which may indicate poor storage conditions. 

Amaryllis growing in greenhouse

Also, if you are replanting your own bulbs that were once planted outside, you need to force them into dormancy at the end of summer, in order to control the bloom for winter. To force dormancy:

  • Remove the dead leaves from your planted Amaryllis
  • Remove the bulb from the ground
  • Pot the bulb in soil
  • Place the potted bulb in a cool, dark, dry room, such as a basement or closet
  • Make sure the temperature remains between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Store for 8 to 12 weeks without watering to ensure dormancy

You can then transfer the dormant bulb to a new pot and soil, or to stone and water potting as described above.

Storing Your Amaryllis Bulbs

The dark days of winter have been illuminated by weeks of flowering Amaryllis inside your home. Now what? Though many treat Amaryllis bulbs as annuals—buying new bulbs each fall and winter—the bulbs are perennials and some have been known to flower annually for as many as 75 years. To ensure your Amaryllis bulbs continue to brighten your winters for years to come, you’ll want to rebuild your bulb and plant it outside in the spring, following our step-by-step guide for rebuilding Amaryllis bulbs

Amaryllis ‘Flamenco Queen’

With a few easy steps, an Amaryllis can deliver gorgeous color when it’s needed most. Even a novice gardener can maintain a beautiful, flowering Amaryllis for many years, which is why the Amaryllis makes such a wonderful Christmas gift.

Keys to Growing Roses Successfully

Roses have been among the most popular flowers known to man for centuries, perhaps millennia, and they remain one of the loveliest and most versatile of flowering shrubs for any garden situation that offers plenty of sun and well-drained soil. Below are some key tips for growing Roses successfully:

  • Roses require rich soil. When planting, dig a wide hole and replace 1/3 of the soil with compost.
  • Once the soil warms in spring, apply a generous layer of organic mulch.
  • For tips on planting bareroot Roses, see the Growing guide on our website.
  • Water new Roses thoroughly once a week unless Mother Nature is on the job.
  • Remove and dispose of old foliage regularly to help prevent disease.
  • Prune in early spring once growth starts. Remove dead wood first followed by weak or crossing branches.
  • Remove faded flowers all summer, cutting back to the first large bud at a leaf with 5 leaflets.

Design Ideas

Today’s fuss-free Roses come in a remarkable range of sizes and forms – from large Landscape Roses that are ideal as focal points or backdrops in a perennial border to lower-growing varieties that are superb specimens for the middle or edge of a garden to climbers that can smother an archway or wall in beautiful blooms. Roses are great companions for Clematis, Delphiniums, Lilies, and Peonies. Below are two exclusive new preplanned gardens that feature Roses with more of their favorite companions:

Perfumed Pageant Rose & Perennial Garden

Longtime favorite Rose Julia Child™ forms the centerpiece of this colorful, richly fragrant garden. Framing the yellow-flowering, easy-care Rose are layers of bloom from equally low-maintenance companions – the baby blue blossom spikes of mounding Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low,’ the electric blue spires of Salvia ‘Blue Hill,’ and the jewel-tone pink flower clusters of compact Achillea millefolium Song Siren™ ‘Layla.’ 1 plant each of the Rose and Nepeta, 2 each of the Achillea and Salvia. 6 plants total. Covers approximately 30 sq. ft.

Sustained Splendor Rose & Perennial Garden

This lovely garden is designed to perform throughout the full growing season. The cornerstone of this collection is the everblooming saffron-colored Easy Elegance® Coral Cove Rose which is enhanced by long-season performers Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ and Leucanthemum Daisy May®. In early summer, Salvia x sylvestris ‘Blue Hill’ adds an electric blue accent. Two plants of Phlox ‘Fashionably Early Princess’ join in later, adding long-blooming pale purple blossoms to the show. Covers approximately 18 sq ft.

Down on the Farm: Filled With Gratitude as We Embark on Our 70th Year

Dear Friends,

I suppose it wouldn’t be winter in the nursery business without some weather challenges, and as I write this, our team is scrambling to get every package shipped before a stretch of severe cold arrives. Loath as we are to delay any deliveries, we have found over the years that “late but healthy” gifts are much preferred to the “on-time but frozen” sort. (We’ll resume shipping as soon as the mercury rises enough to keep our plants safe as they travel.) Jack Frost and Mother Nature have both figured prominently in the way we do business for many years now, and while both have created no small amount of drama, we respect that they have final say in these matters, and we trust that our beautiful, lovingly tended plants are always worth the wait. If, by chance, you still have some last minute shopping to do, and if you don’t want your recipient to wait for a plant delivery, a White Flower Farm gift certificate is our most popular all-purpose gift and can be delivered instantly via email.

White Flower Farm Gift Certificates

When the mad dash of the holiday season is past and the conveyor belt in the warehouse turns silent just before Christmas Eve, our team will take a well-deserved breather before turning our full attention to Spring 2020 and beyond. With publication of our Spring 2020 Garden Book, we are humbled and gratified to be marking our 70th anniversary.  The first edition of this year’s spring 2020 catalog will be mailed in the next 10 days. It features dozens of interesting new plant introductions alongside hundreds of tried and true varieties (including some that appeared in White Flower Farm’s very first catalogs 70 years ago). These days, our offering extends well beyond the garden plants that got us started all those years ago. If, for you, “gardening” means a low-light houseplant, or a pot or two of colorful annuals on the patio, or even just an occasional bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, you’ll very likely find something to suit in our catalog and at whiteflowerfarm.com.

White Flower Farm Garden Book

On top of the day-to-day business of growing and delivering plants, we have a number of big picture projects in various stages of development. Perhaps most important is an ongoing investigation into various opportunities to “green” our business. The nursery trade is resource-intensive, and aside from the significant water and energy requirements of our greenhouse operations, there are the many environmental impacts of running an e-commerce business for us to consider. Cardboard and shipping materials, plastic plant pots, trucking, etc. – it all adds up, and we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. In recent years, we’ve made a significant investment in solar energy, and moving ahead, we are actively evaluating alternative packaging solutions, methods to reduce our water needs, and everything in between. Some of these challenges will be very difficult to solve in the near term, but we’ll keep you posted on our progress.

The solar project at the farm.

Looking ahead, I’m also excited about a burgeoning effort to partner with a new cohort of American specialty wholesale growers on certain crops we don’t currently propagate at the nursery. You’ll be reading about these partnerships in forthcoming catalogs. The short version of the story is that we are seeking out growers who share our long-term commitments to quality, sustainability, and customer service. Our customers will reap the benefits of these partnerships for decades to come.

To close, I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to our customers, suppliers and partners, and to my colleagues for their respective support of, and dedication to, White Flower Farm. We are always aiming to do better, and we wouldn’t have gotten this far without a darned good team and the patronage of our loyal customers. We have so much to be thankful for. On behalf of everyone at White Flower Farm, I send my best wishes for a happy, peaceful holiday season and a green and blossoming New Year.

Sincerely,
Eliot A. Wadsworth

 

Your New Pre-Potted Amaryllis Bulb Has Arrived, Now What?

If you’ve never before grown an Amaryllis, you’re about to see just how easy and fun it can be. Here you’ll find some helpful tips for getting a prepotted bulb started, and caring for it properly before it blooms.

First, keep in mind that signs of growth can generally be seen 2-8 weeks after your bulb arrives. Generally, you’ll see the bright green tip of a blossom stalk or leaf emerging from the top of the bulb. Certain varieties of Amaryllis may take a bit more time to sprout. As long as your bulb remains firm, be patient and take care not to overwater.

Watering: Potted Amaryllis need only a thorough watering with lukewarm water to begin growing. After that initial drink, water your bulb only when the top 1″ inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Watering more frequently, particularly just after potting, can cause the bulb to rot. If the pot is covered with Spanish Moss, lift the moss and pour water directly on the potting mix.

Temperature: Place the pot where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow.  Providing bottom heat (by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator) may help stimulate growth.

Where to Place Your Amaryllis in the House: As soon as the bulb sprouts, provide ample sunshine; a south-facing window or a sunroom is ideal. Rotate the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light.

Use Amaryllis Stakes: The flower stalks may require support to keep from toppling. Click here for our Amaryllis stakes that are ideally suited to this purpose.

You’ll find more tips and tricks for how to care for Amaryllis here.