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April 27, 2016

– Walt Whitman, American poet, 1819-1892

Time is Running Out!

Midwestern Garden History Symposium

Now Free: Petals with Provenance

Little ‘Green Lace’ Wins Big Honor

All the Presidents’ Gardens

Fish-Tank Gravel to Improve Your Spring

Find Peonies Blooming Near You

Although many are sold out (thank you!), plenty of our heirloom beauties are still available for spring planting – and they’ll definitely reward you for giving them a good home!

If you like saving money, see our Bulbs on Sale page for 21 frugal jewels now at savings of 10-20%.

If you can’t decide, try our fabulous Intro to Heirlooms – now with even more value, $38 worth of great bulbs for just $30 – or our Dreamy Dahlias, Martha Stewart, and other easy samplers.

Or take a look at our gorgeous dahlias, glads, daylilies, tuberoses, rain lilies, crocosmia, and crinums and imagine how great they could be in your garden this summer.

Just make sure to order SOON or you’ll miss out on all the fun!

With sessions on researching and restoring historic gardens, parks, farms, and forests, the second annual Midwestern Garden History Symposium will be held June 9 at Hale Farm and Village in northeastern Ohio. Organized by our good friend Kathie VanDevere, the symposium also includes tours of the gardens at the living history site and the chance to spend a day with fellow fans of the Midwest’s rich landscape history.

For more information, visit The full day of lectures and tours is just $50, and registration ends May 20.

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Even non-subscribers can now read the Wall Street Journal’s excellent article about heirloom flowers for free.

In “Petals with Provenance”, author Bart Ziegler talks with experts from Monticello, Old Sturbridge Village, and Longwood Gardens, along with Scott and our good customer Alicia Guy. Like heirloom vegetables, he writes, heirloom flowers have a “devoted following.” He plugs the “bragging rights” of three of ours –Louis XIV’s tuberoses, Eudora Welty’s daffodils, and President Kennedy’s tulips – and he ends by quoting Scott: “The only way to save them is to grow them.”

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Spritely little ‘Green Lace’ was elected recently to the Gladiolus Hall of Fame, one of the glad world’s highest honors. Introduced by Clark Pickell of Rochester, New York, this outstanding “soft green ruffled little glad” is “still vital today,” fifty-five years after its introduction in 1961.

If you hurry you can still order ‘Green Lace’ for planting this spring, along with fellow Hall of Famer and customer-favorite ‘Atom’. (The two of them, by the way, look great together in bouquets.) Among the 112 other glads honored by the Hall since its founding in 1981, we’ve offered ‘Bluebird’, ‘Blue Smoke’, ‘Caribbean’, ‘Friendship’, ‘Isle of Capri’, ‘Lavanesque’, ‘Melodie’, ‘Peter Pears’, ‘Snow Princess’, and ‘Spic and Span’ – and we hope to offer them all again next year.

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Just in time for election season, Marta McDowell’s fascinating new book All the Presidents’ Gardens is now on bookstore shelves and online.

As Marta writes in the preface, “whether gardeners lean right or left, blue or red, we are united by a love of green growing things and the land in which they grow,” and that’s what this book is all about. From George Washington – who “like most serious gardeners was a bit plant-crazy” – to Michelle Obama and her iconic vegetable garden, All the Presidents’ Gardens tells the story of the White House landscape and the people who’ve shaped it for the past 200 years. Even better, Marta sets this special place’s history into the much larger story of American gardening and shows us how new plants and technology along with deep-seated cultural changes and the whims of fashion have all played a role in its constant evolution.

I remember Marta telling me way back in 2002 when she first ordered bulbs from us that she was working on a book about Emily Dickinson – and did I know that Dickinson loved hyacinths, she asked. Since then she’s published Emily Dickinson’s Gardens as well as Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, but as much as I like those earlier books, I think All the Presidents’ Gardens is Marta’s best yet. There’s a rich depth and breadth to it and yet it reads almost like a novel, brightened by Marta’s personal voice and engaging sense of humor.

See what I’m talking about – and enjoy some of the book’s 215 color and black-and-white images – at where the first 73 pages are available for your browsing pleasure. Then, if you’re like me, I bet you’ll want to get your own copy of this All-American winner.

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Have you ever looked at your spring garden and thought, “That spot needs a pop of color” or “I should plant more daffodils right there” – but then later everything has grown and changed so much that you can’t remember what you were thinking? Here’s a tip that will both help you find those perfect spots again at planting time and help you avoid disturbing any other bulbs that are growing nearby.

Right now, before spring is over and everything has changed, walk your garden with your smart phone or camera and a bag of fish-tank gravel. Snap photos of the areas where you want to add more flowers, and use the gravel – which comes in a variety of water-proof colors, from hot pink to subtle shades like green and brown – to outline the exact planting spots.

Later when you’re ready to order or plant bulbs, look at your photos to remember the places you had in mind and to see what your garden looked like in the spring. Then find the gravel outlines, plant your bulbs with confidence, and simply mix the gravel into the soil where it will virtually disappear.

The only hard part is you have to do it NOW, before spring has gone and faded from your memory – so get out there, and while you’re at it, enjoy your beautiful spring garden!

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Just in time for peony season, the website of the American Peony Society has added a finder’s guide to 77 peony-rich public gardens in 30 states from Maine to California.

The gardens range from well-known sites to fascinating smaller gardens such as Sisson’s Peony Gardens in Wisconsin and the Shacksboro Schoolhouse Museum in New York with its collection of nearly 200 heritage varieties. Some sites make it surprisingly hard to find information about their peonies, but if a search for “peony” or “paeonia” returns no results, you can always call the garden and talk to a human being.

The guide also lists 28 peony gardens in other countries, including many in China where peonies have been revered for centuries. Altogether there’s a total of 105 gardens waiting for you to explore at

(And if you’re really in the mood for peonies, check out the four you can order now for fall planting at

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Early April’s articles included the bulbs of Alcatraz, the fabulous Istanbul Tulip Festival, dahlias for drought, lost bulb survives and wins, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at – and we’re gradually adding the best of them to our new blog!

Please help us “Save the Bulbs!” by forwarding our newsletter to a kindred spirit, garden, museum, or group. Or if a friend sent you this issue, SUBSCRIBE here!

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