On the party agenda this year was a field trip to FrizzHome Gardens in Bedford, NH.
A couple of years ago my friend, Deanne (hostess of the annual "thumbs" event) reported during her spring hunt for unusual annuals that she had discovered a few hard to find plants at a small nursery not too far from her home in Nashua.
For plant collectors like us, the discovery of a new nursery is akin to finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Although I haven't noticed a decline in the number of nursery businesses, over the past several years I've definitely noticed much less variety in the mix of plants many nurseries are offering. I certainly understand the reasons. In a business with razor thin margins, struggling business owners are reluctant to take on the risk of being left with an excess of unsold inventory. So they stock up on the common bedding plants that appeal to the average buyer and are much more likely to sell out.
Although I don't recall her ever referring to the nursery by name, when often asked where she obtained various plants Deanne's answer increasingly became, "I got that at Howard's." followed by, "Some day I'm going to have to take you to Howard's". After a couple of seasons I was beginning to wonder if there really was a Howard. Would it be too far fetched for somebody with an extreme plant addiction to create an imaginary friend who owns a greenhouse? I think not.
On Sunday Deanne finally put my fears to rest and brought us to Howard's. Howard Frizzell is the owner of FrizzHome Gardens, a business he started in 1986. For close to 20 years he ran the nursery on evenings and weekends all while working full time for the City of Nashua. Since his retirement in 2005, he has been devoting all his attention to the business.
Last fall Deanne somehow coerced Howard to allow her to store many of her large tropical plants in one of his greenhouses for the winter. In return, she would assist with nursery chores as needed. And assist she has. Deanne may not be maintaining her blog these days but that's because she's been too busy playing with plants and chasing the winter blues away by basking in the splendor of Howard's tropical house. Winter activities have included the making and planting of hypertufa troughs. A selection of these will be available for purchase at the nursery this spring.
Casting and painting concrete leaves was also part of the program. Deanne is a professional decorative painter by trade so this is the perfect medium for her to experiment with painting techniques and create some beautiful garden art in the process. Some of these beauties will also be offered for sale.
Deanne is also assisting in the design of container combinations and display vignettes throughout the greenhouse. Customers will hopefully be inspired to try something new and get creative.
|Long view of the tropical greenhouse at FrizzHome Gardens in Bedford, NH|
Many of the items Deanne has created such as the Bromeliad tree below have been purchased for her own garden which will be open in July through the Garden Conservancy Open Day program.
Plant perusal can be serious business. Fortunately a selection of wine and cheese was brought to the greenhouse to sustain us.
As the season approaches and the plant delivery trucks start arriving, Howard brings more of his greenhouses on line. In total, Howard has eleven greenhouses which for the most part are tended to and maintained by himself, one full time employee and some seasonal help.
Upon arrival back at Deanne's house we wasted no time breaking out the food and drink. Howard eventually joined us for dinner but not before the watering and other necessary greenhouse chores were done for the day.
Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir and if I sound like a broken record I don't care. My point here is to encourage you to support your local Howard. By doing so you can help insure the continuance of independent nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers. As an incurable plant collector who is always on the hunt for the unusual, I want to see the Howards of the world not only survive, but thrive.
If you live within striking distance or happen to be in the neighborhood of Bedford, NH, check out FrizzHome Gardens. In addition to a wide variety of unusual tropicals, annuals, and succulents, this spring Howard will also carry a selection of cutting edge perennials from Terra Nova Nurseries. If unusual plants are not you thing, not to worry. FrizzHome Gardens has plants for every gardener.
In May Deanne will be offering a container garden workshop at FrizzHome. Deanne's container gardens have been featured many times on Fine Gardening's Photo of the Day. She also has written articles for Fine Gardening and is well known and in demand as a speaker by Nashua area garden clubs. If you've been looking to bring your container gardens to the next level, you won't want to miss out on this workshop!
FrizzHome Gardens opens for the 2013 season on March 30th. Perhaps I'll see you there.