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Growing plants from seed is economical and rewarding. Buying them mail-order gives you the biggest choice. But I’m a sucker for a plant I can see in person, mature enough to start showing off its form, saying “take me home” from the seller’s display. I especially like seeing what growers have. Only a real enthusiast bothers to keep plants in the ground, to propagate them, to care for an extensive display garden — or to find plants that are not only new and interesting, but also top quality, dependable performers.

R. Seawright Gardens specializes in Daylilies (Hemerocallis) — not the old-fashioned yellow or orange ones, which will grow almost anywhere but get a little monotonous. The modern hybrids require six hours of sun, and also come in purples and pinks, rosy tones and near-white (and fantastic combinations). Shapes too can be fascinating, some with ruffled petals, or elegantly recurved ones.

If you go there in the middle of July, at the end, and again a little into August, you’ll see different plants in bloom each time. You can walk in the fields of flowers, and point out exactly which plant you want dug.

Seawright also carries hostas, but my favorite place for hostas is Potanipo Gardens, where Jim and Connie Tucker have over 300 varieties on the wooded and lovingly landscaped hill behind their house. Jim started the hosta nursery after he retired; he says “This is my hobby. If it ever gets to be work, I’ll quit.”

Hostas are uniquely useful because they like shade. They also tend to be tough, foolproof plants. But their drawing point is their foliage, not their bloom: they have a wider variety of shapes and colors and textures to their leaves, than any other plant.

Susan Kierstead grows a wide variety of perennials she has selected for their garden worthiness. (I prefer perennials because I don't have to plant them every year; they last through the winters.) I go to her place to broaden my horticultural repertoire. She started by landscaping her house, and then her interest in plants just kept growing. Today the nursery beds behind the house cover half an acre.

Like Jim Tucker, Susan loves gardening, and enjoys talking about it. I love to get both of them into conversation about their plants.

© Copyright 2001 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 29 June 2001

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For more information

R. Seawright Gardens

Potanipo Gardens: in 2002, Jim sold his business to Sue and Chuck Andersen, of Mason Hollow Nursery. Ill have to go see it!

Susan Kierstead:

Perennials by Susan
58 Seaverns Bridge Road
Amherst, New Hampshire 03031-2114
(603) 424-2300

Open Thursday - Saturday, 10-4, from late April till the end of August. Call for directions.