The Old School House Plantery …… Vermont Growers with an Internet Following for Rare Garden, Greenhouse and House Plants…
Aisles of unusual and rare plants at the Old School House Plantery, Brattleboro, Vermont.
Impatiens zombensis (click to enlarge photo)
During the recent, prolonged rainy period in Vermont, John and Diane Miller of The Old Schoolhouse Plantery in West Brattleboro, kindly invited me over to have a look inside their greenhouse. I pass by the Millers nearly everyday on my way to and from other gardens, and I must admit that I have been observing them with great curiosity ever since I noticed the excellent pruning of their apple trees last year. As readers of this blog may have noticed, I do have a slight obsession with artful pruning. Eventually, I got around to stopping in to meet the Millers, and once invited inside their greenhouse I was even more delighted. Although the square footage of their space is modest, the building is absolutely overflowing with gorgeous, rare plants. Tropicals, tender perennials, flowering annuals, houseplants, ferns, succulents; the list of what John and Diane have managed to propagate in this deceptively simple jewel-box goes on and on.
Originally from Great Britain, both John and Diane are passionate, educated gardeners with a contagious enthusiasm for the rare plants they grow. Diane has a doctorate in herbal medicine, and John holds a college degree in horticulture from the UK. The Millers operate the Old Schoolhouse Plantery as a retail business from their home in Vermont, and although locals have discovered the horticultural treasures at this little greenhouse, most of John and Diane’s serious plant collectors have found them online. It seems that once a rare plant enthusiast is seduced by the beautiful and elusive blue Â Impatiens namchabarwensis, or bewitched by the tiny bright pink flowers and toothy leaf margins of Impatiens zombensis, there can be no substitute. Unfortunately, mail-order sources for unusual plants such as these are hard to come by. The true collector of rare plants has taken to the internet, Googling and Ebaying their way to the hard-to-find horticultural prizes. Many customers of this cottage-business have found John and Diane by typing the latin names of rare specimen plants into search engines. They then follow links to Ebay or Etsy and purchase their treasures from the Old Schoolhouse Plantery through online-shops. In addition to her propagation skills, Diane is also a skilled artisan, and she sells her hand-crafted goods as well as rare plants on an Etsy shop called Eclecticasia.
Although this introductory post is brief, I will be back with more coverage of the fascinating work going on at The Old Schoolhouse Plantery soon. Â Fuchsias, Begonias, Impatiens and other exotic beauties are just the beginning of what you will see here. Â John has generously offered to share the process of creating a fuchsia standard, (pictured at bottom), and I am keen to learn more about Diane’s handcrafted flower pots.
Many thanks to the Millers for their time and generosity. If you find yourself wandering through southern Vermont on a road-trip, do check out their little treasure-chest of a greenhouse at 350 Hinesburg Road in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Old Schoolhouse Plantery will be unveiling a new website soon, but until then, their plants can be viewed and purchased online at the Â Etsy link above.
Impatiens namchabarwensis , (rare blue diamond impatiens)
1/2 standard Fuchsia, ‘Mrs. Lovell Swisher’
Article and photos: copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardner’s Eden