Late summer is an excellent time to plant seeds for fall harvest. While you’re enjoying your squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers, start thinking about what crops you may want in the fall! Veggies like kale, and many other leafy greens, do well in those cooler temps. Some are even frost tolerant! Check out all things seed starting at our store in North Branford.

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Sow cool-crop seeds

Many people aren’t aware of just how many vegetables can thrive in the fall. You’ll run into fewer weeds and pests than you do in the summer, and seeds will germinate faster than in May due to the warmer soil. These cool-crop veggies include radishes, spinach, arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, kale, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, turnips, and more. Just what you need for a delicious salad… straight from your very own garden. Time to get planting!

Did you know you can attract specific pollinators by planting their preferred flower color, shape, and odor? We can predict which plants each type of pollinator is most likely to visit based on these features! For example, bees can clearly see UV light as well as color in the blue and green spectrum, but can’t see red. This makes them less likely to pollinate red flowers and more likely to visit plants that are blue, purple, yellow, or reflect UV light. This logic also applies to birds, butterflies, flies, and more.

Attracting Bees

Bees prefer flowers that are purple, blue, or yellow, many of which reflect UV light in their center. This helps bees find the nectar within the flower! Blooms with a landing pad are the most attractive since bees land before collecting pollen. You can also have more success by putting a water source nearby, like a birdbath.


Butterflies prefer flat open flowers or those in clusters with landing pads and a pink, purple, orange, red, or white flower hue. Adding some stones or pebbles can be attractive to butterflies, as they need sunny spots to rest and recharge.


Hummingbirds have long beaks and tongues that allow them to reach nectar from long, tubular flowers, which is their preferred shape. They can see the color red, unlike bees, and are drawn to bright shades of red, orange, purple, and pink. Try adding a hummingbird feeder for extra incentive.

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Remember to avoid using pesticides while pollinators are active as this can cause damage. Also, planting various colors and shapes with different flowering times in clumps is a great way to vary and increase the number of species that stop by. Read more about pollinators below:

It’s officially summer and July 4th is creeping up! Have you been pruning your shrubs? Spring flowering shrubs should generally be pruned immediately after flowering, using the end of June to July 4th as your cut-off date. Not sure exactly which varieties apply? See below!

Spring Flowering Shrubs

Make sure to prune the following after they flower and before July 4th:  

Pruning Tips

David Austin Roses

In the early 1950s, David Austin set out to create a more beautiful rose. Sixty years on, this simple objective remains. Rose breeding is often described as being as much an art as a science. All David Austin roses have a collective style and reflect one man’s vision. All have beautiful blooms and in most cases, wonderful fragrance held on graceful attractive shrubs. A garden of these outstanding roses is hard to beat for the sheer exuberance of flowers and fragrance.

Today, most of our growing is still carried out by hand, just as it was at the very beginning. Every plant that we sell has been hand-budded, a traditional and intricate skill carried out by our experts millions of times each year.

We made sure we have the best David Austin selection around… you have told us these roses are amazing and we listened. If you haven’t seen these impressive bloomers, you need to! Climbers and shrub roses are available.

Hybrid Tea Roses

Hybrid teas are the most popular type of rose, referring to a category of roses that were originally created by cross-breeding Hybrid Perpetual and Tea roses. This means they are both hardy and typically repeat flower, producing large, shapely flowers that open from high-centered buds on long, straight stems.  

Hybrid tea roses are the standard for cut flower roses. With their iconic bud shape and petaled blooms, hybrid tea roses are well worth the effort of growing them. Although hybrid tea roses are some of the more finicky roses on the market, they can be truly rewarding. These are roses that have a beautiful form, delightful fragrance, and wonderful color options.

Knock Out Roses

If like most EVERYONE you are afraid of roses, you need to try the revolutionary Knock Out® Family of Roses! These easy-to-grow shrub roses will reward you EVERY DAY with a season-long show of blooms from spring to frost. With stunning colors to choose from, there are so many ways to enjoy Knock Out® Roses EVERYWHERE in your garden.

The Knock Out® Family of roses repeat-bloom from spring to frost, creating a stunning show of beautiful flowers!  They can fit into any landscape in most climates. Plant them individually as a focal point, among other shrubs, or in large groups to create a colorful hedge.  Incorporate perennials and annuals to create a season of color, texture, and interest.

Knock Out® Roses are the most disease-resistant roses on the market, making them easy to grow. All are self-cleaning, so there is no need to deadhead. For best performance, cut them back every year. 

Meet Petite… a miniature knock out! Petite Knock Out® is the first-ever miniature Knock Out® Rose! It has the same flower power and easy care as others in The Family in an adorable, compact size! Not only is the plant petite, but it displays smaller blooms than other Knock Out® Roses. Plant in decorative containers for your porch or patio, or in groups for a dramatic pop of bold red color 18” x 18” at maturity!

Drift Roses

Available in a range of bold colors, Drift® Roses are perfect for every style and space. These compact roses are repeat-blooming, easy to grow, and suitable for gardens big and small. Plant them individually, in a grouping, or mixed with other shrubs, perennials, and roses for a stunning display. You can see them in our parking lot, so you know they are tough and full of flowers and fragrance. One of our favorite and toughest roses!

Drift® Roses are a cross between full-size groundcover roses and miniature roses. From the former, they kept toughness, disease resistance, and winter hardiness. From the miniatures, they inherited their well-managed size and repeat-blooming nature. 

The low, manageable habit of Drift® Roses makes them perfect for gardens small to large, for planters, and for mass commercial plantings. They brighten up borders, fill in empty spaces, meander around established plants, and can control erosion on hillsides and slopes.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses have long canes that will be covered with blooms. This type of rose is perfect for covering an arbor, climbing up a trellis, or as a floral canopy for your pergola. They are also called crawling roses for a reason. Plant your rose next to a low wall or fence and your rose will crawl along the fence and eventually cover it.

Garden Roses (Floribunda and a few Grandiflora)

If you are new to growing roses and a little worried that they might be too hard to grow in your garden, the floribunda rose is the perfect rose for you. First of all, this rose is known for its amazing profusion of blooms in a wide range of colors. These rose bushes will be covered from late spring until the first frost. In addition, these are robust plants that have great disease resistance, making them easy to grow whether you’re a beginner or a master gardener. The floribunda rose can also give you the confidence you need to try other types of roses and build your entire rose garden.  


Unbelievably HARDY, TOUGH, BULLET PROOF!  Extremely fragrant, pollinator-friendly, SALT tolerant, very thorny roses. Spreading, clumping rose that is wider than it is tall. Known for their hyssop! No, it’s not a tomato! Great for along the shore, especially in a naturalizing garden. Drought tolerant, poor soil tolerant… survives pretty much anywhere including planting in straight sand.

Mini Roses

With an 18″ x 18″ max in order to be considered a mini, these plants are very small and compact classic rose flowers. These short rose bushes grow dense and thick and are not fragrant at all. This makes them ideal additions to rock gardens, tight border spots, the edges of rose gardens, and patio or porch container gardens.

Van Wilgen’s Slow Release and Bloom Booster: The 1,2 punch

 The best way to keep your flowering plants flowering is food… marathon runners can’t run without the pasta dinner the night before, right? These flowering plants have a marathon in front of them because they will be flowering from now till frost. An absolute non-negotiable is using VW Controlled release fertilizer every 2 months. Apply now and then in the middle of July, and again in September. This amazing fertilizer feeds your plants a little every time it comes in touch with water. Here is the secret to giving your plants a competitive advantage and being the best-looking plants. Use VW Bloom Booster every 2 weeks and you will not be disappointed. Fuel your plants for more flowers!

vw Controlled Release Fertilizer

vw Bloom Booster

VW Grown Favorites

Brandywine Red – Heirloom with huge tomatoes that produces extremely well all season. They are a bit misshapen but don’t let that discourage you. The shape is weird but the flavor is great! Considered one of the best-tasting heirlooms that are great for slicing. 

Early Girl – Just like the name says… this is one of the shortest times to harvest tomatoes. The fruit is medium and an all-around utility player, good for salads, sandwiches, and slicing.  

Grape – What’s the difference between cherry and grape tomatoes? Grape tomatoes are shaped just like a grape, longer and oval, while the cherry is perfectly round. Grape is meaty and crunchy with the classic tomato taste.

Patio Red – This small package packs a big punch. The plant is small but the yield is not! Perfect for small-space gardening or growing in pots. The plant reaches only 2 feet tall on a sturdy stem. It is common to get 50 small/medium tomatoes from one plant.  

San Marzano – THE ONLY TOMATO for sauce. They are longer and skinnier than regular plum tomatoes. Juicy yet meaty and thin-skinned with a complex flavor make these a must.

Sungold – This is a cherry tomato that ripens to an orange color. One plant will yield LOTS of small tomatoes, which is good because everyone at my house pops them in their mouth every time they walk by because of their exceptionally sweet flavor. These do not ship well because they tend to pop, so get them while they last off the plant! Roast these with some garlic and basil, then blend it all up for a sweet and healthy sauce.

Super Sweet 100 – An improvement on the original, this plant produces a LOT of perfectly round bite-sized fruit. Long branches with clusters make them easy to pick quickly so you can eat them quickly too. They are high in sugar making them very sweet, and high in vitamin C so they are good for you!

Super Steak – Jerry our retired fig and tomato master used to say this was the best hybrid tomato hands down! They have excellent flavor and can get as big as TWO POUNDS! If you love a summer tomato sandwich, this is the one for you: all you need is one slice!

Quick Tomato Tips

IT’S ALL IN THE SOIL: Prevent Blossom End Rot with Calcium and Magnesium. SOILution has a lot of both from their ingredients… mix some SOILution in with your soil to keep them healthy!

FEED ME: Fertilize fertilize fertilize… they are producing a LOT of food… they need food too. Use Van Wilgen’s Controlled Release, VW Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer, or BOTH; they will help your plant thrive and produce!

WATCH THOSE TEMPS: Make sure you wait to put your tomatoes out till the coast is clear and nighttime temps don’t drop below 55 degrees.

I SEE THE LIGHT: The more sun the better… tomatoes are using the sun for energy and they need a lot! Ensure they get a MINIMUM of 6 hours.

CHUG CHUG CHUG: Make sure you keep your tomatoes watered well! They have a very fibrous root system to soak up as much water as possible… sometimes they need water in the morning and in the evening.

One of our most commonly asked questions as it warms up early in the spring is “What can I put out in my veggie garden?” The answer is not as clear-cut as you’d think! For your tomatoes and peppers, we always stick to our MINIMUM May 15th rule; however, there are tons of veggies we call cold crops, or as I like to say, “Cool crops, like it in the 60s.” These guys are available as early as the beginning of March and can be planted in your vegetable garden or containers as early as mid-April. Our Van Wilgen Grown selection of cool crops includes favorites like broccoli, cabbage, kale, arugula, and many other lettuces, as well as a few cold-tolerant herbs, like parsley, sage, lavender, rosemary, and oh the list goes on! As usual, all of our herbs and veggies are organically grown and potted in our biodegradable peat fiber pots. Come on down and we’ll be glad to help you along with your real “cool” herbs and veggies! Don’t forget… there are two cool seasons for your cold crops! Experiment in the spring to find your favorites, and come back for round two in the fall! Remember tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, basil, and all the fun stuff DO NOT like to be cool… they love it hot and even a couple of nights below 50 degrees can reduce their yield by 50%… this is an instance when the early bird doesn’t get the worm!

Van Wilgen’s Grown Herbs and Veggies


COOL: Early tO MID Spring/FALL

Sage, Dill, Lavender, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Catnip, Coriander, Cilantro

Now is the time to get your herbs going outdoors! Many herbs can be safely planted between March & May.


Basil, Oregano, Mint, Thyme, Chives, Lemongrass

Some herbs love the heat! These are just a few examples.


Cool: Early Spring/FALL

Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Beans, Carrots, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes, Parsnips, Arugula, Rhubarb

Cool-season vegetables grow best when temperatures range between 40 and 75 degrees. These crops often are those that develop edible roots, stems, leaves, or buds such as potatoes, broccoli, and spinach.

Hot: Late Spring/summer

Beets, Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, Bok Choy, Corn, Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Celery, Eggplant, Kohlrabi, Pumpkin, Peppers, Squash, Zucchini

Warm-season vegetables: these tender crops are killed by frost and won’t perform well if temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Don’t plant before the soil and air temperatures have warmed up in spring or early summer because the seeds and plants simply won’t grow.

This is a question we get all the time, so we put together a list just for you! Keep in mind these are estimated dates that depend on the weather. Scroll down for a quick guide to when you can expect our most anticipated plants will be in stock!


WEEK OF 4/10

Trees & Shrubs: Butterfly Bush(Dormant), Larger Green Giants, Clethra

Perennials: Iris, Ferns (Very Limited Selection), Clematis, Beebalm, Lamb’s Ear, Fox Glove, Campanula

Greenhouse: Tropicals: Hibiscus, Mandevilla, Gardenia, Dipladenia, Eugenia, Cordyline, Alocasia Small Bird of Paradise, Small Robellini palms, Kimberly Queen Ferns, Hibiscus and Mandevilla Annuals: Geraniums, Petunia, Lobelia, Nemesia, Euphorbia, Osteo Daisy, Cuphea, Allysum, Sun Patiens, Coleus, Dracena Herbs: Almost full Selection, Citrosa, Lemon Grass Veggies: Lettuce, and cool weather

WEEK OF 4/17

Trees & Shrubs: Sod likely to be available, Lilacs, Mop Head Hydrangea, Rose of Sharon (Limited Selection/Dormant), Emerald Green Arbs 7’+

Perennials: Poppies, Ground Cover Flats, Honey Suckle, Allium, Huechera (Full Selection), Hollyhocks, Astilbe, bleeding hearts, baptisia, Big week to fill up with a lot of the misc. oddball plants we carry

Greenhouse: Tropicals: Milford and Clinton arrive at the marts

WEEK OF 4/24

Perennials: Roses, Red Hot Poker Plant, Small Climbing Hydrangea, VW Walkables, Cone Flower (Limited selection)

Greenhouse: Tropicals: Cannas, Bougainvillea, and patio mandevillas, Large palms (Majesty, robellini, adonia) Large Manedavilla/Hibiscus and Large bird of paradise boston fern Annuals: Fuschia, Marigold, Stock, Snap Dragons, Annuals: Fuschia, Marigold, Stock, lysmacia, splash plant, bacopa, million bells, vinva vine, dracena, cordyline, more petunias Veggies: Tomatoes (Small Selection including Tomato Towers) more petunias Veggies: Tomatoes (Small Selection including Tomato Towers) Combo Cones, Baskets, and more HB’s



Trees & Shrubs: Blue Mist Shrub

Perennials: Ornamental Grasses (Limited Selection), Hosta, Coreposis, Lily of the Valley

Greenhouse: Tropicals: Citrus, Figs, Jasmine Annuals: Second Bath of Tomatoes, most veggies, NG Impatiens, dahlia, verbena, angelonia, salvia, sweet potato vine, Morning glory, moonflower, thunbergia, dichondra, celosia,


Perennials: Ferns (Full selection)

Greenhouse: Some Red Fountain Grass, Lantana, portulaca, scavolea, Impatien flats, and more flavors of flats

WEEK OF 5/15

Perennials: Trumpet Vine

Greenhouse: Veggies: Full Selection of veggies including weirdo varieties

WEEK OF 5/22

Greenhouse: vinca rosea, full selection of red fountain grass

WEEK OF 5/29

Perennials: Ornamental Grasses (Full selection)