Saturday, February 02, 2008

Waves of Snow, Waves of Petunias

Friday, February 8, 2008

Morning greetings from Vermont where in this part of the state, the temperature is 19 degrees and the snow banks make shoveling for kids and less tall people a vertical challenge! For me there's a list of overdue assignments such as updating Vermont Gardens and The Vermont Gardener.

The past couple weeks have been hectic with work in Montpelier on the autism legislation, a radio appearance in Burlington, an unplanned dental day with Alex, two snowstorms worth an accumulative 2 feet, two ice storms and a sick dog. Karl the wonder dog has been sick again and he spent last Friday and Friday night at the vets hitched to IVs and feeling pretty bad. Remember that this dog is not always on my "Best Buddy List" but when he's down and out my sympathies reign.

I think we are back on the right track as I have been throughly chastised about the dilimma. I have also been warned about the consequences of feeding a dog "non-traditional dog food products" which translates to loading him up at meal time on whatever is close to my plate or just inside the refrigerator door. The vet said that when she spun his blood for a cholesterol check, he broke the 220 mark with ease. Saying that I gave Karl part of a cheeseburger and a couple fries didn't cut it and as I fessed up I just buried myself deeper and deeper into the origins of the poor dog's health. Probably the final score was when it was suggested that I could probably tie my boots easier if I'd put myself on the same "good food only" diet. I have always loved paying pockets of money to be reminded that I'm doing something wrong but that's how things work.

I have mentioned before that I belong to the Garden Writers Association Gail always questions the annual membership fee but she's often asking a bunch of "Where'd this come from?" as she opens packages of promotional garden materials, CDs and products. By virtue of belonging, companies make the assumption that if you think you can write, perhaps you will write about them and as such they shoot things your way. Mercedes cars and the companies that make new pickups with snow plows that don't need a hydraulic fluid change apparently don't read gardening articles as I have yet to see a car carrier unloading a freebee in the drive. Just the same, the relationship is worth it and CDs are frequent gifts. That makes sense because pictures sell and there's no better way to get your new flowers out there than to give a grower like me Internet ready pictures.

A month ago a CD arrived from Ball Horticultural Company in West Chicago, Illinois.This is a
very old, well established , stalwart of the horticultural world. They have incredible development credentials and produce scores of new flower varieties each year. The recent CD was on petunias and there's another that just arrived on geraniums and marigolds.

I'm sure you are familiar with their registered Wave Petunias which have been out for a few years now. These are the vigorous petunias that come in a rainbow of colors and do not need pinching. They look terrific when mass planted in the ground and they flow out of containers all over the place, held back only by container types and imagination.

One of the great things about Wave petunias is how inexpensive they are in comparison to the rich look they provide. You can buy them in flats at your favorite greenhouse or you can make arrangements to buy some in quantity in plug trays. Regardless of your method of purchase, you'll have quick color that will last until a good frost. If you paint a landscape with broad stripes of color, you quickly hear a number of "How'd you do that's?" which translate to good sales.

Here at Vermont Flower Farm we have never grown annuals for sale. Each year customers stop and ask for this or that and we refer them to greenhouses nearby like Grahams, Amanda's or Cabot Greenhouse. I'm not going to say that we won't sell annuals at our new location some time but right now we'll leave it up to the people who have experience doing it best. In the meantime, as you work your way through the part of winter when weather patterns are in flux and outside gardening is still a dream, check out gardening magazines, visit greenhouses, go to garden shows and think about Ball's Wave petunias. It all began in 1995 with Wave Purple but today there are many more great choices to make your garden "the garden" for friends to visit.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where this morning's bird visitors wait in nearby treetops, ruffling feathers in displays of dissatisfaction for slow-to-get-going George, his shovel and bucket of seed.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

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