Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  So Much More Than New
March 2016
Mar
30
2016

Staff Picks: Vanessa’s Favorites for Spring Planting

Staff Picks: Vanessa’s 3 Favorites for Spring Planting
‘Mexican Single’, 1530

Vanessa Elms lives in a charming little 1920s bungalow in the Depot Town neighborhood of nearby Ypsilanti (the Brooklyn of Ann Arbor). She traces her love of plants to tagging along with her parents to local nurseries when she was a child, and after earning a horticulture degree from Michigan State and spending a few years working for a landscape company in Chicago, she returned here a few years ago to join us as our VP for Bulbs.

When I asked her to recommend ONE of her favorite spring-planted bulbs, Vanessa gave me three instead:

‘Mexican Single’ tuberose – “Every year I grow these in clay pots near my living room windows, and their fragrance drifts in nicely on warm summer nights. They’re also a favorite of the hawk moths that visit my garden in the early evening.

‘George Davison’ crocosmia – “Last summer I planted these with some other plants that attract hummingbirds, and they were a big hit. They can be slow to sprout – I actually started to plant annuals over mine because I was sure they weren’t coming up – but they’re definitely worth the wait.

‘Prince Noir’ dahlia – “My all time favorite dahlia! I especially love the contrast of these dark-petaled flowers in a simple white vase.”

Staff Picks: Vanessa’s 3 Favorites for Spring Planting – www.OldHouseGardens.com
‘George Davison’ crocosmia, 1902
Staff Picks: Vanessa’s 3 Favorites for Spring Planting – www.OldHouseGardens.com
‘Prince Noir’ dahlia, 1954
Mar
23
2016

Blog-Goddess Reports
“Virtually 100% Success” with Our Winter Aconites

Blog-Goddess Reports “Virtually 100% Success” with Our Winter Aconites

Always the first bulb to bloom here in our garden, winter aconites are thrilling, cheery, and carefree — so why aren’t more people growing them?

Although their tiny tubers can be hard to get established, our good friend Margaret Roach writes this week at her wildly popular A Way to Garden blog, “Good news: Buying waxed tubers from a vendor like Old House Gardens helps. I had virtually 100 percent success with their waxed tubers — a dramatic difference from any other time I’d tried to establish a new colony.”

Read more tips and see Margaret’s inspiring photos of these easy beauties in her garden at awaytogarden.com/hot-plants-winter-aconite/.

Mar
16
2016

Brand New Stamps Feature Heirloom Flowers

New Stamps Feature Heirloom Flowers – www.OldHouseGardens.com

Anyone who loves heirloom flowers (or reads our blog) will find a lot to like in a set of stamps the post office issued recently.

The ten “Botanical Art Forever” stamps are illustrated with images drawn from the antique catalog collection of the New York Botanical Garden. Six of the flowers pictured on the stamps, we’re happy to say, are bulbs — daffodils, dahlias, corn lilies (Ixia), and three different images of tulips, including one you may have seen at our website — along with petunias, roses, stock (Matthiola), and Japanese iris.

See all ten of these beauties or order your own here.

Mar
10
2016

Garden Tips for Early Spring

Garden Tips for Late Winter and Earliest Spring – www.OldHouseGardens.com

Although it may be too late for you lucky souls who garden where spring is already well advanced, here are some tips for those of you in colder zones:

1. Crocus, snowdrops, and other bulbs start to emerge earlier than many gardeners realize, especially in warm spots where the snow melts first. Matted leaves and winter mulch can distort their growth, so get out there EARLY and gently loosen or remove it.

2. Rabbits and other animals love to eat crocus, so you may want to spray leaves and buds with a repellant the moment they emerge. Check to see if you have some on hand before you need it, because the animals won’t wait! Tulips and lilies are two other, later-emerging animal delicacies that you may also want to spray.

3. Very early spring is also one of the best times to scratch a little fertilizer into the soil above your bulbs. If you wait too long, particles tend to get lodged between the leaves at their bases where they can burn the tender new foliage. Early spring is also when bulbs need the fertilizer to fuel their rapid growth and bloom. Don’t overdo it, though, and remember it’s always good to be guided by a soil test.

4. Now is also a good time to wash any pots that you’re planning to use for starting dahlias or growing tuberoses, etc. Finish by sterilizing them for a few minutes in a mix of 10% bleach and water. Later when you’re scrambling to keep up with your burgeoning garden, you’ll be glad you did.

Mar
2
2016

The Wall Street Journal, Heirloom Flowers, & Us

The Wall Street Journal, Heirloom Flowers, & Us www.oldhousegardens.com

“Rather than planting big-box-store flowers this spring, why not raise storied heirloom varieties that yield bragging rights as well as beauty?” So asks Bart Ziegler of the Wall Street Journal in a Feb. 20-21 article titled “Petals with Provenance.”

“Heirloom vegetables have been the rage for more than a decade,” Ziegler continues, “with foodies cooing over zebra-striped tomatoes and blue potatoes. But a lesser-known category of historic plants has its own devoted following: heirloom flowers.”

Bishop of Llandaff, 1927 www.oldhousegardens.com/bulb/BishopofLlandaff

Illustrated with a big color photo that includes our catalog and even a few of our gladiolus corms, the article quotes experts from Monticello, Old Sturbridge Village, and Longwood Gardens, along with yours truly and our good customer Alicia Guy.

“Cooking-school manager Alicia Guy, who grows antique dahlias at her home outside Seattle, said of doing so, ‘It makes me feel like I have a connection with gardeners from 100 years ago that transcends technological change,’” Ziegler writes. Alicia “likes knowing her great-great grandmother might have cared for the same flowers,” including ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, a “summer showstopper.”

Mexican Single tuberose, 1530 - www.oldhousegardens.com/bulb/MexicanSingletuberose

“The bragging rights historic plants give gardeners are well-founded,” Ziegler continues. “You can grow the same tulips planted in the White House Rose Garden when it was redesigned for President John F. Kennedy, in 1962; the variety of tuberoses Louis XIV enjoyed at Versailles; or the diminutive Silver Bells daffodils that author Eudora Welty tended in her Mississippi yard in the 1930s. All are available through Old House Gardens.”

“Raising heirloom plants,” he adds, “yields more than beauty: You ensure their survival. Catalogs from the . . . early 1800s offered hundreds of varieties of hyacinths, said Scott Kunst, founder and owner of Old House Gardens,” while today “most purveyors sell a half-dozen or so.”

The article ends with a call to action that you’ve probably heard from me before: “Heirloom flowers can’t be conserved in a museum like historic documents or antique furniture. ‘The only way to save them is to grow them,’ Mr. Kunst said.”

You can read the entire article here. (And thank you, Bart and the Journal, for shining a light on the flowers we love!)

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