Saturday, December 07, 2013

"Don't Major In The Minor"

 
 
Saturday, December 7, 2013
 
 
23.2 degrees here on the mountain with a 3-4 mph wind. Sunrise is a bit away but the temperature signals it with a typical morning drop. The past few days have been rain, snow, wet, windy but they have allowed me to finish preparing for a logger who will join us soon and begin a couple projects that are bigger than I can do myself. There will be more to do after he leaves but that will be late spring work as snow is sure to be deep before long. I just reviewed some pictures of 2008 and on December 20th that year I was already climbing roofs and shoveling an accumulation of snow. I wish that wouldn't repeat itself this year but the various Farmer's  Almanacs suggest cold and snow in 5 more countable storms. We'll see.
 
During the growing season I don't get much of a chance to read like I want to so as winter approaches I am surrounded by stacks of books and trade magazines. This past week I watched Charlie Rose interview Jeff Bezo from Amazon. Many others probably did too. Today I read these interesting thoughts by Callie Oettinger in a piece entitled "Don't Major in the Minor". I read it on  Steven Pressfield Online. http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2013/12/dont-major-in-the-minor-2/  Take a look.
 
Our world has certainly changed and we feel and see those changes every day. Many people are connected to each other in various ways now and those connections encourage a need for spontaneous response to demand--any demand. I have always purchased from bookstores and I have a personal need to support bookstores as I want to be able to hold an actual book or magazine in my hands forever. But. But change is on the way.  Bookstores are leaving us and companies such as Amazon are changing that. I have been buying from Amazon for years because Alex is studying military history and Amazon has never let me down. It connects me with booksellers around the world and  guarantees the products will arrive as requested and within very reasonable time. For almost a year  now Alex has been studying women in the Russian armies in World War 1. Kind of a narrow topic if I say so. Amazon makes those studies get started a lot quicker than if I had to search myself silly.
 
Bookstores are a changing business. The little bookstore I frequented in Woodsville, NH closed this summer. Dave, the owner, did a great job but I think in the end it was sales versus rent and those two things didn't match. I have seen the same scenario played out in other stores. Alex and I were saddened when Borders went out of business as we spent a lot of time and money at the Burlington, VT and West Lebanon, NH stores. We like Barnes and Noble in Burlington and go there a couple times a month but I almost feel that change is near for them too. I don't think anyone has said "Hello"
or "Can I help you?" in the past 5-6 times we have been there.  I am a guy who evaluates a business by the way it communicates so when communication with the customer falters,  business has to slide too.
 
I do a lot of business at Staples too. It's convenient and they have all the supplies I need to operate a small business. They have answered all but one question I have ever asked and that is special. I have asked the tech people several times if they know how to make my Hughes satellite work  with a router so I can have Wi-Fi at the house. They tell me it can't be done with a satellite--we'll not exactly--they say it can be done but I will really be waiting for a connection then. So that's ok, one out of a bazillion isn't bad. But the other day even Staples gave me irritation when I was checking out and the clerk stated: "So you want that receipt emailed correct?" Now what? I'm not saying the clerk wasn't pleasant but when I said I didn't want to go to my computer to get a receipt she offered to provide a hard copy and email me a copy too. I was getting a little worked up trying to get a receipt and get going and as I finally grabbed the receipt, the clerk said "Maybe next time?" But...no thank you for spending a hundred bucks, nothing. Communication.
 
The horticultural business is no different. Vermont Flower Farm is a part of  my life and it is dear to me but fact is, it is faltering too. Many of the family businesses that have been around for generations have closed during the past 3-4-5 years. Some of the best gardeners were those on more limited budgets. Home gardening was always entertaining, something to be proud of, something that could even put food on the table, bring the family together with sharing. Changes in our economy and attitudes in our society have  modified  how successful horticulture related businesses are. Florists are in decline, even the number of CSA's in Vermont has declined in recent years. Change is on the way.
 
At Vermont Flower Farm,  Gail and I are in for the long haul. We enjoy what we are doing and weren't born to be wealthy. We meet new people every year, greet people as they enter the farm and say thanks and goodbye when they leave. Gardeners return each year until they either move or they can no longer garden because they enjoy the experience we offer. In coming years do not expect to have a drone deliver a potted perennial to your doorstep but do expect that we'll help you load your purchases in your car. Until then, help support American business,  and continue to learn a little more about Vermont. How does that sound?
 
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where ice now covers all the area kettle ponds and it will be that way until April 2014. Gotta get clicking here. The bird feeders are empty.
 
George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as the Like Page,  Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!
Offering gift certificates year 'round for holiday and special event giving. Call Gail at 802-426-3505 or email at lilies@hughes.net
 
 
 



Sunday, December 01, 2013

Bloggin' Around

 Sunday, December 1, 2013
 
 
Just in from working in the woods for three hours. It seems that each day it looks more and more like snow and I know that all of a sudden we will get a big storm and my woods work will slow dramatically. This morning at 5 the sky gave little promise of anything but a build up to slightly warmer temperatures and some snow.  Here it is,  3:15 PM,  and it's snowing out, right on the money. Small flakes are dropping straight down but they are abundant enough to make the birds know things will look different tomorrow morning and as such they are really eating seeds.
 
 

I like garden blogs and try to read as many as I can. There was a time when I was attaching addresses to my blog links page all the time but then I got to the point that  I couldn't even keep up with what I had. Now I am bad about writing in the summer time but get in the swing again come Thanksgiving. Guess I am almost on target.

One of my favorites to write about is stones and stonework. If I had everything to do over again I probably would have stayed in Burlington and worked on big projects. But a never ending series of aches and pains from 1982 back surgery suggested differently and here I am in Marshfield building my own gardens and selling plants.

Hardscape is something I have come to admire even though I know it can be incorporated or left aside. To me stone softens a garden and it's something not to be forgotten. I like any stone and often you'll find me climbing mountains of it, hiking over and around it or just plain taking pictures of it in a quarry or in a stone yard.


Vermont has its Green Mountains so we have a vast variety of colors and textures to choose from. We are well known for our granite but green schist which is harder than granite is also in abundance and is used a lot. But even pieces of field stone, glacial erratics , castaways from farm days--they all have a beauty and are all very useful in garden design.

Some designers find large stones or stones broken in pieces and they display them to their positive side. Stone masons and dry wall stackers are more and more in demand now and they compete for what is probably miles and miles of wall. I prefer the drywall stacker's work but the choice is personal and it has to factor in budget and underlying soil type. Vermont is known for deep frost some times and walls will tumble if frost goes deep around a wall without a footing.

 
Sometimes those who work in stone like to write too. Vermont's Dan Snow from Townsend, Vermont has written two excellent dry wall stacking books, the first of which, In The Company of Stone, is also the title of a blog I really enjoy. Today, during my search for interesting reading, I turned to Don Stratham's blog Rooting For Ideas. I especially like the most recent post:

http://donstathamblog.com/2013/12/01/private-gardens-houston.  Although Don lives in New York this post was about gardens in Houston. I bring it to your attention for the fine examples of how stone can be used in a garden setting. Take a look!

As the snow drops like rain, I have a few more outside chores to complete before the sun retires. Hope you're having a nice day!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and via a Like Page titled Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Just Buggy!




Saturday, November 30, 2013
 
 
2.7 degrees below zero here on the mountain. The wind has stopped for a change and the sky is full of stars. Occasionally as I walked Karl the Wonder Dog  I could hear trees crack in the distance as the morning temperature deepens a bit and the sun begins to stretch far away in Eastport, Maine. I almost wish I was there in Maine watching it this morning.
 
For several years now we have had gardening authorities sharing their prayers for extreme cold for a few weeks. The past week has been cold and the weatherman suggests that this first week of December will be very cold at night too. Daytime temperatures will reach 30 degrees but the temperatures at night will be at 15 degrees or below so some will be happy with the drop. As I watch how fast the firewood pile changes during times like this, I normally would not be pleased but cold may be worth the sacrifice.  Here's why.
 
Pictured above is a longhorn beetle known as the Elderberry Borer. There are lots and lots of longhorn beetles on earth and in fact I saw a display once at the Montshire Museum in Norwich, Vermont and there are +100 in New England alone. I have only seen the Elderberry Borer over the past 5-8 years and although some say it is rare, I have seen many feasting on the pollen of native dogwoods and viburnums. I suspect that those who are now growing elderberry in Vermont have seen it in recent years and are not pleased with it's presence as it has a habit of boring into the base of the shrub and moving upward as part of its life cycle. That behavior obviously kills the shrub over time. Since dogwoods and viburnums are being attacked by disease and insects, I fear for their long term survival. Elderberries for syrups and wines have become a popular crop now and they will not fare well either. Take a look at http://bugguide.net/index.php?q=search&keys=elderberry+borer&search=Search to get a better look for identification purposes.
 
So what's the story with the cold temperatures? Deep cold when there is little or no snow cover can kill insects and fungi depending upon what stage in their life cycle they are in. This has been well researched. The trouble we have had over the past twenty years is that winters are warmer and we haven't had the severe cold we were once used to. I remember moving to Marshfield in 1989 and that first winter we had a cold snap where the temperatures dropped to 30 below for a few days. I thought we had moved to the wrong place but that was the only time that has happened and since then temperatures rarely get to -25 and then for only a day or two.
 
Daylily leaf streak is a fungal experience more and more daylilies share each year. It would be nice if we got more cold which is supposed to stop that fungus. There are other fungal/rust issues with daylilies and perennial flowers that we enjoy so much so maybe, just maybe the current cold will help us out.
 
If you have read some good research on the impact of intense cold on bugs and diseases, please share with us. In the meantime, keep warm and continue on with planning your gardens for the coming years. Lots and lots of new plant and vegetable varieties are being released this year so there is plenty to consider. Design and redesign...it's good winter fun!
 
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the quiet is interrupted only by a crackling fire in the wood stove and snoring from Karl the Wonder Dog. He loves sleeping by the stove!
 
George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
Vermont Flower Farm where we are always happy to help you grow your green thumb!
Gift certificates available year 'round!!
 
 
 

 
 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Where's Waldo?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013



The temperature is back up to 17.1 degrees after starting at 20 degrees and dropping to 13. The wind is off and on at 3 mph as the sun rises above Peacham Pond and a new day starts with little promise of the warmth we enjoyed earlier in the week. I just finished a breakfast of poached eggs, OJ and coffee with my friend, Karl the Wonder Dog,  but he only had eggs. He just returned from a walk with Gail and now he is enjoying the wood stove's warmth.

If you remember the Martin Handford  kid's book, Where's Waldo, you remember searching around for a little guy with a red hat. I have been a Waldo of sorts during the past couple months and people have asked Gail where I'm hiding. The Waldo hat is replaced by my honey bee association hat in warm weather or a Carhartt hat on colder days but otherwise I am the same George, just older and busier than ever.

When we get through most of August and the first of September at the flower farm, Gail continues to clean things up there and I get back into my work here at the house creating more wood trails and roads, cutting firewood and cleaning the fields. A year ago I heard just too many stories about friends and acquaintances younger than me passing on to another world. I told Gail that I intended to do more of what I wanted to do. That's exactly what I have done. To keep social media going I have concentrated more on Facebook and Twitter so if you miss me again, look at my personal George Africa page on Facebook or the Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens Like page. Both have pictures and stories and yes, I know well, there is a group of blog readers out there that refuses Facebook at every corner but of course the choice on where and when to write is always that of the author. I hope you'll continue to read on all the formats but if you only like The Vermont Gardener, rest assured that fall is here and I am back to more writing.  In a couple more weeks I will be spending more time at the writer's cottage back in the woods and I hope that will get me closer to some personal goals and provide gardeners with more good material.

This summer was another good one at the flower farm excepting I guess that the changing climate is something we must resign ourselves to. By that I mean that for agricultural  business owners like Gail and me, summer 2013 in Vermont saw many, many days when no one drove into the yard because it was raining so hard. The summer ended with much better weather and although sales were down from three years ago, they were slightly better than last year so I guess we haven't lost our touch with many gardeners.

In May just before our busy season started, I headed for Acadia National Park in Maine and over 4 days climbed trails and learned more of Downeast Maine. The park is not as busy then and for me it's a better time to hike when I don't have to back off trails for speedy kids to scoot by.

Worker Bee Michael who we have known since soon after he was born in 1992, finished his final year with us and headed back to his senior year at Castleton. He'll graduate next spring and will be into the world of work, perhaps in law enforcement which has interested him for some time. He was a great worker, great company and very good with visitors. When he left, Gail T. from Peacham helped a few days here and there  including the weekend that daylily sales peaked. I was really lucky because wife Gail had chosen that weekend to head to Maine with friend Julie for a tour of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Schoodic Bay and points around Milbridge where I have been looking at real estate. Gail T. and I really loaded cars for several days and were almost too tired to smile. Almost.

Just after Labor Day,  Gail and Alex and I headed to Maine for a few days R&R and it was really nice to sit on the beach, read, listen to music and eat fresh seafood. We were all so tired we each did our own thing but had a good time and added to our list of Maine memories. I returned long enough to rest, then headed for Crawford Notch, NH to hike to Arethusa Falls in monsoon-like conditions and come within 75 yards of one of the biggest black bears alive in New England. Guess it was a day of "BIG" as the waterfalls I visited is the largest in New Hampshire at almost 200 feet tall. Great trips.

On the home front I continued to dig and line out daylilies for next year's sales, I weeded and tilled 3/4's of the daylily display gardens and field gardens, and I started splitting wood for fall 2014. My work on the trails in our forests continued and I chipped about 20 truckloads of brush to serve as soil amendment which Alex and I spread on top of tons of shredded maple leaves he and Gail and I moved to various beds. I brush hogged around the fields, framed up an outhouse at the writers cottage and found a logger to help clean up some trees that are experiencing serious insect infestation.

By the end of September I was ready for more hiking and I headed back to Acadia Maine to hike the Precipice Trail and the Beachcroft Trail, locate a nice private beach and relive previous visits to the Ladder Trail, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, Otter Cliffs and a number of other places. 

In mid October we had the opportunity to ride the Cog Railroad to the top of Mt Washington. This was a special experience and got me excited about making that climb on one of the many trails. I decided I would never drive my car up there after riding the train and seeing people with overheated radiators.

In recent days, as the air has chilled and snow crystals have peppered me, I have begun to think through getting started next summer on the Long Trail. I have a good friend who has me almost convinced to head for Baxter State Park in Maine, climb Mt Katahdin and consider the Knife Edge. The last part of that is only a consideration and only on a dry, windless day with an early start for an old set of legs but......maybe, maybe not.

So here it is almost Thanksgiving and my to-do list is bigger than a legal pad. Just the same it has been a great summer. We met so many gardening friends this summer, past and current customers, and met many, many new gardeners from all over the world. Some people stopped to visit and see what was new but apologized for no longer being able to garden. Others brought their kids and grand kids and asked us to participate in an education program. It was just an incredible experience where the family of customers and visitors is far reaching and the stories, although sometimes sad, most of the time bring smiles, laughter, and more stories. That's the good part about gardening!


Guess I better get going. We contracted with a local logger to help us with some problem areas and that work should start within the next month. Before, during and after, I'll be busy. Stop by if you're out and about. Thanks for a great summer and thanks for reading thoughts from The Vermont Gardener. If you have gardening questions and want an opinion, fire away and we'll try to  be help.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond, where the temperature remains a reluctant 20.1 degrees and blue jays fill the platform bird feeder as mourning doves and chickadees eat from the ground. Enjoy today!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!
 Web sales always available at vermontflowerfarm.com

PS The picture up top is a sculpture at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. I love that museum because I love Wyeth family art...all art. Great place!







Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Does Lining Out Mean?

 Tuesday, September 24, 2013

41.1° here on the mountain with a fairly constant 4 mph wind. People from the pond are heading out to work early today and some very questionable motorcycle maniac is going up and down the road a top speed  apparently testing something that is still not working correctly. Odd behavior for 5:15 AM. Oh well, part of living here.

Just returned from a long walk with Karl the Wonder Dog. He sniffed and snorted a few times and got me worried once when he backed out of the bushes with big barks but I didn't see or hear anything of concern. A neighbor reported a bear crossing the road above our house last night and perhaps it's still in the area, smelling the bee hives or the compost pile.

Sometimes when I write on Blogger or Facebook, I mention that I am lining out daylilies or other perennials. Not everyone has heard this terminology. Up top is a picture of my truck with some boxes of daylilies which just arrived from Walters in Michigan. We have used Walters for years since the quality of supplies from Europe began to diminish. Walters is big but it cares for customers and sends consistently sized roots. Although we continue to raise our own stock, there are times when we miscalculate and have to buy in replacements. This was the case this year when the daylily Prairie Wildfire was so popular. It's wasn't that it was new or different but the plants grew well with all the rain and the bloom counts were exceptional and we ended the season with only a half dozen plants. That was not enough to divide and get going for next season. .



Lining out plants simply means dividing them into smaller divisions if necessary and then planting them in rows to grow bigger. We leave space between the plants based on the size of the plant and how long we intend to leave them in the row. Some we plan to dig and pot, others we plan to dig and sell from the field but regardless, they all start out in rows--all "lined out" to grow bigger. This new garden pictured just above here is 120 feet long and it is heavier clay than I hoped for but it will help us with more space and more of the popular daylilies for next summer.

Sometimes we take large plants and divide them ourselves. Below here are two rows of a popular daylily named Ruby Spider. It's not a spider classification daylily but it has 9"-10" blooms at maturity and it blooms for a long time so it's really popular. I lined out 100 about three years ago and this summer we sold giant plants for $40 each. They were a chore to dig and carry but they sold well and we made a bunch of space by the end of the season. These that I lined out will go into 5 gallon pots come spring or will be sold from the garden again. Should be very nice!

So whether we dig and divide our own stock or buy in more new or replacemnt stock, lining out plants into the garden is a quicker way to get plants looking good really fast. Being planted in the ground requires less care and the plants grow more consistently because the humidity and fertilizer are not impacted as much by heavy rains. Potted plants require more work to keep nice as temperatures fluctuate and rain washes out nutrients. Today I have another 10 cases of plants to get in the ground and Gail has 8 more plants in the field that have to be divided and replanted. I'll be busy but I don't care as nice weather is on the way and by Thursday after lunch I'll be headed for Maine for some hiking. If you get a chance, stop by the flower farm if the gate is open. We are not staying until 5-6-7 PM any more this time of year but we're happy to see you if you're in the neighborhood!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where it's a very quiet morning. Peak foliage should be here the end of this week--middle of next week-- so come see the color. It's special and an important part of Vermont!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to answer questions and help you grow your green thumb!
Yes, social networking works!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

R&R In Maine

 Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A cool calm morning here on the mountain above Peacham Pond. 46° and windless as the sun adds just a touch of color to the sky as stars twinkle off one by one and a new days starts. For Gail and Alex and me,  we are back in Vermont after 4 days sitting on the beach in Wells, Maine. We do this every year right after Labor Day as an incentive to making it through the next month of cleaning up the nursery, weeding gardens, digging and dividing plants, and receiving orders for next summer that have to be planted now. As fall colors appear and daytime temperatures drop, we have shorter days to get a lot of work finished but the trip to the ocean always seems to provide the necessary rejuvenation.

We have been making this trip to Maine since the early 80's and only missed a year when Alex was born and I think when a family member was moving on to another world. We never stay long and always go about the same time because we know we can count on the weather to be just perfect. We were not disappointed again. What I have noticed is that the beaches we enjoy so much are experiencing serious change and there's nothing we can do about it.


It's hard for Gail and me to comprehend that Alex is actually 21 now but when he was small I would lay on the sand and we would collect all sorts of ocean debris and make little houses and forts and castles decorated with small pieces of driftwood, bird feathers, shells and small stones. It's all different now and it's not just that Alex is 21 that's as noticeable as the missing bird populations, the absence of shells, sand dollars, star fish and sea urchins. The fisherman on the beach don't catch fish like they did in 1982 and their numbers are less than +30 years ago too.
The beaches have changed physically and it appears there is no natural reversion possible. The hurricanes from three years ago reworked the beach in front of the hotel we always stay at and since we have stayed in the same room from year to year, we have a perpetual focus of the oceanfront and how it has changed. What was sand beach is now rock ledge and what was sand awaiting beach goers is now sand dotted with various sized stones that make even walking barefooted most difficult.

So as my hair greys and arthritis reminds me of my age, the world shows change too. Our trip provided rest and relaxation as planned but as for the environment, I am not sure. I walked the trails at the  Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge as I do each year and even there, incorporated as a piece of the third largest estuary in America, I see change. I see it in the river, in the marshes, in the oak forests. I see it along the pathways and I see it in the faces of the people who walk the refuge. Somewhere here there are historical messages that needed to be reread. It's bigger than rereading Carson's Silent Spring or George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature but if you have not read those of late, consider them..........

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond. I hear a loon speaking loonish. If loons had a Webster's Dictionary, it would likely have a bazillion words as loons have been with us for a long, long time.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!
Come visit. There's still plenty of time to plant!


Monday, August 26, 2013

August Peony Reminder

 Monday, August 26, 2013


Raining here this morning---still raining--rained all night. Gail just took Karl the Wonder Dog out for a second walk and I'm surprised they are still out with the rain coming down like this. 57.6°, windless, rain drop quiet!

Just a quick reminder for peony growers. Mid to late August is when peonies set buds on their root stocks. If you want good bloom next season, be sure that your peonies are well watered this month. People seem to have this notion that if they remember rain that it translates to lots of water but water getting to the root stock is another thing. Peonies need a good drenching that provides enough water below the earth surface so they can take in a lot and swell up the buds. Give it a try and you'll be much happier with the results next July.
.
If you are interested in adding to your peony collection or want to begin a collection, this is the time to make purchases and get them planted. Remember to dig an over sized hole and amend it well. Planting peonies should consider planting them for a long, long time so get the soil right first. And then--the planting--never plant the root deeper than 1.5"-2" below the surface. Planting lower than that will get you some fine looking foliage but never much in the way of bloom. Get it right the first time!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where I hear a single loon right now. Love 'em!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens (Like Page) and also as George Africa
Always here to help you row your green thumb!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rudbeckias and Others

 Monday, August 19, 2013

Pink sky over Peacham Pond suggests another nice day for late summer clean up at the flower farm. We are weeding and dividing daylilies at the same time and the weeding part is a real chore this year after all the rain. We were last able to rototill the gardens in late May and for two weeks now that the sun has come out, we are working hard to make up for lost time. Michael started the work before he returned to college so I am in charge now and I take home a truckload of weeds about every night. It's a lot of work because in many places we had trouble getting control of weeds that floated in on the hurricane winds from two years ago.

For several years now I have grown a tall rudbeckia named herbstonne. Before I started shrinking and widening with age, I was 5'10" tall so you can see what herbstonne looks like in comparison. There are places in your garden that you might need some height and this would be the right plant. I does not spread too quickly and it catches attention from afar. Give it a try if you have that need for "vertical".

Here's an image of some of the success we are making along the fence line that is visible from Route 2. This garden runs parallel to Route 2 and over time will be an attention getter by itself. The cleome pretty much self seeded from last year while the other flowers are spreading themselves.This is a collection of Rudbeckia goldsturm, white and purple liatris, white veronicastrum, the herbstonnes,  and three varieties of baptisia. It makes for a nice mix and comes into its own this time of season.
If you are out and about today, stop by the flower farm and say hello. Hundreds of tourists are visiting the Cabot Creamery for the tour and cheese tasting while others are following the trail of vineyards and wine producers that dot Vermont now.You might want to get involved too!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where loons are yelling at me to get to work. I must!.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Hosta Care Reminders

Monday, August 19, 2013

A quiet morning here on the mountain. Another light rain storm passed through during the night but now it is clear, 50.2° and windless. The critters of the woods are out and about now, probably including the bear cub I saw yesterday afternoon.  Folks are heading to work from the pond and I can hear a log truck coming down from Rt 232. Karl the Wonder Dog is sleeping longer than usual and allowing me to write without interruption.

Hostas have always been the number one selling perennial which is a surprise to many. Hosta collectors have the American Hosta Society for guidance and the Hosta Library for reference. But as I meet and sell hostas to customers, I ask what people know about hosta virus and there is little response. The Hosta Library has some good info and pictures about the virus that is important to understand. The most recent on-line newsletter from the society mentions the progress being made to understand the virus. Vice President Rob Mortko had this to report:

"HVX Research Update
We are concluding our two year study at the
University of Minnesota with Dr. Ben Lockhart. The
final study report will be posted later this year. In
the meantime, we have confirmed the transmission
of HVX from virus-infected plant debris remaining
in a planting site. The infection process is slow and
it wasn’t until the second year after planting a clean
hosta in the same location that the virus was
observed and confirmed with a positive test. Please
DO NOT plant another hosta in the same location
after removing an HVX infected hosta."
 
 
This time of year in many parts of the hosta growing world, people are beginning their fall clean up. They might very well be spreading hosta virus to uninfected plants during very routine clean up. Some people mention that they weed whack all their hostas down and then rake the leaves and scapes up for disposal. This method is sure to spread disease.  Replanting a new hosta in the hole where an infected hosta was removed is sure to spread the virus too. I am mentioning this as the last thing you want to do is ruin your collection while trying to keep a good looking garden.

One more cup of coffee for me and I am out the door. I am cleaning up one of the daylily fields which means weeding, digging, dividing and then lining out daylilies that we will need in greater supply for next year. Stop by the flower farm and say hi!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens--lots of images!
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Trillium History--So Good!

 Wednesday, August 7, 2013


A quiet morning on the mountain above Peacham Pond. The sky is rosy pink suggesting rain by nightfall. A zephyr blows from the west, ever so lightly that the maple leaves float up and down but don't make sound. The birds are quiet too for some reason and the bigger animals of the forest, the deer, bear and moose are nowhere to be seen this morning. Karl the Wonder Dog and I had a very nice walk and now back home we wonder how many animals stood motionless and watched us pass. We do not know.

Trilliums in our woods and gardens have long since passed and are in the final stages of forming seed pods.  Trillium erectum up top has big pods and grandiflorum (white), luteum (yellow) and undulatum (pink centered) featured below here all show swelling pods. Trilliums grow easily from seed but the gardener must pay attention to seed pod growth and harvest them before the ants do. Ants are the chief recorded seed dispersal agent of trilliums although I think deer might follow a close second as they probably destroy more trillium populations around the US than disrespectful people do.Trilliums are slow to germinate and take 7 years on average to flower so patience is a requirement.



Occasionally people ask if we sell trilliums. We have sold some but generally do not because they have never been popular enough to warrant the time. I can be convinced to sell some but not right now as we are in the middle of daylily season and things are busy.


Although I cannot share potted trilliums right now, I do want to share a marvelous article written by Cole Burrell. Cole is a great plantsman and I really like his book Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations That Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right From The Start (Rodale Press). I have recommended it to many gardeners and have given it as a gift several times. But the article that I think is so special is one that friend Barry Glick just shared. It's Burrell's Obsession and Exploitation: 
The Cultural History of Trillium. Here it is as a pdf file. http://www.mtcubacenter.org/images/symposium-files/Burrell-Cole.pdf


 

I know you'll like it just as much as you would like a swath of pink centered, last blooming Trillium undulatum pictured here as a closing memory.


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a loon talks loonish in a noisy voice I can hear from here. Have a great gardening day. Stop and see us! The daylilies remain strong and Gail has some nice late bloomers starting.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Daylily Deadheading

 Saturday, August 3, 2013

A not-so-nice morning here on the mountain. Rain has resumed and as it pounds on the roof, Karl the Wonder Dog trot-trot-trots from room to room, whimpering with an uncomfortable feeling, perhaps fearing that thunder is soon to come as it did last night. This is a strange storm as it was raining at 3 this morning but by 4 when we went for our first walk, the sky was clearing and stars were visible. I hope it all heads for the coast and we have a good day of sales at the flower farm.

The daylilies have been beautiful this year because of all the rain we received in May and June.Yesterday and Thursday as I dug large daylilies from the field, it was surprising to notice how dry the roots were in the middle of big plants. The field daylilies were planted in 2007 and 2008 so some of those are big plants and they represent what you might see in your own gardens after seevral years--daylilies that need to be split when scape production in the center of the plants begins to decline.Tight center root systems prevent water and nutrients from entering the center portion.

Three weeks back a rep from the Dept of Agriculture came by for an inspection of our place. This is required annually by law and is tied to a nursery license. The Department has always had inspections but just this year changed the licensing format and the fee schedule. I always try to speak with the inspector even though Gail has already done the same thing. This year was no different except that I was busy when he came and said I'd catch up at the end of his tour.

Two insects that are being seen in all sorts of garden situations, vegetable and flower gardens as well this year,  are tarnished plant bugs and rose chafers. Among our fields, we have seen both but the inspector says the numbers are typical. Here are some thoughts first on the TPB.


We raise thousands of daylilies and depend on high bud counts and plenty of bloom to help us sell flowers. People drive by along Route 2 and see our fields and stop to walk and make purchases.To keep things looking as good as possible, we walk the fields every couple days and try to deadhead as many daylilies as possible. Mature plants might have well over 400 blooms during the course of their flower period so it's a challenge to keep up with the work. But I have a more important reason for deadheading and it's related to the Tarnished Plant Bug TPB.
Take a look at the daylily picture up top. It's a beauty named Ruby Spider. At maturity the blooms meet 10" diameters and there are hundreds of blooms on a clump. We have a couple big rows in the lower growing garden if you want to see what mature clumps look like. Take a  close look and you'll notice spots within the red, especially the top left and lower left petals.Those spots are the work of the Tarnished Plant Bugs as they eat away at the petals. Although they like any daylily, they especially like the darker colors so the reds, purples, and dark variations.

TPBs are speedy little characters and they see you when you are coming and they will fly, drop off, or run for cover. If there are old blooms withered and wet, they may try to get inside those. By deadheading. you eliminate a place they lay their eggs and make a bigger problem next year. Some gardeners see deadheading as a real messy task while others find it difficult to enter a garden, even one that is not theirs, and start deadheading. One time a lady started deadheading daylilies Alex had begun crossing and he was one unhappy camper with her "helpful" behavior as hybridizing does not work without certain plant parts. Anyway, my point about tarnished plant bugs is they are a nuisance, do discolor nice daylilies and will not go away by themselves. Deadheading is one approach to minimizing bug populations.

Rose Chafers have grown in numbers as winters have warmed. In my mind I wonder if the increase in grape vines in Vermont both in home gardens and in commercial vineyards and as wild vines has had any impact on numbers because many, many people stopping at the flower farm ask about control. Although literature often mentions grape vines as a favorite food source, they prevail on all sorts of vegetation and currently seem to be more prevalent along the sandier soils along the Champlain Valley and the mid to lower Connecticut River valleys. I'm saying this based on the complaints we receive from  visitors asking for guidance on control measures.

Since TPBs and rose chafers both fly, control becomes somewhat of a challenge. Internet resources are bountiful but I am still looking for an inexpensive organic resource that works. Yesterday I bought a bag of milky spore that will cover 7000 square feet to help with Japanese beetles and I wish there was something that would dispose of these other two. What we really need is a winter with some deep cold cycles.....but then we'd worry about the heating bill. If you have any good solutions, drop me a line.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sun is trying to push through grey clouds. Temperature is 60.6° and the morning is windless. Come visit us at the flower farm today, count bugs or tour the gardens. The daylilies are wonderful!!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens (Like Us!) and as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Friday, August 02, 2013

Japanese Beetles

Friday, August 2, 2013

Just in from a morning walk with Karl the Wonder Dog. It rained a little during the night and the skunks came by to work on our lawn some more, looking of course for Japanese beetles that are coming to the surface to begin adulthood on the rugosa roses.This is August and in Vermont this is when the biggest hatches occur. I say "hatches" which is really not correct but this is the time when soil temperatures rise and adult beetles emerge from the soil to feed heavily on plants they like. Gail has 5 varieties of rugosa rose we brought from Burlington when we moved here and they are big roses now and the beetles love them. But they like our grape vines and our hollyhocks and in a drier year, the zinnia crop we grow for cut flowers. They also seem to prefer the lighter colored daylilies we have growing in sandy soil when they set up residence  in the fields.


Japanese beetles have been around since about 1914 in America when they are believed to have arrived  mixed in with a shipment if irises. Documentation on when certain insects arrive is always a problem because it's likely that bad insects arrive some time before they are noticed. Asian longhorn beetles, the emerald ash borer and the lily leaf beetle all have varying dates of arrival but unlike people type immigrants there is no clearing house upon their arrival and they seem to get established all too soon. Right now the state of Oregon is waging a giant battle against Japanese beetles because they figure the beetles cost their nursery growers $33 million per year. I suspect the actual figure is higher. The impact of this particular insect is even greater than state by state losses as Cornell University did a study and determined that they are also responsible for 40% of the threatened/endangered plant species in America. This is a little insect that has enormous influence.


Control is always possible but there is coast to coast debate on the best way to slow down the pest. I go with organic as my experience is that organic compounds such as the bacteria known as milky spore really work very well and do nothing to injure or kill other insects such as my honey bees. There are also nematodes that work very well but I think take a little longer to get established than milky spore. Others do not agree with either and feel that more harsh chemicals such as Sevin have to be used so you can visualize the death of the insects and know that you're eliminating the problem. I don't like to get to that point.

The state of Oregon uses traps scented with pheromones but these are a nuisance to me for a variety of reasons. If you do not have a big beetle problem, you will have as the pheromone is so strong that it lures in beetles from as far as 3-4 miles away (University of Vermont study). Seems to me a person would have enough trouble in their own backyard without enlarging the territory they are drawing bugs from. On top of that, what do you do with the bag full of beetles when the trap is full? And finally, here in Vermont as example, we have a big, big, big problem with black bears. They love beetles and while visiting your home they smell the bags of trapped beetles and sit on your lawn ripping open the bags and feasting--hence another mess and another even bigger challenge--how to tell the bears you do not trap beetles any more?

Milky spore is available in garden centers and box stores. It looks like talcum powder when you open the can or bag but the bacteria is really there and it really works. It should be applied to the soil prior to or during a rain so it can get into the soil and then it attaches itself to beetle grubs. Once infected the grubs die and become another source for the bacteria to grow in. It takes some time to establish in your lawns or fields but once established you will see the difference. You'll know you are successful as Spring arrives and signs of moles rototilling your lawns are finally absent. No grubs, no food source for moles either and they move someplace else. Give it some thought, give it a try.


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where it just started to rain again. It's 58.8° this morning. I hear a loon calling from the pond suggesting I guess that I get moving. Lots to do at the flower farm. Rain or shine, stop by and say hello. The daylilies are very special right now and I have to say I am really enjoying the opportunity to meet new gardeners from around the world as some report  they are a Facebook friend and others explain where they live. Maine is always very well represented but yesterday three cars were from Michigan. Fun! Interesting!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens (Like page) and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

George

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Late Daylilies


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A quiet morning here on the mountain except for Karl the Wonder Dog and his pink squeaky toy. He just returned from a morning walk, all barked out after spotting a deer, and now he wants to play. It's 54.2°. and windless with thin gray clouds moving in and eastern sun pushing through blue sky here and there. It will rain at some point today but for now it's a nice morning.

The daylilies  have been spectacular this season and if you haven't stopped at Vermont Flower Farm yet you are missing something special. The +20" of rain we received over less than a month really pushed an unusual number of flower scapes skyward and the bloom counts have been super!. The daylily fields as pictured here have been in place since 2007 so many of the plants are quite large so flower counts provide plenty of color. The daylily display garden is still very wet from road problems along Route 2 but the balance of the fields within our almost 5 acres of plants are easily walkable and very nice.

Gardeners are obviously intrigued by daylilies and I can see by their questions that they know more about what is available. People ask about plant size now and like/dislike big flowers, small flowers, tall or short scapes, early-mid-late-very late season bloomers. Some have read about "rebloomers" and want plants that bloom all summer and some who have less experience ask for "one of those that blooms three months straight". I don't make points when I tell people the reality of rebloomers but I am known for providing honest information, not just a story to sell a plant.

I have to get headed to the flower farm soon to continue deadheading the fields and cleaning up from a busy week. But first, here's a list of plants in what we call the Mid to Late range here in Marshfield. We call mid season late July into August and late season from mid August into September. When you receive two weeks of  70° temperatures in late March-early April like we did this year, daylilies break dormancy and get out of sync and the bloom times vary by the plant. That's what we are seeing this year. Just the same, we are close on many plants and there's plenty to see.   Here are some examples of where we are at that Gail prepared last night based on current bloom expectations. Call or visit with questions. There are thousands of plants in bloom and we have a great selection of potted daylilies including many new to us varieties.

Some of our Mid to late season:
 
 
El Desperado
Western Sandstone
August Frost
Red Sentinel
Red Razzmatazz
The Jury's Out
Chicago Apache
Lavender Stardust
Marque Moon
Modern Design

August Bloom:

Fire King
Mighty Chestnut
Spanish Glow
Scottish Fantasy
The Jury's Out

Late Bloom:

Steeple Jackie: 4-5 feet, yellow, very late
Challenger
Last man Standing
Autumn Gold
New In Town
Butterscotch Harvest

Have a great day! Come see us,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Buy Local, Buy Vermont Flowers


 
Jovibarba heuffelii 'Purple Haze'

Jovibara heuffelli
Purple Haze

Monday, July 22, 2013

A quiet morning on the mountain. Light clouds float against patches of blue sky. The temperature hangs at 49.5°, the coldest morning in weeks but I love it. The humidity is low enough to notice its absence but the morning weather report suggests the humidity will be bothersome by late afternoon and the clouds will build to a storm. We don't need rain here but it is coming again.

People like to take vacations away from the state they live in.They spend hours and hours planning and saving money for trips that leave them happy but tired and often with credit card balances that detract over time from the glory of the visits. There was a time when I spent too much time on a plane or in a car and I have reduced my travel to more local visits. It works for me and I will continue. Tomorrow for example, I am leaving the flower farm in Gail's hands and traveling 90 miles to Crawford Notch in New Hampshire. I plan to hike to Arethusa Falls and then backtrack and do part of the Webster Cliffs Trail. It will be hot, it may be raining, but I will enjoy every bit of it right down to chasing away squirrels that have become begging pests at the falls.

Yesterday was a busy day at Vermont Flower Farm. The daylilies are in peak bloom, many urged on to bloom ahead of time by last week's record setting heat. Sales could have been better but we sold a lot of plants anyway. I better remember to refuel the golf cart this morning or we'll be in trouble digging plants from two different fields and hundreds of yards apart. Gail loves that cart!

Part of yesterday's plan was to close the gate at five and pack quickly to head to Glover, Vermont, +30 miles away, I had made plans for Gail, house painting friend Michelle, Alex and me to go visit Kate Butler and her Labour of Love Nursery. 

We arrived only 15 minutes later than I planned and almost immediately Gail and Michelle were letting out lots of "look at this" sounds. Adjacent to the parking area is the start of one of the finest collections of sempervivens I have ever seen and if you like the looks of hens and chickens in your dry or rock  garden, this is a must-visit place for sure. Like the named example pictured up top here, the names are tricky  but the plants-oh the plants-they are so exciting with idiosyncrasies, colors, webs.

We walked back and forth along the manicured rows of plants, often walking on patches of creeping thymes that shared fragrances with us as we walked from one exciting plant to another. As I sit here writing now I can still reflect on the fragrances that reminded me of days in Shelburne, Vermont when Gail and I grew over 50 varieties of herbs for the farmers market and we smelled those very same aromas.

Kate has a very nice collection of daylilies across the bridge and we spent some time there doing what daylily people do, talking about flower shapes and size and color and when do they open and how long do they bloom. We returned across the bridge and looked over rows of potted plants as Gail took the opportunity to add to our daylily collection with a couple we "needed". Plant collectors often get a bit obsessive and the "I need" part is questionable but a reality.

I know we could have turned around and toured the gardens all over again but  as the evening temperature cooled, our bodies reminded us that yesterday started at 5 AM and sleep was the next thing on the to-do list.

If you are out and about, think about the many fine gardens and nurseries in Vermont. They are closer than you think. Small businesses make Vermont what it is and they need your help growing on. Plane flights are fun but Vermont has a lot to offer without an airport. Ask for suggestions and we can probably help. And if you go see Kate in Glover, stop at Currier's Market. It's a part of Vermont you won't forget.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond. People are heading to work from the pond but I know they wish they didn't have to go. The weekend was beautiful and life outdoors was fun. Come visit!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!
Yes, we do sell plants on-line. Lots of them!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Old Gardening Books


Sunday, July 14, 2013

65.5° here on the mountain, windless, quiet save for an occasional call from loons on the reservoir. One has 2 chicks I hear.  Gail is packing the car with lunch and supplies for the flower farm and I have to shift gears here soon. Time flies and often it's easy to forget what day it is. Today is my son Adam's birthday. He's 39. He lives in Seattle with wife Leah and my grandsons Max, Cooper and Griffin. The kids are like daylilies in the garden, little buds today,  beautiful offerings in short order. Yes, time flies!

Whenever I am in a used book store I look around for gardening books from times past. Newer books for example, make it difficult to find historical daylilies that started being registered in 1883. I pick up what I can and always ferret out some interesting info. This is an idea worth considering.

The book pictured up top here is titled The Suburban Garden Guide. It was published in 1911. It covers vegetables first, then garden flowers, but it avoids any mention of daylilies. As an example of perception over time, here's what it says about broccoli, a favorite vegetable of mine.

"BROCCOLI: This is really nothing but a longer-seasoned and later-maturing cauliflower, but better adapted than it for the far North. Early White, Mammoth White and Purple Cape, are good varieties."

Daylilies are in full swing at the flower farm. Some of the fields are still quite wet but we have thousands in pots ready to go and have two fields full of flowers that we will dig from. The other day Gail got a boot stuck while digging a large daylily and I guess I just need to ask that you give us a couple minutes to do the digging for you. We have some giant clumps of Ruby Spider for $40 and have a number of  20 and 30 gallon pots of popular daylilies for $38. These might be of interest if you do the math on value versus single pots. We grow them because of the current need for instant gratification.

I hear a neighbor mowing her lawn so I guess I better get with it. We are open every day 9-5, some days a little later, so stop by and visit us. The hostas are looking very good with all the rain and the daylilies are coloring up the fields and slowing traffic along Route 2. We think it's worth a visit but of course ...we're biased! Come stop and walk the fields with us.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflower farm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bears Abound And Rebound All Around



Sunday, June 30, 2013

61.2°  here on the mountain this morning. Quiet. Windless.  The valley below my office window is a field a floating fog that drifts in layers so slowly I have to watch carefully to see movement. My eyes keep searching for Mrs Doe Deer, a recent mother and a frequent visitor to breakfasts of timothy and clover grasses which she seems to prefer. We watched the morning she delivered her fawn in the field in front of us and marveled as she coaxed it to its feet to nurse. It is fascinating how a fawn, still wet from birth, knows how to bump against its mother and get more milk. Mrs. D is ever watchful when she feeds as her ears stay perked up to catch sounds of danger and insure that her baby is safe. 

Spring is an interesting time in Vermont and early summer provides frequent animal sightings. Some of these we enjoy, others we enjoy less. Friday's view of a young skunk heading to my honey bees was neat to watch but unpleasant to think about. I banged on the window and scared the little one away before (s)he encountered the electric fence for the first time. (maybe, maybe not). Just the same, the fresh, spanky clean black and white fur and wet black nose were fun to see, especially from the safety of my office window. 

Less than a week ago, friend Michelle was standing in our dining room looking out the window in preparation to say goodbye after a visit. Then her voice had an obvious "octave experience" as she looked out the window and found that Karl the Wonder Dog's barking was not at the neighbor's oft antagonizing cat but instead at a two year old black bear. The bear was in Gear No. 1, Lowest-of Lows,  and walked so slowly that you wanted to go push him up the hill. No amount of yelling made him go any faster. He had just walked right by the back door and at under twenty feet from the window, he showed no fear and actually seemed irritated to be coaxed along. When Michelle left ten minutes later she had to wait while the bear exited the woods by a neighbor's home and walked right up the middle of the road to Rt 232, not speeding up and continuing to show he was fearless and in charge. I don't know if the "he" was a "she" but it was a two year old for sure.

For three weeks now I have been trying to put the flower farm back together after a terrible wind, rain and hail storm arrived while I was enjoying some hiking in Acadia National Park. The repair work is about down to fence repair and although I probably should have done that as soon as I finished with the downed trees and brush, I put it off. Yesterday as I walked down to work in the hosta display garden, a track in the mud caught my eye. A bear had come across Route 2, walked under the floppy fence, and through the lower daylily garden. What was most interesting was the way the tracks went to the edge of the property behind the display garden and then returned to the daylily rows. This bear was apparently checking buds and looking for pretty but as yet unopened daylily blooms as it went up and down two different rows before returning to Route 2. The Winooski River is running at almost maximum force now and the bear obviously decided it was not going for a swim. 

Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Division reports that we have over 6000 black bears now and the population exceeds what they feel can be properly managed. They have extended the fall hunting season for this year and they are confident they can keep things in control. I am not sure their numbers are correct as last summer we had three sows here at the house that had a total of 6 cubs between them. Work the math and you might see the source of the regular bear sitings. A friend down Route 2 from the flower farm has a bear with dumpster experience and those guys are difficult to retrain (not possible). I suspect I will be commenting on bear behavior again.

A month's worth of rain has kept gardeners thinking of gardening but not in their gardens.There's only so much sqwoosh-sqwoosh, sqwoosh anyone can take and even rain wear gets too wet after day upon day of heavy rain. The sun is breaking through the clouds now and we're hopeful that gardeners will stop by the flower farm and make purchases. The daylily fields are still wet with over 16" of rain in a three weeks but the resulting scape count is exceptional.  Daylilies are well budded and although it appears that the bloom time of some varieties is off by a couple weeks, the display should be really special at the farm in a couple weeks, maybe less if we get some sun. 

We are digging from the fields now although I have to say that it takes courage to dig along the top rows that are heavy clay as boots sometimes sink faster than a shovel or a spade and we end up hosing off the plants and ourselves after digging. The yellows and oranges that are first to bloom will very soon be accompanied by every color but blue and the field will slow traffic on Route 2. Here's an image of what will be obvious in a couple weeks.

Gail, Alex and I hope you will stop by for a personal visit soon or order on-line if you cannot get up/over/down to see us. Farming is difficult work no matter what the weather or the type of farm, so please try to support all farmers and understand the stress that bad weather all over the country has caused. There are dairy and beef farmers all over who have yet to make their first cut of hay because it will never dry and there are folks who rely on single crops like strawberries that have poor crops this year because of the rain. CSA's have typically made bountiful offerings of spring greens by now but rains have not been helpful to even fairly easy crops such as lettuce, chards and choys. I have no idea  how the potato growers are doing but know for sure that in many place save for certain quick draining river bottom soil, the corn crops will never make "knee high by the 4th of July" and some crops have already been replanted at great expense. Again, think what it's like to put food on your plate, flowers on your table and support farmers for what they do.

For me, it's time to get to the flower farm. I'll probably be sitting at the front table in half an hour reading the Sunday paper but when I close up the last section, another day will be under way. Stop and say hello, bring your questions, bring your kids. Gardening is a good way to have fun and keep  family, friends, and neighbors together.


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where I hear the loons at the pond talking loonish which I clearly do not understand. Friday I saw a loon mom on Joe's Pond with a single chick swimming close to her. It felt good to see another successful hatch for such an interesting and very primitive bird. I love 'em!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!