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flower bulbs, which will allow him to mix and match his bulb orders so he can get a few each of many varieties instead of a lot of a single variety. John calls himself a plant collec-


tor and it’s easy to see why. Not only does he have this amazing assortment of plants, but he has a fascination – a love affair it appears – with the plants he grows. This love affair began very early. “I started watching and helping my Mom in the garden when I was about four or five,” he says. “And,” he confess- es, “I remember digging up a trillium from the woods and bringing it home to my mother who gave me heck.” He was too young to know that digging up trillium is a no-no. John started working with a tropical


Helenium ‘Short ‘n Sassy’.


grower at a very young age and later went to work for Sheridan Nurseries in the perennials division for about four years. Eight years ago he struck out on his own with the idea of selling to land- scapers, something he still does. But his garden is also open to the


public on weekends all summer long and into the pre-Christmas months when he sells green fillers for contain- ers as well as wreaths and garlands. He will also make customized container arrangements for people who call in orders. In spite of the fact that he often has


the only variety of a rare plant for miles around he charges at the same rate he would apply to any other plant, a straight mark-up that still sees his final price running 25 to 30 per cent lower than the traditional vendors. In the summer, the customers who


John has 35 varieties of hellebores.


come to share his passion can be found knee deep in flowers around the prop- erty, walking down the grassy pathways that separate daylilies from rudbeckia, penstemon from gaillardia, and so on. Along the margins of the grassy plant sale rows are fleece flowers and thalic- trum, bright against the background of the dark pine forest, where they can escape the sun to soak up the peace of the shade and the special energy from the trees. John also loves peonies, especially


Penstemon ‘Pink’. 18 • Beautiful Gardens 2014 John loves Itoh peonies. This is ‘Morning Lilac’.


Itohs, the cross between the herbaceous peony and the tree variety which has resulted in such brilliant hues of gold and yellow and peach and burgundy. “Itohs hold the record for the longest blooming peonies,” he boasts. “Some, like Bartzella, will stay in bloom up to five weeks.” He tells the story of how his Bartzella went through a hail storm, coming out the other end with a flower


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