While I look forward to spring for the planting of our beautiful annual flowers, this year I’m particularly impatient as I’m looking forward to seeing the growth and beauty of the many perennial flowers, woodies (flowering shrubs), and trees we planted this past year.

Along the sides of our property consisting of almost half acre of land, we planted our beds of perennial flowers, woodies, fruit and other trees.  A total of 134 perennials and woodies and 24 fruit/deciduous/evergreen trees. That’s a lot of planting!!

Choosing the type of plants to grow required a lot of research and I thought it would be helpful to share this for anyone looking to add to their landscape this spring. While the types of woodies and trees we planted were mostly based on its usefulness for bouquets and event/wedding work, they would look beautiful in any setting. There’s so much information to cover so I’ve divided this post into two, the first covers our perennial garden and “orchard” and part two which I’ll post next week will cover woodies and “other” categories.

If you are local or planning a trip to the Cape towards the end of February, I invite you to join me at the farm as I prune my woodies. I will review basic pruning concepts and answer any questions you may have. Pruning this time of year will be primarily on our rose bushes and other shrubs, while pruning on our fruit trees will be done around summer solstice. If you are interested in this free mini-workshop on pruning woodies in late February, please email me and I will contact you once the date and time have been scheduled.

Perennial Flowers

Toward the front of our property we have a bed in which we grow peonies and roses. We currently are growing 40 rose bushes and 33 peonies, with a plan to add 19 more peonies for a total of 52. I talk about both roses (which are actually woodies) and peonies in this post because they go together so beautifully in our garden.


We planted 3 types of roses: David Austin English, hybrid tea, and floribunda roses. David Austin roses are hybrids of the old English, hybrid tea, and floribunda roses. Hybrid tea roses are the type of roses you see in the stores with sturdy, long stems and one large flower; floribunda roses are thinner stemmed with multiple flowers.

Most of the roses were purchased as bare root as it’s more affordable rather than a full sized plant. Bare root plants are juvenile, dormant plants that have been dug up and stored without soil. We also purchased a couple full size plants from Home Depot during their end of season sale.

Happily, all our rose bushes bloomed with fragrant flowers their first year and I expect them to continue to do well.

Below are the sources and type of roses we planted (photos are from their site). As you can see, the English shrub roses from David Austin look like peonies …. just beautiful.

David Austin Roses:  In the 1970s, David Austin began breeding English roses. His goal was to incorporate the old English rose with the modern type of hybrid tea and floribunda roses with wide ranging colors, resistance to disease, and repeat flowering. All his roses are the result of his hybridization program.


I wish I could say our first round of peony plantings was successful. Unfortunately, the original 15 bare root peonies I purchased either dried up or rotted. I realized that I soaked them too long (overnite instead of a half hour or so … oops) and planted them too deep. I didn’t realize none had taken until mid summer when I was expecting sprouting and none showed up. By that time, my reorder of peonies would not be delivered until fall (as it is the next planting time period). I lost a whole season (and hundreds of dollars) which I hate but a lesson well learned. I reordered 30 more bare root peonies which were planted this fall, and pleased to see they are all beginning to sprout. I was also able to transplant 3 peonies I had growing in pots and they are also doing well.

Both the roses and peonies, unfortunately, can’t be harvested heavily until they have established which takes about 3 years; however, in the meantime, we’re enjoying their beautiful blooms and fragrance. If you drive by Seashore Road, this perennial garden is visible from the road and hopefully it will be a delightful view.


We planted two types of daisies, Shasta and Montauk. Although Shasta daisies have long stems and are used for cut flowers, to my pleasant surprise, the Montauk daisies too had long enough stems that could be used for arrangements. We purchased the two different types so we can have blooms from summer (shasta daisies) through late fall into first frost (Montauk daisies). Both were purchased locally from Church’s Garden Center.


Speaking of blooms in cooler weather, every landscape should have Hellebores (Lenten Rose), I simply adore them. Hellebores are evergreens that bloom gorgeous (and delicate looking) flowers in late winter/early spring. Just when you are getting the winter blues, the hellebores pop up with their greenery and beautiful flowers. It’s so magical. They will reseed themselves if you leave the flower heads on and provide a nice ground cover. These plants are perfect for shady areas, especially under trees where they get shade in the summer but sunshine in the winter when the leaves from trees drop. We purchased our plants from Church’s Garden Center. 


To address the shadowy area in front of our house, we planted hostas. We purchased an interesting variety called Stained Glass online from Nature Hills. It has variegated color of light and dark green, broad leaves (can be used as part of arrangements), and tall stems of fragrant flowers.  

Fruit Trees

My husband always wanted an “orchard” but we never had the time or space to commit to fruit trees until now. Our “orchard” is a selection of most types of fruit trees you can grow in our climate. We inherited a few older cherry, pear and walnut trees when we purchased our property: however, only the pear tree bore fruit last summer. We’re keeping these mature trees for harvesting their beautiful spring flowers but have added new ones for fruit.

Since we’ll use the fruit trees ourselves, we weren’t particular about the variety and basically bought them from Loews. The local garden centers stock items that are appropriate for our area so we should be okay, except for citrus trees. To this day, I cannot seem to keep citrus trees alive beyond the first summer as I don’t have enough light inside the house or heated greenhouse or shed. Needless to say, my citrus trees have died from the harsh cold spell earlier this winter and I have finally decided to stop purchasing them. If anyone has any successful methods they’ve used to keep their citrus successfully overwintered, please let me know! (We are thinking to add a second heated greenhouse for our annual bulbs and could keep citrus trees in it).

Fruit Trees We Have Planted

Some fruit trees require cross pollination, meaning it needs a similar tree nearby to bear fruit. Even the self-pollinating ones that don’t require another tree, I am told, will bear better fruit if it is able to cross pollinate.

Apricot (ordered online, Chinese Apricot and Autumn Glo Apricot from Nature Hills Nursery)
Crab Apple (primarily for arrangements and wreaths) (ordered online, Sugar Tyme Crabapple, from Tree Center Supply Co.)
Lemon (in container)
Lime (in container)
Orange (in container)

Special Pruning Method for Fruit Trees

Most people I know who have fruit trees on their property usually have ones that are behemoths with fruit at the top they can’t reach without a ladder. Because of this, I follow the “little fruit tree” philosophy of pruning. I will keep the trees tall enough for my arms to reach and width wide enough to accommodate all of the trees I planted nearby. I discovered this type of pruning from Ann Ralph’s book, Grow a Little Fruit Tree. If fruit trees are in your future, then this is a must read. Pruning of my fruit trees will be done near the summer solstice. Again, anyone interested in visiting and learning at the farm can do so by contacting me by email. As soon as the date and time are scheduled, I will notify you.

Other Trees

The other types of trees we planted were a result of ones we discovered on our trips or have always liked.

Bald Cypress (ordered online from Perfect Plants) – we discovered this little beauty when we dropped off our daughter at Lafayette College in PA and it was right outside her dorm. Although it is a conifer, it is not an evergreen. Its leaves turn cinnamon and reddish-brown in the fall and then lose its leaves (thus its name) and re-bloom in the winter with tiny flower buds. Bald Cypress have soft, bright green feather-like foliage. Its first summer was touch and go, because of the drought. This tree is a very thirsty tree whose ideal location for planting is near a body of water. Unfortunately, our property does not provide that and so we have been deep watering it regularly. Fingers crossed on this one.

Flowering Dogwood (Cherokee Princess Dogwood, ordered from The Tree Center Supply Co.) – we discovered this tree when we were visiting our sons at Haverford College in PA. Haverford is renown for its arboretum and we happen to have visited the school in spring when this tree was in its splendor. The Cherokee Princess Dogwood is considered the top choice for white flowering dogwood. Its large pure white blooms come early spring before all the others, is long lasting, and in the fall the leaves turn a fiery crimson red. We initially planted this tree in our front yard and unfortunately it died. We replanted the replacement in the same place and saw it too wasn’t doing too well. Doing a little research, we learned that dogwood trees in hot areas like to be under taller trees with sprinkling of sunlight throughout the day and so moved it to a better location.

Magnolia (Sweetbay Magnolia, ordered from The Tree Center Supply Co.) – I’ve always have been in love with magnolias and ordered one online. When I saw that the leaves stayed green and on the tree this winter, to my surprise I learned they were both evergreens and diciduous depending on the planting zone (evergreen in south to southeast and deciduous in the north) . The flowers on the Sweetbay tend to be sparser than other types of magnolias (and will look more like accents on the tree rather than being smothered by them). Birds feed on their red fruits. We plan to use the leaves in our winter wreaths.

Japanese Black Pine – We purchased this tree from Church’s Garden Center here in Cape May because we like the shape of the tree and its pine cones (which we’ll be using for our wreaths). We learned that these trees are also planted along the shore on the Delaware Bay side of the peninsula to help build and preserve the sand dunes.

Next week, in part 2 of the Perennial Flowers, Woodies, and Trees, I will be discussing the many diverse flowering shrubs, bushes, and vines planted on the farm.