Visiting White Flower Farm Nursery

Japanese Iris by eclectic echoes

As I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend, I convinced a gardening friend to visit some of the gardens I have written about on blog and other gardens or nurseries I wanted to visit to enable me to write about them.  I also wrote about visiting Cricket Hill Farm on the first day of my two day garden trip.   But this wasn’t the only garden I visited on this day.

The second garden I wanted to visit was part of one of the best known and, I always thought, most beloved plant nursery in the US. I have been getting the catalogs of The White Flower Farm nursery since the 1960s.  Even though the early catalogs had illustrations not photos of the flowers, I used to think that their catalogs were as good as any of the early plant books that were published in their early years- they were really informative. But in all the time I have known about the nursery, I had never visited it.

Some garden aficionados had warned me that they were no longer as outstanding as they used to be; that their selection at the store was not as extensive as they used to have because most of their plants were mail order plants. After all, they have changed ownership. Since I had never been to White Flower Farm before, I did not know what to expect. But I was not disappointed. In fact, the opposite was the case. This GardenLady was “blown away” with the nursery. First of all, they are worth traveling to visit for their display gardens alone. There are acres filled with show gardens. And their plants are of excellent quality and the newest varieties on the market.This is not a place to get bargains or inexpensive plants like Russell Gardens Wholesale. But White Flower Farm is an excellent plant nursery to visit just to see what is available. And I cannot imagine anyone leaving empty handed.

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Mini Iris Problem

Mini Iris by jamesrjohnson

TheGardenLady received this question from Debbie.

My favorite “mini” purple irises have very little blooms this year? Do I need to expose the roots? More sun perhaps?

From the sounds of your letter, your favorite “mini” purple irises have bloomed for you in the past. You don’t mention if the plant seems healthy or not. I hope you checked to see if there is a problem with the plants’ health. If the plants look healthy, then we will make other suggestions.

If the irises bloomed before in the same location they are in now, then the roots were planted at the proper depth. ( You didn’t say if you had moved them to a new location. If you had and they are not blooming, you might have replanted them too deep.)

How many years have you had them in the same spot? Has the location gotten darker because of a tree that might be shading the irises? I find that my irises bloom much more profusely in the sun than in an area where there is shade.

Did you cut the iris leaves after they bloomed last year? You must NEVER cut off any leaves. You must ALWAYS leave the leaves after blooming to enable  the plant to build up the energy it needs to bloom the following year. But you should have deadheaded the flowers – cut off the stem where the flowers died so that they don’t set seeds. This is a minor type of pruning and encourages more flowering the next season.

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Iris Art

Iris by Pris :-)

Iris by Pris 🙂

Perennials are wonderful to have in the garden. Many are almost carefree once they are planted. Oh yes, you have to dig up and divide every few years for optimum bloom, but other than that, you are pretty free of work once the plants are planted. But you do sacrifice something. The sacrifice is that generally perennials have a short blooming period. You have to enjoy them while they are open. Many gardeners try to find perennials of the same type that bloom early, mid season and late. Or you try to find different types of the same perennials that will extend the bloom season. To prolong the season, many artists have tried to capture the beauty of the perennials that they love in paintings, sculpture, ceramics or whichever art they practice.

One of my favorite perennials is the iris. The Japanese iris, the siberian iris, the bearded iris or whatever iris.  The GardenLady loves them all and wishes her garden could hold all off them.

Many aritists around the world over the centuries have created art of the iris. From ancient times to modern times, from the amateur to the professional, in paintings, sculpture, glass art, ceramics, etc. the iris has been memorialized. Here are some examples.

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