Sunday, February 11, 2007

New England Grows

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A beautiful morning here at Vermont Flower Farm with bright sun, no wind and minus three degrees. It appears warmer than it is but it should get into the low twenties this afternoon and allow Alex and I to get out and check a nesting box we made last year for owls. We built it with barred owls in mind but probably sited it incorrectly as our recent reading suggests they like to nest close to water. How "close is close" we do not know.

This past week I found time to attend New England Grows in Boston. This is a three day garden trade show held at the Boston Exhibition and Conference Center. I always remember the center as Bayside since our very first visit to the New England Spring Flower Show back about 1990. It's a good sized convention center and there was room left over in spite of over 700 exhibitors present at this show.

Everyone has a strategy at big shows but I like to walk the entire show first and then go back and speak with people on my list. I always have a mental list of questions that need answers, new products I want to see and companies which sell products we might carry here or at our new location. Just getting around 700 exhibits takes a while and it's good to be able to sit down once in a while and take a break.

High on my list was a boring topic for many but an important one to Gail and me. We are on the look out for organic insect and fungus controls because of our intense interest in the causes of autism and our desire to avoid any possible chemical contamination of the earth and our water supply. For over twenty years we have grown some of the nicest lilium in New England and at one time probably had the largest retail selection available for sale. In recent years we have seen the lily leaf beetle travel closer and closer to us and last year, although in very small numbers, we saw it here at the farm. It probably sounds funny that autism and lily beetles made organics number one on my list but these are big issues to us.

Although there were some suppliers of organics, it was clear that the money is in selling hardscape and nursery stock. There were several stone companies and landscape companies which had thoughtfully included stone in their garden and patio displays. I'm personally having a little trouble adjusting to the thought of sinking $100K into an outside kitchen, well planted with surrounding gardens and dotted with stainless steel appliances. That's probably because when my day in the gardens is over I need a chair by the barbeque to get supper cooked and on the table. Entertaining is when the garden crew is too tired to rush home after work and they volunteer to cook and wash dishes.

Conifers and shrubs were prevalent with well known suppliers even traveling from the west coast to exhibit. Conifers take some care in the landscape but I am convinced they help sell a home if you're moving on and sure make it look better in the interim.

I was looking for some good quality hand tools and finally found some from Sweden. They are costly but well built with wooden handles. I tried to find out where the wood came from hoping the sales rep would know but he didn't. They were the only tools which I found which didn't come know, CH--A.

I was also looking for some more information on deer fencing. If you check out our Vermont Flower Farm website, you'll find a section named Deer Control. It gives some background on the deer situation and various methods of control. The step-by-step process ends with tall fence surrounding your gardens. (Tall as in 7.5 feet or higher!!)

Finding the fence has been easy and a more up to date search than I describe in the article can probably find less expensive sources for the extruded plastic fence which is very good. The difficulty I have experienced is finding fence posts that finish off with 9 feet of post out of the ground and posts which don't send you to your mortgage officer to refinance the house. I discussed the situation with three companies at the show and am awaiting quotes. I'll discuss the results in the future.

The show had many great growers with fabulous displays of plants as yet untested here at our place. I have a stack of notes on things to try. Container manufacturers reinforced my thought that everyone needs containers either to compensate for small yard space or to accentuate exisitng gardens. Containers prevailed almost to Volkswagen sizes and in every composition and color you can think of.

With a couple months of winter left before the first grass peaks through here in Marshfield, there's plenty of time to think through our gardens and how to enhance or rework them. Attending a show stimulates new thoughts and and makes us review what we have ordered for spring delivery. If you have any ideas you want to toss around about things you might want to try at your place, give us a call or drop us a note. We're always happy to share thoughts!!

From the mountan above Peacham Pond where 4 degrees below zero and a howling wind serve notice of the weather lady telling us that a big storm is in the making.

Winter wishes,

George Africa

1 comment:

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