Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Virtual Field Trip: Milmont Greenhouses

Milmont Greenhouses
Route 340
Stuarts Draft, Virginia
(540) 943-8408

I wish I could make a recommendation on how not to spend all of your piggy-bank savings at Milmont Greenhouses. But the answer eludes me - as I type this and as I know it will when I visit next month.

I can explain how the spending extravaganza sneaks up on me. The completely reasonable prices, the sweet, helpful staff, the mountain views and the super healthy looking plants. Rows and rows and rows of them. And then there is this out-of-body-lightness-of-being that overtakes me as I fill up my cart. It switches my brain from penny counting mode to visions of the end-all-be-all Container Garden of The Century.

Did I mentions the rows and rows?

I take the following route through their wares. It is the only way I can keep this virtual field trip succinct and methodical.

First Stop: The Herb and Vegetable Greenhouse. Flats of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers (sweet and hot), eggplants. An exhaustive inventory of herbs and their many varieties. The standards are there - basil, thyme, lavender, sage, rosemary. Then . . . . tarragon, lemon verbena, chamomile, all types of mints, cilantro . . .

Next: Annuals for The Container Garden. Four-cell (and some larger) packs of pentunias, impatiens, sweet william, lobelia, geraniums, scaevola - you name it - e-v-e-r-y color imaginable. Annuals that I had dismissed long ago on account of over-exposure in suburban flower beds found new life (in my eyes) through different shades or unexpected pairings in annual hanging baskets at Milmont.

The One-Two Punch: Perennials. They are very, very clever about this. You can buy these in smaller four-cell packs and two larger sizes (maybe 3" pots and gallon-sized pots?). LOTS of natives. This is where I usually cave - and buy things that weren't originally on my radar. Nobody here would give you a hard time if you found yourself doing the same. It just can't be helped.

The Big Guns: Trees and Shrubs. Roses, roses, roses. I bought my first rose and my first lilac here last year. Then we hovered around the trees we loved but knew wouldn't thrive on our land, birches and the like. Corey and I are both from up North, so we have our weaknesses. I'm thinking about a hydrangea this year . . . big plans, BIG plans.

Check-Out: You won't actually remember this part of the trip - because, if you are like me, your ears and brain will be ringing with delight, with the hopeful plans, with the sensory over-load. In a stupor - you will hand over your credit card, not truly recognizing the total they announce. In a zombie-like state - you will load up your car - realizing that you have about four weeks of work ahead of you to incorporate your new finds. This range of emotions will linger for several days.

Milmont Greenhouses is owned and operated by Mennonites. So closed on Sunday. They are open Monday through Friday - 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

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