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Bridge of Flowers Annual Plant Sale

'Goldheart' bleeding heart

Dicentra Bleeding Heart “Goldheart’

While on my recent weekend of touring amazing gardens in Texas, I found that three of my fellow tourists, from New York and Rhode Island, had visited the Bridge of Flowers. Not only did my new friends appreciate the beauty of the Bridge in joyous bloom, they admired the way the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club, and their Bridge of Flowers subcommittee, have cared for the Bridge, and enlisted the support of  a wide community to create a beautiful space that has brought visitors  from around the world. I remember one day I was on the Bridge and to my amusement and delight I don’t think I heard one word of English! The Bridge is famous!

Carol Delorenzo and Danny New

Carol Delorenzo and Danny New on the Bridge for TV interview this spring

Last June Carol Delorenzo, the Head Gardener, on behalf of the Bridge, received the Bee Spaces award, created by the Franklin County Beekeepers and the Second Congregational Church. Former governor Deval Patrick presented the beautiful plaque made by Molly Cantor, which now lives on the fence by the Garden House.

It was Lorenzo L. Langstroth, who served as minister of the Second Congregational Church in the 1840s, who was the man who ‘discovered’ bee space. We now often refer to the moveable frame wooden hives used by beekeepers as Langstroth hives. The secret Langstroth discovered was that bees can work in a space between 3/8 inch and 1/4 inch which is 5/16 of an inch. If there is more space than this between frames the bees will create extra comb that will make storing and using honey and pollen difficult. If there is less space the bees will fill it up with propolis.

Propolis is sometimes called bee glue. It is used to seal up drafty cracks in the hive, and even to enclose dead mice that have crept into the hive. The bees act to protect the hive from pathogens. For this reason it is sometimes called bee penicillin.

Bee balm and bee

Bee Balm and bee

Bees gather tree resins from sap and leaf buds. Back in the hive these resins are mixed with wax, honey, and enzymes from the bees’ stomachs creating an important anti-bacterial substance that can keep the bees safe and healthy.

A beehive is a busy place. Worker bees are busy gathering nectar and pollen, storing honey and pollen, feeding the brood, and themselves, and making royal jelly. Royal jelly is the single food of the queen bee and she needs to be royally fed as she lays approximately 1500 eggs a day and keeps the hive strong.

The Bridge of Flowers has its own optimal spaces to consider as do bees and beekeepers. Carol Delorenzo, our Head Gardener, tends to the health of the garden which means removing perennials that have frozen over the winter or lost their vigor. Sometimes she removes plants because newer varieties have caught her attention. She also chooses all the annuals that are so vital to keeping the Bridge in bloom all season. We gardeners know that there are always new, bright annuals to try out. Delorenzo has an eye and she always knows how to use all the new plants that go in every year. No gardener wants her garden to look exactly the same every year.

Some perennials have to be removed because they have increased and can no longer fit in their allotted space. Local gardeners usually have plants to divide and thin out, and are happy to give them to a new home, and in this case, happy that they help support the Bridge of Flowers. This will add up to over 1000 plants.

The Blossom Brigade is a hardy group of volunteers who meet twice a week all season long to keep the Bridge looking its best. Deadheading! But at this time of the year most of their energy is spent potting up plant divisions for the plant sale. This year they have been helped by a group of students from the Academy of Charlemont as part of their community service.

The Plant Sale will also include annuals from LaSalle Florist and Greenhouses, woodland plants from Hillside Nursery in Shelburne, special native plants from Polly French, and special perennials from Baystate Perennials. There will be coffee and treats to help customers keep up their strength while shopping.

Once again there will be an array of vendors offering books, glass flowers and bees, as well as bird baths and bee baths. I can’t wait to see the bee baths.

The Bridge Plant Sale is the single fund raising event of the year. Proceeds support the necessary buying of plants, the yards of compost and mulch, and less lovely necessities like repairs to the lights, and the irrigation system. Compost and mulch are vital to health of this organic garden, and every year there seems to be the need for some repair.

On Monday, May 14 the Bridge will be featured on Channel 22 around noon. We are not sure of the exact time.

Bridge of Flowers Plant Saale

2017 Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale – will be damper this year

But the big event for the week is the Plant Sale held on the Baptist Lot across from the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center on Saturday, May 19. The sale begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. RAIN OR SHINE! Gardeners often start assessing the plants ahead of time, deciding which they most desire.  It is all very well to make these assessments, but picking up a plant and holding it until the starting bell is rung is forbidden.

See you at the plant sale. Don’t be late.

Between the Rows    May 12, 2018

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’

Salvia Hot Lips

Salvia Hot Lips

Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ seems to be a really hot plant this summer. Several of these flowers are in bloom on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, and I have a couple blooming on my hellstrip in Greenfield.

Visitors to  the Bridge have written and asked the name of this beautiful shrub. It took me a while to identify it because  I think of it as an annual and not a shrub. However, Monrovia Nursery calls it a shrub and in zones 8-10 it is a perennial.  It has a very airy habit and the two tone flowers are delightful. Under ideal circumstances it will reach three feet tall with an equal spread.

Monrovia calls this a  waterwise plant because it does not need much watering once it is established. It loves the sun and heat. I have planted this on my curbside garden which gets a lot of shade during the day so it is less floriferous right now, but on the Bridge of Flowers where it gets full sun it is still blooming energetically. I will find a sunnier spot for it next year.

The photo is from Monrovia by Richard Schiell.

 

Bridge of Flowers – Blooming for 85 years

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

Bridge of Flowers

This year is the 85th anniversary of the Bridge of Flowers. There have been many changes since the trolley was discontinued and Antoinette Burnham declared that if an abandoned bridge could grow weeds it could grow flowers. It was with community effort that the Bridge of Flowers first bloomed in 1930. It blooms exuberantly today, from April and well into October.

Anyone who has ever owned a house and dealt with necessary ongoing maintenance will understand the changes that have been put in place on the Bridge of Flowers (BOF) over the past few years. Fences and buildings deteriorate, while conditions of use change. Plants get too big and need to be removed and sometimes they just die. They need to be replaced.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

Bridge of Flowers

Each year more and more people cross the Bridge, and more and more of those people are tourists, from around the state, but also from around the world. The volunteer BOF committee gets requests for information from touring companies in countries as different as Ireland and Japan. This is a very good thing for the businesses in town, and a spur to keep the Bridge looking at its very best all season long.

When repairs and improvements have been needed the BOF committee has tried to make even the most functional elements beautiful. For example, the colorful painted sign on the Shelburne side is embraced by a graceful metal support. It will soon be joined by a similar, but smaller sign on the Buckland side.

A protected and handsome kiosk was installed on the Buckland side to provide information about the Bridge, a guest book and a donation box. A smaller charming sign- in stand, and a donation box are on the Shelburne side. Contributions made through those donation boxes are very important to supporting the plantings on Bridge.

The Friends of the Bridge of Flowers, formed about six years ago, are also vital to the ability of the BOF committee to handle maintenance costs of the Bridge. A wooden fence separated the Bridge property from the VFW and the adjacent cottage for decades. However, wood rots, and the old fence was finally replaced by an elegant new fence. This spring a section of that fence is being repositioned to accommodate the new Garden House, and the drainage issues that affect the VFW and the cottage as well as the Bridge. The names of all these Friends, individuals and businesses, are listed on the Friends Tree which is another example of functional art on the Bridge.

Stone Spring on Bridge of Flowers

Stone Spring on Bridge of Flowers with new fence

In 2012, after years of searching for the right stones, the Stone Spring was installed, along with a simple stone bench. The quiet beauty of the fountain draws many people to sit and reflect in the loveliness of this shady spot.

River Bench

River Bench

Last spring the sculptural and very sturdy River Bench was installed on the Shelburne side.  Note the flowing design, and the river stones.

old shed on Bridge of Flowers

Old shed (you can’t see the rot, or ice inside)

This spring the 40 year old shed where Head Gardener Carol Delorenzo and the volunteer Flower Brigade keep their tools and equipment is being replaced by a Garden House. No longer will opening garden preparations be put off because the rotting shed doors, and wheelbarrows and other equipment are encased in ice.

The carefully designed Garden House will be slightly larger than the original shed, built to last longer than 40 years, and to be another element of very functional art.

Garden House site prepared

Garden House site prepared

Every gardener knows that a garden is never the same from year to year. Elaine Parmett, longtime committee member and occasional chairperson, said, “It’s been fun to watch how the plantings changed as different Head Gardeners came and left. Each one had a very different style. In those early years the Head Gardener was paid a small stipend, but there was no tracking of hours. There was no sense that she had a professional position. Of course, it was just a much simpler time,” Parmett said.

Nan Fischlein, current co-chair, and Elaine Parmett were on the BOF committee in the 1980s and both remember how simple an operation it was, much more informal and run on a shoestring. Back then the main funding came from small donations from the towns, and from the annual plant sale.

Parmett said she joined the committee and wanted to learn more about flowers. After 40 years she feels her own gardens have been enhanced and that the Bridge has grown more beautiful every year. “Nowadays there is more awareness that the Bridge is a community effort and needs community support.”

Fischlein agreed with Parmett that there have been great changes over the years. “I found a seachange in the way the board operates now, including the energy spent on keeping the Bridge in the public eye with a website and Facebook page. It is quite a new way of thinking about the public image of the Bridge. I think there is no way to understand how much the Bridge is involved in the local community. We have an educational program with the elementary schools, and are now giving tours to garden groups. We appreciate the growing support given to the Bridge. I’ve learned this time around that there is a lot of administrative effort behind the scenes to make the Bridge successful year after year!”

Like Parmett and Fischlein, I am also a member of the BOF committee, working harder than I expected. When people ask me why I do it, I echo the feeling of all the committee members and say, “For the pure joy of it.”

 

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

 

Little Bulbs – Early Spring Bloomers

Little Bulbs - Crocus and Glory of the Snow

Little Bulbs – Crocus and Glory of the Snow

The Little Bubs are the earliest to bloom.  This collection is crocus and Glory-of-the-Snow, otherwise know as Chionodoxa will be blooming on the Bridge of Flowers any minute.  I have Glory-of-the-Snow down by the vegetable garden, still covered by snow. Crocus and Chionodoxa  and deer and rodent resistant, and both will increase over time.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Most of my snowdrops are also still under the snow, but temperatures got to 50 degrees today, so I think they will emerge from their white blanket very soon. I got smart a couple of years ago and put a few snowdrop bulbs in the Herb Border which warms early, and lets the snowdrops claim the crown for first bloomers in my garden. I love these Little Bulbs, including scillas and grape hyacinths, because they are no trouble, increase in numbers every year and bloom early in great patches – once they get going.  Mine are planted in the lawn and I try to get the grass mowed very short when we go into winter, to let them shine more easily.

All the small bulbs should be planted in the fall. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs have a multitude of spring and summer blooming bulbs. Still

Sampler of White Flowers for Summer and Fall

Casa Blanca lilies

Casa Blanca lilies at Mike Collins and Tony Palumbo’s garden

Last week I talked about some of the white spring flowers, but a whole array of white flowers bloom well into the fall. I can only mention a few.

White Flowers for Summer

One of the more unusual white flowers that grows in my garden is Artemesia lactiflora. Most of us think of artemesias as having silvery foliage and insignificant flowers. My Artemesia lactiflora grows in a very upright clump with reddish-maroon stems and very dark toothed foliage. The tall flower stalks have open sprays of small white flowers. It’s very hardy, deer proof and a good spreader.

When I looked up online nurseries for Artemesia lactifllora I saw that all the descriptions said it grew from four to five feet tall. Not in my garden. Everyone agrees it is not a demanding plant, and some say drought tolerant. The Plant Delights catalog says given a damp spot it will be spectacular. My garden is well drained. Maybe that explains its meager three foot height. Or the problem may be that I do not have Artemesia lactiflora Guizhou a particular cultivar. I don’t remember where my plant came from.

Garden phlox is a gorgeous midsummer bloomer that comes in many colors. It seems to me that interest in tall garden phlox has declined recently, with a matching decline in cultivars. Often the only available white is David which gained its fame because of its mildew resistance. Powdery mildew does not damage phlox, or even migrate to another type of flower, but many people find it objectionable. Phlox has no other real problems. David starts blooming in August and lasts into September.

I recently found an online nursery, Perennial Pleasures in East Hardwick, Vermont that specializes in phlox and sells over 90 phlox cultivars including Flame White, a very short white phlox, Flower Power which begins blooming in mid-July, Midsummer White which is very tall, mildew resistant,  the earliest blooming of the phloxes and one of Perennial Pleasures favorites. There are other whites including the heirloom Miss Lingaard which is mildew resistant, and many other shades of pink, purple and blue.

Everyone loves daisies and Shasta daisies make it possible to have their cheerful blooms in the garden. Many Shasta daisies like Alaska grow to two feet or so and can get floppy, but that can be moderated by cutting them back in the spring. Tinkerbelle is a dwarf Shasta, only eight inches, and it is perfect for front of the border.

All Shasta daisies belong to the Chrysanthemum family, but are sometimes listed as Leucanthemum. Fluffy really looks more chrysanthemum-like with very double, shaggy flowers around a yellow center. Remember, all these summer bloomers like sun, good garden soil which should be enriched every year; they will tolerate some drought.

A wonderful vine is the pale moonflower vine. How lovely to have big white fragrant flowers that you can watch open as it gets dark. Moonflowers are like giant morning glories. Some people say they have trouble getting them to germinate, but soaking the seed for 24 hours can help with that. Once you have a thriving vine it may very well self-seed every year.

I grow white Henryi lilies near the house and they have been very happy at the end of my Herb Bed. I had the big glamorous white Casa Blanca lilies in the Lawn Beds, but deer always ate the swelling buds. If you don’t have deer Casa Blanca lilies are easy to grow and can tolerate some shade where they look especially beautiful. I haven’t had trouble with lily beetles, but that may be a blessing of the Heath climate.

Boltonia on Bridge of Flowers

Boltonia on Bridge of Flowers

White Flowers for Fall

Asters come into bloom in late summer and fall. Aster novi-belgii Bonningdale will reach a height of two feet or a little more and produce clusters of double white flowers around a yellow center. Asters should be treated like chrysanthemums by pinching them back until July 4 for stronger, bushier growth and more flowers. They should be deadheaded to prevent reseeding; Asters are tough long-lived plants that will make a substantial clump in two or three years when they can be divided. They are not fussy about soil.

Boltonia Snowbank, sometimes known as false aster or starwort, is a grand tall plant, up to five feet with starry daisy-like flowers. It can be pinched back in the spring or even be cut back for bushy growth in the fall. This is a vigorous plant that will need dividing every three years , but you can also dig up the new plantlets that spread out around the mother plant to give away. Because of its size and its exuberant bloom late into the fall this is a great addition to the perennial border. There is also a pink variety.

Before I started paying attention I thought of Japanese anemones as spring bloomers. However, it is Anemone sylvestris like Madonna that is the low growing anemone that blooms in the spring, in sun or shade and resistant to both deer and rabbits. Japanese anemone like the three foot tall Honorine Joubert blooms for a long season in late summer and well into the fall. Honorine Joubert has sprays of two inch flowers, white petals around a golden crown of stamens and a greenish center. Andrea Atkinson is similar except that it is shorter. Japanese anemones develop into generous clumps and they make quite a show in the fall.  In spite of their delicate appearance they have strong wiry stems. I have enjoyed mass plantings at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in September

Between the Rows   February 7, 2015

Dahlia Season on the Bridge of Flowers

Dahlias on the Bridge of Flowers

Dahlias on the Bridge of Flowers

As a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee I am always happy when a visitor eloquently admires dahlia season on the Bridge of Flowers. Or any bloom season. Recently the Fine Gardening Magazine website featured a number of photos of the Bridge, and comments by Andy Engel of Fine Homebuilding Magazine – who finally followed the signs to the Bridge. To see his photos click here.

I have taken my own photos of the Bridge this season. Here is a sample.

Double bloodroot May 1

Double bloodroot May 1

Not all the flowers are as flashy as the dahlias, but we are very proud of our double bloodroot that bloom early in the spring. We usually have a few divisions to sell at the Annual May Plant Sale.

Azaleas  May 7

Azaleas May 7

The Bridge is a perfect example of a Mixed Border that incorporates, blooming shrubs, trees, vines, perennials, annuals and a few grasses.

Tulips May 25

Tulips May 25

Tulips can be pretty flashy in May and June.

Roses June 25

Roses June 25

June is the month of roses for me, but there are roses blooming on the Bridge into September.

 

Daylilies July 19

Daylilies July 19

Shady greens July

Shady greens July

The many shades of green have their own beauty and fascination.

 

Lilies August 1

Lilies August 1

Daylilies and other kinds of lilies in many colors all through August.

Phlox and crocosmia August 1

Phlox and crocosmia August 1

Never a dull moment.

Gladiola August 26

Gladiola August 26

Gladiolas are not usually my favorite, but I cannot resist this one.

 

Asters - September

Asters – September

And here we  are – back to September – but not for long – and asters as well as dahlias – and many many others. To call this Dahlia Season on the Bridge of Flowers is actually not very descriptive. I hope you will all come and visit.

Bridge of Flowers in August

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

I was walking across the Bridge of Flowers this morning and it is clear this is high Dahlia season. I don’t know the names of these varieties, but I am going to look through the  Swan Island Dahlia catalog and see if I can get names for some of these.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Pink Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

Some dahlias have a more tender hue.

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll is a dahlia that everyone loves.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Dahlias come in so many forms and sizes.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shaggy Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Do you think ‘Shaggy’ is a dahlia class?

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Stone Fountain at Bridge of Flowers

After all the fire of the dahlias it is nice to have a cool place to sit .

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shade garden on the Shelburne side of the Bridge of Flowers

Leaping Fish sculpture

Leaping Fish sculpture

Before I left the Bridge I had to go and take another look at the new school of fish leaping up river on the Buckland side. Thank you John Sendelbach. 

The Bridge hosts what is essentially a joyful garden party every day of the year from April 1 to October 30. Visitors from all over the country – yea all over the world – come here to enjoy the flowers, tended by a gardener, assistant gardener, many volunteers and overseen by the Bridge of Flowers committee, a part of the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club.

The Bridge of Flowers and The Art Garden

Dahlias and Phlox and the Deerfield River

Dahlias and Phlox on the Bridge of Flowers

The Bridge of Flowers is a miracle of bloom right now. High summer. The dahlias are just beginning to join the phlox, daylilies, cimicifuga, crocosmia and all manner of daisies. But there is another way to enjoy the Bridge of Flowers.

Art Walk directions

Art Walk directions

Follow the Shoes for the monthly Art Walk in Shelburne Falls. The various artisans and galleries like Molly Cantor Pottery and the Salmon Falls Artisans Gallery were displaying the talents and skills of many of our area artists. As a member of the Bridge of Flowers Committee I was especially interested in the exhibit at The Art Garden.

Amy Love's Quilted Bridge of Flowers

Amy Love’s Quilted Bridge of Flowers

One of the beautiful renditions of the Bridge of Flowers was this whimsical quilt square.

Maureen Moore's Rosies

Maureen Moore’s Rosies

Maureen Moore, artist, writer, and BOF committee member was inspired by the roses on the Bridge to paint this rose view. The exhibit will continue at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls for the next month. Stop by. And visit the Bridge, too. Don’t forget to sign the guest book.

Molly Cantor flip flops

Molly Cantor flip flops

The Art Walk will next be held on September 13, but the galleries are open even when there is no Art Walk.  Be sure and visit. And don’t forget – The Bridge of Flowers is open all day, every day until October 30. No fee. But you can always leave a donation.

 

View from the Bedroom Window – May 2014

View from the Bedroom window May 5, 2014

View from the Bedroom window May 5, 2014

The view from the bedroom window on May 5 shows that the grass is greening up, but it is cold, 46 degrees, cloudy and windy. I dug up plants for the Bridge of Flowers plant sale, but then went back in the house to work in front of the woodstove.

View from the bedroom window May 12, 2014

View from the bedroom window May 12, 2014

Now it is hot! 80 degrees. What a difference a week makes. We had a little rain and warmer days – although with strong  breezes it has still felt cool – until today. The lawn just had its first mowing and you can see the lilacs beginning to leaf  out. A close look will show tiny budded lilac flowers. The weeping birch in the South Lawn Bed is greening, and a green brush has barely touched the trees in the field. Perennials are  well started, summer phlox, achilleas, delphiniums, and more and more daffodils.

View from the bedroom window May 19, 2014

View from the bedroom window May 19, 2014

A beautiful day, 70’s and sunny. You can see the trees are beginning to green, and the lilacs are just beginning to bloom.

View from the bedroom window May 28 2014

View from the bedroom window May 28 2014

58 degrees this morning and still misting from last night’s rain which saved me from watering the gardens this morning. The lilacs are in full bloom, and the apple trees are also beginning to bloom. The ginkgo trees are finally greening up. Some of the daffodils are still blooming, but they are joined by columbine, epimediums, tiarella, trollius, barren strawberry, as well as a host of annuals bought at the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale, geraniums, cuphea, Diamond Frost , lobelia, torenia, and blue felicia daisy. Boule de Neige and Rangoon rhodies are also starting to bloom. Full spring!

My record for May has not been very regular and doesn’t give a full taste of how cold it was for most of  the month. Winter blankets still on our bed. And fires in the woodstove the first half of the month – and sometimes in the evening after that.

Annuals for a Long Bloom Season

Annuals in the South Lawn Bed

Annuals in the South Lawn Bed

The Bridge of Flowers taught me that annuals are the easiest and most dependable way of insuring a flowery garden all season long. This spring I am concentrating on adding annuals that will be in full bloom for the Annual Rose Viewing. Of course, I do have perennials in bloom at that time, but this year I am determined to have a very flowery garden at the end of June, and then for the rest of the summer. I bought a number of annuals at the Bridge of Flowers plant sale Saturday, wonderful healthy plants from LaSalle’s in Whately.

Troillus

Troillus

This part of the garden doesn’t look great – yet.  This is the north end of the South Lawn Bed. A few years ago, I thought I found a way to work around my lack of design sense. What is more classic and more impossible to mess up than a blue and white garden? I planted Connecticut Yankee delphiums, Aconite, ‘Blue Paradise’ garden phlox, a short salvia, ‘Switzerland’ shasta daisies, a white filipendula, snow in summer (cerastium) and white cosmos.  That worked pretty well except I could not keep the grass out of the snow in summer. A couple of years ago I could not resist the beautiful yellow troillus from the Bridge of Flowers. A little accent of yellow in my blue and white garden. Perfect. Then the salvias were not doing well and I removed them. In their place I added a shaggy yellow yarrow.  Another yellow accent. I’m pretty sure I also added a native penstemon but I can’t seem to find it this spring, and I’m not sure of the color. Probably white.

Feliia blue daisy from Proven Winners

Felicia blue daisy from Proven Winners

To refresh this bed and make it more floriferous for a longer season I began by removing most of the white shasta daisy and all the snow in summer. I added this Proven Winners blue daisy with a yellow eye, a yellow marguerite daisy, and Euporbia ‘Diamond Frost, both also from Proven Winner. Blue and white and yellow! I also moved in  some purple pansies from an indoor holiday centerpiece. Pansies bloom longer than you might imagine here in Heath.

In the North Lawn Bed, a piece of blue Baptisia I planted a couple of years ago suddenly exploded, as did a patch of Fulda Glow’ sedum. They both covered a golden spoon chrysanthemum. I dug up the chrysanthemum without doing too much damage to the sedum or baptisa and added it, small as it was, to the blue and white and yellow garden. You will see more photos of this garden as the season progresses.