Friday, September 25, 2009

Two More For Fall

Another lovely late summer-early fall bloomer is Lespedeza.  I’ve been growing a lovely hedge row of the cultivar ‘Pink Cascade’  for about three years now.   They are not at all picky about what kind of soil they are growing in (I am growing them in unamended sand) though they tend to be more lush and larger in a heavier soil.  A little bit of water for the first three months after planting and then they pretty much take care of themselves.

Lespedeza is in the lupine family and being so its flowers are very much like a sweet pea on an upright shrub with fountain-like cascading branches strongly held.  They have been one  of the easiest perennials that I have grown, dying back to the ground every winter and coming back strongly every spring.  Lespedeza is a wonderful, hardworking perennial that is definitely worth the “room” holding down a corner of a perennial border or making a lovely hedge row in your landscape.

We carry two cultivars here at Big Bloomers.  Yes…..I know what you are thinking, “What…only two?.  These two  are a little more “well behaved” than the species normally is.

Pink Cascade


‘Pink Cascade’ blooms late summer through fall.  It grows from 3-5 feet tall.

Spring Grove


‘Spring Grove’ is a newer cultivar that blooms late spring and then again in fall.  I’ve been working on a new hedgerow of these in a different area.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two H flowers for fall


Two of my favorite flowers for fall have to be helianthus and heliopsis.  Both helianthus and heliopsis have a very similar look and growth habit.  Though with hybridizing they are continually coming up with some interesting looks.  We carry a nice selection of both in our greenhouses.

Helianthus microcephalus


 This helianthus is 4-5’ tall and blooms August through September .  Its considered “the best of the genus”  The flowers and leaves are small but it tends to grow into a large clump very quickly and is a vigorous bloomer.

Helianthus maximilianii


Maximillian sunflower as it is commonly known is a tall specimen growing 5-8’ or taller.  It blooms in late September or early October.

Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’


First Light is 4’ tall and blooms in late September into October.

Helianthus salicifolius ‘Low Down’


Low Down is new and unique in that it is short, just 18” tall.  I never thought I would see one this short.  With its short stature it would lend itself well to smaller gardens and container plantings.

Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun’


Summer Sun has lovely semi-double flowers strongly held at 3’ tall.  It blooms late summer through fall.

Heliopsis ‘Summer Nights’


I love this heliopsis with its red stems.  Its a bit more loose in growth and may be floppy in less than full sun.  It tops out at 3-4’.

Heliopsis ‘Bressingham’s Doubloon’


I love this one as well with is fluffy semi-double flowers.  It tops out at 4-5’ and blooms summer through fall.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fall is for Aster


Before I started working at Big Bloomers if you asked me what flower I would first think of for fall it certainly would have been and probably still is the asters.

We currently have in stock 18 different kinds of aster.   Some are trailing, some are tall and gangly and some are low enough to be considered ground cover.  They are all very lovely and I am always very appreciative that they stick around all summer (especially now that I live in the south where the summers can be particularly and gruesomely hot and humid) and grace us with their beauty when most everything else in the garden is just about giving up the ghost.

Like the chrysanthemums, I will list them by height or growth habit and use the cultivar or common name without the species when possible.  No particular reason, I just think it is a bit less confusing not using all those Latin terms.

These five are the tallest.  With the tallest two being September Ruby and Winston Churchill.  Being 4’ and 3-4’ respectively.

September Ruby


Winston Churchill


Next is Lady in Black at 3’ tall.

Lady in Black


These next three are 2-1/2’ tall.

Monch Aster


Patricia Ballard


White Wood Aster


This next group are the intermediates.  Starting at 2’ are

Purple Dome





Evergreen aster is about 20” tall.


and the next three are all around 1-1/2’ tall.

Wood’s Purple


Peter Harrison




Next according to height would be the 15”

Royal Opal


Wood’s Light Blue



Wood’s Pink


Professor Kippenburg is just a big shorter, topping out at 14”.

Professor Kippenburg


Snow Flurry is a diminutive little groundcover aster that I love just for the very simple fact that it would rather be dry than wet.  Which I can do big time in my sand.  This one tops out at 6”.

Snow Flurry


and last but not least in a class all by itself is our very own Aster carolinianus.  This one is more of a viney, sprawling aster growing up to 10-12’ WHAT!  Yes 10-12 feet.  Its also fragrant to boot.  Don’t cut this one back since it comes back on the old woody vines and gets longer and longer and longer and longer ha.

Aster carolinianus



I thought this one deserved two pictures.

Sunday, September 6, 2009



My friend and co-worker Julie…you know the one with the blue feet, found Alley yesterday hanging out in one of our dry fountains. 



I have to admit I silently wished “my kingdom” for some water and an outlet so I could turn that fountain on.  OH come on…she needs the exercise.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall Flowers

Speaking of fall blogs, I think if you asked, most people would equate chrysanthemum as the first flower they would think of if asked for a fall blooming annual/perennial. Many buy them as annual color in the fall though they are all somewhat hardy. Though the earlier in fall they are planted will insure their hardiness through their first winter.

We provide the normal “pinch and trimmed” potted chrysanthemums for fall color every year starting in September. I’ve planted them in my landscape and have had them come back with decent results though I don’t find them particularly long lived.

In lieu of the “pinched and trimmed” fall mum, you can still have lovely fall flowers with the chrysanthemums we stock year-round in our perennial greenhouses. These old timey chrysanthemums will grow and multiply, happily blooming in your fall gardens without any help at all (though a couple of prunings during the growing season keeps some from getting too tall and gangly). With their pastel shades they bring a lovely “touch of spring” while summer is waning.

Here they are in all their fall glory.


Emperor of China

Mary Stoker



Fall Glory

All of these cultivars are 24-36” tall. Given a pinch or pruning midway through the season will keep them a bit shorter.

But…if its shorter you want, you can always grow the species weyrichii or pacificum which top out at 12” and 18” respectively.

weyrichii “Pink Bomb”


pacificum “Pink Ice”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Plugging Pansies


We have spent the past week plugging pansies and violas for fall sale.  They will be ready for planting in your garden about the end of September.  Snapdragons, annual dianthus, ornamental cabbage and kale were also done.  



I’ve enjoyed these last couple days of cool weather.  I love this time of year when summer dies down a bit.  Perennials can breath a sigh of relief and the fall bloomers can really start to kick in.  I’m thinking some fall related blogs might just be in order.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Its Raining Lilies


A couple of days ago the rain lilies decided to all open at once





Aren’t they lovely!

Saturday, August 29, 2009




I see you there girl…..



No.. that pumpkin mustache doesn’t

fool me one bit..



Silly girl


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where is Alley?

Throughout the years, the owners at Big Bloomers have employed  many teenagers as summer and part-time help.  They usually end up doing much of the grunt work.  Putting up an endless supply of annuals, moving them around here and there and everywhere as well as weeding and a huge list of other chores.

I am still somewhat of a “teenager” in my heart and so I thoroughly enjoy working with them.  Too many names, faces and smiles come to mind to name them all but every one of them have brought something unique and singular to our nursery.

This year, like every year, we will be losing some as they leave to make their own way in the world.  We will miss each one and are wishing them the very best of everything.


Many of my “Where’s Alley” blogs were from pictures taken by one of our “kids” leaving us this summer.

Over the years her and Alley have created a unique friendship.  Alley can usually be found somewhere around Ashley whenever she was working.  I think Alley thought of Ashley as her personal publicist considering all the great poses Ashley has caught her in.   So for Alley a working relationship turned into a lovely friendship.

One of the last days Ashley was here she “captured” Alley in an extremely rare hiding place.  None of us have ever seen her there before.



Can you see her?  That pot in the left hand corner.


Ah yes there she is…the little rascal


Can’t you see I am resting…I mean doing some undercover work.




This one’s for you Ashley.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009





This year’s Hummingbird Day was the best ever.  Susan Campbell caught a record (for us) 9 hummers and tagged 8.  One got away.  Sneaky rascal.

Heather and Ashley manned the caging and did the actual capturing which I am pretty sure made their day.





When a hummer came to feed they pulled the string and caught them in the cage.


They got one!


This is a video of Susan bagging the hummer.


after catching



Banding the Hummer



and then letting it go

What a wonderful way to spend the day!


Sunday, June 21, 2009


So...I've been wondering??? What does it mean when customers are selling YOU plants? Hummmm.......

The other day a couple of our "regulars" came in. The couple are a "couple" and I always enjoy seeing them and what they are buying. You can always spot "kindred spirits". People that enjoy growing things and being able to appreciate hard work and the beauty of what you can create. Of course all the hard work is never appreciated as much as one simple bloom on a flower.

I asked if I could help them find anything and they showed me two plants they were looking for.

The first was a salvia and we happened to have a four-pack of the one they were looking for. Gotta take advantage of those four-packs of perennials whenever you can.

The second plant was a coreopsis. They had picked a stem cutting with flower and leaves to try to match it to some they are growing already, since they were not sure of the name. They told me it was very short six to twelve inches tall. I was a bit intrigued by their short stature but I am not usually swayed by coreopsis, for reasons you will later learn.

We went down the bench that contained all our coreopsis, looking at size and flower color and couldn't find one we could be sure was the right one. He walked down with me looking and comparing flowers and leaf structure while she stayed behind. We were all the way down the bench when she said she found it. Actually, right where we had started looking. It was Coreopsis grandiflora "Presto". Actually.... a very cool name for a very cool plant.

I commented after looking at and admiring the short and stocky growth habit of this nice little plant, that I don't really grow coreopsis that much. I love the threadleafs but I just can't seem to make them happy enough to grow in my sand and the grandifloras need too much deadheading for my liking. He got a sly smile on his face when I mentioned the latter and said,"Its no problem for me, I just wack em with the weed wacker". We laughed and I thought that wasn't a bad idea at all.

Didn't think much else about it till the couple came up with their purchases. He had eight of the coreopsis and I commented "Oh my, I guess you really DO love this plant". They laughed and explained they were starting a new bed and really wanted that solid splash of yellow up front. He commented that they bloom for a good, long time and when they get tired he just wacks them with the weed wacker and in two weeks they are blooming their little heads off again.

OKAY....I told sold ME.

After they left, I walked back into the greenhouses and retrieved one for myself and and for this reason Coreopsis grandiflora "Presto" is my plant of the moment.