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October 12, 2016

“I found myself aching to order up sacks of bulbs, to lift my trowel, to slice into the earth, and tuck away what amounts to hope, faith and promise.”

– Barbara Mahany, American journalist and blogger, at

Dinosaurs and “Bulb Therapy”

Bulb Protection from the Dollar Store

Can Landscape Cloth Make Glads Perennial?

Revamped SGHS Website’s Garden Riches

We started shipping last Tuesday, Oct. 4 (woo-hoo!) and orders have been flying out the door.

We’ll ship every order we have here now by Halloween, and every order that arrives today or later by November 11.

Please remember that we reserve bulbs on a first-come first-served basis (starting with orders placed LAST November) and ship to customers in colder zones first. (Some have already had snow!) If we have your email address, we’ll send you a tracking number when we ship your order.

We’ve recently added 15 MORE bulbs to our “Oops, I Guess It’s NOT Our Last Year” sale, so 47 priceless treasures are now on sale at savings of 10-25%. See them all at – and order (or order more) for your best spring ever!

If you love Old House Gardens – or heirlooms, or even just bulbs – here’s a recent blog-post and a radio interview that you may enjoy:

Pull Up a Chair is the very personal and poetic blog of our good customer Barbara Mahany who launched it after nearly 30 years of writing for the Chicago Tribune. In “Bulb Therapy” she talks of “the healing balms of the trowel” and bulbs that “will rise and reach for the light” whispering “‘here’s your reward for believing’ or ‘here’s what you get when you hold onto hope.” Barbara also has some kind words about us and our heirlooms, which she calls “the breathtakingest bulbs on the planet.” Read it all at .

Cultivating Place is the public radio program of our long-time customer Jennifer Jewell of northern California. Every week since February, Jennifer has been exploring the central role gardening plays in human culture, much like art, music, and literature. On the first day of fall we had a great time talking about my childhood love of dinosaurs, our first gardens, why I launched OHG, great bulbs saved and lost, and more. It’s a very pleasant half-hour (if I do say so myself), and you can listen to it now at .

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Although some bulbs are rarely bothered by animals (see our complete list here), others are quite tasty. If, like us, you can’t live without tulips, lilies, and other animal favorites, here’s a tip from fellow gardener Louise Heern in the August issue of Fine Gardening:

“Trying to garden in the mountains of Colorado is no easy task. Some plants may be deer or rabbit resistant, but voles and pocket gophers don’t care what kind of roots they eat.

“To protect plant roots from these burrowing critters, I buy wire baskets from the dollar store and sink them into the ground, leaving an inch or two above the soil to prevent voles from coming in over the top. I then plant the root-ball inside the basket, backfilling with soil to the appropriate level. The basket rim can be hidden with mulch if your plant doesn’t cover it.

“Wire baskets can also be turned upside down and secured with U-shaped pins to protect new seedlings from rabbits and chipmunks.”

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Here in zone-6a Michigan we leave our Byzantine, ‘Boone’ (pictured), and ‘Carolina Primrose’ glads in the ground every winter and they come back and bloom the next year just like any other perennial.

But wouldn’t it be great if ALL glads were that hardy? A recent article in the NAGC journal Glad World makes me think that might just be possible.

In his always excellent “Talk Radio” column, Cliff Hartline says that glad grower Bert Blanton “is noted for NOT digging his glads yearly,” even though he lives in zone-6b Missouri. Bert used to protect his glads in winter with a thick mulch of straw, but he says it “always blew around and I was constantly replacing it.”

So three years ago he tried landscape cloth instead, and it worked so well that he’s been using it ever since.

“I plant my rows six feet apart,” he says, “and cover my aisles and rows with landscape cloth, putting the seams right over the rows.” He pegs it down with wire landscape-cloth pins (also called sod staples), and then rolls it back in the spring.

The only problem? After three years of no digging, “I now have jillions of flowers,” Bert says. “I have about 20 spikes to a foot, and the rows have expanded themselves to 15 inches wide. I am getting so many spikes, it is more than I can sell at the Farmers Market or give away. My spikes are larger than anyone else’s, so I sell them for $2.00 each.”

We’re going to experiment with Bert’s technique this winter, even though our gardens are half a zone colder than his. If you try it, too, please let us know how it works for you and we’ll share our results here.

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You don’t have to be a Southerner to appreciate the Southern Garden History Society, and a recent makeover has made its website better than ever.

The site is now filled with photos and antique images, and it’s user-friendly on all devices. Back issues of its excellent journal Magnolia are now searchable, and there’s an events calendar, dozens of book reviews, and links to historic sites and organizations.

Maybe best of all is the “Plant Lists” section, a fully searchable PDF of 50 Southern plant lists spanning two centuries, from a 1734 list of plants in the correspondence of John Custis of Williamsburg to a 1922-41 list of plants Beatrix Farrand specified for Dumbarton Oaks (including winter aconite, trillium, and lemon lily).

One of my favorite lists is a 1786 newspaper advertisement for Philadelphia’s “Peter Crouwells and Co., Gardeners and Florists” announcing that “they have for sale here” – in Alexandria, Virginia – “an extensive variety of the most rare bulbous flowers, roots and seed,” including 600 hyacinths, 400 tulips, 40 double narcissus, and 26 jonquils. “Those ladies and gentlemen who want any of the above articles,” the ad continues, “will please to apply immediately at his lodgings at Mr. John Gretter’s, King Street, as he intends to set off for Baltimore in a few days.”

Even if you can’t make it to King Street in time, there’s still a lot to enjoy at

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With close to 15,000 likes, it’s one of the most popular Facebook pages for bulb gardening and garden history. (Thank you, all!) See what you’ve been missing at

Late September’s articles true vs. “weeny” Byzantine glads, a $63,000 antique flower pot, forcing crocus on pebbles, don’t be afraid of hyacinths, thanks to “St. Heirloom,” and more.

You can read all of our back-issues at – and we’re adding the best articles to our blog!

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