Groff`s Plant Farm



Groff`s Plant Farm
Groff’s Plant Farm
Monday-Thursday 9-5 Friday 9-7
Saturday 9-5
New Shrubs are Ready!
This spring we (and by that I mean mostly dad) planted
over 8,000 shrubs for this fall and next year. Thanks to cooler
summer temperatures and ample rainfall in June and July, many
are available for sale now.
Two new shrubs we are especially excited about are Cornus obliqua ‘Powell Gardens’ (marketed as Red Rover ™ and
Spirea betulafolia ‘Gold Tor’ (marketed by Proven Winners as
Glow Girl™).
Red Rover™ is a selection of our native silky dogwood
with a nice compact habit, exceptional orange-red fall color and
abundant fruit to feed the songbirds. It thrives in moist soil, and
makes an excellent addition to bioswales and rain gardens. It is
attractive enough to fit in a small residential landscape. We have
noticed no foliar diseases. Stems turn red in the fall for great winter interest.
Glow Girl™ spirea is a golden foliage selection of the
popular birch-leaf spirea ‘Tor’. Broad disease resistant foliage
topped with clean white flowers and a compact mounded habit
Fall 2015
Fall color starting on a selection of our native button bush,
Cephalanthus ‘Sugar Shack’.
makes this a great choice for foundation plantings or borders.
For those of you troubled by deer, spireas are generally left
alone. They also bloom on new growth, so even if they are
browsed a bit over the winter, flowering is not affected.
Spireas tolerate many soil conditions and do equally well in
our rocky soil or clay.
We also are dabbling this year in some old fashioned
lilacs. We were a bit put-off by the recent introductions (who
wants a reblooming lilac if it doesn’t SMELL?!) and went back
to some popular 100 years ago. ‘Belle de Nancy’ is a French
lilac with double mauve blossoms and smells heavenly. They
reach 7-8 ft at maturity and aren’t particularly attractive when
not in flower, so tuck it in the back of the shrub border, but
where the flowers will perfume the air in May. ‘Primrose’ a
pale yellow selection introduced 65 years ago and continues to
be the best light yellow lilac on the market. If you prefer your
Purple berries of the beauty berry, Callicarpa.
lilacs a deeper purple, ‘Monge’ a French hybrid introduced in
1913 has large deep reddish purple fragrant flowers.
Fall is a great time for berries. Beauty berry (pictured at left), aronias, winterberry hollies, viburnums, and many
evergreens are also now in stock.
Fall Mums are here
$3.99 each or 3/$10
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale
$2.99 or 5/$12
4 kale $1.29 or $20/flat
New crop of 4” perennials
$2.79 or $45/flat
We are open through the end of October for fall
Gift certificates are
available for gardeners on your Christmas list.
Fall Garden Checklist
Beautiful fall-blooming anemones... eating the walkway
My husband is a great one for checklists. Whenever we go on a
trip- whether to Iowa to visit his family or to Costco, the first thing we do
is make a checklist. All the repair projects on the farm get written down
and prioritized the same way. I am not naturally such a linear thinker and
his list-making habits have thankfully worn off on me after 17 years of
marriage. This year we have also made a checklist for the gardens.
1. Resow grass that is looking a little bare. Look for a good seed mix for
your sun/shade conditions. Use the fall rains to advantage to germinate
and get it established before winter.
2. Get a handle on weeds. Perennial weeds are sending nutrients to their
roots for winter dormancy and if you use herbicides, this is an especially
effective time to treat. If you don’t, keep pulling. Anything you can do to
disrupt the food storage for winter will weaken weeds. Pull annual weeds
before they go to seed and deposit to the seed bank in the soil. This will
pay dividends in the spring. (See what I did there? Bank, dividends? I
crack myself up).
3. Divide summer or spring blooming perennials like iris, daylilies, monarda when they have finished blooming. Fall bloomers
are best divided in the spring. The daylily bed below our kitchen door is first on the list.
4. Resist temptation and don’t overprune shrubs. Evergreens are best pruned in the spring after their first flush of growth. Fall
pruning sends a hormonal signal to send out side branches. New top growth is not what you want going into winter. Prune
spring bloomers like lilacs, ninebark or forsythia right after they are done blooming in early summer. They set buds for next
spring in the late summer/fall. Late pruning this time of year cuts off next spring’s flowers.
5. REALLY resist temptation and don’t prune butterfly bushes, crape myrtle or other summer bloomers. The last two winters
were definitely colder than many in recent memory and gardeners in PA, MD and DE lost butterfly bushes and crape myrtles that had been in the landscape for years. Pruning them in the fall can allow water to get into the crown and crack the
trunks over the winter. Rather, prune them in late winter or just as new growth is starting to flush in March/April. For crape
myrtles, wait until they’ve leafed out next year to trim back.
6. That being said- prune crossing branches or sickly limbs to prevent breakage in the inevitable snow and ice of winter.
7. Plant bulbs. September and October are prime bulb planting months. Daffodils, crocus and scilla naturalize readily. Some
tulips do as well. We always plant a large bed of tulips at the top of the driveway for spring color, because we never get
there with annuals until the spring rush is past. Have fun with some unusual bulbs like fritillaria or giant alliums.
8. Clean up the vegetable bed. Pull out tomatoes, peppers and summer veggies as they finish. A fall crop of kale, lettuce or root
veggies like radishes and turnips can easily take their spot.
9. Fall clean-up. Always a debate between those who like to do it in the spring vs fall. Leaving flower heads stand in the fall
helps feed the birds, gives winter protection and also spreads a little seed around for next summer. If you don’t want to
spend all of June pulling out baby cone flowers, do your clean up in the fall.
10. Mulch or compost leaves. Fallen leaves are a great source of nutrients. Rather than sending them to the dump- feed them
back to the ground. Chop them up with the mower, and use them to mulch beds, or start a leaf- compost pile for spring soil
That’s enough to get started!
Where Did the Summer Go?
Summer is drawing to a close. My last two months were filled with pulling weeds, spending
time with my family, teaching a class at Longwood, and planning for next year.
Two weeks of Driving The Children To Day Camp gave me lots of time to catch up on
popular music and what’s happening in the news. Liam (age 9) enjoyed a fantastic program at the
Delaware Nature Center doing a Jr. Ornithologist camp. Daily field trips to Bombay Hook, Bucktoe
and other great birding locals afforded him the opportunity to see birds he’d never seen before like a
Glossy Ibis and a Tricolor Heron. He takes after his grandfather in that respect. Ali enjoyed a camp
run by a local church highlights of which were swimming in a lake (Ew! I touched a fish!), taking a
field trip to Roots Market and running around with her cousins.
School starts soon, and I’m both happy to see them go back, but sad to see the summer come
to an end. A customer remarked the other day that time goes so much faster as you age. I remember
long hazy summers of my youth playing in the creek, picking strawberries and peaches, and tormenting my brother. This summer seemed to fly by. I guess she was right.
We are unable to reuse pots
any longer. Please recycle
them at home. Thanks!
Perennials For Fall Interest
Let’s be honest. When most people think of blooming perennials, the late
May garden comes to mind. April showers generally bring May flowers and most
gardens are bursting with peonies, poppies, iris, late bulbs, salvias, dianthus and
the like. Summer gardens feature the yellows of the helianthus/heliopsis cousins,
Black eyed Susans with some purple cone flowers, astilbes or phlox thrown in for
good measure. The fall garden is often looking a bit peaked and could use some
sprucing up. The following are our top 5 perennial picks for fall color.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. Easily my favorite Latin name to say out
loud. Plumbago or leadwort is a low growing groundcover for sun or partial
shade with beautiful bright blue flowers. The foliage also turns a gorgeous hot
pinky-purple in the fall. It is definitely a knock-out. Pumbago is very late to
wake up in the spring however, so don’t lose hope if you don’t see it right away.
Anemone. The fall-blooming anemones or wind-flowers are fantastic for
a partial shade garden. I have a huge patch of single pink flowering ones in my
front yard under a dogwood tree. I love the combination of the tree’s fall color
and the flowers. Thin them every year or so as they spread healthily and can
overrun a small area. A dwarf series (the Pretty Lady) hybrids were released in
the last few years that proved not as hearty or hardy. ‘Queen Charlotte’ or
’Pocohantus’ are two dependable older varieties.
Asters- It is hard to overlook asters as a staple of the fall perennial border. The native England and New York asters provide a long bloom seasons in
shades of purple, pink and blue. The lovely daisy flowers provide lots of food for
traveling butterflies and bees getting ready for winter. But my favorite continues
to be a selection of the Tartarian aster, ‘Jindai’. This wide foliaged aster with
strong bulky stems is the latest blooming of them all. Often still flowering at
Thanksgiving it also has a much coarser texture and bulk to contrast with finer
foliage neighbors.
Ajania pacifica- or silver and gold Chrysanthemum is the one of the latest
blooming perennials I can think of. It has very attractive silver foliage all season.
In late October through November it is topped with bright gold button-shaped
flowers. A mild pinch in June helps keep it compact through the summer and
Tricyrtis- toad lily. The exquisite, speckled flowers resemble small orchids but are much hardier. They grow well in partial sun/shade in moist soil
forming spreading clumps. Do site them near walkways or where you can see the
flowers up close as they are delicate and not seen well from a distance. They also
make good cut flowers lasting at least a week in a vase.
Ok. I know I said top 5 but I have to throw in one more. Amsonia hubrichtii- while not a fall bloomer, is magnificent in the autumn. The fine threadleaf foliage turns a brilliant flaming gold and is such a great contribution to the
autumnal landscape. The pale blue flowers in the spring are just a bonus.
Now that the
weather is cooling a
bit, if you are looking
to add a little color to
your perennial beds
this fall you can’t go
wrong with any of
these top picks.
Tricyrtis ‘Hatatogisa’
sprays of speckled purple flowers over medium green leaves.
Take 222 south through
Quarryville. Turn left on Blackburn
Rd 1/4 mile past Solanco High
School. Continue 3 miles to the
stop sign. Turn left. Continue 300
yds across the bridge. Turn right
onto Street Rd. Look for the sign
and the lane on the right in less
than 1/2 mile.
RT 1:
Exit north onto 472 (away
from Oxford). Continue EXACTLY 5
miles, crossing the reservoir. Turn
left onto Street Rd. across from the
Union Presbyterian Church. Continue 1.7 miles to the stop sign.
Continue straight and watch for the
sign and lane on left 1/2 mile
Better yet: Use the Google Map
directions link on our website:
Plumbago just starting to bloom, planted with fall
blooming low sedums.
Find us at:
Groff’s Plant Farm
6128 Street Rd, Kirkwood, PA 17536
717-529-3001 or
E-mail: [email protected]
Harvest Time!
It is harvest season in the Southern End. For those of you not
from a farming background, here is a primer on what is going around you
for the next month. A big “thank you” to many of my neighbors for filling in the holes in my knowledge. Even though I grew up around here,
and watched harvest season most of my life, I never really knew what was
going on.
Silage- If you see entire corn stalks being harvested now, they are
primarily for silage. The corn kernels themselves are not yet fully mature
and the stalks are between 60-70% moisture content. The stalks are harvested with a “chopper” and either baled in those long plastic tubes you
often see in fields near barns or packed tightly into a silo. The silage ferments and then is fed at a later date to cows and sometimes pigs over the
winter. Never horses.
Silage has a narrow window of harvest. When it reaches that
Amish tobacco wagon.
moisture level it must get chopped and loaded very
Photo credit
often work well past dark. One farmer I spoke with
Groff’s and other locally owned businesses are featured.
works several crews 24 hrs a day to get it loaded in a timely fashion. If
you see farm equipment on the road, please give your tired neighbors a break and don’t pass them recklessly or get impatient.
Silage is fodder with a high yield of energy per acre ratio and good digestibility for the animals. It is rarely
shipped any distance, and not often sold on the open market. Farmers have to take special care to prevent molding of the crop
and safety measures to prevent falling, respiratory ailments and poisoning from “silage gas”.
Shelled or Ear corn- This corn is harvested much later, when the kernels are fully mature and stalks are dried.
Combines separate the seeds from the rest of the plant or other harvesters remove intact cobs. Shelled corn can be further
processed and fed to animals, burned in stoves, or used for biofuels. It has a long storage time and is sold on the commodity
market .
Tobacco Pennsylvania produces around 20 million pounds of tobacco annually. While just a drop in the
bucket compared to North Carolina (at about 413 million pounds) or Kentucky (at 215 million pounds) tobacco is a cash crop
for many farmers in this area.
Farmers grow a yellow variety called white burly, used primarily for cigarettes due to the higher nicotine content and two main green leaf varieties. The green leaf varieties are used for cigar wrappers and chewing tobacco as well as
cigarette filler.
The white flower spikes are removed midsummer to keep the plant’s energy in producing large leaves. When
ready to harvest the entire tobacco plant is cut. The yellow leaf tobacco is inverted in the field for several days to wilt. Then it
is hung in a special barn with very good ventilation to dry. Often you see the side boards lifted for air circulation. Sometimes
additional heat is added to speed drying. After the tobacco is dried, the leaves are stripped and bundled according to size and
taken for sale.
Soybeans or “beans” are also harvested green for silage or when fully dried. They can be pressed for oil, or
used as animal feed or other byproducts in human food manufacturing.
If you see farm equipment on the road, please give your tired neighbors a break. Try not to get impatient and
or pass them recklessly. Harvest season only lasts a short time.
Comments or Questions? E-mail us at [email protected] or call 717-529-3001

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