A trip out Lower Elmore Mountain Road offers stunning year-round views of the Green Mountains across the valley.
And, in warmer months, you’ll come upon another, more colorful type of scenery that’s smaller in scale but no less impressive: The profusion of flowers at Crossview Gardens.
Located about 3 miles from the center of Morrisville and 10 from Stowe, the gardens surround the home of Harold and Leila Cross. The flowers bloom at different times through the growing season, and there’s nearly always a riot of color at Crossview Gardens.
By mid-April, snowdrops started to bloom, taking full advantage of the glorious sunshine despite record snowfall over the winter. This fall, crocuses will be on full display just as the leaves turn to red and orange. In between come all the colors of Vermont’s short but sweet summer.
The Crosses used to sell a lot of their flowers. They were dairy farmers who picked up the flower-garden hobby about 15 years ago, and then accelerated as they approached retirement age.
They still sell some flowers, but sharing their love of — or, as Harold puts it, their addiction to — their breathtaking gardens is the main reason they welcome visitors each year to the area around their home.
“There’s something about working with your hands in the dirt, getting your hands dirty” that is peaceful, Harold said.
Anyone is welcome to visit the gardens; just call ahead to make sure someone’s home. The Crosses also open up their gardens during certain weekends throughout the year when things are most colorful.
Visit Crossview Gardens anytime in spring, summer, or fall, and what strikes you first is the sheer number of flowers gracing the lower slopes of Elmore Mountain around the farmhouse.
Thousands upon thousands of flowers bloom there over the course of the year, including 60 varieties of snowdrops – “They’re the harbinger of spring,” Harold said — and more than 50 varieties of late-blooming fall flowers. In between bloom 40 varieties of phlox, 2,500 daylilies, more than 1,000 hostas, hundreds of peonies and an almost unbelievable 16,000 daffodils.
There are plenty of other types of flowers at Crossview, too, along with a plethora of blackberry, raspberry, black raspberry and other domesticated berry bushes that bear fruit every summer and fall.
Most of the flowers at Crossview Gardens are grown from bulbs planted each fall. Harold Cross typically plants a few new varieties of flowers he wants to try, plus the old staples that go in every year. And, plenty of bulbs planted in the past are still bringing forth flowers years later.
In a typical year, Cross plants about 1,000 new bulbs. His record for one year is 2,800, but last year he went “light” and planted only 700.
Harold and Leila keep an eye on what takes to their soil and what doesn’t; if something is especially fruitful, and the bulbs quickly multiply over a few short years, the couple will dig up some of them and plant them elsewhere to keep dozens of bulbs from competing for limited nutrients.
How quickly the flowers multiply depends on the type.
“Some breed like elephants, and some breed like rabbits,” Harold said with a laugh.
What types of flowers do you want to see most? The answer is key to when you should visit Crossview Gardens.
Snowdrops are out in force through the end of April; May brings daffodils and tulips, and May is also when the Crosses open their gardens for two full weekends.
“Around Mother’s Day is usually peak bloom for the daffodils,” Harold said. “But it could be later this year,” because the snow was only just melting by mid-April.
Things tend to slow down a little after the daffodils bloom, but by July and August, daylilies and other summer flowers are popping, and the couple typically open their gardens again for four weekends straight, two in late July and two in early August.
Not as many flowers bloom in fall, and the Crosses don’t typically open their gardens for specific autumn weekends, but people are still welcome to call and set up a time to visit.
“It’s not as vibrant, but there are certain patches that look nice,” Cross said.
One reason the Crosses have sold fewer and fewer flowers in recent years, despite still cultivating thousands, is that “the sales help feed my addiction,” Harold said. He uses the profits of any sales to buy more flowers.
“Fewer sales means less addiction, which is good, because as we get older, we need to downsize,” he said with a smile.
The couple also cut and donate their flowers to local organizations such as Morristown Centennial Library.
“I’ve got so many, what am I going to do with them all?” Harold said. Sharing the fruits of their labor of love is also the main reason the Crosses welcome people to their gardens.
“That’s why we garden, for our enjoyment and for the enjoyment of others,” Harold said. Someone who lives in an apartment or condominium with no green space of their own can visit Crossview and enjoy “the serenity and peacefulness of the gardens.”
For more information, visit crossviewgardens.com, or call 888-2409 to see if it’s a good time to come and see the flowers.