Monday, April 18, 2016

Lathyrus vernus with Virginia bluebells

The Wide World of Wonderful Plants!

It's spring at last and you know what THAT means... Tons of really cool plants are arriving at Natureworks every day. As I wandered the benches early Saturday morning, I was thrilled to see the selection that has already appeared. Here are some highlights.

Comptomia peregrina is called sweet fern
Let's start with some NATIVES. Our American Beauties native benches are filling up quickly. I constantly find people browsing this section as most of us are trying to use a lot more native plants in our landscapes. In bloom now is one of my favorites- spicebush. As you drive around you will spot this in flower in wet woodlands. It looks like a mist of soft yellow. If you scratch the bark, you will smell the spicy aroma. This is the larval food plant of the
Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) is blooming in our wet woodlands
spicebush swallowtail. The red summer berries are beloved by birds. Another interesting native is sweet fern. It isn't a fern at all, but the foliage is delicate and it also smells wonderful when you crush it. This plant forms colonies in dry, poor soil. It is a workhorse for those difficult areas and grows 2-4' tall. It is also a butterfly larval food plant. Our native plant benches contain blueberries, elderberries, cranberries, and Aronia (chokeberries). We even have a new, dwarf Aronia melanocarpa 'Low Scape'. It has the same white flowers and edible black berries but only grows 2' tall. This is a fabulous landscape plant! 

A native hillside of trilliums and Dutchman's britches
Zizia is also a butterfly plant for the shade.

Naturally, we have lots and LOTS of native perennials as well. One entire area is devoted to woodland wildflowers such as trilliums, bloodroot, Zizia, Virginia bluebells, Uvularia, Tiarellas, and so much more. 

Got sun and want native perennials?  Why not plant "bluetts" (Houstonia). I am sure you remember these from your youngeryears, they used to grow in all the lawns before folks started killing the lawn flowers with poisons. I know of many fields in Durham and Middletown that are filled with bluetts in the spring. It is truly magical.  


We have Geum triflorum, also called prairie smoke. They are grown for their very cool seed pods. These are the biggest plants we have ever stocked. We are stocking some of our favorite late fall asters now so you can get them to grow big and lush by October. Baptisias are arriving, along with many Echinaceas.

Geum 'Mai Tai'
Have you heard about the Cocktail Series of Geums? I have loved the genus Geum for a long time. They bloom early and come in rich colors. Lately, the hybridization of Geums has brought us long blooming varieties that are great cut flowers. "Flavors" include 'Alabama Slammer' (shown above), 'Tequila Sunrise', and 'Mai Tai' to name a few. They look great combined with perennial bachelor's buttons and early dwarf Iris pumila. Speaking of which, we have a full selection 
Dwarf Iris pumila 'Baby Blessed'
of these early blooming gems in right now. My favorite is 'Baby Blessed', a soft yellow variety that blooms heavily in early May and repeats reliably in October and November. We also have purples, blues, and other colors in stock. If you love irises and want to enjoy them really early, these are for you. 

Digitalis thapsii, a very pretty perennial foxglove
Do you grow perennial foxgloves? This is Digitalis thapsii, a very lovely variety with soft pink flowers. These appeared on our benches last week.  We also have the rare oriental poppy 'Patty's Plum', the old fashioned, classic early white Phlox 'Miss Lingard', and an unusual YELLOW Weigela that Ken Druse spoke about at the CT Horticulture Symposium this winter called 'Canary'. It is a a pale, creamy color and will tolerate a bit of shade. It blooms a lot earlier than the others. 

Even our miniature plant collection is growing. Shown above is Phlox subulata 'Betty', a teeny tiny creeping phlox that has been happy in my courtyard for nearly 10 years. Those are my fingers shown in the picture. We also have Allium thunbergii 'Ozowa', a plant that won't bloom until November but a diminutive delight that is really hard to find. If you plant it now, when in blooms in late fall you will be very proud of yourself!

Late fall blooming Allium 'Ozowa' is a treat
I could go on and on. It's a wonderful time to be a gardener. Stretch your horizons and plant a few new things in your landscape this year. Whether you are doing so just for beauty or perhaps trying to enhance the habitat potential of your yard, it will do your soul good to get outside and start planting!

Monday, March 7, 2016

 Would you like to come to England with me???

This summer, from July 8-17th, I am going on a trip to England. This is something I have been dreaming about since I began gardening. I have studied books, plans, blog posts, websites, Pinterest pages, Facebook pages, and everything else I could get my hands on. It is finally going to happen! I am working with an excellent travel agency that is very experienced with running garden tours to England and Europe. They customized this tour just for me. The cost is $3800 for 10 days. That excludes airfare.

This trip is happening in July so that we can go to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the largest annual flower show in the world. This takes place on a 34 acre site.

We will visit classic gardens such as Great Dixter, the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, Great Dixter is an historic house, a garden, a centre of education, and a place of pilgrimage for horticulturists from across the world.


My trip wouldn't be complete without seeing Sissinghurst. The former home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, Sissinghurst is now owned by the National Trust.July is Meadow Month.

I didn't want to ONLY see the large, famous estates. This trip will also include many private gardens AND a garden designed by my favorite European designer, Piet Oudolf. RHS Garden Wisley is home to some of the largest plant collections anywhere in the globe.The Glasshouse will feature fuchsias when we are there. Leading up to the Glasshouse are borders designed by Piet Oudolf in 2001 that are at their peak in the summer months.

The gardens in England will all be at their peak at this time of year. Consider this the ultimate ten day garden walk with Nancy! I am still working out the details in terms of our exact itinerary and the registration form. The cost will be approximately $3800 for the trip, which includes 9 nights in country boutique hotels, admission to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and all the gardens, tips and gratuities, coach transportation, and most meals. Airfare it not included in the price. The trip is limited to 25 participants and 3 spots are already taken!

 If you are interested, please email me DIRECTLY at 

Please put England in the subject line.

I will then send you all the details the minute they are ready, which will be this week.

I will continue to post pictures and information about all of the gardens we will be visiting over the next few weeks- TWENTY in all! Please share this with all of your friends who may be interested. This will be an exciting, education trip that all garden lovers will remember for the rest of their lives. Won't you come with me to England?

Nancy DuBrule-Clemente, Natureworks

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Plant Bulbs Now - Next Spring... WOW!


Plant Bulbs Now - Next Spring...WOW!

It's the second week of November and the garden is finally starting to simmer down. I have been gradually cutting back herbaceous perennials as they go dormant, resulting in lot of empty spaces beginning to reveal themselves in the gardens that surround my house and design studio. Those empty spots will remain empty until the perennials emerge and fill out next year. In many cases, that won't happen until late May or June or beyond. Enter the wonderful world of hardy bulbs.

It is a November ritual for me to plant spring and early summer blooming flower bulbs. I haven't missed a fall doing this since I began gardening. My love affair began with daffodils, perhaps because I am an April baby and they are the most prolific flower in bloom during the month of my birth. Plus, they are so easy, hardy, naturalize well, and smell so sweet. 

Seldom do we have daffodils left in November but this year, we reordered quite a few times and still 
have some nice varieties: 'Cassata' which is a pale yellow and white butterfly type, 'Passionale' (white with a salmon pink cup), good old 'Dutch Master' with giant yellow trumpet flowers, and a couple of cute dwarfs such as 'Rip van Winkle, the double star shaped "Sputnik" variety shown with a Hellebore blossom in the accompanying photograph.

Hyacinths are another wonderful April flower that are quite resistant to damage from deer and voles. They smell heavenly and are very perennial in my garden. In fact, I prefer my hyacinths to be 2 or 3 years old. By then, they send up clusters of much smaller flowers that have a delicacy that the first year blooms don't have. I pick them and put them in vases throughout the house. I remember on one of my April birthdays I had to teach a garden design class. One of the students, who had lived for many years in Hawaii, made me a lei made of fragrant hyacinths! 

Hyacinths and grape hyacinths bloom together in our rock garden by the road
Hyacinths come in so many startling colors, and they pair perfectly with daffodils. Can you see the lighter texture of the flower above? It is three years old in my garden and ideal for fresh spring arrangements. 

Grape hyacinths come in lots of colors. My absolute favorite is sky blue Muscari 'Valerie Finnis'. I also like the pale pink forms. These clump up well and reappear as a larger drift year after year. Yes, they do smell faintly of grapes and make wonderful bedside bouquets.
We also have lots of wonderful Allium bulbs still in stock. My favorite, still, after all these years of gardening is the Star of Persia, Allium cristophii shown above. It is a true star burst, yet it isn't very tall, only about 12" in height, but the flowers are big and round. Everyone asks about them and I like to pair them with perennials that bloom at the same time, in early June, such as Nepetas and cranesbill geraniums.
If you ask any of my staff, they will tell you that their favorite Allium is 'Purple Sensation'. This is a deep, rich, purple, medium sized globe flower. It has naturalized throughout our gardens, blooming with Baptisias and bearded irises, created a magical wonderland of color and form in late May.
Not all Alliums are big and round. Bright yellow Allium molly is a great edging bulb. It spreads nicely and will come up through all kinds of blooming, perennial ground covers. It is seen above with Allium cristophii in one of our gardens.
If you love the color blue, you will adore wood hyacinths. Often called English bluebells, these pretty masses of blue flower spikes flower in May and make long lasting cut flowers.
Another blue beauty is Anemone blanda 'Blue'. Called windflowers, there are anemones for spring and fall. The spring blooming bulbs are a snap to plant, they are tiny and easy to pop into the ground. This photo was taken on the south side of the shop where they have been spreading beautifully for the past few years. We have them in our gardens in blue and white and everyone wants to know about them. Unusual, diminutive, minor bulbs can steal the show from larger tulips and daffodils simply by their delicate nature.
Scilla siberica is Siberian squill. It has blue flowers that face downward.

Spring wouldn't be complete without the sight that takes your breath away: a lawn filled with naturalized Scilla, Chionodoxa, and crocuses. All three are small bulbs, super easy to slip into the earth. They move around a lot. I know of a street near Yale where the seeds of these beauties have been blown up the street. You can see the pattern of the wind. Now, yard after yard is filled with this gentle color. It only lasts a little while, but when it is happening, there is magic in the air.
Crocuses come in different sizes and bloom periods. Giant crocuses bloom in March; snow crocus or species crocus bloom in late February or very early March, right after the snowdrops. We have lots and LOTS of crocuses in stock, and I am very tempted to plant a crocus lawn along Rt. 22 this year.
Another diminutive bulbs that spreads well in lawns and naturalized beds is called Pushkinia. It is shown above. You thought Scilla was blue? Think again. Pushkinia is the softest, true blue imaginable. We have had them in the Natureworks gardens for over 20 years.
Talking about bulbs wouldn't be complete without mentioning tulips. Yes, we do have at least 4-5 varieties of large tulips still in stock and on sale including a couple of frilly parrots and some very early April bloomers. But what you really must discover are the species tulips. These are true perennials. We have had clumps of them reappear in our gardens for decades. Many folks ask about them because they don't really look like tulips as we think we know them. Because the bulbs are tiny, they are quick and easy to plant. The flowers open up like stars before your eyes. We still have yellow, pink, and red varieties in stock.
Bulbs, bulbs, and more bulbs to choose from. Don't let November pass you by without putting in some hardy bulbs. You will be SO GLAD YOU DID when spring of 2016 rolls around.

One can never have too many bulbs. Pick a nice fall day and get outside, soak up the precious sunlight, and dig in the earth one last time before you are forced to hibernate indoors for the winter. It is a very worthy endeavor.
'Taurus' is very late, a May bloomer and really fragrant.