Skip to main content

Best of Burlington

Get The Latest Stories, Events, and More Right In Your Inbox

Get Growing This Spring

03/25/2024 11:40AM ● By WENDIE PECHARSKY

Energy, a commitment to excellence, and forging lasting relationships with its customers is what Claussen’s Florist, Greenhouse, and Perennial Farm in Colchester, VT, is all about. 

Founded in 1972 by William “Bill” Claussen, the business is an all-year-round destination for everything garden-related, including annuals, perennials, edibles, cut flowers, garden and home décor, and more. The number of staff members varies from 30 to 40 depending on the season, but most of Claussen’s staff has been with them for a decade or more!

Clausen's grows every plant imaginable in its 40-plus greenhouses, which operate on a year-round basis. 

Chris Conant, who took over operations when Bill Claussen went into semi-retirement in the ’80s and who is now president, joined the company in the ’70s. Alongside Chris’ daughter, Ali Lapierre, vice president, who joined the company in 2006, and their team, they have upheld the high standards that their founder, who unfortunately passed away in 2022, set when he started the business.




Longtime employee James MacAuley, Claussen’s perennial farm manager for the last 22 years, told us that, though the greenhouses are productive and busy all year round, springtime is prime time for Claussen’s. That’s when Vermont gardens—and gardeners—shake off their winter coats and prepare for a new growing season.

 Annual edibles like strawberries and perennial flowers are all seeded and grown on-site.

“We’re fully stocked with everyone’s favorite spring plants, shrubs, perennials, and edibles,” James says. Early bloomers like peonies and creeping phlox, along with strawberries and lupine (pronounced LOO-pin), are best sellers because of their showy, colorful flowers, he says. “Peonies and creeping phlox are old-fashioned favorites because they don’t require a lot of special care, and they are good, Vermont-hardy plants.” James also notes, “People love these  early-blooming plants because they provide the garden with a quick pick-me-up of color while they’re waiting for everything else to come up.”


For gardens that don’t get enough sun to support flowering plants, good choices for spring include perennials like hostas and heucheras, also known as coral bells. “I like to use a lot of foliage to add some color to shade,” James says. “You can get lime-green foliage, maroon foliage, or bright yellow; you can get mottled green and red foliage, all of which complement hostas in a shady spot.”


But what if you’re just starting out and not sure about what to plant this spring? James recommends woody shrubs like azaleas, which come in a variety of hues, including red, pink, and white; rhododendrons, especially PJM variants, which produce trusses of pink and lavender blooms; and bright yellow forsythia. “All are good choices for beginning gardeners,” James says, making them super popular (and top sellers) in April and May. “Woody shrubs are easy to care for,” James says, and produce glorious blooms when properly fertilized. For best results, he recommends using a general fertilizer like Plant-tone, an all-natural, organic product that encourages growth and bigger blooms. For acid-loving shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas, James recommends Holly-tone, another great natural fertilizer.

Another popular shrub for beginner gardeners is hydrangeas. “They tend to be forgiving for hard winters once they’re established,” James says. “They’re drought- tolerant and pretty much deer- and insect- resistant. We sell a lot of hydrangeas in our shrub department.”

But beginners might want to think twice about growing roses. “Roses need a little more care because of foliar diseases and insect problems,” James says. But for the more experienced gardener, Claussen’s carries just about every variety you can think of. “We do climbers, shrub roses, hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras; we have about 40 varieties of roses, and every- thing is grown here, whether it’s from seed or, in the case of roses, bare-root plants.” 

And by “grown here on the property,” James is referring to Claussen’s 40-plus greenhouses. “The square footage of our greenhouses has increased over the past 10 years,” he says. “We produce everything; we seed our perennials and annuals for our containers and our six packs and then transplant them into larger pots [during the colder months], so our greenhouses produce year-round,” he says. “In January, we only use about a third of our greenhouses, and then as spring progresses, we open another one and another one and another one until they are completely filled with beautiful plants ready for the garden.” 


Claussen's is famous for its perennial farm, run by James MacAuley, which not only produces flowers but also edibles like tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce. In addition, Claussen's carries more than 40 varieties of roses, all grown on-site.



James also wants to call out Claussen’s selection of edibles, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes, which also sprout early in spring. And that’s not to mention vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce. “We do every edible we can carry,” James says. “After the last frost or even before, so the end of May, is when we really get busy.” He says, “People get excited when they see the edibles come up.”

To give berry plants a boost, James recommends using an acidic fertilizer like Berry-tone, an organic slow-release product that promises better growth and bigger fruit. “We’re not an organic grower, but we do recommend it for fertilizers. We carry a line of organic or highly naturally organic fertilizers, and so we promote those as well, and we promote not using pesticides.”

So what does he counsel you to do about creepy crawlers that invade your garden? “For insects and fungicides, our go-to is neem oil, which takes care of most of the soft-bodied insects,” James says. “It’s a good organic spray that that we suggest our customers use on everything, even edibles. It even gets some of the tougher beetles with a couple of applications.” 


Though Claussen’s does not offer plant installation, it does work with landscapers who buy its plants and then install them, and, of course, the staff offers free planting advice to all customers. “We can give advice to the customer if they bring in photographs; we can go over all the garden situations and design their garden,” James says. He also notes that some landscapers come in with their customers. “We go through the design, and then the customer gets to help pick out their plants.”

With its vast selection of plants, its huge greenhouse space, and its booming retail operation, it’s no wonder Claussen’s has been around for more than half a century. It’s also no wonder that the company has inspired such loyalty among its staff. “We have great employers. Chris and Ali take good care of us and they are wonderful to work for. We all work very hard together to provide Vermont- grown plants to our community,” James says. “They're good to us, so we're good to them, and we’re excited for another good spring,”

We couldn’t agree more. 


Claussen’s Florist, Greenhouse, and Perennial Farm

187 Main Street 

Colchester, VT 

Get The Latest Stories, Events, and More Right In Your Inbox