From creating pots to designing plots, passionate gardeners are an inspiration, especially for those of us with less than a green thumb. While some of us might have been grateful for a winter watering reprieve, many gardeners have been anxious to get their hands dirty since they closed their beds last fall. If you have any questions, talk to a gardening enthusiast, or better yet head to your favorite nursery.
In Brookfield, the energy at Shakespeare’s Garden seems to vibrate throughout the greenhouse, even while snow still dusts the fields of the ten-acre parcel at Burr Farm. Co-owner Mark Fancher boasts like a proud parent as he describes the unique varieties of plants they carry and how popular their exotic plant exhibits have become. Opened in 1988, this family-owned business has been in its current location for 15 years, though Mark says he has been working with plants and flowers since he could walk. His sister-in-law Kasia Fancher is the doting one, gently coaxing the greenhouse baskets to thrive. From family travel she might come home with an armful of driftwood or other natural materials which she creatively integrates into unique planting designs. Mark’s brother Steve, who has a degree in horticulture, brings expertise in commercial plant production.
Popular Trends in Plantings
One of the spring highlights is to walk the 10-acre plot loaded with planting ideas that are guaranteed to inspire. The farm abuts 100 acres of open space and many of their clients say that a visit to Shakespeare’s Garden is a regularly needed stress-reliever.
A popular service offered by the Fanchers is to babysit client pots and containers over the winter so they can get a jump start on readying them for spring delivery. Shakespeare’s Garden has a full-service landscape, design, and maintenance business which gives them plenty of opportunity to identify trends. Last year they saw an increased desire for grasses and plants that are indigenous to the area. They expect those trends to continue along with the desire for more wildflower gardens.
Just down the road in Bethel, Hollandia Nurseries and Gardens is practically a household name and a visit to the garden center is enough to make even the most novice gardener want to dust off the trowel. Shaun Klesh, enthusiastic Director of Social Media Marketing for Hollandia Nurseries & Gardens says that one of the biggest trends he is seeing is that people want “no mow” lawns. Move over grass because lush beds of clover are becoming ever more popular. Another trend is the installation of pollinator gardens that can attract everything from non-stinging bees to butterflies and hummingbirds. “People want something to look at,” Klesh says. There is also a trend in vegetable gardens because as more flexible work schedules have evolved, people enjoy taking breaks in the day by rolling up their sleeves and becoming part of the nurturing process.
Right now, there is a rush on bulbs that are often planted in the fall, but can still be planted as soon as the ground thaws. “Choose your bulbs carefully,” Klesh advises, “Deer love tulips but shun daffodils.”
While Hollandia was founded in 1964 in a small two-car garage, it has grown to a full-service gardening business with landscape and design services, two locations, hundreds of thousands of plants, and knowledgeable personnel who can offer helpful tips.
One of Hollandia’s special features on their 20-acre plot located on Old Hawleyville Road is a three-acre garden packed with plants. Their website calls this garden a terrific inspiration that you can walk through and get ideas for your own garden or see exactly how a particular shrub or tree will mature. Hollandia holds an annual spring garden show in April which includes a series of lectures, garden tours and a season kick off sale.
For even more inspiration, check out Seventy Acres in Newtown, who specialize in understanding clients’ outdoor spaces. Landscape architect Nancy King sees a lot of groups who are interested in sustainable design and low impact development. She says that “limiting high maintenance lawn areas and including native or adaptive plantings to reduce overall maintenance, water usage, and in tune with the native soils and climate is something that is integral to our design process for our clients.” Seventy Acres is a full-service landscape architectural and design firm and if a visit to their impressive website isn’t enough to spur the imagination, a conversation with the landscape architects will.
With so many ideas at the ready, it can still be disconcerting to look out the window in early spring. Gray drab days with ground still too frozen for planting suddenly mixed with overdue sunshine and days warm enough to coax early risers like crocuses and daffodils can feel like a roller coaster ride. John at Shakespeare’s Garden recommends enjoying your indoor plants. John is a big fan of succulents because they are interesting to look at, easy to care for and transition well to the outdoor patio pots when the time is right. Another remedy for spring’s big tease is to add some flowering plants indoors. Shaun at Hollandia says that many of their customers gravitate toward Easter lilies at this time of year because it brightens the home and offers a taste of what’s
When it’s time to finally get going with designing your outdoor space, a comprehensive prep and planning schedule provided by Gerbert & Sons lays out a month-by-month gardening plan for the entire year with no shortage of things to do before you put seeds in the ground. The Stamford-based firm, which services Fairfield County and beyond, is a full-landscaping company offering irrigation, masonry and organic solutions. From pruning to planting evergreen coniferous trees and shrubs to taking stock of tools, there is enough on the winter/spring to do list to keep any gardener inspired right now—at least until the blooming begins. •