Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  So Much More Than New
June 2015
Jun
11
2015

Book of the Month: The General in the Garden

Mount Vernon’s head gardener Tatiana Lisle visited us last month, and along with gifts of home-made soap (including “Honey and Yogurt” with honey from her backyard hives, and “Hempalicious” with . . . well, we were afraid to ask), Tatiana also brought us a couple of wonderful new books.

If you’re a foodie I’m sure you’ll enjoy the fascinating Dining with the Washingtons — with recipes for everything from and fairy butter and salamongundy to cherry bounce — and if you’re a gardener I highly recommend The General in the Garden.

Although beautiful enough to be a coffee-table book, The General in the Garden is also rich in information. At its heart are three chapters exploring Mount Vernon’s landscape history. The first tells of Washington’s dramatic redesign of his estate after the Revolutionary War. The second details the ever-changing restoration of the landscape from 1860 to 2005. And the third details the meticulous research and archaeology that led to the recent recreation of the Upper Garden — which for most of the 20th century was a formal rose garden — into three enormous, utilitarian vegetable beds bordered by relatively narrow flower beds. The book concludes with a historical guide to everything from “Greenhouse and Slave Quarter” to “The Lost Deer Park” along with lists of plants grown at Mount Vernon during Washington’s time.

As one of the most important American landscapes to survive from the 18th century, Mount Vernon has long deserved a book of this caliber. Whether you simply page though it enjoying the illustrations or read every word including the footnotes, The General in the Garden will give you a deeper appreciation for this extraordinary landscape, for the difficult art of landscape preservation, and for Washington himself, a man who was not only the father of his country but a gifted landscape designer and an unabashed tree-lover.

Jun
11
2015

Bulb Care Tips for June and July

Dealing with YELLOWING FOLIAGE – If you want your spring-blooming bulbs to multiply and bloom again next year, you have to let their foliage continue to photosynthesize until it begins to yellow. Learn more.

Giving Bulbs a DRY REST – Many bulbs – especially tulips and hyacinths – do best in soils that stay relatively dry in summer, so avoid watering them after they go dormant, and don’t overplant them with thirsty annuals.

Bulb Care Tips for June and July

DIVIDING DAFFODILS – When daffodils get overcrowded, they bloom less. The best time to dig and divide them is when their foliage yellows or shortly afterwards. You can replant them immediately or store until fall.

DEADHEADING PEONIES – After bloom, trim flower-stalks back for a neater appearance, but be sure to leave as much foliage as possible to feed the plant for future increase.

PINCHING DAHLIAS – For a bushier plant, pinch out the center shoot after three or four sets of leaves develop.

Controlling IRIS BORER – The first signs of this pest are leaf edges that look water-soaked or chewed. Poison-free control is relatively simple. Learn more.

DIVIDING IRIS – If you want to divide or move your bearded iris, it’s best to do that during their semi-dormant period four to eight weeks after bloom. Learn more.

Controlling THRIPS ON GLADS – These virtually invisible insects multiply quickly in warm weather and can be devastating. The first step to control is keeping a sharp look out for early signs of damage. Learn more.

Making CUT FLOWERS Last – Picking your own fresh bouquets is one of the joys of gardening! Learn more.

Jun
11
2015

Sissinghurst Gardener Blogs about Top Tulips & Us

Sissinghurst Gardener Blogs about Top Tulips & Us

We got a nice email last month from a gardener at England’s famous Sissinghurst Castle Garden. “I thought you might like to know that your nursery was mentioned in our Gardeners’ Blog this week,” wrote Helen Champion. “Thank you for creating such an interesting website. I find your in-depth information about heritage bulbs an excellent reference.”

In her post titled “My Top 5 . . . Tulips,” Helen ranks pink ‘Clara Butt’ #1. Introduced in 1889 and named for a world famous singer, “it flowers in the Rose Garden and is reliably perennial, having grown at Sissinghurst for many years,” she writes. “It’s hard to imagine a singer in today’s world putting up with a name like Clara Butt when she could be Madonna, Beyonce, or Lady Gaga but . . . Clara was immensely popular.”

Clara’s tulip was, too, “but fashions move on,” Helen writes, and “by 2007 only one grower produced ‘Clara Butt’ commercially and it is likely that the tulip would have been lost forever were it not for the efforts of Scott Kunst from Old House Gardens in the USA. He bought the remaining stock of ‘Clara Butt’ and sent 100 bulbs to Holland to be propagated. Now the future of this bulb is secure.”

Tulip #3 on Helen’s list is another wonderful old heirloom we offer, ‘Prinses Irene’, which she says has “historically been grown in the copper pot in the Cottage Garden, where the flame colored flowers sit in perfect contrast to the blue-green patina of the copper.”

Going enthusiastically beyond her Top 5, Helen recommends 20 other great tulips such as ‘Greuze’ which is grown today in Sissinghurst’s Purple Border. Read about them all. And thank you, Helen!

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