Friday, February 05, 2021


I often read news releases from  Michigan State or Penn State University Extension Services  because they give me a great idea of what problems might be heading our way here in Vermont. These are two schools that have super agricultural programs and they offer ongoing social media releases and webinars via Zoom. 

Here's a release on gypsy moths that is important. I have seen the caterpillars in larger numbers over the past few years. If you travel  US Route 2 between Plainfield and Marshfield and look south across the big fields and the Winooski River, you can spot a straight grey line across the mountains. The line delineates the tracks of the old Montpelier to Wells River RR that was thrown up in the early 50's. It also shows where gypsy moths are prevalent in this area. After dealing with these moths for over 50 years we know the reality involved. Just the same there are some controls that are organic and do make a difference. Read on to learn about a program that I am certain will offer good information.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021



We have been collecting, buying, growing and selling hostas since the early 80s and we love them. Last I looked there were around +8000 registered hostas and many, many more that were never registered. Each summer without fail, gardeners arrive at the flower farm with baskets or bags full of hostas leaves (or daylily blooms) and ask for help identifying them. Here is an example: Hosta Dream Weaver and Hosta Thunderbolt. A casual glance will challenge you to ask which hosta is which.

Dream Weaver


Dream Weaver is a sport of Great Expectations and Thunderbolt is a sport of Elegans. Notice similarities---or not---next.

Great Expectations

Hosta Elegans

I would say that 8 of 10 people who visit our hosta display garden and see Dream Weaver, Great Expectations, Elegans or Thunderbolt prefer Thunderbolt.  I guess this is a perfect example of eye of the beholder. My problem has always been that I have one very nice specimen of Thunderbolt and I have never been willing to divide it for propagation. I finally found a source online from a reputable grower and I may spring for a couple-three plants and get some going. In the meantime, make your own choice. Any of these are very nice!

Writing this morning from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sky is dark, the temperature is 20.1° and the on and off wind is currently at 9.8 mph. We only received 3" of snow compared to our hosta friends in New Jersey. Be well!

Gardens With A Personal Touch

I prefer to share articles I have written for limited publication sometime after they are released. Gardens With A Personal Touch appeared this winter in The North Star Monthly, a Danville, Vermont publication I admire. Covid-19 has changed many things but it will never change how important gardens are to us. In a time when we need calm from the storm, our gardens can help.Read on and think how to make your gardens more personal.


A snowy morning here on the mountain above Peacham Pond. I’ve finally shaken off several weeks of a cold virus. The woodstove is going, the birds have been fed and it’s time to turn to garden thoughts. I read an article yesterday about a gardener who bought the house of her dreams and always wanted a row of Hyperion daylilies along the road out front. Hyperion is a wonderful daylily introduced in 1924. It’s +40” tall, a nice shade of yellow and it’s fragrant. Sixty feet of garden is a great deal of work so the woman started 10 feet at a time each year, turning the soil, removing the stones and roots and debris and then amending the soil to accommodate healthy plants, 30 inches on the center. The article included a picture of the finished garden and it was really impressive!

The message here comes with a suggestion that this time of winter is perfect for planning new gardens and improving upon those you already have growing. Garden catalogs have arrived in the mail and online catalogs have been updated. So grab a pad of paper and pen and map out what you have and what you want to create. Think in terms of adding a personal touch that is specifically yours. Think of adding items that will remind you and your visitors that this garden is really “you”. This can included new plants, shrubs or trees, anything vertical, bird houses or bird baths, stone features, a piece of pottery, a piece of garden art, a single garden bench or a set of garden furniture, an arbor or a trellis….or just a good cleaning out, soil amending and a few complimentary plants.

When folks visit the flower farm and say they would like some help picking out an assortment of plants for a new garden, the first question we ask is whether the garden space is already prepared.  If the whole thing is still a vision we explain we don’t want to sell plants if the garden isn’t prepared yet. Garden shortcuts never work and only create more work down the road. We also verify soil condition, whether the soil has ever been tested, sunlight, soil moisture/proximity to streams, ponds, seasonal water runoff, and visiting wildlife. When we hear plants or shrubs that other nursery and garden center staff have said “it should grow for you” we validate the temptation with reality and our experience. We encourage our “plan it, validate that it will be a success here and plant it once.” We have never been believers in “There’s never time to do it right but there’s always time to do it over.”
Think about pockets of spring bulbs that you always wanted but never got around to planting. Spring is the wrong time to plant spring bulbs but the right time to figure out where you want to plant them come fall, and then mark your calendar with a note to order or purchase bulbs in September. Consider primulas, the primroses you see almost year round now in grocery stores and garden centers, Vermont hardy perennials that begin in late spring and grow into summer. They often self-seed well and come in many colors and leaf types. The Japanese primroses work well at the perimeter of shade gardens and can be planted in moisture-retentive soils. They stand tall enough to offer a showy presence, especially after a couple years when they have started to make colorful colonies. Consider the penstemons, the salvias, the veronicas for a variety of heights, bloom and leaf colors as well as bloom times well into summer. Spend a little extra on brunneras and pulmonarias for leaves that offer excellence as attention getters even after the flowers have passed. Give hellebores a try for early spring color and forget about the notion that they are difficult to grow or won’t survive here. And consider saving a package of dill to sprinkle around your gardens in mid-spring. Dill plants are home to hoverflies which love to eat aphids. They also are a magnet to a variety of butterflies such as the tiger swallowtails. Add a package of Verbena bonariensis to your dill seed and the result will be 3.5-foot tall flower scapes with a wonderful blue color that all pollinators adore. And finally, if through the process you have questions, send us an email at or call us at 802-426-3505 with questions. We’re always here to help you grow your green thumb!