Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bursts of Color

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A fine morning here on the mountain. Karl and I have already been for a walk and he is sulking now because I cut our walk shorter than he would have preferred. In minutes he'll be back to snoring away on the bed and will forget being slighted. I have to head for the Northeast Kingdom today so there is little time for morning pleasures. The temperature is 54 degrees and as the sun rises above the tamaracks and balsams, it has the makings of a fine day.

Work at our nursery has left little time for any but the most critical responsibilities. The house here looks like the makings of a flea market with everything laying wherever it was last placed. The new washer and dryer get a daily test of several loads and at times it seems as if the floor could become a flower garden. Just the same we are happy and getting along and that's important.

During the past couple weeks we have reorganized the shade houses a couple times. Gail and Michelle work hard on all the displays and the daily sales show the merit in making things look different for customers. I have to pay high compliments to Michelle for the progress she has made on her own learning how to arrange attractive displays that are easy to pick from. She has become very good at this. She's a hard worker and the kind of employee and friend who you wish you could clone.

Brien Ducharme helped me get the long fence up a couple weeks back and that was a chore. It was in the high eighties when we did it and it took two tries for me to not run out of materials and not have to leave him to wait on customers. It's up, it's planted and with a little more grooming, some wood chip mulch and a few pieces of vertical eye catcher (green shiest stone from Waitsfield via John Cleary's stone park in Richmond) it will be complete. At +200 feet long, it separates the future parking area with the growing fields and it directs folks to what will become the large daylily display garden.

With the fairly consistent rains and sporadic but hot periods, the daylilies I planted last September and early October are throwing out great scapes and strong roots. We are selling these are field dug daylilies now and that means folks figure out what they want and then we go into the field and dig, label and bag the plants. Little red kids coaster wagons serve as delivery vehicles from garden to cars and customers seem happy with their prizes. Sometimes I just dig away because decisions on which one to dig become too involved. Some places that dig daylilies give no customer consideration and always start at the beginning of the row. We may get to that point but right now the customer is considered. 90 per cent of the daylilies are double fans and many are triple or better just since last fall.

As I was reminded yesterday by a man with southern experience, these are not southern sized or priced daylilies. And as I reminded him, this is Vermont and we work hard for what we get. He must have agreed as he purchased 4 daylilies to take to his house in the mountains by Berlin, NH.

Creepy Crawler, pictured above, has a nice toothed edge and thick scapes and lots of buds. It almost reminds me of the way Mary Todd blooms. It has good branching too which makes for an extended bloom period.

Chicago Gold Coast is a plant I recommend for distance planting around the house. To me it looks so bold, especially as the sun goes down. It has a strong scape and lots of large flowers. It grows very fast and can serve as a contrasting focal point if you're new to daylily gardening and trying to find good accents to go with a bank full of Vermont's famous "ditch lilies".

Bertie Ferris is not pictured well here. (just above) It's getting to the end of the line for this small daylily as sales have been very good and flowering time is growing close for her. This is an older, respected daylily which I have seen in northern markets for up to $28. Here at Vermont Flower Farm it's less than half that and the clumps are nice.

Ann Warner is one I picture a lot because it works so well with a variety of companion plants. It blooms for some time and the yellow throat always brings people back to it. Leslie, a customer from Peacham Pond who frequents our nursery, picked one yesterday, walked away for a minute and came back for one to contrast with Bela Lugosi, a couple reds and two astilbes. It will be a nice grouping.

Finally, Along the Way (just above here) is a big daylily which grows tall and has a great bud count. The flowers are 6" across and stand out well. One visitor wanted to buy a display clump yesterday but my answer on that is always the same: "Display is for display, patience is a virtue."

Well there's some pot banging in the kitchen which means Gail has found her morning coffee and moved on to the sink full of dishes. I promised to make a potato salad for the crew today so I have to get going if I'm to be on time for my trip north. I wanted to stop at the nursery first and set up the display table but there's no time today. Gail and Michelle will have to pick fresh samples and get them set up for the day. The table full of samples never includes everything

we have blooming but usually we have about 30 samples for customers and visitors to look at. It seems to be worth the time it takes as it makes it easier for customers and makes for quicker and I think better sales. For us, it's a way to hear more oohs and aahhhs!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a Junco is perching outside my window on top of a white Queen Anne's Lace, a profound contrast in size and importance.

Best gardening wishes,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm-an older website that needs to make some sales to distant gardeners who cannot make the trip here

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