Sunday, February 21, 2010

Victoria Magazine

For those of you who still love to read magazines, we are in Victoria Magazine this month. ( )
Emilie Tolley, who wrote the beautiful book, Herbs by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead wrote a nice article for the magazine and the photographers came out here to the farm last summer to photograph.
Always fun to have that kind of notoriety.
Thank you so much Emelie and Victoria.
I must say though that we had hoped that our new website would be up and of course it is not yet....should be in a few weeks but I wish that it was ready now.
People are emailing me through the old web site and it would be nice if they could see the new one.
Just too many things to do here on the farm in the winter.
So many people ask us what we do all winter. We never stop. So much to take care of in the 'off' season.
Off season just means that we spend money and don't make any...that's all. We still work pretty much as hard as in the summer.
Anyway, please go buy a Victoria and look at the article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hibiscus schizopetalus

This is a hibiscus. If you really look at it you can tell that it is but it's not like the common ones that we usually have. It is not a really prolific bloomer either but it's so beautiful that we wait for the blooms and spend a lot of time moving it around the greenhouse from place to place so that we can look at it. Pretty special I think.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am looking out at my landscape, IN Maine, with very little snow. This while the Washington DC area and the whole mid Atlantic coast is being pummeled by the white stuff.
Wow. Usually my friend Lynn, who moved to Virginia 12 years or so ago, is calling me up and taunting me about her good weather. Not this year. I think that she is about to get even more snow down there. She has lost the top of her beautiful magnolia and is apparently out there at all hours of the day and night, like a mad woman, with a broom, knocking the snow off the branches of her surprised shrubs. Now, Lynn is a very funny woman and the picture that I conjure up in my head has me just laughing.
Do you have a friend who you can talk endlessly to about the passions in your life? I can't think of a greater gift. Lynn worked here on the farm for years. Mostly when her son was very little. Now he's 25. So there is some history here.
But she and I have been talking plant trash for all these years. I always know that I can call her and yak about conifers or shrubs or trees. You name it. We talk about other things as well but the plant conversations....well,we can spend hours on the phone just talking about things that grow.
We sit with books on our laps.... talking. Looking things up that one of us hasn't heard about, comparing notes and making comments like, "I ripped all those out last year....just couldn't stand them anymore!" and tips like...."Just get the 'saws all', that's how I've started dividing grasses"
And so...this day when the February temperature is around 37 and things are looking spring like (although don't think for one minute that I believe that)I really think that you should move back to Maine, Lynn. Where we don't get nearly the storms that you get in Virginia. And even if we do, we have snowplows.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I am crazy for orchids. I am collecting like mad and loving every bit of it.
I thought that I would share one of the ones called Laelia albida that bloomed this week. It's just wonderful.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winter gardens

From where I sit right now, I can look outside at the greenhouse and the nursery part of the farm.
I don't mind the stark qualities of winter.
This is the time to evaluate the 'bones' of a garden. This is when in large landscapes you can see the shape of the land, look far into the woods and sometimes see hints of the stream or the marsh or the ocean. It is a time forgotten by many people when they landscape. I drove by a house the other day that had covered up all the bushes near the house with boxes and burlap. I just can't do that. I simply want to enjoy what I look at all year not just for a few months.

Now, occasionally I will cover a tree or shrub for it's first winter just so that it gets established but I really think that you should be planting things that 'can make it' up here. Yes, we will always push the envelope a bit, a Japanese maple here and there or a magnolia that might not be quite hardy in our zone but the majority of plants should be planted so that they will look beautiful against the snow or with ice hanging off their branches. They should provide some structure in the garden that lasts all year and sort of boxes in the messiness of summer opulence.

This is the time for birches and red twigged dogwood and willows. The colors of their branches range from yellows to bright reds, sometimes on the same tree. I remember Michael Dirr, the guru of tree and shrub lovers, showing a slide at one of his lectures that I went to. It was a Winter Flame dogwood, next to a rock, next to a pond in the snow. That did it for me. I have been dropping them into landscapes ever since. It nearly took my breath away.

This is when the papery bark of Acer Grisium, the paperbark maple, just sends you right over the edge, especially if it is planted with the low winter sun back lighting the branches. Microbiata, a low growing shrub that looks similar to juniper but is softer and lacier has beautiful red winter foliage that is the perfect under planting for the paperbark. The colors play off one another and make the land seem warmer.
This is when that Chamaecyparis 'Repens' you planted next to a boulder or nice rock shows up poking through the snow a bit and nestling the rock into the land.
But here also is the time when you see your mistakes and think about back hoes and moving trees and giggle as you buy a 14 inch conifer that will not reach mature height for 15 years.
Oh well, that is for another post.