when Ed met Bill…

September 1, 2011

bill and staff

A visit from Rocky Dale founder, Bill Pollard

It wasn’t exactly a surprise visit.  We heard Bill Pollard was coming to VT and we were hoping he’d want to visit Rocky Dale Gardens- his creation along with Holly Weir.

What was a surprise was how great it was to meet Bill and have the opportunity to hang out and walk the grounds.  I can only imagine what it was like for Bill after 10 years.

The closest way to describe the experience for me was to compare it to an adopted child meeting their birth parent for the first time. All the gaps in history were filled in and the mysteries solved.

Take It Down

take it down- billWe’ve been working on a lot of renovations lately and have taken a number of trees and shrubs out, but there were some lingering questions and choices to make. In a way it was perfect timing for Bill to visit. He generously walked the gardens with me while Oliver followed us with a chain saw.  In a way, perhaps I needed permission to take some things down, but the second opinion was definitely highly regarded!

Passing the Torch

stoneThough I’ve owned Rocky Dale Gardens since 2004, last week felt like the passing of the torch.  Bill bought this property with Holly because of the beautiful stone outcrop on the very west end of the property.  I did too and ironically we’re in the process of exposing that beautiful wall.  This is the stone we each bought that happened to come with a house.

The Central Garden

hazelsFor those of you who we haven’t seen recently, here is a glimpse of what we’ve been up to.  After years of observing and pondering, I decided to open up the gardens and create a central lawn.  The hazelnuts came out and the beds were pushed back.  We’ve been focused on this center the last two years and will move into the outer horseshoe ring that will take visitors through the conifer dell, the arbor and then along the ledges and the pond.  It’s a life’s work and you get to watch!

Friends with a garden in common

bill and ed Bill got over the his initial shock of the changes at Rocky Dale and we had a nice chance to get to know one another.  We share a passion for this place and when he left, I felt excited about what I’m doing, and Bill said he was really glad that they sold the place to me.  He knows it’s a labor of love- and hopefully it gets a lot of love for a long time.

ah spring…

May 17, 2011

The Nursery is looking good!  And the gardens, despite needing so much attention this time of year, are producing bloom after bloom- just gorgeous and fun!

Blooming in Bristol Village- the magnificent Magnolia ‘Daybreak’

Amy's hand and the blossom.

Magnolia 'Daybreak' and Amy

Magnolia 'Daybreak' and Amy

Magnolia 'Daybreak' and Amy

Merrill Magnolia and Narcissus

Merrill Magnolia

Early spring at Rocky Dale Gardens brings on hundreds of daffodil blooms and a gorgeous show from the Merrill Magnolias.  By all rights, they should be done by this time, but they are still lingering with the cold weather.  I can see we’re about to turn the corner and enter a new phase of spring where the yellow magnolias start to bloom along with serviceberries, redbuds and all sorts of small-leaved rhododendrons.  It’s amazing to me-every year, how fast it comes (and goes-sigh).  Our primroses and pulmonarias are putting on a nice show and the epimediums have just started to bloom.  Double bloodroot is blooming off the parking lot, trilliums are popping open, and tulips are standing back-up behind the narcissus.  I’ve only been able to note a few of the plants blooming right now.  In the next few days, I’ll catalog a number more.  Blink and you’ll miss it. It should be a great weekend to get out and enjoy natures bounty!


Cornus mas

Prunus sargentii

Rhododendron dauricum Madison Snow

Rhododendron 'Weston's Pink Diamond'

Pulmonaria rubra

Glaucidium palmatum

Mertensia virginica- Virginia Bluebells


Narcissus at Front Entry

Double Bloodroot

Primula vulgaris 'Sulphur Hose in Hose

Epimedium rubrum

Snowdrops under the contorted beech

It’s a late spring in the northeast, but we’re quickly catching up.  Two years ago hellebores and witchhazels were blooming in the 3rd week of March- and this year- they are two to three weeks behind that- still blooming now- and some just started!  The snow piles have depleted with some warm rains and it’s looking hopeful!

Here are some photos of what’s blooming now.

Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus niger (Christmas rose)

Hamamelis Jelena (we think)

Chionodoxa labitica (Glory of the Snow)

Hamamelis Arnolds Promise

Hamamelis x intermedia Hiltingbury (we think)

Iris reticulata

iris histrioides Katherine Hodgkin

Crocus chrysanthus Cream Beauty

Crocus sieberi Tricolor"

Crocus chrysanthus Blue Pearl

Petasites japonicus giganticus Variegatus

Erica carnea cultivar (Heath)

Pulmonaria- self-seeded. First to show color this spring.

What a week it was!  It’s amazing how things have sprung back including the nursery which is looking better than ever.  I hope I don’t see that again anytime soon- a pretty demoralizing event- but we’ve picked up the pieces and it’s looking beautiful again.  And the yellow Magnolias are in full bloom- just missing the snow event.  We look forward to seeing you here!

Yellow Magnolias are blooming!

The Snow is gone! How about those Merrill Magnolias- tough!

The Nursery is looking great!

Once February comes, I know that the dreariest part of winter is over.  The sun is higher, though long shadows persist.  While winter seems so long, I’m already concerned about getting my pruning done before spring.  And in the office- the new plant additions for the catalog, new signs, filing- all of that stuff needs to get done before the onslaught of spring’s paperwork and motherload of work outdoors.  Winter is long, but it’s short too!

Speaking of the catalog.  We will not be printing a catalog this year- and perhaps no longer print one at all.  Simply put, we can’t afford the almost 5 figure cost and we don’t consider it the most environmentally friendly option among the choices we have today.  The catalog will be available on-line to download, sort through and print any pages you’d like.  In light of this, we will be outfitting the nursery with updated plant information signs and various other on-site tools that will fill the void of the physical catalog.  All the information that was in the catalog will still be available, just in a different form.  We’ll be updating and expanding our information and plant selection guides- those will be available at the nursery in hard copy and also downloadable online.  We’re optimistic that these changes are in keeping with a more efficient and sustainable way of doing business.

This blog will be taking a back seat as well while we engage you through our email newsletter and our online photo galleries.  There are so many means of communicating electronically, and we want to make sure our efforts are efficient and meaningful.

Where we’ve used the blog to share photos of the garden, we’ll now use our Flikr account where we can share photo albums.

Where we’ve used the blog to keep you informed of events and promotions, we’ll now use our email newsletter which you can subscribe to.

Where we’ve used our blog to connect you to like-minded businesses and businesses in our area, we’ll connect you through our website- rockydalegardens.com.

Amy, our Nursery Manager, is writing our first newsletter this week. Her topic is “Hype and Circumstance”- her thoughts on new cultivars and her search for feedback from you. She hopes to engage you in feedback and compile your comments in an on-going discussion in our newsletter which we will email regularly.  Sign up here. If you’re hot to get started, you can reach Amy by email- amy@rockydalegardens.com right now!

These changes sound big, but they’ll hardly be noticeable.  Our goal is to run a sustainable business and provide you with the greatest selection of healthy and interesting plants while providing expert advice.

As always, we’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for tuning in!

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