Friday, July 23, 2010

Crocosmias for Hummingbirds

Saturday, July 31, 2010

42 degrees on the mountain and there is the feel of fall instead of what are supposed to be hot summer days. Vermont has set new records since January with 6 months in a row exceeding all heat records since weather records were started in 1880. Karl the Wonder Dog had a nice walk this morning as he likes days like this when wildlife abound. No big animals for him to see this morning but lots of tracks, cool weather and smells from early morning.

Things have been busy at the farm and days are long but never long enough to finish what needs to be done. People remind us every day as they stop that they are amazed at what the two of us have done during the past three years. That's the encouragement that keeps us going. This piece which I started on the 20th is an example though of how two gardeners can get behind real fast.

A week ago the crocosmias were stopping people in their tracks. Now the flowers are fading and customers are disappointed because we are sold out. Every year Gail increases the number of pots we plant and every year we still sell out. Lucifer is a red that catches a gardener's and a hummingbird's eye.

This is a flower that is native to the plains of southern Africa. It comes in red, pink, white and yellow colors but only this red is hardy here in Vermont. Some try to plant it where it is often damp and it doesn't do that well with wet feet. Sometimes it fails to survive the winter as a result. We have large plantings at the house that have been here for several years despite me angering Gail by digging huge clumps at times to sell to sad gardeners feeling left out because they didn't come early enough.

This plant has a corn just like a glad and in a couple years it will grow more corms and grow taller and wider. Some might say it becomes unruly but when you have the opportunity to watch hummingbirds in sizable numbers frequent your gardens each day, all day, you'll see why we grow them. This is a great plant to slide into the perimeter of fields if you have big properties. Plant it back inside regular gardens as it will exceed 3 feet tall in a couple years and look odd as a border plant.

Today starts our bare root daylily sales at the nursery so I have to get going. We clean out any daylilies that are not selling and the prices are right. These are in fact bare root as we dig the clumps, wash and separate them. Non gardeners always give me a dose of disappointment when they repeatedly ask when the expensive daylilies will go on sale. We don't sell expensive daylilies but it's always an eye of the beholder thing I guess. I still resent the way the box stores have abused plant producers, dropped prices and established an attitude that everything a farmer does should be given away for free. I got secretly mad enough the other day and I suggested to a customer in a Mercedes that she might want to work with me for a day and find out what is involved in operating a nursery. Although there was a strange sigh, her offered comment was "But I can't find these varieties any place else." "Cake and eat it too" is the part of America I'm still trying to understand. Be kind to all farmers. They are hard workers!

Right now I have to get to the nursery and get ready for another day. The sun will warm things in a couple hours and it will be a great day to pack a lunch and head into Vermont's Northeast Kingdom for the day. If you are out and about stop by in between farmers markets, summer craft or music events, and a hike or paddle. Vermont may be cool today but it's a great place every day!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where my neighbors guests--five cars and a boat-- are here for their annual weekend pilgrimage from Massachusetts. They are breaking free from sleep on unfamiliar beds and heading out for fresh air and the quiet of Vermont. They have been coming since before we moved here in '89 so I guess Vermont is more than a memory for many. Come visit!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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