It’s a beautiful morning at the flower farm. The sun is already bright, the sky is cloudless and the birds are everywhere.
The Winooski River parallels the south side of the flower farm fields and it serves as a direct flyway from Lake Champlain and everything in between. Each day we are gifted with birds of all types and sizes and our visitors are able to see birds they have never seen before. Guaranteed! The retail areas around our office building are decorated with hanging baskets and now that other summer flowers are in bloom, hummingbirds and all sorts of butterflies, moths and other pollinators are plentiful and fun to see.
The period of time from when spring ephemerals fade and early summer blooms arrive is a colorful transition that gardeners love. The colors of daylilies, ironweeds, garden phlox, the asclepias and the various helianthus and heleniums are just a few perennials that welcome us each year. This timeframe has lots to see and it is always a perfect time to evaluate your gardens and decide if there are colors, heights, or leaf textures you are missing. A trip to a nursery or botanical garden is a way to see what others are growing and what might work well in your gardens.
At our flower farm we grow about 600 different hostas and 700 daylilies. June and early July are when hostas are in their glory and daylilies are beginning to bring smiles to all gardeners. We specialize in these perennials and are always happy to share our experience. Our hosta display garden has mature specimens of almost every hosta we sell and this offers you an opportunity to verify how much space you need to leave so your garden will look balanced as surrounding plants mature too.
We point out the hosta display garden to all visitors but remember to feel comfortable asking us for a tour if you wish. We always explain how to plant hostas so they will grow well and we explain that although water is the best fertilizer for hostas (not a problem this year!) we use Epsom salts/magnesium sulfate (2 cups to 4.5 gallons of water) liberally on all our perennials, hostas included! This salt encourages root growth and for perennials such as hosta, more roots means more leaves in less time. Give it a try.
This morning as I write, primulas are like garden lights that have turned on here and there in the gardens. Some early varieties are going by but Japanese primroses are growing taller each day with 4 or 5 circular tiers of color that look so nice among the hosta leaves, the yellows of Ninebark ‘Nugget” and popping up in the middle of the 6” dwarf Korean Solomon Seal, Polygonatum humile.
The Siberian iris, in various stages from buds to “almost bloom” are short on bloom time but long on color and they surprise many gardeners in their adaptability to damp or dry conditions and little care. Baptisia is a plant that hybridizers have been very successful with in recent years and each year we offer 4 or 5 varieties we have not offered before.
Unlike the older varieties that grew and grew and grew, the modern hybrids exhibit more self-control and their height seems to hold at 34”-36” and they do not spread “for miles” like the first blues we might remember. Although their spreading habits have come under control, the depth their roots grow to strongly suggests that as gardeners we should decide where we want to plant them so we are not forced into extreme labor to move them later on. Moving any baptisia is like moving a nine year old peony or a 5 year old Hosta Empress Wu. Stretching exercises and sometimes the recruitment of strong friends is a prerequisite!
Gardens are a welcome therapy to a world that offers daily challenges. There is a peace to viewing what we have accomplished and a sense of quiet that is nice too! If you have not tried flower gardening yet, stop by and ask for some advice, get some questions answered and see what perennials grow well in Vermont.