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.

My friend and I were no exception. We found so many plants that we had not seen in our local nurseries. For example, we both bought fraises des bois.  My favorite strawberry was always the wild strawberry and when I moved to the town where I have lived for more than thirty years, I discovered all the little plots of these strawberries where they grew wild. I seemed to be one of a minority who foraged for wild berries and looked forward to eating them every spring. Unfortunately, the township mower mowed all these spots so frequently they killed the plants. For the longest time no one could recreate the wild or alpine strawberry to grow in the garden until the French did it. Wouldn’t it be nice to plant them in my flower patch! Therefore, I grabbed two pots of these when I found a few pots in the White Flower Farm green house.One small pot cost only $2.50.

The nursery had so many wonderful plants that I would have loved for my garden. People were buying not just one or two plants, they were loading up. Perhaps the gardening friend who complained that she didn’t see that much for sale went later in the year after the nursery sold out. For on the day I was there, people were buying a lot of plants for their spring planting. So my suggestion if you go, is to go in the spring.

I then saw a bigger selection of Japanese irises at White Flower Farm than I saw at most nurseries. I do not know why they are not so popular that nurseries only offer one or two varieties. Perhaps it is because the Japanese iris is more finicky about its needs than other types of irises (see here). I love the Japanese Iris flower, the poor man’s orchid, so that I wanted one more iris for my garden.

I was going to get Irish moss to plant around some of my flagstones. I had never seen what was labeled Scotch moss that was a chartreuse color. So I bought a healthy looking pot of it.

I also found a lovely, large yellow Gallardia called Commotion Moxie. This was a splurge. But I love bright yellow and this has an orange center. I have had success with Gallardia in the past.They stand up to heat and drought and since I do not know what the summer weather will bring, I am hoping that this will thrive. And lastly, deer don’t eat Gallardia. I have to get deer resistant plants whenever I can.

I did all this the first day of my visit.


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