In a continuing series,

our intrepid reporter digs up more around Rochester

by Colleen O’Neill Nice

Suffering from plant withdrawal after a long winter, I headed back to Rochester last spring to search out the perfect plants for my Clarence garden. Starting on the east side, I zigzagged my way west discovering a plethora of plants and oodles of ornamental garden treasures.

Oriental Garden Supply, located in Pittsford, provides everything necessary for an authentic Japanese garden. Their passion for unusual plants is evident in their extensive selection of Japanese maples, dwarf conifers and bamboo. Acer palmatum dissectum 'Orangeola' is a laceleaf maple with a cascading mound of orange-red foliage during spring and fall. This shrubby tree makes an excellent container plant since it tends to grow taller rather than wider. Abies koreana 'Horstmann Silberlocke'

is a stunning conifer with needles curving upright revealing a brilliant white underside. The purple cones are captivating on this slow growing evergreen. Spice up your garden with  the maidenhair tree(Ginkgo biloba), willow (Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki') or spruce (Picea pungens 'Globosa') grown as standards. Need an evergreen screening? Try the Irish yew (Taxus baccatta 'Fastigiata') or boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy'). Both have a columnar habit, tolerate pruning well and will grow in sun or shade. Brighten your landscape with the golden-hued foliage of Sunjoy gold pillar barberry or yellow leaf Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Aurea'). Both shrubs transition to stunning orange-red fall foliage. In addition to trees and shrubs, browse the large selection of perennials. I discovered several interesting hardy ferns including the tatting fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizelliae'), silver cloak fern (Cheilianthes argentea), eared lady fern (Athyrium otophorum) and dwarf lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Minutissima'). Lemon button fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia 'Duffii') is a cute, tropical table fern with a lemon scent which can summer outdoors, but must be overwintered inside. Unique plants combined with oriental garden design services, bamboo fencing and carved granite sculpture make this a one-stop shopping experience for your Asian influenced garden.

Just a short drive north, Gallea's Tropical Greenhouse has a bit of everything from bistro tables and hammocks to pottery and willow edging. Children's gardening supplies include Crocs, watering cans, gloves and more. I discovered six packs of the Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis), a half-hardy annual with unusual pale green, funnel-shaped flowers. Having been unsuccessful growing this plant from seed in my garden, I was excited to try growing healthy seedlings. Browsing the perennials, I found creeping bramble (Rubus pentalobus), a groundcover with thick, evergreen, textured foliage. Adding interest to a shady spot in my garden, it bears white flowers in summer followed by red fruit. Try edibles like fig trees, grape vines, or raspberry shrubs. Bonsai trees, orchids, bromeliads, air ferns and cactus make up their diverse collection of tropicals.

Heading to Brighton, at Clover Nursery and Garden Center I discovered two new black-eyed susan's. Rudbeckia hirta 'Sonora' has 6" bright yellow petals with a wide brown band around its black eye. It looks like a short sunflower at only two feet tall. Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers' has finely quilled petals of true yellow and grows four to five feet tall. The leaves are sweetly scented with a subtle vanilla fragrance. Although the original plants only last a couple seasons,  learn to recognize their slightly hairy offspring, since they both self-seed. Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain' a "Great Plant Picks" award winner for 2002, develops plum-purple spikes from July until frost. It is easy to grow in full sun, with average moisture, reaching about two feet tall. Climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea  anomala subsp. petiolaris) in large five gallon pots, scrambling up wooden trellises, are great plant for any garden. This perennial vine offers four seasons of garden interest in sun or shade. Summer brings a sweet aroma that drifts from the large, creamy white flowers. Then, in fall, the foliage turns yellow and drops to reveal the woody branches that take center stage with their peeling, cinnamon colored bark. Dark brown dried flower heads usually persist during winter to add even more detail. No staking or tying is needed since its small aerial roots cling tight to any surface. In my garden, the mother plant grows on a wood trellis and a brick wall. Babies propagated from cuttings climb up several tree trunks. Besides perennials, explore the great selection of trees, shrubs and annuals that Clover Nursery has to offer.

Greeted by a profusion of color at Genrich Garden Center in Irondequoit, I was electrified by the delphiniums, roses, petunias, coreopsis, daisies, clematis, helenium and more. Veronica spicata 'Royal Candles' with its deep blue spikes combined brilliantly with Gaillardia 'Fanfare'. The large, lacy, daisy-type flowers have tubular orange petals with yellow tips surrounding a large burgundy eye. Both plants love sun, have a bushy mounding habit, and bloom throughout the summer. For the shade garden, the unique fronds of Victoria lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Victoriae') are a real showstopper. Called the 'Queen of Green', this superb selection has fronds whose pinnae (leaflets) crisscross to form x's. Be sure to take a peak inside the greenhouses at the annuals, aquatic plants, herbs and houseplants.

© 2017 Gardens By Colleen. All rights reserved.

Heading west to Greece, Green Acre Farm & Nursery was bustling with friendly staff primping plants and attending to customer's needs. When I visited in late June, annuals looked as fresh and healthy as the first day of spring. Not a necrotic leaf or frazzled flower in sight! Displays of the white flowering butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii 'Alba') paired with 'Hydrangea paniculata 'Quick Fire' welcomed me at the entrance to the greenhouses. In early summer, H. 'Quick Fire' starts out with white panicles that change to a rich pinkish-red, well before other hydrangeas start to bloom. This very hardy paniculata flourishes reliably every year, no matter where you live or how you prune it. Great for the beginner or the experienced gardener who gets frustrated year after year when their hydrangeas bloom poorly. I discovered an explosion of fancy leaved coral bells this year with many new and interesting varieties. Heuchera 'Marmalade' forms an evergreen clump of scalloped, slightly curled, amber-peachy foliage with pink undersides. H. 'Mocha' has rich chocolate-burgundy leaves with creamy white flower spikes arching above the foliage. Proven Winners® new concept, quart-sized shrubs, perfect for containers, are inspiring, with many great options. The dwarf Weigelas love sun or part shade and grow 12 to 24 inches tall. W. 'Florida Eyecatcher' has red flowers and electric yellow variegated foliage. W. 'Midnight Wine' has dark purple foliage and pink flowers, while W. 'My Monet' is a tricolor with pink, cream and green foliage with rose-pink flowers. Hydrangea 'Little Lamb' produces pure white blooms in mid-summer that last into autumn. This easy to grow, compact plant is reliable for flowering and bloom color, regardless of winter temperatures or soil pH. For a shady location, Euonymus 'Blondie', with large yellow leaves edged in dark green, is alluring. It's winter foliage adds tones of pink-purple which are very attractive against the snow. Rhamnus (Fine Line buckthorn) combines fern-like foliage with a narrow, upright habit. It grows in sun or shade and has amazing texture. So try one of these mini shrubs in your next mixed pot! For gardens with limited space, grow vertical with vines. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica `Purpurea) is a fast grower that attracts hummingbirds with its fragrant, red flowers in summer. Green foliage is tinted purple on its underside. For a large structure, Japanese Wisteria 'Texas Purple'  or  American Wisteria 'Amethyst Falls', are fast growers with fragrant violet-purple flowers in spring and early summer. 'Indian Summer' trumpet vine (Campsis tagliabuana) heralds a new color, salmon-orange trumpets with a reddish throat. Growing only 6-9' tall, it is more compact than other varieties and prefers full sun to part shade.

Huge pots of zinnias bursting with color provide a warm welcome at Van Putte Gardens in Greece. These convenient containers are perfect for a sunny porch or patio. Add captivating clematis to your perennial collection. China Purple, (Clematis heracleifolia) a 2-3' tall bush-form produces purple, tubular flowers in late summer.  C. 'Liberation' with 6 inch deep pink flowers blooms in spring, then again in late summer. Free flowering and strong, it reaches 9-10' tall. For anyone needing a colorful groundcover, Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow', A. 'Bronze Beauty' and A. 'Golden Glow' display attractive variegated foliage. They love sun to part shade, grow less than 6 inches tall and produce blue spikes in spring. Ajuga paired with Allium 'Purple Sensation' makes a great combination. Use iron, bamboo, stone or rattan to compliment your outdoor space with functional furnishings like a bench, chaise or bistro table. Truckloads of mulch, stone and soil are available in addition to perennials, shrubs, trees, annuals and vines.

According to, factory is defined as "the source of prolific production." Need I say more? As I approached the Garden Factory in Gates, I was overwhelmed by its enormity. Forty-two acres include indoor shopping, the nursery, greenhouses and parking. Here, everything is super-sized. even the plants! Huge five gallon pots of hosta, clematis on tepees 4-5' tall, and gallon pots of New Guinea impatiens are the norm. Away with annuals in six packs – try celosia, zinnias, coleus, petunias, marigolds or gerbera daisies in gallon pots. Add a bit of the tropics with a six foot tower of the bower vine "Charisma' (Pandorea jasminoides) splashed with hibiscus-like pink flowers from spring through summer. This climber loves full sun and can winter indoors as a houseplant. The 5' tall Red Banana (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii') native to Ethiopia, is a real showstopper in the garden. Its trunk, stem and the undersides of its huge leaves are red. It thrives in full sun to part sun and will need protection in winter temperatures below 20 degrees. If you like figs, try growing Ficus carica 'Black Mission'. Large, glossy lobed foliage and edible fruit adorn this native of Asia Minor. Although hardy to 10 degrees, its size can be maintained through pruning and then brought indoors during winter. Miles and miles of plants, garden decor, tools and supplies are on display. Sixteen different landscaping stones and nine different mulches are available for delivery.

Browse the outdoor display of ponds, water falls and container gardens at Bergen Water Gardens & Nursery in Churchville. Step into the showroom to observe the large tanks of goldfish and koi including Nisei and Butterfly. A complete assortment of pond supplies is available for any size water garden from 10 gallons to 10,000 gallons. Marvel at the plant life in the greenhouse. Hardy water lilies, tropical lilies, exotic lotus and marginals thrive amongst many varieties of fish. Their colors, shapes and sizes are captivating. Don't miss Bergen's Annual Lilyfest slated for June 6 and 7 from 10 to 6:00 PM.

In Brockport, Sara's Garden Center features awesome annuals in 6 packs including Melampodium, Lisianthus and several varieties of sunflowers. Salvia coccinea 'Snow Nymph' with pure white spikes is a refreshing addition to the garden. Combine it with

mini bar rose (Ipomoea tricolor), a dwarf morning glory with variegated white and green foliage, sprinkled with bright rose blooms enclosing a white throat. Fill your vegetable garden with heirloom tomatoes and enjoy 'Pineapple', 'Yellow Stuffer', 'Orange Pixie', 'White Beauty', and 'Cuore de Toro' from Italy.  Discover a great selection of herbs including lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), hot oregano and lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla). Sara's has an extensive line-up of perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees for both sun and shade. And if you are a firm believer that shade limits your plant choices, you need to visit Sarah's. Reliable, durable Epimedium are low maintenance perennials that create an evergreen tapestry on the woodland floor. E. x warleyense 'Orange Queen' produces coppery-orange flowers in spring while E. rubrum 'Sweetheart' has red flushed foliage and pink flowers. E. 'Enchantress displays pink and lavender colored flowers with long pointed foliage. Some hard-to-find plants include Begonia grandiflorus 'Evansiana', a hardy begonia that reseeds generously. Mukdenia rossii 'Crimson Fans' is a colorful accent plant with maple-like green leaves splashed with red throughout summer and fall. I discovered two varieties of goat's beard. Aruncus dioicus 'Kneiffii' grows to only 3' tall with rich, green, deeply-cut foliage and cream plume-like spikes. A. 'Misty Lace' is a bit smaller, 18-24" with red stems topped with large, creamy white feathery plumes. Take time to explore shade loving grasses. The genus Carex is the most species-rich genus in the Cyperaceae family. Carex 'Treasure Island' is a striking new white margined sport of C. 'Island Brocade'. It spreads slowly adding a nice contrast to hostas and ferns in the lightly shaded garden. C. siderosticha 'Island Brocade'  is a lush, low growing Japanese sedge with broad blades of lime green edged in gold. This 8" ground cover develops softly haired foliage that is almost velvety to the touch. C. comans 'Frosted Curls', a New Zealand hair sedge, grows very narrow hairlike blades that shimmer in a breeze. It is suited to many sites and tolerates wet and/or shade well. Add to your chocolate garden with Corydalis quantmeyerana 'Chocolate Star'. This new variety has unique, slightly serrated, chocolate brown foliage and white flowers blooming from June through August. Sara's also has a large selection of astilbe, ferns, hydrangeas and hosta to beautify your shade garden. 

Our last stop in Holley is Hurd Orchards. Three generations of women run this amazing fruit and flower farm. Using their expertise, they preserve fresh ripened fruit in products created using old family recipes. Start your own family tradition by picking fruits and vegetables. Check the complete list of pick dates posted on their website. The list includes asparagus, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, peaches, apples and more. Treat yourself and a gardening friend to lunch, tastings, or teas which include wonderful peak-season foods from the orchards. Browse the gift store for bouquets of dried flowers, wreathes, homemade preserves, applesauce, molasses cookies, or bread and butter pickles. Thoughtfully chosen gift collections will make everyone feel special. Consider the"Holiday Sunshine Box" which includes glowing persimmon colored apricots, peach marmalade, a handmade apple spice cake nestled in a natural storage box wrapped with a harvest tea towel and garnet ribbons. Stop in for a treat after a long day of plant shopping.

Reenergize your gardening spirit by rewarding yourself with an afternoon of new scents, colors and textures. Make note of interesting new plants and take pictures of your favorite plant combinations. Search for the perfect garden bench or a unique bird bath. Nurseries can be an ideal source of inspiration and ideas for your own garden. You never know what you'll find....                             

Printed in the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal, May-June 2009


Oriental Garden Supply

448 West Bloomfield Road

Pittsford, New York 14534

1-585-586-3850 (9 minutes to #2)


Gallea's Tropical Greenhouse

2832 Clover Street

Pittsford, New York 14534

1-585-586-3017 (7 minutes to #3)


Clover Lawn & Landscape

485 Landing Road N

Brighton, New York 14625

1-585-244-1625 ( 11 minutes to #4)


Genrich's Garden Center

375 Cooper Road

Irondequoit, New York 14617

1-585-342-9830 (10 minutes to #5)


Green Acres Farm & Nursery

3456 Latta Road

Greece, New York 14612

1-585-227-0510 (6 minutes to #6)


Van Putte Gardens

136 North Avenue

Rochester, New York 14626

1-585-225-7770 ((15 minutes to #7)


Garden Factory

2126 Buffalo Road

Rochester, New York 14625

1-585-247-6236 (16 minutes to #8)


Bergen Water Gardens

7443 Buffalo Road

Churchville, New York 14428

1-585-293-2860 (21 minutes to #9)


Sara's Garden Center

389 East Avenue

Brockport, New York 14420

1-585-637-4745 (9 minutes to #10)


Hurd Orchards

17260 Ridge Road

Holley, New York 14470


A well deserved break for the help at

Sara's Garden Center.

Colorful water lilies at Bergen

Water Gardens & Nursery.

A mixed basket of

New Guinea impatiens, salvia, coleus, sedum & celosia at Green Acre Farm

& Nursery.

Zinnias, petunias & geraniums are a warm welcome at

Van Putte Gardens.