The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 2, 2002


Shopping for Plants in Carlisle

Carlisle may be a small town, but despite its size it has a variety of garden nurseries to visit. From sunflowers to daylilies, annuals to perennials, there are excellent sources of plants in town. Locally grown plants are naturally hardy for our region, zone 5, and buying from neighborhood businesses allows you personal contact with knowledgeable growers who can advise you on your landscaping ideas. Purchasing a plant in town means you can shop and plant the same day, maybe in the same hour. In fact, you can dig the hole, buy your plant, dash home, and have it growing in your garden before your mother-in-law arrives for lunch. And you get all the credit for your lovely garden.

Blanchette Gardens - shade plants a specialty
Leo Blanchette (left) with customers at Blanchette Gardens which he runs with his wife Pam. They carry an incredible variety of plants.

Just a little less than a mile down Rutland Street, at number 267, is Blanchette Gardens. After you park and walk down the sandy driveway to the garden entrance, you will most likely stop suddenly as the sight of over 100,000 potted plants meets your eye. Don't be alarmed by the incredible variety offered by Leo and Pam Blanchette. Their gardens are extremely organized and finding your choice is easy. You will be given a catalog when you arrive, with detailed information, including a description of each plant, its growing habits, color, time of bloom, height, and growth zone. After each plant is a code, used to locate the variety in the garden. You will want to wander up and down the aisles, enjoying the shade created by the screen suspended above the plants. The selection of hostas alone is amazing, giant dark green leaves, smaller variegated bright green and yellow leaves, many with delicate flowers. The perennials they offer include daylilies, geraniums, ferns, over 300 types of hostas and the world's largest collection of astilbes, Leo's personal favorite. The plants are not grown or forced in greenhouses, but instead are grown outside in containers. Many are unusual or rare.

All plants are chosen for their disease- and insect-resistance. Leo or Pam will be glad to discuss your gardening needs with you and assist in finding the right plant. Blanchette Gardens offers the same discount to retail and wholesale customers. They are open each day except Wednesdays until September 1, open Saturday and Sunday until October. Their website is Phone number is 1-978-369-2962.

Trade Secrets Gardens - nursery for the do-it-yourselfer

Trade Secrets Gardens owner Alison Saylor mans her booth at Old Home Day with a variety of perennials for sale.

Trade Secrets Gardens, at 318 Maple Street, saw a slowdown in business after Maple Street was closed to through traffic. "Having the bridge out has been difficult," confessed owner Allison Saylor. Still, the gardens are beautiful, the setting extremely peaceful, and Saylor is available for consulting all summer. "We are a nursery for do-it-yourselfers, more the English garden style," she explained as we walked around display gardens filled with blooming shrubs and flowers, edged with pots of vibrant annuals and perennials. Three horses stood quietly in a coral next to the gardens, watching the children run to the tree house beside a patio framed with delicately blooming small bushes.

Trade Secrets Gardens was open daily in May and June, but during July and August is open by appointment only. A growing part of Saylor's business is consulting on site, usually done in the mornings and evenings. She stresses developing pathways in gardens to lead the visitor to explore, and her specialty is the English cottage style garden, with a variety of annuals, shrubs and perennials. She can be reached at 1-978- 369-1809, or by email

Joe Pye Weed's Garden Harmonious setting on Acton St.
Purple Iris in bloom at Joe Pye Weed's Garden on Acton Street.

If you shop the flower market in Boston, you will likely find some cuttings from Joe Pye Weed's Garden, Jan Sacks and Marty Schafer's garden on Acton Street. Twice a week Jan and Marty carry their cut flowers and foliage, annuals, and perennials to the Boston market, heading back to Carlisle in the late evening. On a sloping hillside, which was a former field, they have created a garden of which most people would be envious. Winding down from their house, passing groupings of columbines, coral bells, primroses, coreopsis, and even variegated corn stalks, passing a cascading small stream, you come to the heart and soul of their business: the irises, particularly the Siberian irises. They also work with native New England irises, such as I. cristata, a shade-tolerant iris. Schafer hybridizes irises, creating such new variations as "Roaring Jelly" and "Careless Sally." "Some of the names are from folk dancing," he explained, which is where he met Jan in the seventies. Though they both loved gardening, it wasn't until they gardened together that they found their niche. "The two of us together make one gardener," Shafer joked. Around their house grows a riot of plants, while volunteer Johnny-jump-ups are tolerated on the walking paths. Nestled in a thick green vine by the side porch is a robin's nest, with a mother robin feeding two small babies. It is a beautiful, harmonious setting.

Joe Pye Weed's typical customers are iris collectors and aficionados, and all their business is done by mail order. Their other business is weddings. They will meet with the bride and groom, design the flower arrangements, cut them from their gardens and deliver them to the ceremony and/or reception. Shafer acknowledges he couldn't run a gardening business that required him to do the same thing each day. He said the hardest part of the business is thinning out and giving up plants to make room for the rest. These are gardeners who truly enjoy the beautiful plants they grow. They have a website with pictures of their irises at and they can be reached at 1-978-371-0173 to order a catalog. They also sell irises and primroses through Garden Vision in Hubbardston 1-978-928-4804.

Perennials at Rainbow Mums Large and easy plants

Perennials at Rainbow Mums on East Street is trying a new venture this fall — a new selection of easy to grow perennials.

Kathy and Mark Phillippo, of Rainbow Mums at 305 East Street, are trying a new venture this year. Every fall they have offered a huge assortment of colorful, fall-blooming hardy chrysanthemums. This year they opened on July 15 with a new selection of easy-to-grow perennials. Across from a spreading old maple tree (made shorter by Hurricane Bob, which topped it during the storm), Mark used his tractor to create a granite and wood fence surrounding pots of shrub roses, sedums, Joe Pye Weed, four different varieties of butterfly bushes including a yellow bloomer, thirty-five types of beautiful and dramatic grasses, and many other perennials. "Any one you pick will fit the bill of easy-to-grow, and will survive in a variety of conditions," explained Mark, taking a short break while his sons hauled pots of plants. The plants are also easy to find in a garden, because most of them are big, he continued. Though most of the perennials are sun-lovers, at least one fourth will do well with reduced light. As the garden cats Ray and Miles came by to complain about the sprinkler (Mark turned it off so they could romp), Mark and Kathy pointed out the perennial grasses: variegated, light and dark green, and silver-gray leaves looking like delicate fountains spraying out from their dark pots. "We are really staid and slow regarding different types of grasses," Mark said, and he hoped customers would incorporate more grasses in their landscaping. They all should be fall-planted, he said, and pointed to a corner display garden with a huge three-foot perennial grass plant shooting out like a firework on one side. "We started that last year and look at the size," Mark said happily. "In a nutshell, we pick plants we really like and have been successful with," he said, and rushed off, explaining that he had much to do before the opening.

Kathy's favorite part of the business is greeting their regular customers and meeting new people. They will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will continue through the fall. The hardy mums won't be ready for sale until August 15.All perennials will be one price, $11.90, to simplify shopping. They can be reached at 1-978-369-0293.

R. Seawright ­ a neighborly garden

Rosy Returns, a variety of daylily at Seawright's.

What plant blooms continuously for 3-8 weeks, is extremely hardly, has very few pest problems, comes back year after year, multiplies to give you new plants, and comes in a remarkable variety of shades and colors? The answer is Hemerocallis or daylilies, of course. Here in Carlisle we are lucky to have local, friendly experts at the R. Seawright gardens, 201 Bedford Rd., which sports four cultivated acres of daylilies. Love and Bob Seawright have been growing and selling daylilies for twenty years, and Bob hybridizes them. If you wander over at the beginning of August, you can stroll through the paths in their garden and enjoy peak season for these hardy plants. If you want to try your hand at creating your own variety, sit down with Bob at one of the patio tables by the edge of the gardens, sip a cool drink, and ask him the difference between tetraploids and diploids. But you don't need to know the number of chromosomes daylilies have to enjoy them in your own garden, and you don't have to dig them up to purchase them. Each year they hire local high school and college students, who will gladly dig up and bag your choices for you. "The work gives the young people a hobby for life," Love explained. It is fun working with them, she said, and their experience in the garden stays with them, sometimes prompting them to tell her about daylilies they have seen in such places as California.

The Seawrights settled in Carlisle and began their garden after befriending an older Carlisle resident. When their friend became elderly and needed to move to an apartment, they bought many of her hostas, planting them in a wooded glade on the side of their field. But they found many customers coveted their hostas, which grew lushly in the muted shade, and decided to introduce hostas 15 years ago. They grow display gardens of hostas and sell hostas in pots. Their customers come from all over New England, mostly retail, some landscapers. They have a catalog, which can be requested by calling 1-(978) 369-1900. Their website is And yes, they have Stella de Oro. So many customers have asked that they finally put signs hither and yon announcing they have this popular daylily variety. They are open every day until September 1.

If you are stuck for the perfect gift for someone special, send the Seawrights $35 or more and they will put together a collection of hybrid daylilies, labeled and ready for planting. Perhaps for your mother-in-law?


2002 The Carlisle Mosquito