Saturday, September 24, 2022

 Karol Emmerich, owner of Springwood Gardens in Minnesota recently posted this to Facebook and the Discovering Daylilies page. It is worth the read. See my follow up comments below. 

"Shallow-rooted trees growing anywhere near your daylilies are not your friend. They will soak up almost all the water and nutrients in the area, and drastically reduce a daylily’s bud count, height, etc. This link provides an excellent description of common shallow-rooted trees: It notes, for example, that “Cottonwood is genetically programmed to produce shallow roots. It grows naturally in flood plains where waterlogged soils are the norm. The tree’s roots typically grow no deeper than six feet, but they can extend up to 100 feet from the trunk.” The pictures in this post illustrate what can happen even if you were careful when initially constructing your garden beds. No cottonwood or other trees were apparent in picture 1 when these flower beds were created and planted with seedlings about 18 years ago - just some shrubby looking plants in the background - so we assumed all was OK. Picture 2 is what this same area looked like in the summer of 2022. As you can see in picture 3, shallow-rooted trees like these cottonwoods (which self-seed here in the wild) are clearly incompatible with the nearby underground water pipes for the sprinkler system and with growing healthy daylilies. Roots from the same tree 50 feet from its trunk are shown in picture 4, and picture 5 depicts its roots 100 feet away! Maple trees, although extraordinarily beautiful, will create the same issues. Their shallow roots can spread 60 feet from the trunk and dramatically change a daylily’s height and bud count."

My comments:

I have shared comments and pictures from Karol Emmerich before as I find her to be one of the leading daylily hybridizers in the US. This post is significant because it points out a common question here in Vermont---can I plant under trees? This becomes a more common question with gardeners in Vermont's urban locations where lot size is smaller and neighbors may well have trees too. I find the question even more common with those interested in growing hostas and other shade tolerant plants because they often plant first and then come asking about issues a couple years later, sometimes after the surrounding trees have grown even taller. Lilacs and hydrangeas both have shallow root systems that extend well beyond what you think but trees that grow larger such as Vermont's admired sugar maples grow tons of roots. I once planted 30 hostas in individual 20-gallon nursery pots sunk to almost ground level with a 1-inch lip left above ground to slow down voles and other problem critters. It was a lot of work and expense but now twenty years later some that I left are still there from when we moved our flower farm. The pots allow you to control water, fertilizers or other additives. If you are thinking about planting around trees, consider all these points and at very least be prepared to take a shovel and annually cut the roots that are encroaching upon every plant you have placed within the root system.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


We only grow flowers at Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens but many in New England grow vegetables as their main crop. The Xerces Society just posted this very interesting article on Winter Street Farm ( in Claremont, NH. Can you imagine vacuuming up cucumber bugs as a pest control effort? Interesting!!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Farm For Sale


We just had a new drone video made with help from local producer Seth O'brien, owner of Green Mountain Drone ( greenmtndrone). We hope the video will help us find the right buyer for our business....someone who will keep the land in agriculture and carry on our philosophy about protecting our environment while producing and selling Vermont hardy plants that come from people who know plants and communicate how to be good gardeners. Please take a look and pass it on to anyone who might be interested in flower farming in the great state of Vermont.

Friday, August 05, 2022


Remember the far distant cartoon show named Rocky and Bullwinkle? It was located in a fictional Minnesota town named Frostbite Falls. My friend Don Church hybridized a very nice daylily and he named it Frostbite Falls. Here's the picture and the registration information. I'm growing it here in Marshfield and will have a couple plants I can sell this fall. One of the parents is Early Snow which is one of our favorites here at the farm. It's pictured here below our picture of Frostbite Falls. #vermontflowerfarmforsale; #vermontrealestate; #buylocal; 

Frostbite Falls (Church, 2009) Height 38 inches (96 cm), bloom 6.5 inches (17 cm), season M, Dormant, Tetraploid, 25 buds, 3 branches,  Near white self. (Early Snow × Chablis Blanc)

Wednesday, August 03, 2022



It may seem a while back to June 9th when I took this picture of peonies setting nice buds. Now two months later it's a different time and the peonies have set seed and soon the pods will be cracking open. The peonies pictured have been raised from seed and if you are patient you can do the same thing. As the seed pods begin to crack, pick off the seeds. Wait a day too long and they will be spread all over the ground so keep an eye on them. Then prepare a bed in your garden and plant the seeds right away. Plant them a couple inches deep and mark the rows or the places you plant them. Although a few may germinate the first full year, most need the following year after stratification. The first year above ground they will be a couple inches tall and after that they will take off. Peonies from seed are like winning the lottery. You never know the result until your number is called. In this batch of plants which came from my friend Mary B., there are a couple beautiful little plants now still bushel basket sized with small 2.5-3" single petals, white blooms with golden stamens. What a beautiful plant to place along walkways or front of gardens or as borders. The others of the first 60 Mary gave me are mostly large singles, a few doubles and one Itoh. A couple of them have the highest producing scapes I have ever seen. They are all very nice cut flower plants and a couple are very fragrant and would make any gardener smile. Give the seeds a try!  #vermontflowerfarm; #farmforsale; #peonies; #cutflowers; #hostas; #600daylilies; #buylocal; #vermontrealestate; #oregon; #california;

Friday, July 01, 2022


We are about 18-19 days away from excellent daylily bloom at Vermont Flower. Farm. Even a little rain will get things going faster but it's been a dry spring and the scapes have just begun to get going this week. Days like today when it will reach the high 80's slow the growth just a bit  but tonight's predicted quarter inch of rain, although skimpy compared to what we would like to see, will be enough to get more scapes growing.

These pictures are from a year back on July 19th so you can get an idea what you will see at our farm. We encourage people to walk the gardens and enjoy the color. We have thousands of potted daylilies ready to move from our gardens to yours and one thing you will most always find here is #600/6 quart pots of daylilies with several large fans that once planted will give the appearance that the plants have been there for some time. Come visit and see what we offer. Can't visit? Try our website and place an order. We ship Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday bu US Postal Service.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022



The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab may be a long way from Vermont but the research there is critical to our eastern pollinators. Scan this brief article and share your thoughts and observations on weather changes you have noticed in Vermont.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

 Northern Vermont Hardy Plant Club

Just a reminder that one of Vermont's greatest collections of serious gardeners belong to this group. Gail and I joined the Northern Vermont Hardy Plant Club when we lived in Burlington and the group has grown in membership and talent each year since. Name the plant and you can find someone who knows something about it. It's fascinating to take the various garden tours offered each year, attend the programs and special events. If you are even thinking about  flower gardening, the $10 a year annual membership is more than a great investment. Just meeting so many special gardeners is something you'll never forget.  Read on here and then consider joing!

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Butternut Trees


I remember so well arriving in Vermont as a five-year-old and finding a world that was exciting, challenging, and dramatically different than Rye and Port Chester NY where various members of my family resided. We moved next door to a century-old dairy farm and the three farm ladies who lived there were forever introducing my sister and me to all sorts of new and unusual experiences. 

During our first full fall in Vermont, we learned about butternuts, and we filled bushel baskets full of the nuts from those trees....and in that process got our hands all browned up and sticky from the husks. The ladies lugged the heavy baskets upstairs into the back attic of the farmhouse where the nuts were spread out to dry. They showed us how to crack the previous years' nuts which had cured. It was several years later before we could successfully crack nuts and not fingers but we learned early on how delicious the nut meats were and how Vermonters loved them with their maple candies.

Since those days in the 50s, butternuts have declined in Vermont to the point that you hardly see any trees let alone a good supply of nuts. In 2006, when we bought that land that today is Vermont Flower Farm, we had 9 butternut trees growing along the Winooski River. This summer the last of those died.

Here's an article that was written by Chittenden County Vermont's Forester, Ethan Tapper. It does a good job explaining butternuts. I keep hoping someone will hybridize a stronger butternut so we don't lose this wonderful tree (beautiful wood) and its nuts.

Saturday, March 26, 2022



We are pleased to announce that our Vermont Flower Farm website has been revised and is now available to you in an easy-to-use WordPress format. We have updated most all our plants and have changed pricing based upon Covid-related increases as well as incoming shipping cost increases. The past two years have been the best we have ever had at VFF but the price increases due to Covid have continued upward, now relative to the war in Ukraine. Anything manufactured using petroleum products such as greenhouse covers, field fabrics, plant labels, potted trays and plant pots have risen and continue to rise. Many fertilizers have production components that originate in Russia and as such those prices have risen sharply and are expected to continue to rise.  

We feel that we have made manageable, appropriate adjustments that will keep Vermont Flower Farm on firm footing to continue as one of Vermont's finest specialty nurseries. We look forward to seeing you and your gardening friends this summer and fall. We continue to be open 9 to 5, seven days per week Mother's Day through mid-October. If you have gardening questions or want to check on the availability of those favorite plants, email us at or call us at 802-426-3505. After April 12th the telephone will be active at the farm so call there with questions 802-426-3506. Come visit and we will show you what's new!

Saturday, March 19, 2022


Supply Costs to Farmers

It doesn't matter what size "garden" you grow, whether a few square feet or a few hundred acres, the cost of growing anything has risen sharply and will continue to rise as a result of the war. At Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens we have been shaking our heads for a few weeks now and so far the prices of what we need to grow plants this year has not settled down. Here is yesterday's report from Bloomberg that might give you an idea of just some of the problems. As I have been recommending, if there are supplies you need, buy now and plan into the future a bit because this whole thing is not going away quickly.

"Fertilizer prices continue to surge to records as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts a massive portion of the world’s fertilizer supply at risk, adding to concerns over soaring global food inflation.

The Green Markets North America Fertilizer Price Index jumped almost 10% Friday to an all-time high as the market worries that potential sanctions on Russia, a big low-cost shipper of every major kind of crop nutrient, could disrupt global trade. The country accounted for almost a fifth of 2021 fertilizer exports, according to Trade Data Monitor and Bloomberg’s Green Markets

Russia has urged domestic fertilizer producers to reduce exports, further stoking fears of shortages. The war also is pushing up the cost of natural gas, the main input for most nitrogen fertilizer, forcing some producers in Europe to cut output.

At the same time, prices for staple crops like wheat, corn and soybeans are soaring, with war in one of the world’s breadbaskets threatening to push millions more into hunger. Rising costs for farm inputs like fertilizer could further send the price of food skyrocketing."

Friday, March 18, 2022


Here's an article from National Geographic showing recent findings that point to higher allergy issues as climate warms. I believe it. The combination of more heat and less rain can result in growth of certain grasses and weeds. Some weeds prevent other weeds from rapid growth, seed production and rapid spread while others slow the growth.

We started working the ground at Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens in about 2007 after installing fencing around the 4.3 acres. The pasture had been a cornfield in recent years and had just been reseeded with alfalfa and white clover. Being proximate to Route 2 also meant that traffic from all over North America was depositing weed seeds many of which we had never seen before. Wild chervil, hogweed, Queen Anne's Lace were early arrivals followed by Jimsonweed, Poison Parsnip and Wild Buttercup. All of these flourished right from the start. 

Ragweed probably bothers 50% of the public in some way but in our home for example it's the tree pollen that's at issue: poplar, willow and white birch pollen, but tree pollen in general. I am fine but Alex has to take medicine during peak times. 

If you read this paper you'll see the correlation between climate change, drought, and the incidence of new weeds. When I saw fireweed for the very first time in Vermont and knew that it was common in Alaska, I recognized the importance of understanding how weed seeds travel by wind, by people and unknowingly by commercial and public transportation. Drop us a note if you have spotted a special weed such as our very noxious wild buttercup, or you have seen other correlations between drought and special weed resurgence.


Monday, March 14, 2022


In the old days, it was quite common, almost expected, to see peonies growing around every farmhouse in New England. Vermont was no exception. When my family moved me to Vermont in the early 50s, the 1826 house we moved to had peonies and the two farms down the road did too. My love for them started early and continues today.

At Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens we grow more varieties than we sell but in 2022 for example we will start the season with +30 varieties including 6 Itohs and the balance herbaceous. Certain varieties such as Festiva Maxima, Sarah Bernhardt (the pink, not the red version), Duchess de Nemours and Red Charm we offer every year but others we change out each year so collectors always have something new to consider. There are thousands of peonies on the market so no matter where you go, you could be disappointed to not find what you want while still locating lots of beautiful plants among vendors.

Here are some examples of what you'll find if you visit us in 2022. Come visit! We officially open on Mothers Day weekend but any time in April that you see the gates open--we are there working someplace. Be well! Stop by!



Coral  Sunset

 Morning  Lilac

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Bloomerang Lilacs


A Sunday afternoon but without any sun. Snow squalls and 27.5°instead. I just finished with the new web page for the lilacs we sell at Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens. There are 15 varieties available and if you enjoy lilacs in your gardens, my guess is you will enjoy every one of these.

Today I'd like to point out a reblooming lilac that we have had great success with named Bloomerang. The first year that we bought some to plant ourselves I had my doubts but I didn't know that it took the first year to get well established. We buy these in as small cuttings in 4" pots from a grower in Indiana and by August they are 18"-22" tall and beginning to bloom. The end of the following year they will reach 30" more, maybe taller depending on the summer and how you planted and cared for them.

My friend Mike Marshall at Perennial Plant Place, in Gorham, NH has three beauties well established and growing in his display gardens. They convinced me to keep buying them so everyone can see their eventual size and the way the entire shrub colors up again and again at bloom and rebloom time. Here are the three varieties we are selling for 2022. Beauties!

Top to bottom: Bloomerang, Bloomerang Double Blue Scentara, and Bloomerang

Dwarf Pink.

Thursday, January 20, 2022



The Vermont Center for Ecostudioes just released this guide to bumblebees which some of you might be interested in. Bumblebees comprise 40% of Vermont's pollinators which is why I am always trying to identify the varieties that appear at Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens. Years ago, when we had the largest number of varieties, I planted Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' and quickly it became apparent that it serves as a magnet for all bumblebees. We most always have some for sale and usually have a large patch growing in the field as a good and easy place for observation. Come visit. #bumblebees; #flowerfarmer; #localflowers; #flowerphotos; #vermontgardens;

Bumble Bees of New England

Wednesday, January 19, 2022



It's always difficult for me to comprehend that 40% of all the pollinators in Vermont are bumblebees. Just the same, that's why I plant ten varieties of sunflowers every spring. They are a magnet for my pollinator friends! Try some!!


There are good and bad benefits to living by a river. Waterways are a magnet for all sorts of birds which is great......but.....they distribute all sorts of seeds too. Honeysuckle and sumacs are two that are a real nuisance. The sumac seeds are small enough that the wind distributes them too so in a couple years you have them everywhere. I had Steve cut these down this past fall and we'll pull out the roots this spring. Some of you might have been lured into planting the Tiger Eye Staghorn Sumac because of its yellow color and different architecture but get it out now while you can. It quickly spreads underground and makes a big mess. I watched the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden plant some one year and within a couple years they pulled it all out. I am certain someone asked "Why did we plant them?"

Monday, January 17, 2022

 Keep Your Tools Clean

Jan Johnsen has been writing a popular gardening blog, Serenity In The Garden, for years. This time of winter when the snow gets deep and the wind blows hard, she repeats this piece on cleaning up your gardening tools. It's worth a quick read. Good tools are expensive now so more than ever it's important to keep them clean and make them last--not just the metal parts but the handles too if they are wooden. 



Tuesday, January 04, 2022


I write about gardening in Vermont for the North Star Journal in Danville, Vermont. Somehow my post for January didn't get published so here it is for you. Slightly dated but still some good information for gardeners. As I write today, I woke up to -7.2° and the temperature dropped to -11.2° before the sun began to warm things. Heading for 2 PM now and we are up to +18.3°. What a pleasure. Read on!


It’s almost noon on December 7th and even though you are probably reading this days or weeks later, I am happy to report that it has turned out to be a wonderful, bright sunny day after the terrible night of wind, snow squalls and power outages. Clouds are coming in but at 30.9° it’s far better than last night’s 10.2° which was accompanied by 28 mph winds. It’s days such as today when I ask myself what kind of winter we should expect.


Back in my early years, I remember asking Warner Townsend, a farmer who lived and worked down the road from us in Woodstock, how you could tell what kind of winter it would be. It was late autumn at the time and the leaves had mostly left the trees. He wasn’t a large man but he was big on worldly intelligence and over the years I spent lots of time with him around the barn, in the fields, with the workhorses, and in the sugar house. He always taught me important things.

Warner looked up into the trees and turned around, finally stopping and pointing upward. “There’s your answer,” he replied, pointing to what I learned was a bald-faced wasp nest high up in a maple tree. I’m thinking back on it now and trying to remember how high it was in the tree but I am sure it was at least 15-18 feet up and was a very large, grey paper nest. Warner explained what that meant and many years later I remember reading a couple lines that echoed his explanation. “See how high the hornet’s nest. ‘Twill tell how high the snow will rest.” My assumption was that the snow would never be 18 feet deep but the nest would be high enough to stay above deep snow. I watched that nest all winter and the snow did get deep but the nest was always safe.


So as the snow deepens in Vermont, our ability to garden outside ceases but that doesn’t mean we cannot continue with some garden-related tasks. In December when there are some warmer days and there are still some snowfalls where the snow clings to trees, it’s a good time to take pictures of all your gardens. The snow on trees and shrubs delineates the bones of your gardens and offers reminders to what perennials and bulbs you have planted nearby. Enlarge the pictures and print them off from your computer and you’ll have the basis of a map of your gardens. Sketch on critical dimensions and the names of plants of concern or places where there’s space for additional plants and you are on your way. Print a couple-three pages of each picture and start a file just in case you misplace the maps before springtime. They will be useful for the life of the garden. With the prints, you’ll amaze yourself what a great garden designer you really are. The maps will help you remember plant color, height and width, and perhaps even bloom time. Never forget what a benefit to gardens plants with height become even if they are under 5 feet tall and slender. Height in a garden has a way of making the overall garden look bigger even if it looks small to the eye. Start a folder, add lists of plants you want to incorporate (or remove) and try to broaden the bloom times your gardens cover. It’s not difficult and certainly is rewarding.


Not everyone has construction skills but if you even think you do, winter is a great time to try building hypertufa plant containers, birdhouses or pollinator houses. The internet has a plethora of recipes for hypertufa and DIY instructions. It’s messy but it’s inexpensive and you can produce all sorts of shapes and sizes of planting containers to fill with favorite plants come spring. We always have some at the flower farm that friend Jody makes for us and we always try to share how to build these. Give them some thought.


Birds and pollinators go hand in hand with good gardens and houses for each of these. As for birds, The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology is a wonderful website for everything from bird identification, bird voices, nesting habits and it includes directions for building birdhouses specific to the birds you see. Take a look and if you’re up to the task, try to build birdhouses to match your birds or birds you want to see in your gardens.  Here’s a place to start. As for pollinator houses, these are easy to build and once again, there are many plans available online.


Between now and spring seek out new gardening magazines, buy subscriptions or read online, attend lectures and join related groups. It may be cold and snowy but there are plenty of ways to enhance your property and bring in more birds, butterflies, bees, and moths. I know you’ll enjoy it all!


Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the wind has slowed and the birds are asking that I fill the feeders….again.





Friday, December 10, 2021


 17.4° right now, a slight wind and a few snowflakes. By 3 AM tomorrow morning things will have warmed up and freezing rain will be approaching. Use care, plan according and do tomorrow's chores today. When the State/Vermont Alert puts out warnings, it usually means something not too pleasant is coming. Plan to stay home and think about gardening and make a list of all the things you need for Christmas that you didn't get to yet. Be safe!