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October 9, 2018

“A house though otherwise beautiful, yet if it hath no garden belonging to it, is more like a prison than a house.”

– William Coles, 1626-1662, British botanist, in The Art of Simpling, 1656

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Although we’re still waiting for Lilium superbum to arrive from our hurricane-drenched grower’s farm in North Carolina, shipping is in full swing and orders have been flying out the door. Woo-hoo!

We expect to ship every order that’s here now in the next three weeks, and orders that arrive today or later by the first few days of November.

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. If we have your email address, we’ll send you a tracking number when your order is on its way.

Although bulbs have been selling faster than we expected (thank you!), we still have 52 daffodils, 32 tulips, 26 diverse treasures, 15 hyacinths, 13 lilies, 11 crocus, 6 peonies, and 9 samplers available for your gardening pleasure. They won’t last forever though, so why not order today?

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Are you looking for something special to plant this fall? Here are five strong-growing, distinctive heirlooms you might want to try.

“Love them!!!” wrote Mary Sorenson of the pheasant’s-eye narcissus she planted at the Centre Furnace Mansion in zone-6b State College, Pennsylvania. Mary attached this wonderful photo and added, “They look like the most beautiful butterflies in the garden.”

In her book Slow Flowers, Seattle author Debra Prinzing describes the pewter-and-moss colored flowers of silver bells as “fluffy and delicate.” Combined in a bouquet with ‘Super Green’ roses, apricot Verbascum, and dusty miller, they “surprised me as much as those chartreuse roses,” she adds. “Are they flowers? Are they greenery? I like that it’s hard to tell.”

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“I think I can safely say that ‘Generaal de Wet’ tulip is one of the most indestructible tulips on the planet,” says Lisa Miller of zone-7a Sparks, Nevada (and it’s richly fragrant). “It has been happily blooming here in a neglected pot for at least five years now. I have more planted here and there, even in shade” – the very bright shade of Nevada, that is – “and they all just keep coming back for more abuse.”

“If only one autumn-blooming cyclamen is to be grown,” writes Rod Leeds in Autumn Bulbs, “then it must be this one” – Cyclamen hederifolium. “It is very accommodating, flourishing in so many garden situations. A semi-shaded site in friable (easily crumbled) soil suits it very well. Here it will self-sow profusely and soon build into a spectacular sight in early September.”

“You should see my ‘General Kohler’ hyacinths!” writes Donna Mack of zone-5b Elgin, Illinois. “Every spring more and more of them appear, and I actually have to dig them up and move them. They’re growing among ornamental grasses, which have a low priority for watering, so they get the dry rest they want in summer. When the grasses are cut down in spring, it’s lovely to see them blooming there.”

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Peonies are rarely troubled by pests or diseases, but here’s an easy, poison-free way to make sure yours stay that way. We do it every fall.

1. Don’t wait. Cut them down early enough that the leaves are still green. If you wait until they’re dry and brittle, they’ll be much harder to clean up – and disease organisms can over-winter on any scrap that’s left behind.

2. Start with hedge-clippers so you can cut many stems at once. Chop them off a few inches above the ground, and pile the foliage to the side.

3. Follow up with pruning shears to cut the remaining few inches off as close to the ground as possible – being careful not to injure the pink buds of next year’s stems which are at or just below the soil surface.

4. Bag all leaves and stems in plastic trash bags. DO NOT COMPOST. Your goal is to leave virtually nothing behind that disease organisms can over-winter in.

5. Sterilize your tools by dipping or rubbing them with bleach or alcohol before going on to the next peony.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? And remember, healthy peonies bloom more!

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Fall is dahlia season, and the parking lot at Longwood Gardens was overflowing recently as thousands of visitors thronged to the national show of the American Dahlia Society.

Longwood is one of the country’s grandest public gardens, and dahlias have been grown there ever since it was the private home of Pierre S. du Pont. Between 1909 and 1934 du Pont purchased “around 500 batches of dahlia tubers,” according to the Longwood archives, probably for planting in his 600-foot Flower Garden Walk where they’re still grown today in a sumptuous mix of annuals, perennials, and grasses.

In a recent interview with blogger Margaret Roach, Longwood horticulturist Roger Davis shares his tips for growing and (if you want to) storing dahlias. Two of the three varieties they discuss are heirlooms – dark-leaved ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and creamy ‘Café au Lait’ – and fellow oldie ‘Thomas Edison’ is also blooming gloriously at Longwood this fall.

Read the complete interview here, and if it leaves you feeling inspired, here’s a tip from us – you can order your own dahlias now for delivery at planting time next spring.

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September’s articles included Martha says order from us, an heirloom daffodil orchard (and daffodils for naturalizing), tips for watering from 1686, good news about the red lily leaf beetle, dahlias for the South in Southern Living, and more.

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

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Simply credit www.oldhousegardens.com.


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