Old blog



Sooooo, we knew it was going to be hot on

Hummingbird Day with highs close to 100 and

heat indexes well into the 100’s.



Alley decided we all might be better off and

happier if we had Susan Campbell measure and

tag the hummers indoors this year. Susan was

not unhappy when we told her.


Her helpers were not quite so lucky. They did

manage to find some shade but I don’t think it

made too much of a difference. It was 100

degrees in the shade!




We only managed to “bag” two hummers this year. An adolescent male and an adolescent female.






All and all it was a lovely day!


Victorian Baskets

We received an email a few weeks ago from a customer that visited our nursery this spring wanting to create a victorian hanging basket suitable for the south. One that would be able to withstand our harsh summer sun.

My PIC Peggy helped them pick out plants that would be suitable. They were very well pleased with what they created.

I am amazed indeed that they were able to coax a marigold into cascading.

The Daylilies are Blooming

Our daylily house is exploding with color.

Many varieties are available.

This lovely one is Ruby Stella a rebloomer in the "Stella" family.

Stop by and see what's bloomin.....

Tickled Pink by a new leucantha 'Danielle's Dream'

We are tinkled pink this spring to be able to offer to you, our favorite plant addicts, not only the lovely new Salvia leucantha

'Danielle's Dream'

but also the equally gorgeous

'White Mischief'

I'm talkin a pink...yes, a pink leucantha as well as an all white...yes, an all white Salvia leucantha.

We don't think these are widely available in the U.S., if at all, anywhere else in these parts. Thanks to our fearless leader John we have them here for you.

You didn't know you needed to have them, did you?... but you will...

They are one of the sturdiest leucanthas I have witnessed for pot growing and they are of course touted for that. Even treated as a "southern" fall annual they would be worth their weight in gold for being another blooming annual to add to our fall repertoire.

Planted in your landscape they would be a lovely addition to your fall gardens. We are crossing our fingers about their hardiness.

Plant of the Moment-Hydrangea macrophylla 'Edgy Hearts'

So...my last blog was about a certain order of hydrangea and various other lovelies that recently arrived here at Big Bloomers. In that same order were many hydrangea, about 8 different varieties if my memory serves me well (at random times it does not).

One of the hydrangea in that order was a paniculata called 'Pinky Winky'. I tend to be drawn to the paniculatas since they remind of the lovely tree hydrangea that dotted the landscapes of the beachy areas in Connecticut where I spent my childhood and also because they are much tougher than other hydrangea, able to take more sun and less water than the rest. Prune them early in spring since they bloom on new wood. In my sand they perform well without complaint. Because of my aforementioned preferences I quickly scarfed up a lovely little 'Pinky Winky' and planted it under a cedar that I had recently limbed up.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'

Today, at work, Judy, one of my cohorts and coworkers brought to me a customer looking for a specific hydrangea. He told me that a friend had brought home a hydrangea that he simply had to have. Its a new one. A hybrid macrophylla named 'Edgy Hearts'. Actually this was not the first time that day I had been asked about it. Earlier another cohort and coworker, Amy, asked me about a hydrangea with heart shaped flower petals. I was busy with customers and thought she said heart shaped leaves. Anyway....I discerned through the gentleman that it was called 'Edgy Hearts' and that his friend was sure she bought it here at BB's.

This very determined and lovely gentleman proceeded to follow me all through the shop, offices and greenhouses to track down this little beauty. Judy had led them through the hydrangea section and they did not find it there so I called John, our fearless leader and he told me to check the invoices to see if we indeed had it, which I did, and found that we indeed had this illusive Edgy Heart somewhere in our greenhouses.

Since they didn't find it in the hydrangea section we checked the flats of unpotted new plants with no luck whatsoever. Then we proceeded to go into the aisles where we will sometimes put unpotted stock until the girls have time to pot them up, to no avail... Finally, I decided to go back and check the hydrangea section.

I passed right by it, but our determined and lovely gentleman customer found it a couple of cultivars down from where I had already passed.

We both had a good laugh about it being right in front of our eyes. He picked out a nice pot and then I looked at him and smiled and picked out one of my own.

I am very happy to have plants serendipitiously put in front of me and actually I am a collector of hearts..after all. My husband makes me hearts of found objects as gifts and I have a very lovely collection of heart rocks, so I am surprised I did not seek this one out myself.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Edgy Hearts'

I am going to plant this sweetheart where I can enjoy its lovely, edgy hearts and where I have irrigation to keep it happy. Thank you to the determined and lovely gentleman customer for pointing it out to me...and for this reason Hydrangea macrophylla 'Edgy Hearts' is my plant of the moment.

Plant of the Moment-Lespedeza bicolor 'Yakushima'

Had a "moment" today at work. Plant of the moment to be exact.

As a gift to his wife's passion for hydrangea, our fearless leader John, ordered some 'Incrediball' and 'Invincibelle' hydrangea. In order to "fill out" the order he added other plants that tickled his fancy. Among them was Lespedeza bicolor 'Yakushima'. The order arrived today.

Now....I have blogged about lespedeza a number of times on this blog. I can not exclaim enough how much of a fan I am of this plant. Any plant...planted in a year of drought, planted in unamended sand that refuses to yield to the extremes that our summers can bring without any supplemental watering leaves me clapping my hands and jumping for joy.

Anyway, the two I grow tend to be cascading and expansive. Yakushima is not. Its a front of the border sweetie being 12-18" tall and 2-3' wide and its mounding habit lends itself to many situations.

Now don't get me wrong...lespedeza loves clay soil and planted in clay will be more lush and vigorous. Though I have not been displeased with how they have measured up in my sand. Rarely have I been able to plant something with such abandon in this sand that I grow in. This lovely and diminutive lespedeza gives me endless possibilities and for this reason it is my 'Plant of the Moment'.

Heralding in Spring!!!

I haven't done a blog post for quite a long time. I was way too busy, all winter long, whining about the weather and updating our plant list and now of course I'm busy heralding in the spring. Lots of chores to do this time of year in all my gardens as well as the flower farm gearing up for another spectacular spring.

I've listed our new plants for 2010 on the "What's New" tab on our website.

Here's something to whet your appetite.
Melittis melissophyllum 'Royal Velvet Distinction'
This is a sweet little charmer, diminutive in form and flower. I think it will perform best as a woodland or container plant here in the south (morning sun only). Its foliage is honey-scented as an added bonus.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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”

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.




I see you there girl…..



No.. that pumpkin mustache doesn’t

fool me one bit..



Silly girl


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.





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!



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 him...you 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.

Plant of the Moment-Rosa Zephirine Drouhin

So.....Today at work I was in the "white fenced area". This is the area we keep most of our roses. I was there to collect some Knockout roses to restock an area where we also have them closer to the entrance of the nursery as a convenience to our customers.

While I was there I noticed a rose that was growing very vigorously about two feet taller than the other climbing roses in that area. I also noticed that this rose was almost fully green to the bottom, which is a bit unusual here in the south where older growth usually starts showing signs of black spot even for the most diligent gardener. Hummm, I thought...It has a name I can't pronounce and I don't know very much about this rose. So I picked out the Knockouts that I needed and made a beeline into our office to "google" this Zephirine Drouhin. I clicked on the first link that was listed and saw that I NEEDED to grow this rose.

Zephirine Drouhin is considered an heirloom rose. It is vigorous, floriferous, highly scented and blooms spring through fall with the strongest flushes of bloom being of course in the spring and in the fall. OH OH OH did I say it was completely thornless? Well I guess I just did.

I promptly walked back out to the "white fenced area" and claimed one for my own. My only problem being now where do I put it. I have an archway at the entrance of the walkway leading to my house and thought I would put it there but then after much rethinking, I was sure it would be to vigorous a rose to use in that area since the archway is very lovely and decorative and I was worried it would be completely hidden by this vigorous grower.

In the meantime I pulled Cinda (one of our greenhouse managers) into the "white fenced area" to show her this vigorous rose that SHE needed to grow too and also showed her the link that made me fall in love with it. I expressed to her my concern about it taking over my lovely, metalwork archway. She said to me "well...don't you have a deck".    EUREKA..."Yes...YES" I said (well I might have screamed that part). "I do...I do have a deck, and...and..and I have a nicely dug and amended spot right in the corner where I recently lost a shrub."  To which I added "You are a GENIUS" (I might have screamed that last part also).

Tonight after I got home from work I planted my lovely Zephirine Drouhin in that already amended spot on the corner of my deck right next to the stairway that my husband and I love to sit in the early morning and look out into the back fields and woodland. I imagine that in the coming years when we sit there with our morning coffee we will have the added pleasure of enjoying the fragrance of this strongly scented and lovely rose and for this reason Zephirine Drouhin is my Plant of the Moment.