Monday, December 15, 2008

Everyone has been getting into the holiday spirit here at Big Bloomers. Even our girl Alley has started getting cozy with a certain "holiday" bear.

Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I've been experimenting at work and at home with winter pots of evergreen perennials for shady areas. I have a covered north facing front porch that needs lovely pots of green to scare away the winter blues. On my own front porch autumn fern look lovely year round. Saxifragia is also very nice (we call them strawberry begonias up north and grow them as houseplants). Here in North Carolina potted up on my front porch they are gorgeous all year.

These are two pots that I am trying at work.

This first pot is specifically for shade and includes two heuchera, one saxifragia, one hellebore, two Disporopsis (Asian Fairy Bells) and one Aspidistra elatior. Flowering spans from late winter with the hellebore and ends with the heuchera in mid summer. The Fairy Bells and saxifragia bloom in the spring. They have done well this fall even with the unusually low night temperatures we have been experiencing.

The second pot is cordyline with violas. You could put this one in full sun but even on this shady covered porch area the violas are blooming well and the cordyline has benefited from the microclimate here.

So think out of the box when it comes to winter pots.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Where's Alley?

Can you find our girl Alley in this photograph?

She was very well pleased that John constructed these lovely perches for her.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Hummingbird Day was another rousing success. It was a cool and cloudy day which was great for the hummers and great for us. I think Susan "bagged and banded" three hummers in all. The Lee County Master Gardeners seemed to be busy whenever I had a chance to check, answering questions and giving advice. I wish I would have had a chance to listen to all of Mike Papay's talk on drought tolerant gardening but we got very busy and I was needed elsewhere.

Thank you to all our customers who came and spent the day with us, to Susan Campbell, she is always a pleasure, the Lee County Master Gardeners, hopefully this can be the first of many plant clinics they hold here, to Mike Papay for letting us all pick his brain and a special big THANK YOU to my PIC Peggy who inspired us all to make this year's Hummingbird Day the best one ever.


Saturday, July 19, 2008


Kerry took this picture of Alley on Friday. She looks a little forlorn doesn't she. Alley's PIC and best bud Peggy has been gone all this week on vacation, off gallivanting and having a great time. Alley thinks vacations are over-rated but mostly she just wants her buddy back.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Today at work the owner John called me into his office to show me something on the computer. He was looking for information on a specific plant and happened across a website that not only described hundreds of different plants but also provided gorgeous pictures of each one. One of the first pictures he showed me was Agastache 'Sangria'. He casually mentioned that we had a bunch in the greenhouse. They were started late and brought into the selling greenhouses late so we still had them in four packs which explains why I wasn't growing them since I knew that I had already purchased all the agastache that we had in four packs early in the season. I got out of the office as quickly as I could and made a beeline to the herb greenhouses where I found said four packs. I was very impressed with the plants. All were growing strongly upright, looking very healthy and vigorous.

Agastache 'Sangria' is an agastache mexicana and is hardy to zone 7. It actually likes and THRIVES in dry soils which I have no trouble providing in my gardens of sand. Its leaves are lemon scented and can be used in teas and the flowers are edible. Its also a first-year-flowering perennial so I will get plenty of blooms from the four plants in my four pack this season. They do best when pinched back early in the season to keep them compact and branching. They will eventually grow to around 48 inches tall.

It just goes to show you that at any time, even when you least expect it, you might just by chance run across or have pointed out to you...a plant of the moment and for this reason Agastache 'Sangria' is my plant of the moment.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summertime...and the living is heaty!

We have been keeping busy here this summer at Big Bloomers. With the recent rains combined with some good sales on annuals we have had a steady stream of customers. If you haven't signed up for our contact list and want to be informed by email of our sales just visit that section of our website and sign up for notification of sales and events.

Sundays always seem to be the slowest day here and being so would be an ideal day to come and shop. On a recent Sunday, Ashley, who happens to have a wonderful, natural eye for putting together a combination planting basket decided to plant the huge strawberry jar we have had here sitting empty for a number of years. Didn't she do a fantastic job!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Our girl Alley is a counter potato. She has been known to plop herself down in a box of cuttings, a flat of grasses being weeded or even right in the middle of a customer's order. Our customers all love her though. Last weekend I had the nicest conversation with one of those customers. I was talking to her, she was talking to me and we were both talking to Alley. We talked about Alley's weight problem and the fact that she has been on "diet" food for a couple of years and still looks "big boned" as Peggy likes to refer to her. I mentioned to the customer that Alley gets teased about her weight on occasion and the customer looked at me and then she looked right at Alley and said, "Honey, you tell them its your Hormones". We all got a good laugh out of that.

Today after rolling around in the catmint Alley thought it would be a good idea if she "slept it off" in her favorite place. In a box, on our counter.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


We carry about eleven different kinds of stokesia here at Big Bloomers. I walk past them nearly every day in the greenhouses. Each time I walk past them I think I really should like them more. We brought in a new one this spring called 'color wheel'. Its plant tag has taken to calling my name now whenever I walk past it. So far I have been able to resist, though I feel compelled somehow to make it my plant of the moment. I think I know where this is going.....but anyway, stokesias are easy to grow, their one requirement being a well-drained soil. I think in all but the very wettest soils they would be fine though. They don't like to be wet but they do like to have a moist soil though I have also read that they are drought tolerant. I planted three castoffs last year in the drought and was surprised this spring when one came back very strongly. 'Color wheel' is a real head turner with three inch flowers that start out white, change to lavender and eventually turn to a darker purple. These last two color stages have a white center which only adds to the effect. Because of its long bloom time and branched bloom stalks you will have those three colors as well as colors varying between the three at one time on the same plant. Planted in mass it has a lovely tapestry effect. Even while typing this I am still wondering why I have never brought one home. Thinking about it I tend to be drawn to tall plants and they dominate all my gardens. The only conclusion I can come to is that I am tall and have had very poor eyesight all my life and the stokesias top out at about two feet in flower though the foliage which is semi-evergreen in zone 7 is held much closer to the ground. In conclusions I am still uncertain if I will bring one home but the plant tag is right here on my desk and its still calling out my name. I wonder who will win..... and for this reason Stokesia laevis 'Color Wheel' is my plant of the moment.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Where's Alley?

I am posting this picture under protest. Alley was not pleased to be put in the position that the picture found her in and she most certainly will not be pleased to find out I have posted it for all her fans to see (so don't mention it to her if you see her here or there).

Monday, June 2, 2008

BBFF, you are my new BFF!

I'd like to share an email we received a little while ago from a first time customer who had just recently visited us here at Big Bloomers. As nursery's go I think that we must be unsurpassed in the amount of varieties of plants we carry, everything from agave to zephyranthes, with everything in between. This is quite rare if not unique in a nursery that is family-owned and operated and is not in the mail-order business. The owners have worked extremely hard over the years to bring to the home gardener all things rare and wonderful. Its a lovely place to work and a wonderous place to visit and so I am always pleased when their hard work is appreciated by a first time customer. So without further adieu.

Customer's Message Subject: Lovely Lavender

Customer's Message: I love your Big Bloomers (Flower Farm!). In my 30 years or more of gardening I have always wanted to plant a variety of LAVENDER plants. I'd find one or two here and there, but never the scope and variety you carry. It was like Christmas for me! Thank you BBFF, you are my new BFF!


Fuchsia triphylla 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' can take the heat and the sun and is literally covered in blooms all summer until frost. Earlier this spring my PIC Peggy and I were heartbroken when we found out that we would not be offering them . When we asked about them, John (the owner) told us he could not find them when he was placing orders for the spring. I can't tell you how happy we both were when John told us he had later found them (we are both easily pleased aren't we). They are now a couple of inches tall and are already blooming. One this size will reach about two feet by summer's end. Last year I grew Gartenmeister in a pot on my southern facing back deck. Of everything I grew last year this is the one plant that was constantly blooming all summer. I placed it on a plant stand so it would sit high and attract hummingbirds. Who needs a hummingbird feeder with a Gartenmeister around.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


We are pleased to be able to offer this spring a very new addition to the hardy lantana family. Lantana camara 'Chapel Hill Yellow' is a hybrid between cold hardy 'Miss Huff' and tender "New Gold'. So you get the cold hardiness of 'Miss Huff' and the low spreading habit of 'New Gold'. Like the other lantanas Chapel Hill Yellow blooms all summer into autumn. This seedling was discovered growing in the gardens of Susy Dirr, Michael Dirr's beloved daughter who died recently from cystic fibrosis. Part of the proceeds of the sale of Chapel Hill Yellow will help support the Sweet Melissa Lung Transplant Fund for lung transplant patients and families at the University of North Carolina.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


A couple of days after blogging about campanula 'pink octopus', Peggy my 'partner-in-crime' dragged me into the greenhouses telling me I had to see this ginger that was brought to her attention by a customer on one of the days that I was off. Peggy mentioned the customer was looking for a blue ginger, one with a true blue flower that was absolutely gorgeous. Well Peggy looked and found the blue ginger in our greenhouses in our part sun section. She brought me into the part sun greenhouses to show me the dichorisandra thyrsiflora 'blue ginger'. She said she did not want to be accused of 'holding out on me' again. Upon seeing them I mentioned "oh I have one of those" to which she replied "of course you do" and then I explained that I had grown one in a pot in an eastern exposure last year. It didn't really do much of anything that season and I had decided it was another 'poopy' plant so in the fall when bringing things inside for the winter I decided this one was not worth the space in my small back room where I winter things over. I put the pot up against a south facing wall on my back deck to give it at least a fighting chance that winter. The funny thing was just the day before Peggy pointed it out to me I had noticed that it had popped up out of the dirt in the pot that was still against the south wall of my deck so it had indeed survived the winter outside in a pot. Upon googling it again I was reminded why I had wanted one in the first place. A true blue is very hard to find in the gardening world and the flower on 'blue ginger' is a particularly gorgeous flower.

Whew, that was a long explanation...are you still with me? After all that talk about ginger I have to tell you dichorisandra thyrsiflora is not a ginger at all but rather it is in the same family as wandering jew, commelinaceae, the family of spiderworts though it does resemble ginger in height and in habit. It dies back to the ground here but I have read they make a great houseplant and many more forgiving and patient people bring them inside in the fall where they will bloom early winter and since they only don't really need direct sunlight an eastern facing window would be fine for them. In researching blue ginger I have learned that they are very easily propagated from stem cuttings taken at any time of the year. I think this year I will most certainly bring it inside and let it overwinter in one of the two eastern facing windows I have.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Plant of the Moment-Campanula 'Pink Octopus'

When I first layed eyes on the picture tag that comes with Campanula 'Pink Octopus' I knew I had to have this exotic looking flower. The foliage is quite handsome as well with nice color and shape. In my research I found that this exotic beauty was also very easy to grow as well as being deer-resistant, long blooming if deadheaded and extremely attractive to hummingbirds. The flowers are described on the hybridizer's web-site as "Large pink buds shaped like Japanese lanterns that burst into pendulous blooms with long, slender, widely-spaced petals. As the flowers mature, the blooms spread wider and wider, until the bloom is flat and its "tentacles" have reached as far apart as possible!"

How could I resist with that description. I bought one from our greenhouses and planted it in a nice little east facing shady garden where it sat all season doing nothing until it finally put out one flower that seemed to be gone to fast to enjoy. I was so disappointed I think I might have even called it a "poopy plant" to its face. While taking my evening "walk around" the gardens with my pups tonight I was amazed and ashamed to see that my campanula 'pink octopus' had not only spread around nicely since last year but is also blooming its little head off and as you can see in the picture you have all stages of flower together.

When I was little my mother would constantly say to me "patience is a virtue". I guess its a virtue I still have not gained and for that reason Campanula 'Pink Octopus' is my plant of the moment.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


My Plant of the Momentum (giggle) is going to be the Elsholtzia stauntonii my sister recently planted in her garden.

I keep thinking of it as the "sister" mint shrub to the australian mint bush I have been growing. While both are mint bushes, lovely, fragrant and shrub-like, the australian blooms early spring with a breathtakingly bright, purple haze and while the Elsholtzia blooms all summer the flowers are not as showy. The Elsholtzia is a very hardy plant growing into zone 4 and the australian is more tender only hardy to zone 7. The same, but different, just like sisters.
My sister and her husband travel full time in their motor home so my sister's garden resides on my property. They are back on the road after spending a month with us golfing, shopping, gardening and hanging out. While she was here she managed to put some order into my crazed chaos of gardens and I have to say they are looking better than they ever have.

So to say a special thank you to my sister, Elsholtzia stauntonii is my plant of the momentum.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


The Suntory Collection is known for coming up with annuals and perennials that can take the heat and humidity. This year we have added to our Suntory collection with their new hardy and annual fuchsias.




Cascading and Snowfire both have a cascading habit. Cascading is not hardy here though, while Snowfire is hardy to Zone 8. Petticoat is more upright in habit and being so would also hold its own in a perennial bed. It is also hardy to Zone 8 so might be worth a try if you have a protected, moist, well-drained site. Okay so they are high maintenance but they are tauted to bloom from May to October so may be worth the extra effort. Large pots with water crystals added to the soil might be a great way to grow them. They like morning sun or light shade and they would look especially lovely growing in pots in a grove of high canopied trees. I will try them in that situation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where's Alley?

Both of the owners are animal lovers so we are very pet friendly here at Big Bloomers. People bring their dogs to help them pick out plants and we do our best to make a fuss and tell them what pretty girls or handsome boys they are.

Our girl Alley takes her job very seriously. The problem is she makes up her own rules. She decided these two lovely poodles would be best left in the car.

The poor pups would not even make eye contact with her they were so intimidated.

Alley celebrated her victory with an impromptu breakdance and also insisted on a belly rub and a pat on the head


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Update on Plant of the Moment-Prostanthera Rotundifolia (Australian Mint Bush)

First off ..I would like to say thank you to my sister for posting the pictures of the prostanthera rotundifolia (australian mint bush). She is quite the computer whiz and I was tired and having problems posting the pictures to the blog tonight. She volunteered to put the pictures up on the blog while I took a shower and then I challenged her to do the whole blog. I think she did a wonderful job. I still can't read it without laughing till I cry. I can't say enough about the gift of laughter.. so thanks sis.

This is an update on the australian mint bush I wintered over in a big pot against a southeastern corner of my home. I was surprised it had survived the winter and am pleased to say it not only survived but is now flowering. I will cut it back hard after the flowers fade since it is quite leggy. I will definitely be thinking of other ways to use them in my landscape.

plant with purple flowers is my plant of the momentum

adelesflowers (6)

adelesflowers (5)

i am writing this for my sister who is washing her hair which is long and takes ten years to do...
so here goes...

this plant..maybe it is a shrub....cuase its bigger than a plant and has woody stems...
this shrub is cool,,,, it has pretty purple flowers....

it looks real nice....but the picture is not the best...cause my camera sucks...
but it is nicer in real life...

and i like it....
and it has nice purple flowers...
not all year...but now....
and they are i like it...

so that is why it is the plant of the momentum...
oh...and it grows too...and hasnt died yet....that is another reason to like it ...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Where's Alley?

Alley has decided she has bigger "fish to fry" than watching flats of plants sprout. She has recently taken to hiding out in the herb garden. We are not sure if she is waiting to catch a certain rat snake that has taken up residence or if she is just trying to catch some extra zzz's.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


This beauty nearly slipped through my fingers. Luckily I was alerted to their presence here at Big Bloomers by two very lovely customers that I waited on today. I hope I didn't scare them by my exclamations of glee when I came across one that was blooming in their boxes to purchase. I have to say I was quite dismayed that this little beauty had gotten in here past me without even a heads-up by my co-worker and "partner in crime" Peggy.

I decided upon first glance this would be my next plant of the moment. Upon goggling I was even more pleased at the prospect of growing one. It does well in sun or part shade. Its a very large (6'-9' tall) but delicate plant or small shrub depending on your location. Being hardy down to zone 8 I think a protected area in that zone would be best. It blooms all summer and prefers a sandy or loamy soil. Oh, and it attracts hummingbirds. Its fast growing so would also be very nice in a pot on a deck which is where I think I will put mine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Being a transplant from Zone 6 gardening, I was tickled pink to find out you could grow begonias in your garden that would actually come back the following year. I remember feeling much the same when told a gorgeous, shiny leaved, evergreen shrub called camellia was going to bloom red in December. But back to begonias. I think they were my first realization of what was in store for this former Zone 6 gardener. I think when I learned about the salvias I was literally brought to my knees. What was I talking about? Oh yes, begonias.....We carry a couple or three different kinds and I have managed to keep them alive in my sand though they are happier with a richer soil and more moisture.

Begonia 'Kaylen'

This one is able to survive colder winter temperatures and is substantial in size. Prolific rose-pink flowers combine with the rich burgundy foliage to make this one lovely border plant.

Begonia grandis 'Alba'
This one is even more cold tolerant being hardy to zone 6. The white flowers add a brightness to shady areas.

Begonia 'Sutherlandii'
This one is my favorite. It is tiny like the more tender B. Richardsiana. The flower color is a gorgeous clear orange. I grew one in a pot on my north facing, covered front porch last summer and am anxiously awaiting its return this spring.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The plant of the moment does not have particularly spectacular foliage, or a lovely, unusual flower color, fragrance or size of blossom. Its an easy plant to grow though that likes full sun and poor soil.

I planted coreopsis major when I lived in Pittsburgh, PA. It hadn't even gotten to the third year "leap" stage, but it bloomed in its second year and that fall we moved to North Carolina. I'm not even sure why I loved it so much. Maybe it was the tall, strongly held stems or the finely cut foliage.

When planning my gardens here in North Carolina, I wanted to include this flower I thought was so interesting. I had forgotten the name though and the above picture with the three little, yellow flowers held up in the air was all I had to go on. I thought it was a helianthus or heliopsis and so of course I have not been able to find it. While walking through the greenhouses last week helping a customer I caught a glimpse of the foliage on coreopsis major and instantly knew that it was the plant I have been looking for and for this reason Coreopsis Major 'Steelata' is my plant of the moment.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Spring has sprung here at Big Bloomers. Our shelves are stocked and the greenhouses are about to burst with perennials and annuals. Here is a peek of what is new in our garden shop. I hope to have a list of new plants for 2008 in a couple of days.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Where's Alley?

Well, the last 'Where's Alley' blog left our girl just exactly where I found her four days later. She has been here and there and everywhere since that last blog but somehow she ends up right back here. She said this is a particularly comfortable, ah hum did she say comfortable...she meant particularly troublesome spot that needs attending to.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Plant of the Moment-Poncirus Trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'

I've been meaning to do a blog on Poncirus Trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' ever since I mentioned it on another Plant of the Moment blog. This picture was my instigation for finally doing a blog on this spiny beauty.
'Flying Dragon' is distinguished from the species, poncirus trifoliate by spines which curve strongly backward, in claw-like fashion most notable when the plant is leafless. Highly prized in the Orient, where it has been cultivated for centuries. 'Flying Dragon' is also a dwarf, growing to a maximum height of 6' (smaller in containers). Commercially used as a dwarfing rootstock for citrus. I have read that it is a good candidate for bonsai. Since its hardy to zone 6 even my family in Connecticut could safely plant it in their landscape. It likes sun to partial shade, is drought tolerant, looks great in the winter and can be grown with ease in containers. I've been growing one in a pot for a couple of years now. Mine has not bloomed yet so I am particularly jealous of these pictures taken by a lovely lady I was lucky enough to meet on the gardenweb.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Where's Alley?

Alley was caught sleeping on the job recently. She insists that her job description includes keeping new stock warm until they sprout.

Bringin in the brugs

We are bringing in some new brugmansia this spring. Bring on the brugs.

Cherub "Dark Pink"

Unbelievably floriferous, this dark pink variety sets a new standard of performance. The 9" trumpets are a deep apricot-pink with peach overtones. The long chartreuse buds turn cream and a faint pink, darkening as they open. They bloom in waves about every 3 weeks with masses of dark pink trumpets. The plants are bushy and well branched. Delightfully fragrant in the early mornings and evenings. Plan on a large pot for this vigorous grower.


Desiree is in a class by itself with three tiered flowers of deep orange. The skirts are neat, elegant and have the long tendrils. Very good fragrance. Flower length is 15 inches from tendrils to stem. Leaves are large and dark green.

Species Double White

Huge double-triple trumpets that are definitely different large flowers range from double to triple skirts. It blooms in waves every 3 to 4 weeks with lots of beautiful double white trumpets.


'Sunray' is a Kyle Courtney hybrid. The blooms are creamy white with rays of yellow from the center. Leaves are serrated and the foliage is naturally a lighter green color than most brugs.