Friday, February 27, 2009


We grow a lovely selection of bedding geranium here at Big Bloomers. Their proper name is actually pelargonium but most people know them as geranium, a plant their mothers grew and their mother's mother grew.

While I love the scent of the foliage, and the certain satisfaction you get from popping off the spent flowers while enjoying that scent, my head has never been swayed and I very rarely use them in my gardens. That being said I do love some of the exotic ones that John likes to add to his collection every year. These are not your 'grandma's geranium' to be sure. The foliage on some of them are by far more dramatic than the flowers. They tend to be smaller growing and perfect in containers.

This spring John has brought in yet another new exotic geranium. Pelargonium x hortorum 'Graffiti Double Salmon' and it has managed to do what most other geraniums have not. This one has those bold variegated leaves but also has flowers that compete handsomely for the same amount of attention until you are not sure what you love more the foliage or the flower.

Needless to say I will be using more exotic geraniums in my pots this year and maybe even as a bedding plant since this series of 'Graffiti' are supposed to be heat, humidity and drought tolerant which we have plenty of here in North Carolina.

Pennisetum sataceum rubrum 'Fireworks'

One of my favorite things to do at work is to help the girls in the nursery unpack boxes of plants. This time of year we receive boxes and boxes of new stock which has to be opened, accounted for, put in the greenhouses until they are potted up, and then all the boxes need to be torn down and stacked. All of this is done with a professional efficiency. I love the urgency of unpacking but I love even more the delights just waiting to be found.

I think I might have screeched when I unpacked this new annual rubrum grass, Pennisetum sataceum rubrum 'Fireworks'. Or at the very least my voice kept getting higher and higher until only the dogs in the area could understand what I was saying.

This is how they looked right after they were unpacked. I love the creamy white. It sort of reminds me of Phalaris arundinacea 'Strawberries & Cream' right now. In my research they seem to take on a much redder tone while the season progresses.

While unpacking I had to show my PIC Peggy how wonderful this new grass was . I mentioned to her that I bet she will be using a bunch of these in her summer pots here at BB's. She just happened to be running her fingers through the foliage at the time, she laughed and said "ha I was just thinking how they were going to look in pots at Peggy's house". At any rate we are all excited to see just how this new rubrum will progress throughout the growing season.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Today at BB's we had quite a few "newbies" drop by to see us. We always get a big kick out of the reactions of first time customers to the amount of perennials and herbs that we keep in stock year round.

Most of our first time customers admit to being a bit overwhelmed and they all seem to be a little shell shocked after wandering around for a while. I must admit I felt a tad like Scarlett with a touch of the vapors my first time here. I think I actually had to fan my face with my hands just to get my breath back. Was there a point here? Oh yes! my "Plant of the Moment".

One of our newbies today was planning a new garden, lots of different plants, all located in different sections of the greenhouses. I was happy to help her and she was happy to have me help her, being a bit overwhelmed by it all. I described to her the general layout of our greenhouses, gave her specific areas for some plants she was having a hard time finding and then sent her on her way with instructions to come and get me if there was something she couldn't find. She ended up with a couple of wagons full by the time she was done shopping. While boxing and writing up her order, I asked her if there was anything she couldn't find. She replied she could still not find the physostegia (obedient plant). I knew we had them and offered to go back and get them for her. I also knew we had the physostegia in white and in pink so I asked her if she had a preference. She wanted the pink, so I headed back into the greenhouses to fetch her two four inch pots. I actually found two different kinds of pink. We had a nice 24" tall one, the species and cultivar escape me now, but I also found another pink one, physostegia virginiana 'Eyeful Tower' which tops out at 7-8'. Since they were so very different I brought up two of each. I showed her what I had found and she said she wanted them all but ended up getting just the shorter variety since she had already picked out a ton of plants to purchase. I bet she is now sorry she did not get the 'Eyeful Tower' and will probably be back at some point to get them. What she doesn't know is that the two lovely pots I picked out for her never made it back into our greenhouses.

Like I always say, we have such a huge selection of plants and I have such an addiction to plants, I sometimes have to leave it up to fate or serendipity as to what I bring home with me or what becomes my 'Plant of the Moment'. I was intrigued by the name "Eyeful Tower' and by the sheer height of them and OK the fact that I had them in my hands.

I've read they are not as invasive as the shorter variety, in relation to their height not as much as you would expect. I don't think I would mind a nice stand of them blooming in my front gardens in late summer.

Physostegia likes a moist soil so they would be very happy in clay or a well amended sandy soil. My problem with my sandy soil with be in keeping them moist enough but I have promised them that I will try to make them happy if they will promise to make a nice 7-8' high stand in my front gardens in late summer and for this reason they are my "Plant of the Moment".

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This past week working in the 7th and 8th greenhouses (our tropical and seasonal greenhouses) I get the feeling that is what all these gorgeous leaves are telling me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hydrangea Happiness

Had a bit of a tizzy today at work upon seeing the four new hydrangeas that we are bringing into the greenhouses this spring. I WILL have them all.

They are one of my success stories whether in pots or planted in my sad excuse for well drained soil (sandy).

Here they are in all their glory.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Izo No Hana'

I've seen this one in shades of pink, lavender and in acid soil, blue. Very lovely lace cap.

Hydrangea serrata 'Kiyosumi'

This woodland form has pink lace cap flower heads that showcase the distinctive red edging. The new foliage also holds a burgundy color for a long while.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Madame Emile Mouillere'

This mophead blooms on old and new wood so would be a great choice here in NC as it would be oblivious to our sometimes "late frosts". The flowers start off white and end up with a tinge of blue or pink depending on the acidity of the soil. It also tolerates sun more than most hydrangea. The foliage is known to put on lovely fall colors of red, orange and green.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Tovelit'

This one is a dwarf mophead so would be great for a small garden. Of course color will be dictated by soil acidity.

We have an incredible selection of hydrangea here at Big Bloomers. For the novice gardener we could possibly be Hydrangea Heaven. I've never seen a selection as large as ours in one place before. We grow them in four and six inch pots. Planted out in the garden whether in pots or in the ground they happily fulfill their duties without too much drama. If they need water they will certainly tell you and they are the only shrub in my gardens that will carry out their duties whether I am completely oblivious to their needs or not. I've been increasingly impressed by their versatility and "ready to please and prosper nature".