Sunday, March 12, 2023



Just outside my home office window, I maintain two bird birders and several suet cages for winter entertainment while I am answering email and orders from the Vermont Flower Farm. Each morning either my son Alex or I fill the feeders and enjoy the birds arriving for breakfast. But this time of year, we are often surprised by other visitors that want breakfast too. Three days ago, when the field was clear, white with snow, and untouched, a raccoon began across and then was joined by another. They cleared the field and entered our machine shed and showed no sign of exiting there all day. The following morning the suet cages had been pulled down and were completely empty. Obviously, the raccoons visited for a guaranteed feed during a time when a couple feet of snow covered the ground and food was limited.

This morning, Alex fed the birds and it was quiet for a while. I got up for another cup of coffee and looked out only to see a woodchuck eating sunflower seeds under one of the feeders. I grabbed the camera and took this picture. Its hair was disheveled and wet in places but otherwise, he or she looked fine. The temperature was expected to rise to +40° and now as I write at 1:30 PM it's up to a surprising 48.4°. The rise in temperature --or was it the advent of daylight savings time gave suggestion that Spring was coming and it was time to wake up. We have a big storm arriving in about 24 hours and it's apparent the animals knew that and decided now was the time to find some food. In about a month most of the snow will be history and we'll be at the flower farm cleaning up for another season. And the crittters of the fields and forests will be with us too. Different companions but all part of living in rural Vermont. Be well!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Dividing Daylilies

 Dividing Daylilies

Saturday afternoon, January 14 at 2 PM. I am using up a little time online while waiting for the San Francisco 49ers playoff game at 4:30. Just noticed that there's no reason for me to prepare an instructional video on dividing daylilies when there are already a number of them on YouTube. Here's a video that Stuart Kendig prepared. Scroll back and you will see his name mentioned in a couple posts I just made. His daylily website featuring plants from his gardens in York, Pennsylvania is Here's the You Tube video. Dividing daylilies is not as difficult as many make it out to be. The hard part is usually when you get to the point of needing to remove the entire root ball from the soil.  Try this:

Here's a picture of our lower daylily propagation field. You can see from the size of the clumps that you can benefit from some help from a friend getting them out.

Friday, January 13, 2023

White Daylilies


Quite a day here on the mountain above Peacham Pond where we live. It started out cold but by 9 AM the light snow had changed to rain and you could actually see last night's 4 inches of fluffy snow shrink. I worked online for a couple more hours trying to figure out what happened to my personal George Africa Facebook page as well as our FB business page, Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens. Facebook, like many of the big boys, wants nothing to do with you after you get up and running unless you spend money. I have spent several years putting together 4-5000 friends but since January 4th, communication has been shut off. I have tried every approach I could find and all to no avail so I am returning to an old blog that I have always used seasonally named The Vermont Gardener. If you have a solution to my Facebook dilemma, please advise and if you liked my FB pages, join me here as I write about gardening in the northeast and using and growing Vermont hardy plants.

Yesterday I mentioned the color white and I'd like to pick up from there right now. We belong to the American Hemerocallis Society and part of the membership includes journals. I love them because as with any magazine, I can stop and start reading as time permits. Winter 2021 had a great article by Stuart Kendig who has been classifying white daylilies, both diploids and tetraploids, for several years now. He has been accompanied by half a dozen other AHS members and together they reviewed about 250 white daylilies. 

Gardeners often ask for "the best white you have" but few can even name what might be acceptable to them. Stuart and his friends came up with five groups of white daylilies, separated into diploids and tetraploids. They established from the beginning that Group One would contain the whitest of all whites or as they described it "Very white and whiter than 'Gentle Shepherd' and all members of Group 2. The search for the best white had just begun so Group one remained empty. Those found in Group 2 are described as "Bright White, comparable to 'Gentle Shepherd' or 'Sagarmatha' ". Group 3 is described as "Comparitively White, but not as white as Group 2." Group 4  is "Near white but with an obvious color shade when viewed from near." And finally, Group 5 contains daylilies with "White blend that will appear white when viewed with a green background but presenting an obvious color tint."

With the group headings established, Stuart and his friends placed the first 250 daylilies in what they felt was the correct group. You need to see the entire list to get a feel for the work Stuart and friends accomplished but I placed white daylilies we grow either for sale or for display so you can get a start on the classification system. You'll have to find a copy of the original article "A Progress Report On White Daylilies" to coordinate your own classifications.

From my daylilies, Group 2 Diploids contains Gentle Shepherd. From Group 3, Diploids we grow include Joan Senior, Sunday Gloves and White Temptation. We grow one Group 3 Tetraploid named Lime Frost. In Group 4 we grow the Diploid Ice Carnival for display and Group 4 Tetraploids August Frost and Early Snow which always get a lot of attention. And finally, in Group 5 Diploids we have Vanilla Fluff and White Formal for display. Group 5 Tetraploids include Artic Snow,  Frostbite Falls and Wedding Band. When you know some of the daylilies, the categories begin to make a lot of sense. In the past couple years I have picked up Pointer Sisters, White Summer and White Bread from Don and Susan Church, Blue Hill, Maine.  ( And from the Barth family, originally from Alna, Maine from Maine I have Sheepscot Valley Snow in both diploid, and tetraploid (I think!)

The world of daylilies is now shooting for 100,000 registrations so there are a number of white daylilies that could fit into Stuart Kendigs's Groups 2-5 and maybe even Group 1. If you get a chance, try to find the background of this project. And from me, a novice grower, many, many thanks to Stewart Kendig and friends for their much-appreciated work. Over the next couple days, I'll try to line up a few of my pictures. Be well!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Just White


January White

January 12, 2023. 7:30 PM. I couldn't wait any longer and I had to open the back door to see whether the weather was changing or not. Two days ago, it was below zero, this morning it started out at 16°, and now as I sit here online, it's an even 30°, up 2 degrees in an hour. Although snowflakes have been falling much of the day, the accumulation was negligible, and rain is predicted in the next hour. Climate change is upon us despite what some folks think. Ask anyone who loves to ski, snowboard or snowmobile and you will hear groans as snow hardly exists in the lowlands and is slim on the mountains except in ski areas that keep trying to manufacture snow. 

Yesterday morning I was in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, a small city of sorts that is kind of midway up and down the state. I decided on the way home to get off Interstate 89 in Sharon and head over the mountain to Strafford and then down into Tunbridge on Route 110. Even on the mountains in that area, snow was limited and whitetail deer could be seen in good numbers and that made me think it was April, not January. Life is different now and the weather is taking some getting used to.

I'm not sure why but as I was driving along enjoying Vermont's very rural nature, I thought of the color white, a color almost absent as I traveled. But then I thought of white flowers and how much their purity and perfection always impress me.  As the snow melts in April, the hellebores push through the snow and despite the cold they offer up a variety of colors but clearly some nice whites. And after the hellebores welcome us, galanthus/snowdrops arrive, joined by anenomes, and bloodroot, and white trillium, then clumps of white crocus and Narcissus Thalia, Chionodoxa/Glory of the Snow, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, trailing arbutus and more. Yes, the snow melts away but the color white continues in living color. 

It may seem strange that I am thinking about white flowers but most gardeners enjoy incorporating them in all their gardens. If you don't use a garden journal yet or maybe even a notebook with ideas, pull out your smart phone and make lists of plants to purchase come spring. That way sixteen months from now the plants I just mentioned might be making their presence known in your gardens. None are expensive, all are Vermont hardy, and every one will make you smile. Guaranteed!!

White Trillium

7 years from seed to flower

Wednesday, October 26, 2022


If you live and garden anyplace in Vermont and you have a nearby stream, river, pond or lake, you are probably already aware, that like it or not, beavers are your neighbors. This large rodent has an increasing population and with the loss of trappers who used to keep the numbers lower, they are populating closer and closer to human populations. They are in no way an endangered species so Fish and Wildlife with its very limited resources can offer no more than advice on dealing with beavers, their dams and related flooding. 

Bev Soychak  from Monkton Vermont wrote the following piece for VtDigger today. It's a worthy read, especially if you have been plagued by beavers in your neighborhood.

Over the past several years I have had an opportunity to watch beaver numbers grow along the Lanesboro Road here in Marshfield. The roadbed is left from the days of the Montpelier to Wells River RR and on either side of it, some portions involve swampland and beaver habitat. Included is Marshfield Pond, a.k.a Turtlehead Pond. The pond encompasses about 64 acres of water and a bit of surrounding swampland. It's a kettle pond left from glacial days so it is shallow with most places less than 20 feet deep. Water flows into the pond from adjacent streams as well as from springs on the pond floor.

When beavers got serious about damming up the exit sluiceway, a device which is probably the one created by Skip Lisle and described above was installed. I noticed a little extra time was spent adjusting the components to the flow as well as the beaver activity but it appears to have worked very well. Here are some pictures I have taken of the area and the flow device. I visited there two days ago and noticed that beavers have gone below the exit and the flow device and have started a new dam there. For now it is not large enough to reach the adjacent road but in time it probably will. Another place I have been watching is a short distance from the junction of Route 232 and Route 302 in Groton. There is a nice little waterfall there and beavers have created two dams and so far have raised the water about four feet over the entire area. As that water closes in on the roads, one of Lisle's water flow devices might be an option.

If beavers approach your property remember that they can be destructive to trees and shrubs as they seek food sources and dam materials. Walking outside and finding that your 20 year old sugar maple is now missing is not a good sight which is why I recommend keeping track of your property if you have any water flows across it. There are options. Although live trapping is an option and Fish and Wildlife might offer the name of a trapper, this may need some rethinking. I have a friend who used to live trap nuisance beavers and one day he received a call and said he's come check out the space. The pond that the beavers had created so far was over five acres in size. My friend turned down that job because of the time and hardware needed to take it on. Again, pay attention to the problem and don't let the beavers thinking get ahead of yours.

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.