Friday, June 28, 2013

A Sunny Day in Connecticut

Last weekend a friend and I had the pleasure of touring White Flower Farm in Litchfield, CT.  This special event was held in conjunction with the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program.  Having been a fan of their catalog for many years, we were thrilled at the opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn how it all comes together.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the grounds were amazing.  Many of the trees and beds dated back to the founding of the farm over fifty years ago.
We broke up into groups for the tour and our tour guide was Rob Storm, the Director of Product Development at the farm.  We started out where it all began with this one tiny greenhouse.
 We then headed out to the greenhouses.

These are just a few of the thirty two greenhouses covering over ninety thousand square feet.
Rob was a great guide and offered wonderful insight on the inner workings of the farm.  From trialing new plants, to traveling the world looking for new varieties, the operation is massive.  The farm operates year round and employs twenty full time employees and eight head growers.  The catalog and website offer eight hundred species and over twelve hundred varieties.
The propagation room
First year hydrangeas on right, second year on left.
Jasmine in terracotta pots for the holidays.
Variegated petunias on trial.  Not sure how I feel about these.
Container trial garden.  Here they trial the containers as well as the plants.
Rose trial garden with roses from Germany.
The begonia house was one of our favorite stops on the tour.  White Flower Farm is the only retailer of Blackmore & Langdon Begonias in the United States.  Some of these tuberous begonias are over fifteen years old.
We continued outside to view the mixed border which is three hundred feet long and nine feet deep.
We then headed to their retail shop which was surprisingly small.  We were then informed that the retail shop only generates 5% of business, retailing at other nurseries 2% with 93% of business being generated from the catalog and website.

Oh.  Did I mention there was a plant sale as well?  Every year they hold a sale where all the extra plants from the catalog and website are on sale for $4.  Their Crete pottery is also 50% off.  I think I will need a bigger vehicle next year!

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