Monthly Archives: January 2019

Fragrant Shrubs Perfume Your Garden From Spring to Fall

Spring’s first scent of Lilac. The unmistakable sweet spicy vanilla fragrance of Viburnum carlesii. The sultry summer perfume of Roses. Fragrant shrubs can fill your garden with heavenly perfume from spring to fall. Choose a variety of shrubs to add fragrance to your garden (and to fill vases in your house) throughout the growing season. Among our favorites, early spring brings the sweet perfumes of Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights,’ Lilac Bloomerang® ‘Pink Perfume,’ and the native Lindera benzoin. Late spring offers the spicy scent of Daphne Eternal Fragrance™ and the sweet citrus fragrance of Philadelphus (Mock Orange). Roses and Clethra can be relied upon to perfume the garden in summer with some of the Rose varieties continuing into fall. Scroll below to learn more about these fragrant plants, and find more here.

Syringa Bloomerang® Pink Perfume

If you’ve always wanted the intoxicating scent of Lilacs in your garden, but didn’t have room for them, take a close look at this lovely addition to the Bloomerang® family of reblooming Lilacs. Its upright, bushy form reaches just 4–5′ tall, and its dainty spikes of reddish purple buds open to intensely fragrant, soft pink flowers. ‘Pink Perfume’ blooms heavily in May and, after a short rest, flowers again intermittently until fall. These charming plants give a neat show of color for containers, pathways, and intimate spaces.

Viburnum carlesii

This is 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.

Rose Sweet Spirit

A profusion of vibrant, violet-red blossoms, 3-5 per stem, appears nonstop on this vigorous Hybrid Tea. The fully double 3” flowers are richly perfumed, and they are handsomely displayed as they gleam in the sunlight against a backdrop of subtly glossy, dark green foliage. These bushy, mounding plants show increased resistance to black spot and improved tolerance of humidity. A staff favorite at the nursery.

Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights’

This deciduous Azalea is a welcome addition to the garden for those of us who must suffer through brutally cold winters. Released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 1994, ‘Northern Hi-Lights’ is hardy to Zone 4. Its sweetly fragrant flowers emerge white with splashes of yellow on the upper petals. Mildew-resistant foliage on this strong grower turns a striking burgundy red in the fall, before dropping for the season.

When Lindera benzoin displays its dense clusters of fragrant flowers, we know for certain spring has arrived. These lovely yellow blossoms appear before the leaves emerge. In summer, the light green foliage makes an attractive backdrop, and in autumn the leaves turn bright golden yellow. Lindera benzoin is native to eastern North America and parts of the Midwest, and it makes a handsome addition to woodland gardens and moist areas near ponds or streams. More reasons to love this shrub: The beautiful Spicebush swallowtail butterflies rely on it as a food source for their caterpillars, and deer tend to avoid it.

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.