A Shopping Spree

in Rochester’s Eastern Suburbs

by Colleen O’Neill Nice

Venturing to Rochester for my plant search this year, I mapped out a route to some of the most interesting nurseries on the east side of the city starting near the NYS 90 and heading north. The route is intense and takes about two days, depending on how much time you spend at each location. I did get lost a couple of times only to find additional nurseries to add to my list. Pick out a few of your favorites or visit them all. You are sure to find something special to enhance your garden.So let's get going!

My first stop was the Village Garden Store in the beautiful rolling hills of Mendon. Although perennials, trees, and garden supplies can be purchased here, I was impressed by the interesting variety of large, well grown shrubs. Weigela 'Rubidor' caught my eye with its chartreuse-yellow foliage and reddish-burgundy funnel shaped flowers. This 3-4 foot shrub would look great tucked into a sunny perennial border. The japanese andromeda (Pierus japonica) was lush and bushy at 4 feet tall, while Itea virginica 'Henry's Garnet'  displayed dangling yellowish-white fragrant flowers. Both of these shrubs would look lovely in a part sun foundation planting or at the edge of a woodland garden. Hydrangeas are BIG in Rochester, both in the number of varieties offered and popularity. Here I found 'Pinky Winky', a paniculata, that produces enormous, upright white and pink flowers on red stems. This hardy shrub grows to a height of 6-8 feet tall in full to part sun. And yes, because it is a paniculata, it will bloom reliably each and every year regardless of climate, pruning or soil pH! Planted as a hedge it will spread to about 8 feet wide or as a specimen plant, try pruning it into a tree-form. Also impressive was Hydrangea paniculata 'Snow Mountain', a tree form, with panicles of large lacy white flowers produced from July to September. Snow Mountain has a loose vase-shape of bright green glossy foliage and reaches a height of 8 feet. Although this was my first stop and temperatures for the day were predicted to reach 90 degrees, I could not resist 'Pinky Winky' for my hydrangea garden and also a mini monarda called 'Petite Delight' which grows to 15 inches tall with stunning purple-rose flowers. This color will add pizzazz to my bed of ostrich ferns.

© 2017 Gardens By Colleen. All rights reserved.

My next stop was The Garden Store (Ted Collins Associates, Ltd.) just a short drive north on the left. Here, perennials are sold in larger pots with substantial root systems. If you are looking for sizeable perennials that are lush and landscape-ready, be sure to stop here. For sun or part shade, Heuchera 'Snow Angel' with green and white speckled foliage is appealing. It produces pink, bell-shaped flowers borne on wiry, branched panicles. Heuchera 'Caramel' with its honey-apricot leaves and pink undersides can be a great companion for the japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’). It produces clusters of whitish-pink blossoms on slender 18-inch stems in midsummer and is the last of the heucheras to bloom. One of my favorites, Sedum 'Matrona', with grey-green leaves and dark burgundy stems is a great alternative to S.  'Autumn Joy', which I think is overused a bit. It loves full sun and produces large corymbs of pink flowers in the fall which are great for cutting. The word matrone, in German means a lady of well rounded form. What a perfect name for this robust succulent that can be admired throughout the winter months and then cleaned up in the spring. If you are looking to expand your collection of coneflowers, try Echinacea 'Fragrant Angel' (large, fragrant white flowers); 'Sundown' (3 1/2 inch orange blooms); or 'Harvest Moon' (fragrant, golden yellow petals surrounding a cone of golden orange). Also check out the large selection of evergreen shrubs, Knock-out roses, Meidiland groundcover roses and Hydrangea 'Endless Summer' and 'Big Daddy'.

Next I travel to Bristol's Garden Center in Victor which includes 9 acres packed with trees, shrubs, perennials and houseplants. They also carry bulk and bagged soil and mulch; stone; adirondack chairs in bright colors; pottery; fountains and statuary; birdcages; and a variety of garden supplies. Take time to look at the great combinations of plants paired with pottery, birdbaths and outdoor furniture.  The displays are always fresh and chocked full of trendy ideas. Children are a top priority at this garden center. Not only can you find  watering cans, kneepads, wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels for the youngsters, but also live animals and a fenced in play area. For the mini hosta lover, Monrovia's  'Little One®' line includes 'Golden Prayers' and 'Sitting Pretty'. Q&Z Nursery, a wholesale grower of mini hostas features 'Peanuts', 'Blue Baron', Cookie Crumbs, 'Shade Parade', 'Fantasy Island' and 'Tiny Tears'. Use the mini hostas for outdoor tablescapes, in pots on tiny terraces, in small patio gardens or combined with other plants for a showstopping mixed pot for your porch. You will find quite an assortment of rock garden plants, water plants, grasses, clematis, herbs and vegetables as well. There is alot to see here, so have fun and enjoy!

Our next stop is Holmes Hollow where trees and shrubs are grown in the fields and dug up as requested. You may want to bring along your Dirr's 'Manual of Woody Landscape Plants' since many of the varieties are unusual and intriguing. The Chinese Red Birch (Betula albo-sinensis) has exquisite red-brown to orange-red exfoliating bark and reaches a height of 40-60 feet.  The Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) exhibits the best fall color of the commonly cultivated birches –– a golden yellow and when you snap off a stem, it smells like birch beer. For a weeping specimen, try the Cercis canadensis 'Covey', with a contorted stem and arching shoots that form an umbrella-shaped crown. It produces reddish-purple to rosy pink flowers like the species, but only grows to about 5 feet tall by 8 feet wide. For a great specimen tree, try Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) with outstanding cinnamon brown, exfoliating bark and red to orange fall color. The Hedge Maple (Acer campestre) is an excellent shade tree and can also be used in a shrub border. It is reasonably drought tolerant and exhibits yellow leaf color in the fall. For a small tree, try Acer tataricum (Tatarian Maple) which grows 15-20 feet tall with a similar spread. It displays yellow, red and reddish-brown fall color. Make an appointment to see underused plant material worthy of extensive landscape use.

Lucas Greenhouses in Fairport is stocked with colorful annuals to tuck into perennial borders. Try Zinnia elegans 'Zowie' paired with Clematis 'Ville de Lyon' and the fuschia flowers of Lychnis coronaria. Or plant an annual bed using vibrant combinations of Cosmos 'Cosmic Red' and 'Cosmic Yellow'; nicotiana in red, pink, white and lime green; or portulacas in salmon, yellow, scarlet  and fuschia.  Pot up some colorful dianthus to brighten your front door and add a great foliage plant like Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic'. Both will tolerate part to full sun and moist, well drained conditions. Need a special gift for a gardening friend, check out the adorable plaques from the Carruth Studio Collection including 'Rutabaga Mama' or 'Move Over Peas'. Call for seasonal business hours.

Just down the road, stop in at Trolley Bed Greenhouses, where specialty annuals and perennials take center stage. Go crazy combining plants to make up a few pots for neighbors and friends –– you will be the talk of the neighborhood! Uncinia rubra, a 12 inch tall perennial ornamental grass, with orange-red foliage looks great combined with Alternanthera ficoidea 'Aurea', an accent plant with yellow linear leaves and a compact, tidy habit. Throw in a flowering annual like Abutilon 'Yellow Bells' and your set to grow. I spotted one of my favorite euphorbias here and was anxious to find out the botanical name. I received the plant from my dear gardening friend, Janny, who grows it in her garden. I was told it was the Cypress Spurge and when I did more research on the internet, I discovered that it was Euphorbia cyparissias, an invasive weed causing economic damage mainly in the northeast. The plant has soft, linear foliage with chartreuse-yellow blooms. It is one of my favorite plants , so I plan to keep an eye on it and any volunteers  it produces.

Next, we enter Wayside Garden Center or what I refer to as Hydrangea Heaven! Here you will find over 200 varieties of hydrangeas including nearly 50 that bloom on new growth. Try a few of the macrophylla's like 'All Summer Beauty', Penny Mac' or variegated 'Light of Day'. And don't forget the paniculatas like 'Pee Wee', 'Unique' and 'Tardiva'. Do you know the best hydrangeas for drying? Check out the list posted which includes Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora', H. arborescens 'Annabelle', and H. macrophylla 'Juliana'. In addition to the extensive selection of hydrangeas, this nursery has everything a gardener may need. From trees, shrubs, perennial and annuals, to a resource center, statuary, trellises, wrought iron edging and garden benches. I discovered one of the largest selections of dwarf hosta (12 inches or less) including 'Hanky Panky', 'Cracker Crumbs', 'Dragon Tails', 'Peanuts' and 'Teeny-weenie Bikini'.

For the Peony afficionado, Paeonia tenuifolia 'Plena' a rare fernleaf peony with very finely divided green leaves, bears small double crimson-red flowers that seem to float above the foliage. The rare, highly sought after P. 'Going Bananas' has large single flowers with soft-yellow petals surrounding a tuft of yellow stamens. Other Itoh hybrids include 'Sequestered Sunshine' (very large single blooms feature clear yellow petals around a tuft of yellow stamens; 'Cora Louise'  (large semi-double flowers with white petals, flushed with soft pink); and 'Morning Lilac' (deep lavender pink petals with streaks of white and fuchsia).

Not to be missed is the Trophytaker Daylily Collection. With daylilies offered in so many colors and sizes today, everyone has room for a few more. Hemerocallis 'Justin George' displays a deep orange bloom with a gold center with multiple small flowers on each stem. For a creamy white with a dark purple eye, try 'Moonlit Masquerade'. Or how about a 6 inch rocket-red flower with a chartreuse throat appropriately named 'Scarlet Orbit'? I could not resist adding one to my "orange garden" but could not decide between 'Chesapeake Crablegs' and 'Tuscawilla Tigress'. So I got both. Crablegs is a rare reblooming 7 inch bright red/orange spider type flower with light orange rays that grows to about 36 inches tall. Tigress is a rebloomer with  large 7 inch bright orange flowers with soft orange rays.

Drive into Edgewood Nursery, past the bulk and bagged products, the pallets of blue stone and fieldstone and into 15 acres of trees, shrubs and perennials. Here you will find unique evergreens, a huge selection of japanese maples and seemingly endless rows of perennials. All the plants are landscape-ready, with well established root systems. About 75-80% of the customers here are landscape contractors, which is why the plants are sizeable, but Edgewood does welcome the retail customer. So if you are in the process of building a new home or renovating an existing garden – stop in. The plants are lush and ready to give your landscape a finished look. No need to wait for things to grow in. While perusing the hundreds of perennials, I saw clematis 4-5 feet tall climbing their stakes. The plants are vigorous and full – no doubt, at least four to five years old.

Next, I stopped in at Country Way Garden Center where hand-painted garden art called Talavera caught my eye. Originally made in Spain then brought to Mexico, this classic style of pottery adds a cheerful whimsy to any garden setting. Pieces include lizards, frogs, butterflies, turtles and suns.  I was also excited to see enormous pots of the wonderful sky-blue flowering Plumbago auriculata. This tender perennial from South Africa thrives in the hot summer and is disease, pest and deer-resistant.

If you are looking to add to your ornamental grass collection, this is the place to shop. Amongst the sedges were Carex buchananii 'Red Rooster', with bright rusty red, fine textured leaves. It grows to about 2 feet tall and creates a very nice accent in a mixed planter. Carex comans 'Bronzita', a clump-forming sedge, has brown-bronze weeping foliage growing to a height of 18 inches. Try Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch' (Red Switch Grass) in your japanese garden. With its upright form, red fall foliage and burgundy seedheads, it is a real showstopper at 4-5 feet tall. Molina caerulea arundinaria  'Skyracer', a tall purple moor grass is adored for its lofty, plum colored inflorescence that rise above the low clumping dark green foliage. The foliage reaches about 3 feet tall, while the rigid, upright, slightly arching blooms rise to 8 feet tall in late September. Try Stipa tenuissima (Ponytail Grass or Mexican Feather Grass) with very fine foliage and delicate sprays of silky flowers that turn golden in late summer. It is wonderful in flower arrangements, both fresh and dried. Although, most grow this plant as an annual, I have had luck overwintering it in zone 5. Make a note for yourself that it is being reclassified as Nassella teniussuma.

Next, is one of my most favorite nurseries of my Rochester tour and I am very excited to tell you about it. Hidden Hollow Farms presents a warm, welcoming array of annuals and perennials perfectly displayed and coordinated. Here, you will find Melissa, owner and operator thoroughly enjoying tending to her plants and helping her customers. How refreshing, even on a 90 degree hot, humid afternoon! She offers quite a collection of coleus, one of her most favorite plants to grow! Check out Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Ruffles' with frilly, dark red foliage with a green margin. S. 'Pink Chaos'  is an interesting blend of bright pink, mint-green and white. For an eye catching sun tolerant variety, try S. 'Wild Lime' which is heavily ruffled with rounded yellow leaves and a bright green edge. A new Ball introduction is the "trailing" coleus 'Lava Rose'. It will grow 6 to 8 inches tall but spread 18 to 24 inches and can be used as a spreading ground cover in the garden. It features rose and burgundy tones with a striking green margin.

Melissa pairs up Supertunia 'Bordeax' (purple veined, pink petunia) with 'Raspberry Blast' (rose-pink and white) for a great combination. These fragrant petunias flower all season and are self-cleaning so no deadheading necessary. She loves matching 'little' containers with appropriately sized plants. The tiny flowers of Sanvaitalia procumbens 'Sunshine', a creeping yellow zinnia are perfect for small baskets or containers. Amongst the perennials, I found the sweet purple-leaved Geranium 'Midnight Reiter'. It is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial with a compact form (only 9 inches tall) and displays extremely deep purple leaves with dark lilac flowers. Be sure to check out the shop where colored-glass wind chimes and bamboo trellises may make a nice edition to your garden. And like her plants, Melissa keeps her customers well watered (especially on hot days) with a help-yourself watercooler. Nice touch!

My last stop for the day is Grossman's Country Nursery in Penfield. This full service nursery offers a large selection of annuals including flats, pots (4 inch, 6 inch and gallon) and hanging baskets. Perennials are well organized with all the sun-loving plants grouped by flower color. So if you need a pink flowering perennial or a purple flowering perennial, just head to that designated area. Paths run throughout the nursery connecting various sections including the annuals, perennials, water plants, roses, grasses, several greenhouses, cafe and a children's play area. If you are looking for decorative pieces to enhance your garden, check out the modern stone sculptures. The swans were amazing!  For a bargain, peruse the sale tables. When I visited, lots of drumstick primroses were waiting for a new home.

Trees and shrubs are arranged on the west side of the building interspersed with fountains and statuary. Here I discovered a tree that has been on my wish list forever. I have seen it many times in catalogs and books, but have never observed this cultivar in real life. With my SUV packed with plants from nearly a dozen nurseries, how do I get a balled and burlapped 5 foot tree home? The Golden Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum [shirasawanum] ‘Aurea’), one of the most sought after trees of all, was stunning in the sunlight. It's beautiful golden leaves and slow growth habit (a mature height of 12 to 15 feet) is just perfect for my east side garden bed. In summer, bright red fruit often peeks from under dense leaves and the fall foliage is spectacular – a blend of orange and red occasionally suffused with purple. Luckily, this nursery delivers!!

Search their website at www.grossmans.com for a list of classes, information on owners Larry and Frances Grossman's popular garden radio show and posted sales for the week. And if you are looking for beneficial insects, they offer live ladybugs and praying mantis, as well as ladybug houses.

Day two of my Rochester excursion starts at Bee in the Garden, a gift shop for gardeners. No plants here, but a nice selection of sweet pea seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds. Renee really knows how to attract attention with her seed names like 'April in Paris' (a fragrant, pale yellow blossom with lilac flush), 'Watermelon' (delicious subtle perfumed blossom in peachy-pink), 'Saltwater Taffy Swirls' (big ruffled, fragrant flowers in soft pastel candy colors, swirled and sprinkled with deeper markings), 'Blue Celeste' (pastel-blue ruffled beauty), 'Strawberry Fields' (early blooming ruffled blossoms of rose-red) and the softly frilled, pure white flowers of 'Royal Wedding'. How about a fragrant window box collection? The vines will grow 8 to10 inches tall, with sweetly scented large flowers blooming on softly cascading branches.

Need a greeting card for a gardening buddie? Browse through Christine Kogut's designs using photographs of peonies, irises, pansies, lilacs and roses from her garden. You can also find t-shirts, candles, books, gardening tools, and trinkets for cat and dog lovers. For the young gardeners, Wonderboard® makes a magnetic surface with themed magnets. The kits include 'Glorious Gardens', 'Build a Bug', 'Wonder Wheels' and 'Make a Monster'. Great to keep kids busy in the car. Also interesting were 'Create a Neighborhood' house numbers, eclectic ceramic pots on legs and adult dress-up magnets.

For garden statuary, urns, and pedestals visit Hilltop Market which has been in business for 40 years. Cast stone is used to create bird baths, benches, troughs and oriental pagodas. Decorative buddhas, angels or greek goddesses can enhance your garden sanctuary. For a bit of whimsy, position a giant golf ball on the lawn or nestle an artichoke among the astilbe. Gnomes, dragons and gargoyles look great in a woodland garden, while lions and elephants can guard your driveway or front door. Create a circular garden bed with dancing carousel horses planted with brightly colored annuals underfoot. In addition to the cast stone embellishments, hanging baskets, annuals and vegetable plants are available.

Next, on to Agway Gardens in Webster where I found some interesting shrubs. The white, pink and green mottled foliage of Salix integra 'Hakura nishiki' is striking. The dappled willow is a fast growing shrub reaching 20 feet tall by 10 feet wide, perfect for a small garden. It's graceful, weeping branches display salmon pink stems and buds. It loves part shade and thrives in wet soils. Another fast grower, Monrovia's Pyracantha 'Yukon Belle®' is a hardy semi-evergreen shrub providing mid-winter color with bright orange berries. It has abundant white blooms in spring, loves full sun and is highly adaptable to flat wall espalier. For a lean columnar look, the japanese holly 'Sky Pencil' (Ilex crenata) is ideal. It has shiny, dark green leaves all year long and black berries in the fall. For a blast of color and drama, plant  Tiger Eyes™ Sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’ PPAF) with its striking bright yellow foliage which is deeply-cut, almost lacy. In autumn the plants turn a brilliant scarlet-orange. Its loose, open form with branches angling upward make it ideal for large pots. It loves full sun and is drought tolerant once established.

Here you can find a nice selection of boxwood and japanese maples as well. Acer palmatum dissectum 'Viridis' with its laceleaf, bright green foliage edged in red and its weeping, cascading habit, would add great contrast to the red leaved forms of acer palmatum. In addition to shrubs, trees and perennials, Agway has extensive gardening supplies.

When I drove up to Bauman's Farm Market, the smell of strawberries filled the air. This bustling market not only has numerous greenhouses full of annuals, but also a selection of fruits, vegetables and baked goods. Look for the tender perennial rex begonias for a colorful addition to shade pots outdoors or in a decorative pot indoors. Cultivars include 'Miami Storm' (mosaic patterns of dark chocolate browns, stunning reds and frosty whites), 'Capricorn' (dark pink centers surrounded by a distinct band of silver-white paint splashing) and 'Fairy' (silver/gray, blue-green veined foliage). Another great plant for a shady spot are the fuchsia hybrids. The Shadow Dancer series includes 'Peggy' (white sepals and orange petals), 'Betty' (red and white blooms) and 'Violette' (soft pink and violet flowers). For the coleus collectors,

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Pele' features chartreuse foliage with maroon spotting; S. 'Pineapple' glows with lime green and burgundy foliage; and S. 'Texas Parking Lot' sports large yellow foliage with brick red stains.  It makes a good topiary because of its upright habit. Flats of portulacas in a rainbow of colors; gazanias in white, yellow and oranges; the sweet, spicey smell of fragrant raspberry stock permeating the greenhouses – what a feast for the senses!

After a quick lunch, I stopped in at Thomas Landscape & Design. Inside you will find a gift shop and garden supply store. Among the supplies were the Radius ergonomic-designed hand and mid-length tools. Radius offers eight unique stainless steel blade designs including shovel, transplanter, spade, edger, digging fork, border fork, bulb auger and weeder. Among the plants outside were two eye-catching drought tolerant, fall blooming sedum. S. 'Maestro' with thick blue-green foliage, purple stems and pink blossoms and S. 'Black Jack' with dark purplish, black foliage and bright pink flowers. Both reach a height of about 24 inches and are a great alternative to S. 'Autumn Joy'. Look over the balled and burlapped tree selection including Liquidambar (Sweet Gum), Cercis canadensis (Redbuds), Cornus kousa (Dogwood), Magnolia soulangiana (Saucer Magnolia), Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar) and more!

Several wrong turns got me lost only to find the plant oasis at Wambach's Farm Markets. Colorful two-gallon pots of Delphinium grandiflorum 'Summer Series' greeted me in the parking lot. This little beauty stands at a height of 10 -12" and forms compact mounds of well-branched foliage. It puts on a spectacular show from early summer to fall, with soft sky blue, light pink or satiny midnight blue spires. Geum 'Fireball' (the largest geum I have ever seen) was spilling over in one gallon containers. Large, orange-yellow flowers dance atop wiry stems and will keep your vases full for at least two months from late spring into summer! Monrovia's Agapanthus 'Midnight Blue' was tempting as well as their 'Tabletop Topiaries' (both pyramidal and patio tree forms) of rosemary. Shade lovers rejoice –– lots of hostas and hydrangeas. Looking for a lacecap? Hydrangea macrophylla 'Princess Lace' exhibits lustrous dark foliage as a backdrop for the white blooms maturing to pink. For the heuchera/heucherella collectors, H. 'Key Lime Pie', H. 'Lime Rickety' and H. 'Stoplight' can brighten up a drab corner. For a fabulous silvery, blue gray serrated foliage, try Helleborus 'Silver Lace' which is evergreen and blooms creamy-green cupped-shaped flowers from February to April. The unusual Cornus alba 'Gouchaulti' (Golden Variegated Dogwood) offers variegated yellow and rose leaf margins with green & rose centers. It grows 4-5 feet tall with bright blood red stems in winter and prefers sun to part shade. Next, browse the annuals. 'Tiny Mice' cuphea was the cutest! Also called bat-faced cuphea, this annual loves sun, is clump-forming and can be overwintered indoors. It has hairy, violet, tubular flowers with purple ends and two brilliant red petals, held on one-sided racemes. From Tasmania and Australia, another interesting annual, Chrysocephalum apiculatum 'Flambe™ Orange' loves heat and dry conditions and flowers continuously through the summer. Small tufted golden orange blooms sit above silvery green low mounding foliage making it excellent for hanging baskets or mixed containers.

Back on track, I head to Harris Garden Center which has a great display of sturdy trellises and obelisks, along with garden supplies, gifts and pots. In the shade area, large Dicentra spectabilis (Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart) were vigorous and thriving. Looking for evergreen groundcovers? Half flats of pachysandra, hedera (ivy and variegated ivy) and vinca minor (periwinkle) are available. For dramatic color and form, seek out Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Avalanche' (Feather Reed Grass) with its wide white band down the center of each leaf blade. This reverse pattern of C. 'Overdam' makes a 4 foot tall vertical accent in the garden, topped with silvery tan plumes starting in midsummer. And don't overlook 'Little Zebra' (Miscanthus sinensis), a dwarf version of Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' which grows 36- 48 inches tall. Its fuschia blooms appear in late summer to early fall and prefers full sun. Interesting annuals include Melampodium paludosum 'Showstar', a bushy, vigorous plant covered in yellow daisylike flowers  from early summer into autumn. It is a low-grower that thrives in warm and humid conditions. And Browallia speciosa 'Blue Bells', in the potato family, has abundant star-shaped violet-blue  flowers over a neat mound of foliage. It thrives in sun to partial shade. This dual purpose flower can be grown outside as an annual or indoors as a long blooming houseplant.

Next, I stop in at Grandpa's Nursery & Gardens in Ontario, New York. Here I find Gazania 'Kiss Rose'. Well, let me tell you that I planted gazanias for the first time in my garden last year and they bloomed right through our infamous October snow storm. What a plant! This new variety, 'Kiss Rose', is a beautiful deep pink-rose shade and is specially selected to withstand the cool temperatures of the fall season. (and possibly heavy snowfall!!!). It loves full sun and can be used as a bedding plant, in borders or as an edging plant. For coleus collectors, shade is no longer a requirement. Solenostemon 'Sun Splash' has deep burgundy foliage with a hint of green and bright yellow edges. S. 'Kiwi Fern' has a medium, mounding habit with narrow, frilly leaves that are dark purple and red with yellow highlights at the edges. S. 'El Brighto' has a medium to large upright habit with purple centered leaves surrounded by vibrant red with a beautifully scalloped, bright yellow edge. S. 'Felix' has a medium, upright habit with velvety deep eggplant-purple leaves and unique deeply scalloped, delicate yellow-green edges. These new, bigger, sun loving varieties explode in bright locations! If you haven't tried Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' yet, be sure to add it to your list. You will not be disappointed – it never stops blooming! A lovely mass of tiny, white flowers creates a baby's breath effect over the entire plant. It makes a nice contrast with larger-leaved plants and grows about 18 inches tall. One of my favorite plants, plectranthus, is becoming more popular in the nurseries. P. 'Cerveza 'n Lime' has soft lime-green foliage and an intoxicating fragrance. It loves heat and is drought tolerant – perfect for a sunny window box. If you are looking for a great flower to dry, then Gomphrena 'Gnome Mix' is an excellent choice. This dwarf variety maintains a compact habit, freely bearing globe flowers in rose, pink, and white. It makes a good container plant for full sun. How about another sedum... Sedum spectabile 'Pink Chablis' with broad, blue-green leaves with white edges held horizontally on the stems. In late summer, clusters of vibrant pink flowers burst open from the snow white buds. This selection has a compact habit growing 18 inch tall with a 15 inch spread. It provides winter interest and food for birds, if it is not cut back in the fall.

Next I visit Grandpa's Nursery and Gardens in Sodus. If you need magnificent houseplants or tropicals for the home or office, this is a great place to shop. The cut leaf philodendron 'Xanadu' with evergreen, glossy foliage is highly versatile. It can be planted in the shade garden, grown in containers outdoors, or utilized as an indoor plant. Philodendrons belong to the arum family (Araceae), which includes many popular indoor plants such as Swiss cheese plant (Monstera), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) and Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema). For edible fruit, Ficus carica 'Black Jack' is a semi-dwarf form that produces especially sweet, elongated purple fruit in summer. It loves full sun and can be maintained at 6 feet tall with annual pruning. Agave desmenttiana 'Variegata' (Variegated Dwarf Century Plant) is a medium sized agave that forms an upright urn shaped rosette with 3 foot long by 4 inch wide leaves. The foliage is bright green with yellow variegation along the margins. It loves full sun and is drought tolerant. For an instant tropical look, try  fast growing Musa acuminata 'Enano Gigante' (Dwarf Giant Banana). This perennial has large dark green leaves with red markings on new foliage while mature leaves are solid green.  It loves sun  and reaches a height of 6-8 feet. If you like reseeding annuals, definitely try Verbena bonariensis. This see-through plant produces purple blossoms above swaying 4-5 foot stems. It lures butterflies, loves full sun and looks great in a vase. An interesting tender perennial is Evolvulus glomeratus. Its delicate sky-blue flowers are breathtaking in a hanging baskets or as a bedding plant forming mounds 9-18 inches tall. For mid summer to fall interest, try Tibouchina urvilleana with stunning purple flowers and felt-like foliage. It can be grown in a pot then overwintered indoors. For a whimsical look for sun or shade, try the dwarf Caladium 'Gingerbread'. It has green and white small to medium leaves with pink speckles and grows from 8-14 inches tall. Grandpa's stocks a large selections of gifts, garden supplies, pots and basils, basils, basils!

My last stop is Burnaps Farm Market where a rootbeer float is my reward for a long day on the road. At Burnaps you are greeted with bushels of begonias, mixed pots, herbs, hand-made vine baskets and twig chairs. The market offers homegrown fruits and vegetables; fresh baked pies, cookies, muffins and breads; Burnap's own salad dressings and fudge. The cafe cooks up "Lite" lunches of sandwiches, soups, pizza and salads in a tiered, outdoor seating area. And for dessert, try ice cream or fresh shortcake in season! Stop in for chrysanthemums, apples and pumpkins during September and October.

As a novice to the enormous nursery industry in Rochester, my adventure was challenging but extremely rewarding. I learned so much about the area, the people and especially the plants. I hope to inspire you to try new plants, redesign areas in your garden with fresh ideas and most of all, enjoy the journey along the way. You never know what you will find!

Printed in the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal, May-June 2008


Village Garden Store Ltd.

3830 Rush Mendon Road

Mendon, New York 14506

585-624-1950   (3 minutes to #2)


The Garden Store

Ted Collins Associates. Ltd.

8000 Victor -Mendon Road

Victor, New York 14564

585-924-7105 (5 minutes to #3)


Bristol's Garden Center

7454 Victor-Pittsford Road

Victor, New York 14564

585-924-2274 (3 minutes to #4)


Holmes Hollow Farm

2334 Turk Hill Road

Victor, New York 14564

585-223-0959   (12 minutes to #5)

Call for an appointment


Lucas Greenhouses

41 Pannell Circle

Fairport, New York 14450

585-223-8951   (40 seconds to #6)


Trolley Bed Greenhouses 

127 Pannell Road

Fairport, New York 14450

585-223-9324  (32 seconds to #7)


Wayside Garden Center

124 Pittsford-Palmyra Road

Macedon, New York 14502

585-223-1222   (14 minutes to #8)


Edgewood Nursery

620 Walworth Penfield Road

Macedon, New York 14502

(315) 986-4924   (16 minutes to #9)


Spring Valley Greenhouse

3242 Daansen Road

Walworth, New York 14568

315-597-9816   (17 minutes to #10)


Country Way Garden Center

2755 Penfield Road

Fairport, New York 14450

585-377-9810   (6 minutes to #11)


Hidden Hollow Farms

1842 Route 250

Penfield, New York 14526

585-377-4442   (15 seconds to #12)


Grossman's Country Nursery

1801 Route 250

Penfield, New York 14526

585-377-1982   (8 minutes to #13)


Bee in the Garden Gift Shop

2488 Browncroft Boulevard

Rochester, New York 14625

585-586-1870   (5 minutes to #14)


Hilltop Market

1506 Empire Boulevard

West Webster, New York 14580

585-671-1967   (1 minute to #15)


Agway Gardens

1225 Empire Boulevard

Rochester, New York 14609

585-288- 6660 (6 minutes to #16)


Bauman's Farm Market

1340 Five Mile Line Road

Webster, New York 14580

585-671-2820  (2 minutes to #17)


Thomas Garden Center & Landscape

775 Ridge Road

Webster, New York 14580

585-671-8476  (8 minutes to #18)


Wambachs Farm Markets

2590 Culver Road

Rochester, New York 14609

585-3427120 (10 minutes to #19)


Harris Garden Center

1349 Nine Mile Point Road (Rte 250)

Webster, New York 14580

585-872-0120   (15 minutes to #20)


Grandpa's Nursery & Gardens

6321 Furnace Road

Ontario, New York 14519

315-524-2002  (24 minutes to #21) 


Grandpa's Nursery & Gardens

6720 Rotterdam Road

Sodus, New York 14551

315-483-6784  (1 minute to #23)


Burnap Farms

7277 Maple Avenue

Sodus, New York 14551


I visited Spring Valley Greenhouse in Walworth, currently the largest wholesale producer of clematis liners in North America. They have been producing quality clematis since 1981 and have a large selection listed on their website (www.springvalleygreenhouse.com). I was immediately charmed by the delicate 4 inch purple blooms of Clematis 'Tye Dye' which are marbled with white to appropriately reflect their name. I paired C. 'Fairydust', a lovely light lavender with my old favorite C. 'Jackmanii '. 'Fairydust' climbed right up into the well-established 'Jackmanii' and stole the show! This summer, I thoroughly enjoyed the blooms of C. 'Violet Star Gazer' with 4 inch purple flowers with streaks of white highlighting the center of the petals. It took center stage amongst my purple butterfly bush, violet spiderwort and pink-stemmed Sedum 'Matrona'.

In addition to clematis, Spring Valley grows many unique plants. Kangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos), a tender perennial from Australia; the Firecracker Plant (Echeveria setosa) with bright red and yellow flowers; and a new cultivar of torenia called 'Yellow Moon' with trumpet-shaped flowers of yellow and lilac. And for the busy gardener, they grow terrace-ready huge, patio tomatoes in fiber pots complete with cages. No fuss, no muss –– just water!