Saturday, March 28, 2009


In spite of the rain we had no lack of customers today at Big Bloomers. One of them left a wrought iron window box with coco liner in the front of our garden shop. We always hesitate to move anything customers bring into the front of the garden shop to purchase especially since people have been known to spend all day back in the greenhouses so this particular coco lined window box sat there for most of the day. After running like a banshee in the rain from our side greenhouses into the garden shop, Alley decided this particular coco lined window box would be a wonderful way to take a nap..I mean would be a great vantage point to keep an eye on things.

She was very well pleased that she still had room to "grow" in this new spot.

Peggy picked out some lovely new clematis to add to our collection this spring.  She was particularly excited about the three new evergreen varieties she brought in.

These first two are Clematis armandii.  These two are not a delicate twining vine but rather a bulky, sprawling thing that can take over a trellis and are quite beautiful whether in or out of bloom.  They are also very useful planted to grow up the trunk and into the branches (up to 20' high) of trees since they also prefer light shade here in the south.  The leaves are long, leathery and glossy.  The fragrant flowers are born in clusters at the end of branches from March into April.

Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift'

Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom'

Clematis x cartmanii 'Joe' has finely cut leathery leaves and flowers also born in clusters in March into April.  Its quite lovely and from what I have seen, bloom even when the vine is quite small.  All of ours are blooming right now.  I have seen this one planted and groomed to cover a small trellis and also spilling out of a pot.  The 'Joe' below has been growing in this pot for about 8 years.  This one will also do better in morning sun

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This is my BFF Julie. She works at Big Bloomers on the weekends and during the summer months.

She is as lovely a woman as you will ever meet.....and she has blue feet.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I've grown Lespedeza thunbergii 'Gibralter' for about four years now. I planted them after they were pointed out to me by a former employee who was a wealth of information and had grown them herself for a couple of years. I must have planted them in my first year or so here since I remember I did not amend the soil at all when I planted them so they were planted in pretty much straight sand.

This is another very easy perennial to grow in your landscape. I would probably not put them in a garden because they are a sprawling plant and large in stature (usually 6' by 6'), but in a corner of a garden one might be quite lovely. I planted mine in sort of a hedge row and have been pleased with the results. As I said they are growing quite nicely in my sand so they don't need a fertile soil though they do prefer a well-drained one. They are also drought tolerant once they are established.

Lespedeza dies back to the ground like a true perennial every winter but comes up fast once it gets started. Then the waiting begins and doesn't end until September when the above picture was taken. They have such nice, lush foliage and the bloom is really spectacular when they do bloom that I have always considered them "worth the wait".

Lespedeza thunbergii 'Spring Grove' wants to do it all and blooms in spring and again in fall. That is its claim to fame as well as the fact that its flowers are darker, more of a purple than the pink Gibraltar. Lespedeza thunbergii 'Spring Grove' is actually touted to be "the best of the purple flowering cultivars".

Right now I am thinking of where in my landscape I can plant a nice hedge row of them.

Monday, March 16, 2009


We are just about ready for spring. We've received most of our large shipments of cement, ceramic pottery and all the other spring treasures that our co-owner Gail has personally picked out to delight our customers. We all got very excited breaking down the pallets of ceramic pottery. The colors, sizes, shapes and styles all had us breathless, well that and the amount of blood, sweat and tears it took to unpack, move, price and shelf over 10 pallets of beautiful ceramic pottery. Gail has also brought in another shipment of "River Root" whimsical outdoor furniture and a nice array of indoor and outdoor fountains. Stop on by and see what is new in our garden shop and check out the greenhouses for perennials that you can plant now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist'

Northern sea oats are carefree and easy to grow. I've been growing a couple "stands" in pots in sun and in semi-shade that have performed well many years without much care at all.

Northern sea oats look much like a short bamboo until late summer when they put on such a lovely show of beach-like promise that you are sure you are not in the jungle anymore but on a lovely beach somewhere. In fertile soil they will seed around a bit.

While they are very easy to grow and put on a lovely show in late summer-early fall, I have to admit the pots I do grow of them are more of a background to other plants than a showstopper. That's until I layed eyes on the showstopper John brought into the greenhouses this spring.

Chasmanthium latifolium 'River Mist' is a new variegated sea oats. I believe this one will not fade into the background but command attention where ever it grows.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Okay don't get too excited. This is not a double phlox I am writing about, but the new Cocktail series of garden phlox by hybridizer Jan Verschoor (well known in hybridizing of veronica and phlox). He brews up mixtures we didn't even know we HAD to have.

One of the standouts in this series is Sherbet Cocktail. Who knew we needed a yellow phlox?  Obviously... Jan knew.

This series boasts a shorter height (around 20"), along with superior mildew resistance.  They are touted to be more floriferous than the old-fashioned garden phlox with larger flowers.

I've had very good luck with phlox here in my amended sand and in my clay gardens in Pennsylvania. I am surprised they are not used more here in the south. They bloom through the heat of summer and into autumn in my gardens in North Carolina. I don't think I would ever have a garden without them. They are very easy to grow and don't really require much care except a shearing now and then to keep them blooming.

Along with Sherbet Cocktail, here are the new "cool drinks in the heat of summer" phlox that John has brought into our greenhouses this spring.

Fondant Fancy


Classic Cassis

Grenadine Dream

Pina Colada

Watermelon Punch

Purple Kiss

  And two others by Jan Verschoor that are of more average height (24"-30") but are lovely in their own right.

Peppermint Twist

Swirly Burley

These last two new phlox are by a different hybridizer.

Eden's Crush is fragrant

and Goldmine is priceless!