Experienced gardeners can tell the season by the scents that fill the air. Spring brings the transporting perfume of Lilacs and the unmistakable sweet spicy vanilla fragrance of Viburnum carlesii. Late spring introduces the citrus scent of Philadelphus (Mock Orange) and the delicate fragrance of select Clematis vines. Sultry summer broadcasts the perfumes of Roses, Clethra (Sweet Pepperbush), and a scented Buddleia (Butterfly Bush). Fill your garden with fragrant shrubs and vines and enjoy a range of heavenly, natural scents from spring to fall. Scroll below to find some of our favorites, and visit our website for more.
Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’ is fragrant, free-flowering, and easy to grow. The hardy, disease-resistant vines produce masses of small blooms that change color from reddish-purple to purple then a paler violet. The flower show begins early, generally in midsummer, and continues into autumn. Mature vines reach 10-15’ high and produce hundreds of flowers in a single season, smothering trellises, fences, arbors, deck railings, or stone walls. The lovely fragrance combines notes of almond, cherry and vanilla. ‘Sweet Summer Love’ is a winner of multiple prizes including the Green Thumb Award from the National Garden Bureau.
Viburnum carlesiiis one of the most gloriously fragrant shrubs known to man. The dense flower heads, which measure up to 3″ across, produce white flowers from blush pink buds, and the perfume, which is a sweet, rich, spicy vanilla, carries a considerable distance across a lawn or garden. Plant one or two where you take your springtime strolls.
Beautiful and carefree Buddleia Lo & Behold Ruby Chip™ combines a tidy growing habit with jewel-tone ruby-pink flower spikes to create a decorative pollinator magnet for smaller gardens or the edge of larger borders. The fragrant flowers don’t need to be deadheaded, and they appear over a long season on a deer-resistant, drought-tolerant plant.
Rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ bears pink semidouble blooms from June to October, and they emerge on almost thornless stems. The sweet fragrance of these flowers befits an heirloom Bourbon. This winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit is a perfect candidate to adorn a fence, trellis, or tuteur.
The lightly scented 2–3″ pink flowers of Clematis montana ‘Mayleen’cascade over trellises and walls with abandon in early summer. Bronze and green foliage creates the perfect backdrop for the spectacular show. Winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
You can attract a variety of butterflies to your garden by offering some of the blossoms they love best and by incorporating accessories that provide support. The plants highlighted here all produce nectar-rich flowers that are vital sources of food for pollinators, and all offer beauty and color for human admirers. Asclepias (Milkweed), Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), Liatris, and Lantana are among the best plants for butterflies.
1. Liatris ligulistylis
In our gardens, Liatris ligulistylis is a butterfly magnet during its long run of summer bloom (July to September) and a feeding station for goldfinches come fall. It is particularly popular with Monarch butterflies, and you can always spot the plant in the garden because it’s where you see a lot of orange-and-black wings fluttering.
2. Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’
A compact selection of the prairie native that’s commonly called Blazing Star, Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ is a butterfly favorite. These plants thrive in full sun or partial shade and well-drained, even dry, soil, but they struggle in the desert Southwest. Best planted in groups, they will create a lot of pollinator traffic at the edge of the border.
3. Phlox paniculata Candy Store® Coral Crème Drop
Phlox is an important genus of valuable garden plants that includes reliable and colorful species that bloom both early and late, in sun and shade, and in a range of rich colors that is equaled by few other genera. The hardy Candy Store® series was developed in the Netherlands where it was bred specifically for a compact habit, attractive leaf and flower coloration, and good disease resistance. Coral Crème Drop offers rosy coral petals highlighted with white and a deep-pink eye. Its long-blooming and sweetly fragrant flower clusters are closely packed on compact, well-branched plants.
4. Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’
Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’ is a vigorous grower that produces showy, dense heads of lavender-pink flowers that are adored by butterflies. This variety has proven to be extraordinarily mildew resistant, and it blooms all summer into fall. ‘Jeana’ was included in an extensive Phlox trial at Mt. Cuba Center, where she was deemed “without a doubt, the best-performing phlox,” and the one that attracted more butterflies than any other variety.
5. Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
Butterflies love Echinacea (commonly called Coneflower), a North American genus in the Daisy family that features big, bright flowers that appear in late June and keep coming into September. The popular Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ variety features petals that are an especially vibrant carmine-rose shade and are held almost horizontally, which makes for a more open face than the shuttlecock shape of the species. Butterflies and other pollinators feed at the large cones, and in autumn, the seed heads attract birds including goldfinches.
6. Buddleia davidii Buzz™ Ivory
Sized perfectly for large pots or smaller spaces in the garden, compact Buddleia davidii Buzz™ Ivory produces lovely panicles of white blossoms that attract a wide variety of pollinators. Deadhead this 4′ Butterfly Bush to keep the blossoms coming from summer to fall.
7. Asclepias tuberosa Gay Butterflies Mix
Asclepias, commonly called Milkweed, is the essential plant for Monarch butterflies, providing nourishment through all their life stages. Our Asclepias Gay Butterflies Mix not only feeds Monarchs and other beneficial insects, it offers boldly colored, ornamental blooms in shades of fiery red, orange, and yellow in June and July. We sell it as a collection of 3 plants to provide a sampling of the full color range.
8. Zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame’
Nothing ignites a bed or mixed border like a mass planting of Zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame.’ Its brilliant, yellow-tipped petals start off magenta-pink then turn to scarlet-rose around a dramatic red-and-yellow cone. An annual in cooler climates such as ours, the plant is a hit with gardeners and pollinators alike. Deadhead the spent blossoms regularly, and the flowers will keep coming over a long season.
We’ve spent decades testing tools and supplies for planting bulbs each fall and we keep coming back to a few favorites. Using the right tools and supplies makes the planting easier, and more importantly, ensures that you get the desired result come spring.
1. Bulb Planter for Naturalizing
This planter for naturalizing features rugged steel construction, a red finish for high visibility, and a lifetime guarantee on its performance and durability. It’s specially designed with a bend in the blade to offer better leverage for planting bulbs in unprepared, even inhospitable ground—in the lawn, in a meadow, in the woods. At the business end is a notched, 2½″ wide blade that slices easily through compacted and rocky soils.
2. Essential Garden Spade
This Essential Garden Spade should be kept within easy reach of every gardener. It has a comfortable Ash wood “D” handle that invites a sturdy grip. The hand-forged stainless steel blade is topped with boot protectors to increase leverage. We use our shovel to dig holes for new plants, move small trees and shrubs, create new beds, and turn over the soil in our vegetable garden.
3. Daffodil Fertilizer
Exclusive. We developed our own Daffodil Fertilizer, a slow-release 5-10-20 formula with trace elements, that gives the Daffodils a continual supply of nutrients while they are growing, from the time they initiate root growth in fall until the foliage matures in June. Daffodils and other bulbs like the extra potassium. It’s easy to scatter the granules on top of the ground in fall after planting your bulbs or to apply a light dressing (1/4 cup per 10 sq ft) as new growth begins to push through the soil in spring
4. Bulb Trowel, 18″ Long
This 18″ durable trowel is ideal for planting large numbers of small bulbs because it’s designed to stab, not scoop. Jab the trowel straight down and pull the handle toward you to create a slot. The sharply pointed, stainless-steel blade slices effortlessly through sod or garden soil.
5. Ultra-Cushion Knee Pads
Take good care of your knee joints and your clothing, too. These deluxe knee pads are made of shock-absorbing EVA foam that’s surrounded by 2 layers of memory foam. They fasten securely with flexible, adjustable hook and loop straps that won’t grip your legs too tightly. The blue exterior is made of waterproof, durable neoprene that dries fast and can be wiped clean.
Woodland Strawberries are about the smallest you will find. But don’t let their diminutive size fool you. These oblong berries, each about the size of a small almond, pack a remarkable amount of flavor, a burst of true, scrumptious Strawberry that puts the taste of many bigger berries to shame. You won’t find woodland Strawberries at the grocery store for the simple reason that they don’t keep. They should be picked when deep red and ripe, and eaten right away. At the farm, we love the variety called ‘Red Wonder,’ which produces intensely flavorful berries all season long.
‘Red Wonder’ also has great value as a garden plant. It does not produce runners, which are common to many Strawberry plants. Instead, it grows in neat, low mounds. Strawberry ‘Red Wonder’ flowers all season long, but in a very hot summer, it may take a break before blooming again as the nights cool down.
For moms everywhere, the last year has been a tremendous challenge. In addition to juggling the routine demands of family life, many were called upon to manage daily child-care duties and the ups and downs of remote learning all while trying to hold down their own jobs. Mother’s Day, May 8th, is a terrific time to show your Mom a whole lot of love and appreciation. Scroll below, and you’ll find a broad array of botanically inspired gifts. (For order deadlines for all of our Mother’s Day gifts, click here).
1. Lavender ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ in Pendu Pot
2. Burgundy Compact Moth Orchids in 5″ Ceramic Cachepot
3. Lavender Fields Wreath
4. Grace Bouquet
5. Serenity Bouquet
When in Doubt, Delight Mom With a Gift Certificate to White Flower Farm
If you’re not certain what your Mom might like most for Mother’s Day, you can always delight her with a gift certificate to White Flower Farm. Our gift certificates never expire, and they invite your Mom to choose whatever she’d might like from our wide array of garden plants, houseplants, garden decor, decorative accessories and gift items. A gift certificate also welcomes her to White Flower Farm, where our knowledgeable, friendly staff will be happy to answer her garden questions. Gift certificates valued at $50 and more are 10% off. Click here to order.
When it comes to growing tomatoes, it seems every gardener has an opinion about how to get the biggest and best harvest. A recent staff discussion focused on techniques for amending the soil prior to planting tomatoes. The idea is to give the plants all the nutrients they need to produce a bumper crop of tasty fruits, a practice that’s particularly important for gardeners whose plots are smaller in scale or whose properties make it difficult to rotate planting beds.
Last year, one of our staff members did a good deal of poking around on the Web, which, while sometimes a hazardous pursuit, inspired her to try some traditional but more recently underused ideas. She decided to take a few chances with amendments that are more common to the kitchen waste bin or compost heap than the nearest big box store. The result? She enjoyed her highest yields ever on a varied crop of tomatoes that ran the gamut from cherries and paste tomatoes to slicers and beefsteaks. She feasted on salads, BLTs, gazpacho, and stuffed tomatoes all summer and still had plenty of beautiful, ripe fruits for making sauce and roasting tomato wedges with basil (for a bruschetta topping). She froze chopped tomatoes to use in soups and chili recipes, and froze tomato sauce, as well as the aforementioned bruschetta topping. (We’ll be running these recipes later in the season.) Needless to say, she made some of us a little jealous with her wintertime lunches. Determined to enjoy similar results and to share her rediscovered techniques with you, we ran her list of amendments by our nursery manager Barb Pierson, another champion tomato grower. Pierson applauded some of our adventurous colleague’s amendments but voiced concerns about others. What to do? We thought it best to set it all down, and let you make your own decisions based on circumstances in your own backyard.
Soil Amendments Used Successfully by Our Adventurous Colleague
Since Tomato plants are deep-rooted heavy feeders and thrive in highly organic soils, the ground must be well prepared with nutrients to sustain them throughout the growing season, optimizing growth and fruit development. Everyone has their own recipe for improving soil with organic matter, but here’s what our adventurous colleague tried with great results:
She dug deep holes (at least 15” deep, if possible. Note: this is not the depth for planting a tomato but rather it’s a hole deep enough to accommodate the amendments before planting). Into the hole, she added the following:
Fish heads (or frozen fish fillets, if you can’t get fish heads): Put 1 fish head or the equivalent in the bottom of each hole. You also can add a handful of fish and kelp meal to help boost the nutrients.
Crushed eggshells: These add calcium to prevent blossom end rot. Throw a couple of handfuls in each hole.
Bone meal: This promotes strong root growth and abundant blooms. Add a handful to each hole.
Composted manure: This provides a slow release of nutrients over the growing season. Add a couple of handfuls to each hole.
Compost: It will add basic nutrients and improve soil structure so the soil drains well yet retains some moisture. Add 2-3 handfuls in each hole.
Please note that the 15” hole will be partially filled with the amendments, which should then be partially buried by some of the soil in your garden (think of the hole as a big mixing bowl). This process of amending can be done prior to planting your tomatoes when the soil temperature is still on the cool side.
Pierson does not recommend fish heads or bone meal because “they would attract critters and most likely your plant will be dug up.” (It should be noted that a family of raccoons in the neighborhood of our adventurous colleague left her tomato plants alone, but depending on how many critters live in your area and how well your vegetable garden is fenced, you may wish to select and tailor your amendments accordingly.)
Pierson agrees that compost and eggshells add beneficial nutrients to the soil, but she isn’t sure the quantity of eggshells noted above would be enough to provide calcium throughout the season. Perhaps the thinking should be that that every little bit helps.
Pierson ends by saying, “Preparing the soil should focus on: Did you have problems the previous season? And practicing good sanitation [i.e. disposing of plants and clearing the garden beds] at the end of the season so that disease issues don’t start again. Moving your garden location is essential if problems were severe.”
But the main thing Pierson stresses for successful tomato harvest is soil texture. “Soil texture is important – turning the soil, adding high quality potting mix and focusing on drainage are very important. Roots need air to breath and to take up nutrients, compost creates air pockets in the soil. Having a light well-drained soil is the most important thing.”
So there you have it. An array of options, some or all of which are bound to improve your tomato yield. Our best advice is to take into account the conditions in your backyard and vegetable patch, and choose the amendments that work best for you. Some trial and error may be required, but that’s just the way things go in a garden. As Pierson put it, “I like the idea of trying things, that is what growing is all about. There are no right or wrong answers, only what works for you in your particular environment.”
Its graceful 2-3′ stems bear masses of 2½″ flowers all summer, in an extraordinary shade of lavender blue. An outstanding middle of the border plant with Achillea, Alchemilla, Alstroemeria, Antirrhinum, and Astrantia.
Also knows as Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ is one of our favorites because of its upright habit and good manners. It 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. Consider summer and fall-blooming perennials as companions: Achillea, Rudbeckia, Helenium, Asters, Monarda, Perovskia, Phlox, and Oriental Lilies.
The Black-eyed Susan, is a glorious and traditional highlight of summer. While the native plant is enchanting, ‘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″. Plant with Salvia, Phlox, Asters, or Perovskia.
Topping out at 30-36″, this hardy, compact Russian Sage is a great choice for anyone whose garden is too small for the original Perovskia atriplicifolia which can grow to 3-4′ tall. Stems of silver-green foliage with small purple flowers erupt in a lilac haze in midsummer and the color lasts until fall. Companions include: Hydrangea, Salvia, Phlox, & Echinacea.
We find real value in this popular variety. The petals are an especially vibrant carmine-rose shade and are held almost horizontally, making a more open face than the shuttlecock shape of the species. Lovely with the blue wands of Perovskia.
Every garden needs a sampling of easy-care, late-season stars to maximize the season of bloom and carry the garden into fall. A number of the plants on our Late Season Interest Plants page also provide essential food for pollinators, who need nourishment and support as the season nears its end.
Need a shrub or two to complete your late season garden? Hydrangeas are at their best in summer and fall—a quiet time for most woody plants—and are worth having for that reason alone. You’ll find the full range of Hydrangeas we offer here.
One of our favorite sights and scents in the garden is the yearly parade of Peony flowers that happens each June at the farm in Morris, CT. These gorgeous, and often fragrant, plants are very easy to grow. Below you’ll find some basic information about Peonies along with keys to success that will help you grow your best Peonies ever.
What’s the difference between Herbaceous Peonies and Tree Peonies?
Herbaceous Peonies naturally die back to the ground in fall. Tree Peonies, which aren’t “trees” but shrubs, have a woody structure that remains above ground through the plant’s dormant period. The woody trunk and branches should never be pruned to the ground.
How deep should Peonies be planted?
Herbaceous Peonies that are planted too deep will fail to bloom. If you are planting a potted Peony (one that has top growth), set it in a hole so it sits at the same level it’s at in the pot. (In other words, do not sink the plant so deeply that soil must be mounded against the stems.) If you’re planting a bareroot Peony (a bareroot is just what it sounds like: a section of the plant’s rootstock with bare roots and “eyes” or growing buds), dig a shallow hole and arrange the crown so the growing buds or “eyes” are facing upward and are covered by only 1–2″ of soil in the North, barely 1″ in the South. (See diagram below for how to plant a bareroot Herbaceous Peony.)
When should I stake my Peonies?
Double-flowered Peonies (which have layers of petals so the blossoms tend to be fuller and heavier than Singles) generally need staking. Set the stakes and string in place when plants are a few inches tall, so they’ll grow into and hide the framework.
Are ants bad for my Peonies?
As Peonies produce flower buds, you may see ants crawling on the unopened buds. The ants do no harm. They simply like a sticky substance that covers the buds.
What if I see black leaves on my Peony plant?
In a wet season, botrytis, a type of fungal disease, may blacken the flower buds
and cause stems or leaves to wilt. Promptly remove and dispose of any infected plant parts. Clean up all foliage in the fall and place in the trash, not the compost. (Ridding your property of any diseased foliage will help prevent the disease from wintering over and returning the following year.)
What can I plant with my Peonies?
Peonies are exceptionally long-lived, and even after bloom, they provide a mound of handsome foliage that adds structure and presence to borders and beds. Allowing for good air circulation, plant Peonies with Baptisia, Nepeta, Clematis, Roses, and Siberian Irises for a glorious June show.
Tree Peonies are magnificent, long-lived woody shrubs that no garden should be without. Some varieties reach 4–5′ in height, and plants are capable of bearing fragrant flowers up to 10″ in diameter from mid to late spring. Tree Peonies are disease resistant, and deer generally leave them alone. These treasured plants are also great for cold climates. Most of the varieties we offer can be grown in regions that get as cold in winter as Zone 4. Not sure what your zone is? Click here to find out.
Where do Tree Peonies come from?
Tree Peonies, also known as Moutan, are native to China. Dating back to the 6th century, they were originally grown for medicinal purposes. They are widely used today because these hardy shrubs produce exquisite floral displays.
Where to plant your Tree Peony?
Plant Tree Peonies in fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral pH of 6.5-7. To prevent the peony root from rotting, avoid planting in a soggy area or an area that has standing water for any length of time.
Although Tree Peonies will thrive in the full sun, the large silky flowers will fade quickly. Light shade from hot afternoon sun is necessary to protect the flowers, and in China and Japan, small parasols are set over the plants to block the sun’s rays. We suggest growing Tree Peonies in filtered sunlight or an eastern exposure that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Growth will be a bit slower than in the full sun, but the flowers will last longer, especially in the South and warm areas of western Zone 9. Tree Peonies require a year or two to mature, but they are more than worth the wait.
How deep should I plant a Tree Peony?
How do I protect my Tree Peony flowers?
Light shade from hot afternoon sun is necessary to protect the flowers, and in China and Japan small parasols are set over the plants to block the sun. If you don’t have the parasols or the time to create shade for your plants, choose a planting site that will be protected against drying winds in summer and winter and will receive afternoon shade.
How often should I water my Tree Peony?
Tree Peonies are very drought tolerant once established. Do not overwater and do not plant near an automatic irrigation system. Wait until the soil has dried down to 4″ before watering deeply. Watering too much will kill the roots and is a common reason for failure.
Should I prune my Tree Peony?
Never prune Tree Peonies back to the ground as is done with Herbaceous Peonies. Prune out any damaged or broken stems after plants leaf out. Once your plant has some age and is growing vigorously, you may want to open up the center a bit to encourage flowering on the taller stems and increase air circulation. Tree Peonies are grafted onto Herbaceous Peony roots and occasionally a shoot from the rootstock will arise from the base of the plant. These should be removed immediately.
The very word Daffodil is magic, for these rugged and cheerful blooms are the first major flowers of spring, and they light up the landscape on even the dreariest day. Many gardeners know the familiar yellow Trumpet forms but have yet to encounter the many and varied shapes, sizes, and colors now available in the genus.
Daffodils (also known as Narcissus) possess three enormously valuable attributes that contribute to their vast popularity.
They will thrive in almost any location that offers decent drainage and half a day of sun, and will actually reproduce spontaneously in a site they like. Most strains are reliably hardy from Zones 3–7, with numerous forms, including the fragrant Paperwhites that prosper in Zones 8–10.
They are extremely long-lived in any setting, making them ideal for long-term and naturalized plantings, where they often outlive the proprietor.
Daffodils are immune to disease and pests, INCLUDING DEER WHICH WILL NOT TOUCH THEM.
Daffodils bloom reliably each year, and many hardy varieties can also be successfully forced indoors—a lost art we hope to encourage.
Keys to Success with Daffodils
Fertilize: The best time to fertilize bulbs is in the fall. The next best time is in early spring, just as the foliage begins to emerge.
Leave the leaves alone: Allow the foliage to mature after bloom. Do not cut, braid, fold, or mow the leaves. Remove only after they turn brown.
Garden Design Ideas for Daffodils
Plant Daffodil bulbs in a woodland garden that is sunny until the trees leaf out.
Tuck bulbs between the crowns of Daylilies or other perennials in a mixed border, where the leaves of perennials will hide the fading Daffodil foliage.