When I was a young gardener my grandmother and mother would always have a scented geranium at the edge of the garden or in a little pot on the patio. I remember my mother handing a leaf of a rose scented geranium to me. She would rub it between her fingers and we would both breath it in the sweet scent.
Scented geraniums were prized in the Victorian era as well. It was not uncommon to see a leaf or bloom from a scented geranium in a nosegay or bouquet to add a wonderful scent. The stunning bouquet pictured at the right was created by South County Flowers combining the sweet scent of the geranium with dahlias.
Many varieties of scented geraniums are available including lemon, nutmeg, orange, coconut, hazelnut, strawberry and citronella. They are related to the geranium that you would find in a planter with large blooms but the flower heads on the scented geraniums are often small and not noteworthy. It is the scent from their leaves that makes them stand out. The leaves can be used in cooking as well as at the edge of a garden bed, in a container or as a cut flower to add to arrangements.
'Atomic Snowflake' which is a rose and lemon scented variety and 'Lemon Scented' both have trailing habits. They would make a great addition to a hanger or as a stand alone plant in a hanging basket. Atomic snowflake has lavender flowers as well. Every year we are sure to have a few varieties to choose from in our shop.
"Once no bouquet was deemed complete without a bit of this fragrant foliage," wrote Louise Beebe Wilder in her 1932 classic, The Fragrant Path. She suggested using the leaves as "a delightful frill" for a bunch of sweet peas or stocks or combining rose geraniums and nasturtiums for a stimulating nosegay...Barbara Crookshanks, Scented Geraniums Were Stars in Victorian Bouquets
Thunbergia is a showy annual vine in cooler zones. It will climb on a fence and make a brilliant backdrop for a garden bed. Add Thunbergia in the center of a large large planter on a cylinder, obelisk or cone shaped trellis for a unique look.
We add Thunbergia to a few of our large hanging baskets. The picture at the right is one of the combinations baskets from 2020 right before it went to its new home. The Thunbergia is just starting to trail underneath it, coordinating with the plants on the top. These baskets are massive and loaded with flowers.
We LOVE Pineapple Tomatillos and offer quite a few varieties of tomatillos. Most people who have tried the Pineapple Tomatillos come back for more the next year. They are a little different from a tomato, growing in a paper husk on a bushy low plant that does great in a large container. They taste the sweetest when they are harvested once they fall from the plant. If kept in their husk up until when you eat them they will keep for a couple weeks.
We have made blueberry-like muffins with them but we love them most fresh in our lunch or in a sweet and fruity salsa for fish or chips. They are a fruity little pop in your mouth, very sweet. Even kids love them and they are fun to harvest.
Flamme is a cocktail tomato that is sweet and produces an abundance of salad size tomatoes with high disease resistance. Persimmon is a very old heirloom that is not only beautiful but flavorful. It is a midsize tomato orange/yellow color. We grow it every year. Our go to cherry is the Waimea Wild Cherry. It is a little smaller than other varieties but we think the flavor is better than any other we have tried.
Gary Ibsen, founder and executive director of the Carmel Tomatofest located in Carmel, California was kind enough to allow us to use some of his copyrighted photos for our new online store. Gary grows over 600 varieties of tomatoes each year and harvests the seeds. Many of our heirloom seeds are purchased from Tomatofest. It is so important to purchase seed from a reputable company with careful seed harvesting procedures so that seeds germinate and are correctly labeled. Gary Ibsen is one of the top tomato experts in the world and any tomato he likes, we want to try. We offer Dagma's Perfection, named after his wife and Brandywine OTV because they are a few of his favorites. Brandywine OTV (Off The Vine) is thought by many to be the absolute best Brandywine. We have always loved Brandywine Sudduth with beautiful pink tomatoes and potato leaf foliage.
Avid gardener Tom Trueb of Ellington, CT suggested Big Mama Paste tomatoes. Amish Paste has always been a favorite paste tomato but we keep looking for the biggest, meatiest paste tomato out there. Big Mama Paste produces giant and plentiful paste tomatoes.
Any variety that is an AAS Winner we like to offer and have had great results with. The Chef's Choice series is pictured here. They consistently produce fruit nearly blemish free fruit in conditions where other varieties have not done so well. They are a few of the hybrids that we highly recommend.
Chef's Choice Black
Chef's Choice Yellow
Chef's Choice Orange
Chef's Choice Red
Tennessee Cheese is an interesting red, lobed sweet pepper that we grow every year and love it. It is an open pollinated heirloom. Makes a cute little stuffing pepper and the flavor is sweet. Just right if you are cooking for 1 or 2 in a salad.
Our herb list continues to grow each year. Mojito Mint continues to be a favorite every year. It is perfect for muddling in drinks or water without being too overpowering.
Thyme is a great plant that is generally hardy in the Northeast. Aside from cooking, Thyme is ornamental and a PAP (Pollinator Attracting Plant). Shorter varieties are often used in between field stones in walkways or at the edge of a garden. They also look great in a container with other herbs or in a kitchen garden.
We like to mix sage and other herbs in with our window boxes and planters. Berggarten Sage has broad grayish-green leaf with an interesting texture. It also trails nicely over the edge of a planter or window box. Whenever we can incorporate an edible in with the flowers it's a good thing:-)