Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  So Much More Than New
November 2015
Nov
5
2015

Lost . . . and Found?
Gaye’s “Tiny Little Cream-Colored Daffodils”

Lost . . . and Found? Gaye’s “Tiny Little Cream-Colored Daffodils” – www.OldHouseGardens.com
N. moschatus, aka Silver Bells

We love it when our customers use the “Special Requests and Feedback” section of our online order form. That’s where Gaye Ingram of Ruston, Louisiana, made this plea:

“If possible, I would like to order ten moschatus, even though the limit is five. I’ve missed it every year by ordering late. Saw it decades ago and fell in love with it. I’m well past retirement age and would like to see a wee colony in my lifetime. Thank you for considering my request.”

Being soft-hearted souls, we said yes, and when she replied, Gaye told us this story:

“Thank you! I’ve pursued that particular bulb (or what I believe is that bulb) since 1968. Not even 25 years old but with degrees almost in hand, my husband and I arrived in Ruston that year to teach literature (me) and history at Louisiana Tech. We found a sweet little 1930s house on a shady street that had belonged to the mother of the chair of the Interior Design department. We felt like grown-ups!

“In spring, tiny little cream-colored daffodils with nodding heads sprang up on the lawn. I’d grown up in Central Louisiana among people whose yards and gardens were filled with passalong plants and bulbs, but I’d never seen such a demure spring bulb. I marked them and vowed to dig one or two in the fall.

“Then we moved to another place, and built a new house. I searched ever after for those quiet creamy bulbs. Went back to the place where we’d lived, but the owners had seen no bulbs. Without care and probably having their leaves mowed in late spring, they’d given up the ghost.

‘Colleen Bawn’, from 1885.

“The next time I saw them was in Celia’s grandmother’s garden. [Ed. note: Our good friend Celia Jones owns a small farm near Shreveport where her grandmother once grew acres of daffodils.] Celia had only a few, and knew only a local name for them. Sometime later, when I discovered Old House Gardens, I talked with Scott, but back then you didn’t offer them and he couldn’t be sure about their exact identity. More recently, whenever you did offer moschatus I ordered too late. (One has to discipline herself to order bulbs when it is 95 degrees with 80% humidity, as it is here today!)”

We sent Gaye’s bulbs to her last week, but we’re still not sure whether our Dutch-grown moschatus – or the very similar ‘Colleen Bawn’ – is exactly the same as the once widely-grown heirloom she’s seeking. Daffodils are enormously varied, and the differences don’t always show up in photos. For example, the Dutch-grown N. jonquilla of mainstream catalogs looks very much like the heirloom N. jonquilla ‘Early Louisiana’ that we offer, but the Dutch jonquils bloom weeks later and never thrive as well in Southern heat. (Learn more.)

But we’re hopeful that Gaye now has the sweet little daffodil she fell in love with almost 50 years ago – and if you happen to be growing the beloved Southern heirloom known as goose-neck, swan’s neck, or silver bells, we’d love to hear from you!

Nov
5
2015

Thwart Animals with “Noxious, Unpalatable” Bulbs

Thwart Animals with “Noxious, Unpalatable” Bulbs
Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop), 1875

We love animals, but we love flowers, too. In a recent article for the Associated Press, our good friend Dean Fosdick passed along some advice from an esteemed colleague about bulbs that are “noxious and unpalatable to foraging wildlife:”

“‘Members of the amaryllis family are the best long-term choice for predator control, particularly daffodils, snowdrops, and snowflakes,’ said Christian Curless, a horticulturist with Colorblends, a wholesale bulb company. . . . All contain lycorine, an alkaloid both repellent and toxic to animals. . . . ‘These plants we label as deer-and-rodent-“proof” because even a starving animal won’t eat them. The bulbs we classify as “resistant” are, for reasons we often don’t understand, not preferred by deer or rodents or both. Bulbs in this category include allium, hyacinth, fritillaria, and anemone.”

Other great animal-proof members of the amaryllis family include our fall-planted sternbergia, oxblood lilies, surprise lilies, and red spider lilies and our spring-planted crinums.

And for our tips for protecting bulbs like lilies and tulips that animals love to eat, see the Pests and Diseases section of our Newsletter Archives.

Loading