Grow, Don’t Mow! Flowering Lawns & More

Grow! Don’t Mow!
Reduce the size of your lawn into attractive wildflowers or lawn alternative options!

A lawn can be attractive but we all spend hours on a nice lawn not to mention the cost of maintaining that lawn and the hassle of mowing. Why not covert portions of your lawn to wildflowers or low growing, low maintenance lawn alternatives? It won’t only free up your time, but it will benefit wildlife and pollinators and still look beautiful and neat!

Map out your property and place markers on hard to mow areas, areas that the lawn doesn’t look too great, rocky areas, wet areas or shade areas or just areas you think flowers would look nice. Further away from the home you can do just about anything. Closer to your house, we’ll make some great suggestions that will keep in neat and organized. Jot down which areas are simply just areas and are not used for anything. Map out areas that you use for activities and mark them ‘keep lawn’.

Once you have decided which areas you wish to convert – study them. How much sun do they get, what are the conditions of the soil, is the area wet, moist, steep, rocky etc. Start with the difficult areas first, like that steep embankment where you almost tip over every time you mow. For this area, depending on how far it is from your home, a wildflower mix would be a great choice. Erosion control and a pretty embankment when finished will minimize your risk of killing yourself on the mower and give everyone something beautiful to gaze at from the house.

We would suggest keeping the areas closer to your house short – you can choose a no-mow grass mixture or a flowering lawn for this portion. On the outer edges you can complement this by choosing borders of wildflowers or drifts of taller growing wildflowers or perennial plants. Planting in groupings is also attractive. Keeping your planting in these areas simple will be easy to care for. Shrubs, perennials and wildflowers will also suppress weeds and creates safe havens for frogs, birds and other small creatures.

Although it takes some time to get the lower growing ground covers established, they’ll eventually form a mat that helps keep weeds at bay. We suggest using No-mow grass, a lawn alternative mixture that includes low growing eye pleasing grasses and low growing wildflowers and clovers. If the area is shady, then you can try Vinca, Pachysandra in those shady corners. For spring color, plant flower bulbs, bleeding hearts or wildflowers between the ground covers. In sunny, dry areas, daylilies are one of the fastest-spreading perennial ground covers you can grow. You can also mulch your flower beds outside these areas in your groupings of flowers. Mulch retains soil moisture and improves the quality of your soil and will also save on watering.

A few tips on how to maintain whatever lawn you choose to leave:

Mow high: Mowing at a setting of 2 1/2″ to 3″encourages deeper, healthier roots. Tall grass is most likely to shade out weeds.

Leave the grass clippings where they fall which adds free nutrients to the soil. However, if you are having a rainy season then wet clippings will smothering the lawn, so rake them up and compost them.

Re-seed bare patches – make sure you are buying the right grass seed for your regions. Before buying seed, find out what thrives in your region. Just picking up any old bag of grass seed will not necessarily be conducive to your area.

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Dahlias are One of the Easiest Summer Plants to Grow!

Dahlias are one of summers easiest plants to grow. They give you late summer color when most other garden plants have passed or on their way to being done for the season. The big, beautiful blooms Dahlias produce are fabulous flowers to cut and bring in for beautiful summer bouquets. They are also great for patio and deck containers livening up any outdoor space with their gorgeous colors. There is a dahlia in every color and size. You’ll be sure to find one that suits your taste!

Growing Dahlias is easy with just a few simple instructions to follow. We sell a great variety of Dahlias in a multitude of colors, sizes and shapes for every purpose from garden bloom to cutting to patio containers.

How do you grow them? Dahlias are most often grown from tubers (like bulbs) planted in the spring. When purchasing from us, you will find detailed information about each Dahlia variety on our product pages. Choose your color, height, bloom size and variety (i.e. Cactus, dinnerplate, semi-dinnerplate, decorative, ball-flowering, anemone flowering etc.) Basically, just choose what appeals to you.

Our Dahlias come in bags of tubers. Choose a location for planting. Dahlias need full sun, so choose a place that gets 8 hours of direct or filtered sun a day.Dig a hole 4 to 5 inches deep. If you are planting multiple dahlia tubers, space them 12 to 18 inches apart. Place the dahlia tuber in the hole. Tubers should be planted with the eyes pointing upward, but even if planted upside down the plant should grow. Replace the soil and pack it down firmly. Water it well after planting so its roots begin to form. Tubers planted in wet soil do not need to be watered. In the week after planting, it should be watered every one or two days from there forward. Once the plant begins to grow, if you have purchased a taller variety with heavy blooms, staking will aid in keeping the plants upright. We find we don’t normally have to stake any of them but sometimes you might need to. That is pretty much it, so happy planting! In mid- late summer depending on your area you will be enjoying your beautiful, striking Dahlia blooms!

Any questions on growing Dahlias or our Dahlia varieties just contact us at

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How to Grow Milkweed!

Planting Milkweed Seeds

We recommend planting milkweed seed in the spring or fall in most parts of the U.S. In the fall, the cold will start the stratification process of the seeds ie. exposing them to the cold temperatures that they would experience in the wild and that trigger spring germination. You can also plant in spring. If storing your seeds until then, we suggest storing them in the fridge but not the freezer! When you are ready to plant, it is like planting any other wildflower seed. Clear the area, sow your seeds on the top of the soil and lightly compress for a good seed to soil contact. The biggest mistake folks make when sowing milkweed is planting them too deep. The rule of thumb is that it should be no deeper than it is thick. It doesn’t have the energy to push through all that soil and needs sunlight to germinate.
Most milkweed species prefer lighter, dryer soils to heavy, clay ones. If you have clay soil, you can loosen it with gypsum or by adding some good loose loam. Do not cover them with anything including mulch. If for some reason, you feel you must cover them, then do so with a light layer of straw.

Once Planted, Add Water to Milkweed Seeds

Keep your newly sown seeds moist until germination occurs and until they are 6-8 inches tall. Many milkweed species are drought-tolerant once they’re established. You can time your seeding to take advantage of your local rain patterns. Milkweed will not establish well if you don’t water – rain or by hosing the area yourself!

Collecting Milkweed Seeds

Regardless of species you should collect seeds in the fall, when the seed pods have opened but before they begin to crack. There is an exception to this as seeds of common milkweed, should be collected as soon as the pods turn brown. Remove them from the pod and separate them from the silky floss right away. You can store common milkweed and swamp milkweed for about 2-3 years, all others you should plant no later than the following spring and ideally in the fall right after you collect them!

Easy Tip on Milkweed Seeds

Keep an eye on where they are establishing if you already have some. What is the soil like and try to duplicate that! Remember to think of the natural cycle – what happens in nature is what you should duplicate and you’ll have success and the Monarchs and other butterflies will thank you!

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Saving the Monarchs!

Great numbers of Monarchs gather and migrate each fall and it is hard to imagine that this phenomenon may be coming to an end as the Monarch is facing the threat of extinction. Reality is setting in for many of us and the threat to the Monarch Butterfly is real and imminent. We all need to step up and try to have compassion and do our part to insure it doesn’t happen. Monarchs are seriously threatened by human activities in both their summer and over wintering sites. These activities are destroying the habitats at an astounding rate. Organizations, such as ourselves, are gathering and discussing a multitude of ways to help.


So, let’s take action! At the farm, we are doing are part and for those of you who wish to help we have created this page of wildflowers specifically for the Monarch Butterfly. These mixes, discount combos and individual species allow Monarchs a food source, a place to rest and the all-important areas to pollinate and breed. These flowers will have Monarchs flocking to your gardens, fields, containers all summer long!

Suggested Mixes or Species for Monarchs:

Our Saving the Monarch Discounted Combo Deal
Our Ultimate Pollinator Combo Deal
Our Deluxe Pollinator Mix
Our Native Perennial Mix
Our Hummingbird/Butterfly Mix
Our Wildlife Habitat and Forage Mix
Common Milkweed
Butterfly Weed
Swamp Milkweed
Sweet Alyssum
Wild Cosmos
Blanket Flower
Indian Blanket
Sweet Mignonette
Pincushion Flower
New England Aster
Bee Balm or Bergamot
Purple Coneflower
Black-eyed Susan
Blazing Star
Joe Pye-weed

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Wildflowers & Their Significance

Flowers that represent love and memory that you can use to convey messages to your loved ones.  Flowers have their own unique language, which was popularized during the Victorian era — from 1837 to 1901. This language of flowers was used to share hidden messages through floral gifts. Learn which flowers to use:

Love: Use Baby’s Breath which signifies everlasting love, Daffodils are used to send messages of true and total romantic love, while daisies convey a sense of loyalty in love. Gloxinias mean love at first sight and a bouquet of withered flowers means love rejected (we don’t want to send too many of those in our lives).

Memory: There are quite a few flowers that signify memories such as Periwinkle and myrtle flowers which send a messages of sweet, pleasant memories or lilac which signifies just memories of any kind. Zinnias are planted in memory of an absent friend.

Memory and Love: There is only one flower in this category and it is the beautiful Forget-me-not. The flower means true love and memories when given to another. Forget-me-not packets are also a good source for many different types of occasions and eco-friendly.

So, at any time you can express your love and memories with wildflowers not just on Valentine’s Day. A new popular trend in wildflower gardening is to create a  ’garden of love’ or a ’garden of memories’. Here’s a larger list of ‘meanings’ we borrowed from the The Old Farmer’s Almanac ,America’s oldest continuously published periodical. Enjoy!

Aloe: Healing, protection, affection
Angelica: Inspiration
Arborvitae: Unchanging friendship
Bachelor’s button: Single blessedness
Basil: Good wishes
Bay: Glory
Black-eyed Susan: Justice
Carnation: Alas for my poor heart
Chamomile: Patience
Chives: Usefulness
Chrysanthemum: Cheerfulness
Clover, white: Think of me
Coriander: Hidden worth
Cumin: Fidelity
Crocus, spring: Youthful gladness
Daffodil: Regard
Daisy: Innocence, hope
Dill: Powerful against evil
Edelweiss: Courage, devotion
Fennel: Flattery
Fern: Sincerity
Forget-me-not: Forget-me-not
Geranium, oak-leaved: True friendship
Goldenrod: Encouragement
Heliotrope: Eternal love
Holly: Hope
Hollyhock: Ambition
Honeysuckle: Bonds of love
Horehound: Health
Hyacinth: Constancy of love, fertility
Hyssop: Sacrifice, cleanliness
Iris: A message
Ivy: Friendship, continuity
Jasmine, white: Sweet love
Lady’s-mantle: Comfort
Lavender: Devotion, virtue
Lemon balm: Sympathy
Lilac: Joy of youth
Lily-of-the-valley: Sweetness
Marjoram: Joy and happiness
Mint: Virtue
Morning glory: Affection
Myrtle: The emblem of marriage, true love
Nasturtium: Patriotism
Oak: Strength
Oregano: Substance
Pansy: Thoughts
Parsley: Festivity
Pine: Humility
Poppy, red: Consolation
Rose, red: Love, desire
Rosemary: Remembrance
Rue: Grace, clear vision
Sage: Wisdom, immortality
Salvia, blue: I think of you
Salvia, red: Forever mine
Savory: Spice, interest
Sorrel: Affection
Southernwood: Constancy, jest
Sweet pea: Pleasures
Sweet William: Gallantry
Sweet woodruff: Humility
Tansy: Hostile thoughts
Tarragon: Lasting interest
Thyme: Courage, strength
Tulip, red: Declaration of love
Valerian: Readiness
Violet: Loyalty, devotion, faithfulness
Willow: Sadness
Yarrow: Everlasting love
Zinnia: Thoughts of absent friends



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When we state our products are ‘chemical free’ we mean it and this includes Neonicotinoids. What is that, you ask?
Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that will kill the very pollinators you’re trying to attract to your wildlife garden!his systemic pesticide is absorbed into all parts of the plant: leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar which means that any catepillar feeding on that plant, any butterfly sipping nectar, or any native bee collecting pollen are often killed simply by visiting plants treated with neonicontinoids.
Neonicotinoids affect the central nervous system of insects resulting in paralysis and death, which is surely not the goal if you are trying to attract them, assist them by planting wildflower seeds or perennial plants! Rest assured, we value the creation around us and all of the pollinators and wildlife that your gardens may bring. Our flower seeds and plant products are free of all detrimental pesticides so you can be confident you are planting GMO-FREE, Open-Pollinated and Chemical free seeds and plants when you buy from us! For more information see below:
All Wildflower Seed Products – No Pesticides or Chemicals Used in Any of the Production Fields
Plant Plugs and Bare Roots – No Pesticides Used in Production Fields nor are any of our Plant Products Treated with Chemicals After Harvest
Flower Bulbs – No Pesticides Used On Bulbs
Grasses – Our Supplier of Grasses Uses an Integrated Pest Management Approach and is well aware of the damage Pesticides/Neonicotinoids can do. There is a very limited use on some grass species production fields of which is presently being phased out. We don’t sell those particular species of grasses here at the farm.
Veggies & Herbs – No Pesticides or Chemicals Used in Any of the Production Fields
NOTE: Current research from the Scientific Beekeeping points to several possible contributing factors for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) including: pesticides (particulary those of the neonicotinoid class), infections with mites, malnutrition, various pathogens, genetic factors, immunodeficiency, loss of habitat, stress of cross country shipment of beehives, winter loss due to cold, changing beekeeping practices, and /or a combination of factors. We encourage you to read articles at for a balanced review of these issues. It may be that chemicals are responsible and it may turn out they are not. In any case, we believe natural is better and we want to keep our bees and other pollinators healthy so here at the Vermont Wildflower Farm we will keep doing everything possible to insure our products are chemical free.
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2013 Photo Contest Winners!

Photo Contest Winners:

Congratulations to Our 2013 Photo Contest Winners! We had well over 600 entries and most of the photographs entered were outstanding! Winners were chosen by a panel of judges and narrowed down to 50 finalists. From those a Grand Prize, First Place and 3 Honorable Mention photos were chosen. Believe us, it was difficult! Thank you to everyone that entered! We can’t wait to do it again! Over the coming weeks we will share some of the 50 Finalist and other great photos but for now, please enjoy the winning photographs! **These have been scaled down to fit the web page and will not translate as our judging panel viewed them in full size. If you would like to see the larger photo, please visit our Facebook page!

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Extending the Season with Colorful Fall Perennials

Here in Vermont, the leaves on the trees will offer a beautiful show of color for the fall and birds are gathering, making plans to fly south for the winter. You might think this signals the end of the growing season, but, fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in the garden. Though often over looked, there are many perennials that exhibit a full color show in the fall, whether it is through their flowers or foliage. Of course, there are classic perennials such as sedum, asters, and mums which are typically offered this time of year. Ornamental grasses have also gained popularity because they offer something a bit different than standard perennials: strong vertical appeal, late season bloom, winter interest, and are generally just something that not all of the neighbors have in their garden. But have you ever taken the time to notice the fall foliage color of perennials? If you think you have to plant a maple tree in your garden to see red in the fall, think again! There are some perennials whose colors rival even the brightest maple.

Here are some perennials in bloom or re-blooming during the Fall Season: Gaura (Wand Flower), Achillea(Yarrow), Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Hardy Geranium Phlox p. ‘Orange Perfection’ (Tall Garden Phlox), Ornamental Grasses, Tanacetum (Tansy), Tall Bearded Iris, Salvia (Perennial Salvia), Delphinium, Vinca minor (Myrtle, Periwinkle) Polygonum aubertii (Silver Lace Vine), Nepeta f. ‘Six Hills Giant’ (Catmint) Armeria m. (Common Thrift, Sea Pink), Campanula (Bluebells), Clematis (some reblooming, others with attractive seed heads)

Perennial That Mimick Fall Foliage Colors:
Upright sedums- yellow (Stonecrop), Sedum r. (Blue Spruce Stonecrop), Geranium- range in color from scarlet to purple to orange to yellow (Hardy Geranium, Cranesbill), Schizachyrium scoparium–copper (Little Bluestem), Ornamental Grasses- range in color from purple to red to orange to gold, Amsonia hubrichtii- rich, warm gold (Arkansas Blue Star), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides–deep crimson to purple (Plumbago, Leadwort), Euphorbia- red (Spurge), Geum (Avens), Heuchera s. (Coral Bells), Hibiscus – bright red stems, leafless by now (Hardy Hibiscus), Bergenia- red (Heartleaf Bergenia, Pig Squeak), Hostas- range in color from gold to orange to tan, Heucherella- range in color from red to orange to yellow to purple (Foamy Bells) and Tiarella- range in color from purple to red to yellow (Foamflower)

Also, try our Fall Blooming Wildflower Seed Discount Combo!

So the next time you are buying perennials, make sure you check what they might look like in fall. With some careful planning, you can find great perennials like those mentioned above that will create interest during the late growing months.

Visit Us or E-mail Us to Add Fall Color and Bloom to Your Garden! or E-mail Us:

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Wildflower – Sweet William – Great in Flower Borders

This article in our blog is by Guest Writer Theresa Martz of

Article and Photographs Copyrighted by and used with permission.

Sweet William (Dianthus Barbatus) is a wildflower that  originated in the mountain areas of Europe.

I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing it naturalized in the landscape. But according to most  accounts it has spread and grows wild throughout most of the United States.

These easy, beautiful, hardy, and multicolored plants have taken a front and center position in my borders for many years. They add color like nothing else can and go with just about everything else you’ll ever have. And the patterns in the frilly petals help make these flowers exceptional.  The colors that vary from white, pinks to rose, and burgundy to red are guaranteed to get lots of oohs and ahhs from every visitor to your garden.

Red, pink and pure white – Sweet William.

Sweet Williams, like most dianthus, have a spicy clove-like scent. (Think of a carnation.)

I buy Sweet William seed by the pound and scatter/sow it in the spring and again in late summer and fall all around my borders that edge our acre of ground. Although Sweet William is suppose to be a biennial and bloom the second year after planted, I’ve had them bloom the first year.  But even if you have to wait — believe me they’re worth it.

Multicolored Sweet William bloom.

To get them started and make sure you have continuous bloom, sow seed every year.  That way you’ll always have bloom and you’ll always have some new plants getting ready to bloom the following year.

Red and pink Sweet William blooms.

Bloom time is long.  Two months of bloom is the norm in my borders and sometimes three months.


After the flowers fade and the seed is set, I collect it and scatter it  throughout my borders where it’s needed. The seed of some cultivars is said not to bear true to the parent.  To tell you the truth, I never paid much attention — I just know it’s still beautiful.

Shades of pink and white Sweet William.

Most of my borders are mulched, but on the edges (which is where I like to sow Sweet William) the straw is thin and at times non-existent. Fortunately, Sweet William is drought tolerant to a degree.  Where I am in Virginia, periods of drought are normal. In spite of that, the only time I ever lost this wonderful plant was several years ago during the longest drought I ever remember.

White and red Sweet William with Oenothera blooms.

Sweet Williams are excellent cut flowers, but I like them best complimenting the blooms of my other perennials and annuals in the borders.

Once you have these wildflowers in your garden, you’ll never want to be without them.  The beauty they add to your existing plants is amazing.  So if you don’t have any — plan to order Sweet William.  And order enough that you can sow now and then sow again in late summer and fall for the best possible results.

Blooms on these Sweet Williams are blood red and look fabulous with the other blue and yellow blooms.

A Source: Vermont Wildflower Farm

Red Sweet William Bloom


Organic Gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and it’s a lot healthier.

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Beautiful Rain Gardens – Conserve Water, Save the Environment

If you’ve ever been to wetland areas then you are familiar with the plants that grow there and the wildlife that frequents them, such as butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, hummingbirds, turtles and a whole host of song and marsh birds. Your garden may be too small to lure in Great Blue Herons, but butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies, frogs and turtles are a delight to people of all ages. Rain gardens are comprised of a variety of vegetation found growing wild in the area, rather than exotic species, like roses, marigolds, pansies and others. Rain gardens are usually wildflowers, but some may choose to add grasses, sedges, ferns, bushes or trees. The plants in a rain garden are chosen for their ability to uptake and store water and to withstand drought. They are also extremely good at cleaning water of the nutrients and poisons that fill our lawns and gardens. A rain garden captures the run-off from major storms and stops it from flooding our already strained storm drains and sewage systems. So, why not add a rain garden to your area today, the beauty it will bring and the purpose it obtains will amaze you!

So much of our diverse marine and fresh water species as well as those on land depend on clean waters to thrive. Our native soils from mountains, forest and other areas store, filter and release cool, clean water to streams, wetlands and more. As cities grow, they encroach upon and change much of our natural settings; wild areas are replaced by urban growth, building and hard surfaces. During periods of rain or snow, more water flows from these man-made surfaces than our natural areas and with that, it carries oil, fertilizers, pesticides, unwanted sediments and other types of pollutants downstream. As a matter of fact, much of the pollution we find today in wetlands, streams and rivers comes from storm water run-off from developed areas. This increased volume of water containing contaminants is extremely detrimental to water resources and is harming all types of wildlife, including aquatic.

So while there are many practices and solutions on the table one great solution is a certain type of landscaping called a Rain Garden. A rain garden acts like a native forest area collecting, absorbing and filtering storm-water runoff from your roof top, driveway, patio and other areas that don’t let the water soak in. Rain Gardens are a shallow depression that can be shaped and sized to fit your landscape. It is constructed with soil mixes that allow water to soak up rapidly and support healthy plant life. There are a variety of plants you can use. It is an extremely versatile and effective tool in your yard.

Rain Gardens are also low maintenance. For the first two to three years they need lots of water during the drier part of your season so that they establish healthy root systems. After that providing you selected the appropriate natives or plants they need little to no watering unless you are having a severe drought. A great watering tip is to water deeply but infrequently meaning the top 1/2ft to 1ft is moist. If you need to know if you are applying enough water, just dig alongside one of the plants 12-18 inches an hour to 2 hours after watering to see if the soil is moist. Mulching your rain garden should be done after germination of seed. If using plants, you can mulch away. Just a 2-3 inch layer of mulch is great. If using our Rain Garden Mix, be sure to wait for them to germinate and establish themselves. Most are perennials so you won’t need to mulch the first year, but the second when they are 6-8 inches high. Mulch will keep the garden moist and sponge-like, ready to absorb the rain. You can also mulch along the sides and bottom of the rain garden. It also aids in making weeding your rain garden easier. Don’t worry if you don’t get to the weeds right away, your rain garden will still function, weeds or not. Weeds are just unsightly and the sooner you get them out the better so that you keep your nice rain garden intact. You also don’t want any weeds to go to seed, so get them out insuring you get all the roots of them too!

Your rain garden should be dense with plants. Exposed soil and other erosion sediment flowing into the rain garden can clog the soil mix and slow the drainage. If too much water is flowing into your rain garden you will know by the erosion that occurs. Then you might need to reduce the slope angles that are carrying the runoff.

Remember, rain gardens can be an integral part of your storm-water management and environmental approach. They don’t require a lot of planning or much space and can be done in odd shapes. They also look nice! Anyone can build one!

Here’s how:

Building a rain garden is a very simple process; you might just get a little dirty and do some digging. First, choose your location. You’ll need a space slightly inclined from your water run off (i.e. roof, spout, and drainage points of origin). Make sure it is at least ten feet from your home. Estimating the size of your rain garden is usually done by the type of soil. If you have standard, black dirt, then estimate 1/3 of the sq. ft. of your roof, but if you have sandy soil your garden may be smaller and if you have clay soil it’ll need to be a bit larger, however, if you’ve chosen a low spot in your yard where water collects, size won’t matter, just fill the depression. Dig down 6-8 inches in the center of your garden and slope the sides to run water down into the center. Make sure to create a berm on the downhill side to capture the runoff before it gushes into the drains. Simply fill the floor of the garden with the rain garden mix and any other grasses, shrubs etc. that you have chosen. This is one garden that mulching will help stop weeds, hold moisture and spruce up your rain garden. You may also consider digging a shallow channel from your downspout to your rain garden and lining it with river rock to help guide rain where you want it to go. Voila, you’re done!

Try Our New Rain Garden Wildflower Seed Mix and Get Started Today!

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