Volume 02 | June 29, 2017
Mon-Friday 9-7
Saturday 9-5

Tuesday July 4th 9-4

Summer Hours Begin July 10th
Monday -Thursday 9-5
Friday 9-7
Saturday 9-5
News From Groff's Plant Farm
Hope this finds you and your garden well.  Read on for details on our Customer Appreciation Day  
July 8th, ornamental grasses for shade and some heat-loving annuals.
Customer Appreciation Day
        A warm April followed by a cool wet May didn’t dampen our spirits.  Thanks to you, our loyal customers, we had a great spring.   To show our gratitude, it’s time for our annual Customer Appreciation Giveaway!
         Beginning at 9am  Saturday, July 8th you may pick 1 flat of free annuals from greenhouses 6, 7, 8 or the outside annual display benches.  Additional flats can be purchased for $10.  A flat is defined as 1 hanging basket, 4 gallon annuals or however many smaller pots you can fit on a standard tray.  We will have a nice selection that will last throughout the day so if you are not an early bird or don’t like crowds, come in after lunch.  If you have trays at home, please bring them with you. 
       We always keep a reserve of annuals and herbs for your late season needs in greenhouse #5.  These will be available at regular price.
       The four inch perennials are marked down to make room for a new crop in September.  A flat of 18 is $25.00, or $1.50 pot.  You’ll find these in greenhouses #1 and #2 and in the sun perennial section. The 4” perennial sale will last until they are gone.
  Herbs are NOT included.  We’ll keep fresh herbs throughout the summer.

From the North:
Take 222 south to Quarryville. Turn left at the light onto 372 east.  Turn right onto 472 south at the funeral home.  Just past Black Rock Retreat turn right onto Puseyville, and your first left onto Street Rd.  We’re halfway up the hill on the right.

From Rt 1:
Exit north onto 472 (away from Oxford).  Continue EXACTLY 5 miles, crossing the Octorara Reservoir.  Across from the Union Presbyterian Church, turn left onto Street Rd. Continue 1.7 miles to the stop sign.  Continue straight and watch for the sign and lane on left 1/2 mile
Graceful Grasses for Shade
     Ornamental grasses have a fine texture and unique form that blends gracefully with the plethora of daisies and other summer flowers. In the fall, their lovely seed heads play so well with sedums, asters and solidagos.  Most often though, the switchgrasses (Panicum), Pennisetums,  and Miscanthus are best suited for full sun.  When planted in shade they tend to be floppy, not bloom as well and lose their variegation or reddish foliage.
     For those that garden in the shade, do not despair!  There are several choices of ornamental grasses to mix with your ferns, hostas and other woodland plantings.
     If you are looking to go native, search no further than members of the sedge family. The ones that look most like lawn grass are Carex appalachica (Appalachian sedge) and Pennsylvania sedge.   They both have a fine texture and medium green foliage, but Carex pennsylvanica (pictured at right) spreads by rhizomes and will make a nice patch over time.  If you are looking to add blue foliage to your landscape, C. laxiculmus ‘Bunny Blue’ and C. platyphylla (broadlead sedge) are natives with dusty blue blades.
     Many sedges are native to Japan.  The most handsome of this group are cultivars of Carex oshimensis.  Often evergreen, with boldly variegated leaves in yellow (‘Eversheen’ pictured lower right) or white (‘Everest’) edges these plants make an excellent focal point.   They are a great addition as a “filler” component in a mixed shady container  but are best planted into the ground in the fall as they are not hardy in a pot over the winter. (See sidebar)
     If you have an especially damp area, the yellow foliage of sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Oborozuki’) brightens up the shade.  It does not tolerate dry soils, so save this one for the wet spots.  It even thrives submerged in a pond.
     We can’t talk about grasses for shade without mentioning the queen of woodland grasses, Japanese forest grass.  Hackonechloa macra, grows two to three feet tall; the most popular forms have yellow or variegated foliage.  They prefer moist soils, but will tolerate dry sites once established.  They have a graceful arching habit and look especially lovely mixed with hostas, underplanting trees, or lining a walkway. They do slowly spread by rhizomes but not aggressively. This one is documented tolerate growing near black walnuts.
     There are a few plants that look like grasses, but are actually members of the lily family.  Liriope  or lilyturf comes in a clumping form (Liriope muscari) that is best used to line a walkway or outline a design, and a spreading form ( Liriope spicata) that makes a nice groundcover.  Both have purple flower spikes in the fall, followed by black berries. I would not advise eating the berries, but they are not toxic to pets or people.
     The popular black Mondo grass ( Ophiopogon  planiscapus ‘Nigriscens’) is also in the lily family.  It spreads slowly and is topped with blush bell-shaped flowers in the summer. Darkest foliage is in part sun.  This mixes well with yellow foliage plants such as coral bells or Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’.
     For those of you with shady landscapes, embrace your conditions and try a grass that will thrive for you.
   Growing perennials and shrubs in containers has become more popular over the last several years.  Colorful foliage plants like coral bells, hostas and  sedums look great even when not flowering. 
   Evergreens like arborvitaes in a large pot alone near a entryway give vertical accents without worrying about roots growing into the foundation of a house. However unless a plant is a full two zones hardier than the zone you are in, it may not make it through the freezing/thawing cycle of our winters.  In the ground, roots are more insulated.       For us in Zone 6, hostas (Zone 4) are alright all winter, but hydrangeas (Zone 5) are best planted in the ground in the fall.
Annuals to Beat the Heat
      If you visit the greenhouse in April or early May there are several annuals that you probably did not even notice.  These are heat-loving plants that bloom profusely when the mercury climbs  when many cool season flowers like pansies and lobelia are petering out. These annuals can be depended on to give bright color until frost.
           The first is probably the best known.  Lantana is a tropical sub-shrub.  When we lived in Florida, it was a hedge outside my office, but here it is an annual.  Breeders have refined the habit and broadened the color range.  There are mounding and spreading forms in shades of yellow, pink, red, purple and orange.  The flower clusters often have more than one color per cluster.  They are also nectar-heavy making them a favorite for butterflies and hummingbirds.  Another distinctive feature is the fragrant foliage.  When rubbed between my fingers, it reminds me of citrus.  Because of the oils in the foliage, it also repels mosquitoes and other bothersome pests.  
       It is drought tolerant and thrives in full sun with little supplemental irrigation once established.  Good for pots, baskets or the front to middle of flower beds.
     Summer snapdragons, or angelonia is a great upright annual with flowers in spikes.  It comes in white, pink, blueish and purple.  This plant was first introduced about 20 years ago and made a great home cut flower.  Since then breeders shrunk it down to be more of a bedding plant at the expense of taller sturdier stems.  In the last few years more vigorous varieties with larger flowers have come on the market making it suitable for cutting once again.  Flowers have good vase life and make excellent mid-tall components in containers or beds.  
     Pentas or butterfly flower (pictured above is another tropical with nectar-laden tubular cluster of flowers sure to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.  These plants reach 18-30” depending on the variety and are great additions to a sunny perennial border to add some color between seasons.   Bold red, bright pink, lavender or  white flowers  mix well with most color schemes.
     For the shade, begonias can’t be beat.  A new series of  Begonia boliviensis  has really impressed me the last two summers.  ‘Bossa Nova’ begonias have large bell-shaped flowers in shades of red,  yellow, orange and blush-white.  This plant has an upright then arching habit, making it a nice component in baskets or containers.  I have some white ones in a container on my front porch  mixed with white torenia and purple foliage Persian shield and alternanthera.  The contrast is nice for my shady porch.  This series is related to the  orange ‘Bonfire’ begonia that we have been growing for several years.  They can be brought indoors over the winter and kept for next season.
     All of these plants do best planted well after the last frost is past.  We have noticed they really don’t seem to grow until temperatures are in the 70s and 80s so it is best to wait on planting them.
     If your baskets need a little sprucing up, or your perennial border is between seasons, try some of these heat-lovers for a pop of color that will bloom through the worst the summer has to throw at them.
  Groff's Plant Farm | 6128 Street Rd, Kirkwood PA 17536| 717-529-3001 | groffsplantfarm@epix.net | groffsplantfarm.com