News

Bedford’s FrizzHome Gardens is ready to make spring bloom

Friday, May 2, 2014

Story and photos by LORETTA JACKSON

Staff Writer

An enticing fragrance greets those visiting FrizzHome Gardens, 270 Back River Road, Bedford. The garden center, owned and managed by Howard Frizzell and assistant manager Jody Fox, of Merrimack, is well known for the vast selection of plants, annuals and perennials, that help make the official arrival of spring to the town.

Customers thirsting for some spring beauty are quick to adopt trays of violas and pansies and planters filled with seasonal favorites that can handle an early chill, yet continue to bloom all summer. The pansies, cherished for the pattern of colors that resembles a little face, come in many colors. Some of the first visitors, upon the garden’s opening in early April, went home with several sets of pansies in hues of yellow, white, purple and orange.

Others crave flats of vegetables. Pots of seedlings by the hundreds enjoy an intermittent water vapor mist that moisturizes the greenhouse where tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons and other veggies erupt from the soil with an attitude of vigor. A root descends. A seed appears above ground. The seed stands taller and flings wide its two, little green arms – appendages that become the plant’s first leaves. Repeated hundreds of times, in unison, the greenhouse resonates with the ancient spring ritual of growth.

Frizzell, whose experience in the garden business spans some 27 years, conducted on Sunday a tour of several of the garden’s greenhouses last weekend. The structures shelter in a climate-controlled environment one or another of the groups of shade annuals, geraniums, vegetables and herbs, spreading petunias, Mandevillas and tropical plants. He said he feels there is something special about nurturing growing things.

“It’s exciting to see things grow and thrive,” Frizzell said. “I can recall as a 4- or 5-year-old child helping my mom work with the plants in her garden. My family had a dairy farm. But I like plants, not cows.”

The tropical greenhouse, now in its second year, is the newest addition at FrizzHome Gardens. A collection resides there that includes succulents, annuals and temperennials – plants that would survive year after year in a warmer climate. Citrus trees, fan palms, banana plants, fox-tail palms and the colorful Bird of Paradise, plus dozens more are propagated there.

Elsewhere, Frizzell and Fox walk past pots and baskets overflowing with flowering maples in many colors. The flowering plants are not trees. They are named for leaves shaped like those of maple leaves. Fox points out some with variegated foliage. One type has green foliage that is speckled with flecks of a salmon-orange color. The flowering maples, she said, tend to blossom continuously in light conditions ranging from semi-shady to full sun.

“People will come in especially for the flowering maples,” Fox said. “This year, we also have a good selection of fuchsias.”

Fuchsias, discovered by the French on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in the 1600s, are renowned for their dangling clusters of vibrantly colored blooms. Fox gently lifts a stem of the teardrop-shaped flowers and shows that the bloom has a quartet of long petals and four short, broad, petals called sepals. Fuchsias’ blossoms tend to exhibit two different colors, perhaps a dark purple at the center with a cap of bright pink on the top.

Fox said she has had hummingbirds come into the greenhouse in search of fuchsias or other flowers with fragrant blossoms. The Mandevilla, she said, is one cherished by customers and hummingbirds alike. The plant is a stunning and enthusiastic climber, boasts giant crimson or pink flowers resembling those of a hibiscus. Fox pointed to a Mandevilla whose home was a hanging basket. The plant’s curling tendrils had taken flight and climbed skyward upon the supports secured to an overhead beam.

“The Mandevilla blooms all summer long,” Fox said. “Hummingbirds love them.”

She said a hummingbird may have difficulty finding its way back to the outdoors after a visit inside one of the greenhouses. Last summer, she rescued a wayward hummer.

“He flew around so long he tired himself out and couldn’t fly any more,” Fox said. “I was able to cup him in the palm of my hand and give him some drops of sugar water. It took a couple hours for him to get his strength back. How exciting to have a hummingbird in the palm of your hand.”

Frizzell and Fox showed off some planters in natural wood. The sections of logs feature a center cavity into which several plants can be nestled. The planters have a fabric bottom designed to retain the supply of soil but enable water to flow through. They serve well as color-splashed accents along a driveway or on the deck of a condo.

The pair also offers window boxes and living walls of vertical planters resembling picture frames with interiors of blooming plants.

Frizzell, a master at combining textures and colors, is also renowned for his indoor garden installations. A swath of interior space in any home can easily become a showcased area when accessorized by a carefully selected collection of big-leafed, color-splotched plants or exotic bromeliads.

Fox, too, also is known for her creativity. An office space, a conference room or any public environment or private home is enhanced by the addition of a spectacular, growing, work of art. Currently, Fox has crafted some unusual hanging planters, each featuring one spectacular plant in a container less than six-inches in diameter.

Frizzell said he remains amazed by the variety of shapes, textures, colors, scents and growing patterns he finds in the plants he grows.

One of his annuals grows more than 10-feet tall in one season. His hanging baskets of Red Robin tomatoes will bear hundreds of tasty spheres.

He offers, just for fun, a small tray of seedlings that will grow into orange trees. The seeds came from some oranges he enjoyed eating, several weeks ago. Nevertheless, he’s hard put to name his favorite plant.

“There are too many here to have a favorite,” Frizzel said, admiring the orange sprouts. “It’s so exciting to grow something from a seed.”

For more information about FrizzHome Gardens, 270 Back River Road, Bedford, call 644-0734, like them on Facebook or visit www.frizzhomegardens.com. The garden center is open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.

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