After this harsh winter it feels great to work in the garden and enjoy the beauty of nature in your own backyard. Turning a patch of bare earth into a beautiful garden that is the envy of your neighborhood can happen no matter what color thumb you have. Garden centers and nurseries are plentiful with plants and tips on designing and caring for your garden. In this day and age, it is rare to find family-owned businesses. Here are three thriving local floral and plant resources that can help keep your garden in bloom:
Nielsen’s Florist celebrated its 70th anniversary in style with a wonderful flower show in early April. Hilda and Christian Nielsen opened their doors at the Darien location, and their four grandchildren still run the full-service garden shop. From beautiful fresh cut flowers and arrangements to home décor, gifts and outdoor plants and flowers, Nielsen’s is a one-stop shopping experience that enables you to lunch in the café or sit in the beautiful conservatory. Nielsen’s is dedicated to maintaining successful relationships with their customers. “It’s all about lifestyles and providing a superior product and great customer service,” says manager Sandy Nielsen-Baumann, one of the owners. “We host a lot of weddings, private parties and nonprofit events in the conservatory that support our community,” adds Baumann, who credits these ties to the community for the center’s longevity. “You’re helping people at their happy times and consoling them in sad.”
Baumann says they have kept up with current trends by going to all the trade and gift shows and following fashion. For indoor plant trends, she shares what is popular at Nielsen’s.
“We sell a lot of orchid plants, dish gardens and green foliage. Succulents are very big now for their clean contemporary look with little or no maintenance.”
Tony Vitti, a buyer for Nielsen’s, says the best-selling outdoor plants are blue hydrangea in all shapes and sizes. “Ever-blooming and Knockout roses are easy care and provide color all season long.” Vitti says their customers are looking for all-summer color. This is true for flowerbeds and borders where annuals are the most popular.
Nielsen’s specializes in outdoor four-season container and patio pots. “Then we’ll do window boxes with evergreens and conifers that are great for the holidays and winter season,” Vitti says. Have the experienced design team customize them for your home or, if you prefer, do it yourself and the staff will help you select just the right containers and flowers. Other services include party- and corporate-decorating and inside and outside Christmas-decorating.
For more, visit nielsensflorist.com.
Poundridge Nurseries Inc.
Poundridge Nurseries Inc in Pound Ridge has everything you could want to make your home and garden flourish all year round. Located inside the historic Lockwood Estate barn built in 1778 and later renovated for the store, Poundridge Nurseries provides outstanding horticultural services to both locals and visitors alike.
“We are especially known for the best and biggest trees. That’s our forte. We scout out the best-shaped specimen trees from the East Coast in Connecticut and North Carolina to all the way out in Oregon,” says Lou Weinstock, the current owner, whose grandfather Vincent Pascuiti, a New Rochelle resident, bought the property in 1920 and has kept the business in the family ever since.
“Container gardens have grown in popularity over the years,” Weinstock says. “They are an easy way to beautify your home and garden. Native plants seem to be a current trend, too. And we sell a lot of hydrangeas and dwarf conifers.”
Popular native plants are echinacea (purple coneflower,) lupines, asters, bee balm and black-eyed Susans. And they have a wide variety of starter vegetable plants and fruit trees.
Poundridge Nurseries also features garden art and furniture, including unique teak pieces, as well as gardening supplies. And it is well known for an extensive Christmas shop, the place for everything you need for the holidays from lights and ornaments to trees and custom-designed wreaths.
“We offer landscape design and do full-service landscape work, from start to finish, crews and all,” says Weinstock. The design team has an outstanding reputation and can work within any budget. Landscape designer Michele Langone keeps up a helpful blog chocked full of gardening tips and seasonal to-do lists on the website. Langone offers her best advice: “Get a head start. Starting early will make the growing season more pleasurable and less stressful!”
For more, visit prnurseries.com.
White Flower Farm
One of the most renowned mail-order nurseries, White Flower Farm has been doing business in Litchfield County in northwestern Connecticut since 1950 and is a premier source for plants.
“Our goal is to make your garden grow,” says Barb Pierson, the nursery manager. White Flower grows more than 800 species of plants in 32 greenhouses, offering a wide range of perennials, bulbs, annuals, vines and shrubs, along with gardening tools, gifts and advice to gardeners all over the country. (Oscar de la Renta – fashion designer and passionate gardener – was a customer when he first moved to Kent in the 1970s. See story in this issue.)
White Flower Farm popularized the English Perennial Cottage garden and then expanded to lots of different plants, including vegetables. The farm is also known for its preplanned gardens that are composed of beautiful groupings of plants. “We offer combinations of colors that look good together like painted fern, amsonia and foxglove. These flowers extend through the season, which people like. The hummingbird collection of native plants is a favorite,” says Pierson. “Not only does it attract birds, but also it provides pollinator plants to attract bees.” She adds that people want low-maintenance plants. “Shrubs like hydrangeas are increasing in popularity as they are low-maintenance and add value to your property. Grasses are easy-care plants and seasonally interesting, pretty and drought-tolerant.” This year the perennial of the year is Native Wind, a grass.
Another new trend is growing vegetables in raised beds and containers. “More people want to grow their own vegetables, and if you have a deck this is easy,” says Pierson.
The farm is open from April through November and hosts special events. “One of the best is our Great Tomato Celebration over the weekend of May 16-18 this year. We have over 80 varieties of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.” The Annual White Flower Farm Open House is June 21 where you can tour the display gardens. “The Tuberous Begonia House is one-of-a-kind and opens in early June. The flowers are so gorgeous they don’t look real, and it is a good reason to visit.”
For more, visit whiteflowerfarm.com.