Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Extraordinary Daylily Site

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Daylilies are the second most popular flower in the world with hostas continuing to be number one in sales. Last I knew there were over 75,000 registered daylilies and as many as half a million in the trade. I once read that shades of red amount to somewhere around  80,000 of the total number. That's a lot of daylilies and a lot of color!

Daylily growers, hybridizers and commercial sellers are obvious throughout most of the United States and websites abound. One site I have always enjoyed is the creation of Charlotte Chamitoff who lives just over the Newport-Derby, Vermont border with Canada near internationally famous Lake Memphremagog. Charlotte does an outstanding job promoting daylilies on her website, Charlotte's Daylily Diary 2018. She offers readers a weekly piece named  International Garden of the Week in which she highlights a daylily garden. This week she covers the gardens of Don and Susan Church, in Blue Hill, Maine. Their business is aptly named Blue Hill Country Gardens where you can find cold hardy lilacs, dwarf conifers, heathers, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas,  interesting flowering trees....and....lots and lots of daylilies.

If you like daylilies and you're traveling the Maine coast, turn down Route 1 and stop and see Don and Susan. During my last visit I picked up a lilac, and two of Don's daylily registrations, Teaberry Tycoon and Dancing with Ellen. Don knows a great deal about bud count and Teaberry Tycoon sure does please in that respect. This past summer Dancing with Ellen exceeded three feet tall and made me smile! If you do stop, plan some time as there's plenty to see, the plantings are mature, and the design impeccable. Safe travel! 

Oh yes, and if you do head down that way and you enjoy hiking, try Harriman Point. It's part of the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust network of properties that allow public access to some absolutely pristine coast. Plan to go at low tide if you can and you'll see why I recommend that!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sky is gray but the birds are happy about the warm weather.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens where lots of pictures and good stories abound.
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
And always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Another Blog


Friday, February 23, 2018. This morning started out looking like another fine day but now, three hours later, it has clouded up and a weather alert just came in for Vermont. Between 1 and 10 PM we are to expect mixed precipitation including freezing rain, ice and snow. Not good.

Days such as this one give me an opportunity to catch up on some writing. I haven't worked on the links page for this blog in over a year so today's the day. No matter how the weather turns out, there won't be any slip slidin for me.

Here's a blog by Bobbie Schwartz that I will add as I update a few things. Always some great information for gardeners no matter where you live. Thanks Bobbie, for your great writing!

George Afric
The Vermont Gardener


Friday, February 23, 2018

When sunrise became obvious this morning, the sky was clear and it was nothing but good news for the didn't read the weather report. Here it is at 8 AM and it's already clouding over with a forecast that says late morning snow showers followed by warming and mixed precipitation by 3 PM. It's been like this all winter.

A couple years ago I wanted to try weigela at the flower farm as I had tried a couple at the house and they did quite well. I picked a nice red flowered variety with deep red foliage. They sold but not that well and last summer friend Dan took home the last 4. 

This year Proven Winners, one of my suppliers, came out with Spilled Wine, another red that grows to 3 feet wide  and 2-3 feet tall. PW recommends you space them at 3-4 feet apart so they can grow into each other as they picture them in their promotional card above. I'm holding off on them for another year as I get the long strip along the Winooski River ready for more planting in between the lilacs and hydrangeas I have started there. In the meantime I am sure they are available in Vermont from other sources so if you have trouble finding Spilled Wine, let me know and I'll try to find them for you.

Gardening questions? Drop me a line at and I'll try to help.

Writing from the cloudy moutai above Peacham Pond.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook with lots of pictures. Try my personal George Africa page or our Like page, Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter at vtflowerfarm
Regularly writing on various gardening related media.
Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Asian Longhorn Beetle

The Asian Longhorn Beetle

Friend Michael G. from Somersworth, NH asked if there were any reports yet of Asian Longhorn Beetles in Vermont. During the recent Vermont Farm Show I tried to get close enough to the US Forest Service booth to ask them the question. I didn't make it but I think as of right now, the answer is "no". I have seen one report from Massachusetts so regardless of the response, it's just a matter of time before we see them in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Here's a site from the University of Vermont to help with identification. It is confusing because of the number of beetles around. I remember seeing a display at the Montshire Museum in Norwich where they showed 143 longhorn beetles that live in this part of New England. I haven't been back to the Montshire in years so I don't know if the display is still there. The number is coming from memory but I think it is accurate. 

Since I work outside much of the year, I am regularly "seeing" new beetles. I am amazed how many beetles are large enough to make you notice when they land on you. Many of these are longhorn beetles but so far not the Asian. 

Equally as confusing is when I am splitting sugar maple wood. I am forever finding larvae in the wood from various beetles but have not found what I believe is Asian Longhorn Beetle yet. The number of beetles in sugar maple trees is getting scary.

Here is a picture of the larvae that was posted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Image result for images asian longhorn

If you see a beetle that you think is an Asian Longhorn Beetle, try to catch it and put it in a baggie or a jar for reference. Then call your local, state or university agriculture folks for identification confirmation. You may be surprised how the beetle feels like it's biting you when you try to pick it up. In the meantime, keep your eye out.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
On Facebook as a personal gardening page--George Africa, and as a Like Page named Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens.
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

Always here to help you grow your green thumb!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Spotted Lanternfly

Be aware!

USDA awards $17.5 million to fight spotted lanternfly

On February 10th I read my first report on the spotted lanternfly, first identified in Pennsylvania and now in Virginia. Regardless of where you live, if you see this insect, call your Department of Agriculture immediately and if possible capture an insect for reference. Over time I have heard "It can't live here." but more often than not, that's not true. A couple years ago when Zika broke the news, many said the mosquito that carries the virus would not survive here. I wrote a piece contradicting this and immediately got a couple negative emails. When the Vermont Dept. of Health confirmed its presence four months later, I did not receive any replies. Nice!

Here is some more information. It's always a mystery how long it will take for an insect to migrate to our home state but commerce and people both travel more now than ever before. During our travels it's easy to have an insect hitchhike with us without even knowing it. As example, in 1945 the lily leaf beetle entered the United States through Montreal. In 1992,  it entered through Boston. Today it covers most all lilium growing states east of the Rockies. In 2006 I found it here in Vermont.
#spottedlanternfly; #vtflowerfarm;#lilyleafbeetle;

Read on! Be aware!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Emerald Ash Borer

Tracking the Emerald Ash Borer

As a farmer, any kind of farmer, your time outside puts you in a position to see and feel the changing climate and the influences those changes  have on the crops you manage. Part of the change comes about with the advent of insects which were absent from your geography prior to the weather changing. In 2002, the emerald ash borer arrived in the US and since then it has had a serious and negative impact on the forestry industry. Attempts to eliminate it have involved widespread and total removal of ash trees from city landscapes. Here are some recent presentations on a continuum of approaches. If you find this insect in your landscape, secure a sample and notify your forestry department or Department of Agriculture. Send us a note too as we follow this insidious insect. #emeraldashborer; #climatechange; #vtflowerfarm;

Image result for emerald ash borer

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
Writing on Facebook as George Africa and as a Like Page Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter and various other social media platforms that cover gardening.

Always here to help you grow your green thumb!