Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Primrose Collector

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There are days and then there are days. Today is tornadic and I'm not talking weather. Gail has a to-do list that won't stop. It involves caring for her +90 year old uncle. Alex and Karl the Wonder Dog will have their own responsibilities as my order of trees and shrubs arrived last night and I'll start the day planting a hundred each of 10 varieties of lilacs and ten of hydrangeas. Someplace in the boxes are witch hazel and flowering quince if I remember my order from back in January. There are other things too in boxes I can barely move but by nightfall everything will be planted, some things in the shade garden among the hostas.

Sometimes people write and ask if I am ok because I haven't written in a while. Some people stop at the nursery and inquire and others leave voice messages at home. It makes me feel good that people care but a gardener's life in the spring becomes complicated when you take the step from being a collector to operating a nursery. That 's what Gail and I did several years ago and despite the responsibilities, we love every minute of it!

Last night we did what you have to do once in a while. We closed the gate on time and headed to East Montpelier to visit another "collectors" garden. This time it was a primrose collector high on a hill above the Winooski River. We took Winnie, our Chief of Hydrologicl Services and friend Diana from the Marshfield Inn. We are all flower lovers and trips like this are special.

Time is short this morning but I want you to get an idea of the garden layout and the primulas that grow in the gardens we visited. There was so much to see I traveled the paths three times and knew at the end that I had to go back again to see what I had missed. Tonight I'll put up additional pictures on our Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens Facebook Page. In the meantime, take a quick tour with me. Click on each image to enlarge.

Soloman Seal backdrop against rock.

This plant looks great in the garden but is difficult to sell in pots because it is forever escaping through the drainage holes and growing like an unruly teen. In the garden it is tall, straight, perfect, with fine flowers followed by hanging, berried fruit.

Looking toward upper gate

Example of nicely mixed, extensive collection. Individual examples follow.

I have to get clicking here but these examples should remind you how nice primroses are. I have several hundred Japanese primroses naturalizing at home in the lower shade garden. I have been too busy to see how they are doing but they are one of the last to bloom. We usually have some of these for sale too. More later! Tardiness is bad, even worse for the owner!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sun is bright, the temperature on my window reads 52 degrees and the sound of loons having breakfast at the pond resonates in the clear air. Enjoy your day!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm Now taking web orders for those who cannot make it here
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter most days but not today as vtflowerfarm. Come visit through social networking or in person!!


Kate said...

I planted 2 primrose plants earlier this spring. The original blooms died and it has since rebloomed twice but the flowers are yellow now instead of bright pink...and the flowers are much smaller. Any thoughts on what might cause this? Thanks for any insight - when you have a moment - not on a tornadic day :)

Salix said...

Good to hear from you, George.
I, too, wondered - but then I thought: it's springtime, no need to worry, he's just busy.
I always loved primroses, but never had any in my gardens. This year I bought seeds and now have multiple seedlings to be planted out later.

Jeff Branch said...

How do you plant all of that? My back hurts right now just from spreading pine straw in my yard!

garden girl said...

They're so pretty George. I haven't had much luck with primroses. Seeing yours makes me want to try them again.

It's such a busy time for gardeners and garden centers. I hope you have a very successful, prosperous season.

George Africa said...

Kate: I cannot offer an opinion. I don't know where you made your purchase but many of the readily available primroses have been seeded directly into pots for mass marketing. Different colors are the norm because seeds are mixed. Some colors and obviously some varieties bloom before/after others. Look over the 2 plants you purchased and see if you might have more than what you thnk you purchased.

George Africa said...

Hi Lene;

The trick to growing primroses from seed is to get the temperature correct. They don't care for lots of heat. I'm just learning this.

George Africa said...

Jeff: I think all gardeners have a hurtin' back at one time or another. Everything has to be kept in perspective. We work a lot because we enjoy what we do and we have a vision of where we want our gardens to be in a few years. Visitors cannot see the vision but we can.

I visited a very nice nursery today operated by a woman with help from her (?) 9 year old son and one employee. The plants were terrific, clean and neatly displayed. She said she is organized and has to have everything just so. It was impressive. I returned home, first thinking critically of what we do and what I saw today. That all brought me back to reality. We have 5 acres we are working on, limited help and 12-15,000 pots ready for sale each year plus what is in the ground. Sales increase each year, customers continue to return and bring others with them. Some days it snows or rains. Every day makes us smile about our progress! Being tired isn't always bad.