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Into the Garden: Speaker's landscaping chat entertains

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jerry Fritz is a successful landscape designer, garden center owner and speaker. What caught my ear was the fact that he not only has been on "The Martha Stewart Show," he's visited with her at her home and they are, yes, friends!

He spoke recently to the West Virginia Nursery and Landscapers Association conference, and he's quite a character.

Fritz started his chat (it was so down-to-earth, the title "lecture" just doesn't apply) talking about meatballs. Not the type on your plate, but the type in the landscape. He showed a slide of a front yard in Pennsylvania where a gentleman had worked tirelessly to create perfectly round shrubs, taking particular care to make sure they were all exactly the same, and not touching. The landscapers in Jerry's audience sighed a collective sigh at the sight -- static, contrived and just downright ugly.

But Fritz then used his gardening, landscape and retail experience to help the landscape group find ways to get homeowners away from these types of yards and into more interesting, natural and, importantly, beautiful landscapes.

Fritz is a graduate of Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture in Doylestown, Pa., and 2011 marked his 22nd anniversary as the proprietor of Jerry Fritz Garden Design Inc. and the 11th year in the development of Linden Hill Gardens, his retail nursery and destination garden in Ottsville, Pa.

He's written books and magazine articles and is a popular speaker on the garden lecture circuit. Co-written by Nancy Ondra, Fritz's "Lessons from Linden Hill: Design Tips and Planning Pointers" is a great source for all gardeners.

The delightful Fritz said most of his clients' first three questions are, "How much will it cost?" "When can you start?" and "When will you be done?"

He likes working with clients without using a lot of technical drawings.

"People have trouble reading the bird's-eye-view drawings," Fritz said. "I like to walk them through my display garden. The husband says, 'I don't like this. I like that.' The wife says, 'I like this. I don't like that.' I play horticultural psychiatrist."

He talked about the "farmistas" -- women 28 to 32 years old.

"She wears Anthropologie, she's popped out her first baby, and wants to have chickens but not clean up the poop. She wants time for herself, too," he said.

That's whom he believes landscape designers and garden centers must cater to, and whom they must attract to stay alive. To achieve these goals, Fritz opens his garden center in the winter for yoga classes, knitting clubs and other women-centered organizations.

Fritz is well known for his love of Galanthus (snowdrop). He took his passion for the flower to the Stewart show, and had quite an enthusiastic response.

Following up, he's made them available through his garden center and website, www.lindenhillgardens.com. Galanthus is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous herbaceous plants in the amaryllis family. Most flower in winter, before the vernal equinox (March 21 in the Northern Hemisphere), but certain species flower in early spring and late autumn.

Here's the mail-order information from the website:

Galanthus will be available for shipping mid-March and after. Email orders to info@lindenhillgardens.com. There is a $50 minimum order, plus $15 for shipping and handling. Galanthus will ship upon payment.

Winter jasmine

While visiting my daughter in Lexington, Va., recently, I drew a blank on the name of the beautiful yellow shrub that's been planted throughout her college campus. It was blooming everywhere, filling otherwise winter-drab beds with cheery blooms like forsythia.

Thanks to my co-worker, Julie, who reminded me it was winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). It's a member of the olive family and starts to bloom in early January. The stems are bright green, unlike the brown stems of the forsythia, and it mounds low to the ground, blooming for six to eight weeks. Great for banks and slopes, it's good in bad soil, self-roots and is fast growing -- cut it back every couple of years to keep it in check.

I lost a couple of forsythias because of some construction, and I'll be replacing them with winter jasmine.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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