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

It’s been a gorgeous week in Vermont- a FULL WEEK without rain and plenty of sun.  It has brought out so much growth and made us all very happy!  One of our customers works for Ben and Jerry’s; she brought us some ice cream and we had a nice break in the afternoon on Thursday.

Ice cream break!

Here are some photos of the garden taken today, along with some close-ups of what’s blooming now.

Narcissus and Mertensia with Rhododendron mucronulatum ‘Cama’
Tulip ‘Ballerina’
Honeylocust View
Tulip ‘American Dream’ w/ Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’
View towards greenhouse
Merrill Magnolia and Narcissus
Rhododendron ‘April Mist’
Rhododendron ‘Aglo’

Magnolia ‘Daybreak’ bud on Main Street in Bristol.
Magnolia ‘Daybreak’ flower on Main St in Bristol.

The last Narcissus



Pieris japonica
Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’
Magnolia ‘Butterflies’
Epimedium rubrum

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.

I like to design spaces that rely on basic principles of balance and unity.  I am not a big fan of fancy, voluptuous, flowery and cluttered.  But I see signs of “modern” and “contemporary” design being co-opted, mass marketed and now becoming trite and boring.  Often the result of a “modern” or “contemporary” application is not contextual.

I don’t think it’s enough to use simple materials and it’s not enough to use a limited palette.  It’s not about a retro shape or figure.  Most simple projects are also highly complex.  I find that juxtaposing a complex arrangement of elements within a simple framework and setting up complex frameworks with monochromatic elements can bring a landscape to life.  And I like mixing the two up.

Having a great love for plants helps me with this style.  At my design firm in Minneapolis, Phillips Garden, we’ve  been lucky enough to work on a full lot design/install over the past several years where we have experimented with our design philosophy.  A new home was built on this site- it’s a contemporary design, (think Dwell Magazine), with strong horizontal lines. (I’ve blogged about this project before).

We were able to develop some very interesting beds with a great diversity of plant material in several parts of the yard.  What connects and also separates these beds are long planes of rectilinear surfaces that serve as lawns, walkways, patios, a pool and so forth.  The result is dynamic and inviting.  It’s a landscape you want to explore and it reveals itself as one traverses through it.  Many “modern” landscapes don’t offer such intrigue.

It’s a style that suits my love of plants, my love of Japanese Gardens and my love of simple, elegant lines.  I’d like to work on more projects like this one!

This weekend enter to win a 4.5 foot Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)  This is an interesting specimen hazelnut with a contorted branching habit that makes a great statement in the winter garden.

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!

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