Wednesday, March 14, 2007

9 Great Display Gardens, 9 Display Daytrips

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Already heading for 8 PM and the rain is pounding the standing seam roof. The thermometer was 51.8 just minutes ago and now it has dropped to 47.1. The piles of snow left by tired shovelers and the Chevy and the snowplow are now slouching into smoothed off mounds three quarters of their original size. My feelings are not hurt by the snow's departure but I know too well that it is false hope that in a week grass will show and spring will arrive.

Gail and I have been busy the past couple weeks and the two blogs have suffered. I was heartened to receive an e-mail asking if I was ill because my writing had diminished. It's not for lack of wanting to write but I have been writing to a different audience of late.

There are two pieces of legislation in Montpelier which are dear to Gail and me because they involve autism. There is such a lack of understanding of autism that we have been trying to help people improve their knowledge. All that takes time. I have written to the members of both the House and Senate Education Committees, all the bills' sponsors and then other key legislators I know.

Asking for support is an interesting concept and I cannot imagine what it's like even in a small state like Vermont to represent people and be obligated to open their email every morning or night. Clearly if you want to do a good job you have to ask questions and listen to answers. What I do not understand yet is committees seem so burdened by the large number of bills that they are less desirous of hearing from the people affected by the legislation. Yesterday one of the committees took testimony from a single person. I don't know him so I shouldn't comment but from my perspective he didn't have all the facts. This may have left the wrong impression with the people who must vote and it means self appointed lobbyists have to try to fill in the spaces that were question marks.

Here at Vermont Flower Farm I get to vote on things I like and I always hope that I make good decisions. You learn things when you operate a business and some things come by making mistakes. Color is a good example. Gail and I always offered flowers in colors we enjoyed. We soon learned that it's more important to offer what people want and will buy than what you want to see. We've changed the palette in recent years and it will certainly change every year from now on.

If you haven't been to Vermont Flower Farm before you will find that we're located on a dirt road in the middle of no where. Once you're here you'll probably be in awe and will return time and again, will tell your neighbors and bring your relatives. It's the "getting here" which is the challenge and that's why I added the Virtual Tours to our website years ago so folks could make the visit visually before they decided to make the trip. To see what I mean, go to and click on one of the Virtual Tour options.

Businesses use a lot of different tactics to get and keep customers. Gail figures that there's a three year turnover in customers meaning that a new customer today will probably make significant purchases for two more years. Then they will continue to revisit annually but will make smaller purchases in subsequent years. Since many customers are 40 years old and older, the timing to all this is important.

Advertising is very expensive so if you get a chance to appear in any publications, the opportunity brings big smiles. This past week the March-April Issue of Vermont Magazine hit the shelves with its Scenes of Spring addition. Vermont Flower Farm was real pleased to be one of the gardens featured in a very nice article by Kate Carter named 9 Display Daytrips. Kate offers a lead-in which says "Vermont's picture-perfect display gardens soon will be in bloom. Visit one or all of these to admire their outdoor artistry--and gather inspiration (and information) for your own artistic display"

Vermont Magazine is published bimonthly through the talents of Editor-in-Chief Joe Healy. Pick up a copy if you get a chance or try their website for additional information. The pictures are special ....just like Vermont.

And as for special, so is author and photographer Kate Carter. We've mentioned before how much we like Kate's book Wildflowers of Vermont. She has recently released another book to slip into another pocket before you head out for a nice walk. It's Shrubs and Vines of Vermont. When the snows melt and the temperatures warm, we'll do a little review for you. In the meantime stop at your favorite store and pick up your copy. Kate will be happy and so will you. As for me, I was in Borders in Burlington last week and I had my eye on the last copy in the Vermont section. A customer was reading it page by page and then put it back on the shelf. I reached to grab it up and she changed her mind and I was left Shrubs and Vineless. Hope you fare better!!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the temperature is back down to 48.2 and the rain has let up.

Spring gardening wishes,

George Africa

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