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May
3
2022

The Historical Iris Preservation Society and Other Resources for Gardeners

Some of you with iris on your spring orders may have seen a postcard from HIPS attached to your packing list this year. Since we never share our customers’ personal information, this was a way we could help our friends there reach out to fellow enthusiasts as well as letting you know a little about their worthy organization. They are actively engaged in efforts to preserve historic iris and have a network of members who grow and share wonderful and rare varieties. They also try to identify mystery irises, though as they point out, many beautiful ones were results of home or small-scale breeding efforts and don’t have recorded names. Explore their range of resources here: https://historiciris.org/

And in case iris and peonies aren’t your passion, here are some of the other non-profit associations we recommend that provide a wealth of information for gardeners at all levels of experience:

The American Horticultural Society

The Colorado Dahlia Society (known across the country for their Big List of varieties and sources)

The North American Gladiolus Council

The North American Lily Society

The American Daffodil Society

May
3
2022

The American Peony Society is Coming to Our Hometown!

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden in Ann Arbor, begun with the gift of a diverse collection of peonies from Dr. W. E. Upjohn, peony-lover, 1875 graduate of the University of Michigan, and founder of the pharmaceutical company that bears his name. The Garden now proudly holds North America’s largest public collection of heirloom herbaceous peonies, currently consisting of 350 historic varieties from the nineteenth to the first half of the twentieth century, including many of the original plants donated from 1922-1927. The American Peony Society was formed in nearby Detroit in 1903, so it seems fitting that they’re returning to their Michigan roots for their annual convention this year, to be held in Ann Arbor June 2-5. This article https://michigantoday.umich.edu/galleries/pretty-in-pink/ from the Michigan Daily provides lovely photos as well as more information about the history of the Gardens, and you can find out more about the American Peony Society’s convention at https://americanpeonysociety.org/100-years-in-bloom-michigan-convention/.

May
3
2022

A Note of Caution for Northern Dahlia Lovers: Don’t Plant Outside Too Soon!

We sympathize: your OHG box has arrived, it’s one of the first warm days of spring, and you are eager to get your new tubers into the ground and growing! Check the soil temperature and weather forecast before acting on that impulse, however. If the soil is too cool, or if spring rains are in the forecast, your tubers may rot before they put down roots. It’s best to wait until your local frost free date or until soil temperatures reach 60°F. Our soil temperature here in Ann Arbor is only 48F, still too early to plant, even though the 10-day forecast shows temperatures well above freezing. If you’re in a short-season area, you can try starting in pots indoors for a head start, but we find in zone 6 that our dahlias are just fine planted after May 15.

We were happy to see that the 2022 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac gives the same advice, and it was lovely to read this quote leading off the article: “As Scott Kunst, former proprietor of Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan once observed: ‘Dahlias get more and more charged up. They’re like fireworks - they can animate and transform the garden.’” Here’s wishing you a glorious display in late summer!

May
3
2022

Time is Running Out – and So Are the Bulbs! Order Now and SAVE 25%!

It’s not TOO late, 33 of our spring-shipped treasures are still available. See our Bulbs on Sale page for 25% off remaining varieties. How can you resist? Order your own box-load of summer excitement now!

Apr
1
2022

Last But Not Least: Some April Fool’s Jokes in Honor of the Day

We take our customers and your gardens seriously, but here are a few bits of levity to make you smile, groan, or both:

What did April Fool’s Day say when it won an award?

Prank you!

Why is everyone exhausted on April 1?

Because they just had a 31-day March.

Why do eggs like April Fool’s Day?

They love practical yolks.

How do April flowers kiss?

With their tu-lips!

Apr
1
2022

Seasonal Tip: Fertilize Iris When Tulips Bloom

Like all plants, your iris will do better when their nutritional needs are met, and that usually means fertilizing them every now and then. Old-time wisdom suggests doing it when your tulips are blooming and we’ve found that to be a good indicator here. This is also a good time for doing a soil test, as over-fertilizing can cause long-term problems, but if you haven’t fertilized in a while, you’re probably safe doing it this spring. Some growers recommend a 6-10-10 fertilizer, while others prefer a balanced (10-10-10) one, but as long as it’s slow-release and not high in nitrogen (the first number), most fertilizers will work just fine.

Apr
1
2022

Start Planning Soon for Fall Planting

Once your spring-blooming bulbs are up, and after you’ve simply enjoyed their beauty and exuberance, we recommend taking a walk through the garden with a notepad and an eye to the future. Are there empty spaces you’d like to fill? Take a photograph with your phone as a reminder of the location, or mark it with some colored fish-tank gravel, so you’ll have a reference point for planting next fall when neighboring plants may have hidden the spot. Did you try varieties that were experimental for you? Assess their performance and see if you want to increase their numbers or replace them with something else. Are there some old favorites that you love so much you must have more? We’re happy to help with that too! As always, order early for the best selection: our fall bulbs are already available for ordering at our website and through our newest catalog.

Apr
1
2022

Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine Raves About Our Dahlias

A warm welcome to our new customers who found us through the “Dreamy Dahlias” article in the April-May issue which is full of beautiful photographs and gardening advice. Though most of the ones she features have sold out already, many other varieties, to our minds just as lovely and deserving of your attention, are still available.

Apr
1
2022

Shipping Begins Next Week!

We’ve had quite low temperatures here in Michigan this week but we’re optimistic about starting shipping soon. We ship to the warmest parts of the country first, since they’ve had spring for some time now, and work our way up through the cooler gardening zones. Thanks for your patience, and enjoy the anticipation! We will send you an email when your bulbs leave here so that you’ll have tracking information and an idea of when to expect them to arrive.

We’ll keep taking new orders for several more weeks, but since varieties are selling out we’d suggest ordering soon for the best selection – check our website to see what is currently available. Since we’ll be spending most of our time out of the office during shipping season, placing your order online will get your bulbs reserved most quickly.

Mar
15
2022

Seasonal Tip: Fertilize Early, Before Foliage Emerges

Like all plants, your fall-planted bulbs will do better when their nutritional needs are met, and that usually means fertilizing them every now and then. Early spring is one good time to do it, before – or as soon as – the foliage emerges. Don’t wait too long, though, or you’ll find it’s hard to keep fertilizer granules from lodging among the emerging leaves where they can burn the tender foliage.

Although it’s always best to be guided by a soil test – and over-fertilizing can cause long-term problems – if you haven’t fertilized in a while, you’re probably safe doing it this spring. A relatively balanced (something like 8-8-8), slow-release fertilizer is best, but anything other than high-nitrogen (the first number) lawn fertilizers will work just fine. Fertilizing can be especially helpful in revitalizing crowded clumps of daffodils that no longer bloom well.

It’s also a good time to check your stored dahlias again; see our tips from our last newsletter here.

Mar
15
2022

Our Top Bulbs to Plant This Spring for . . .

For those of you new to heirloom bulbs, or those just looking for new ideas, we thought we’d share some of our favorite varieties in different categories customers often ask about.

Hummingbirds – ‘Atom’ glad (runners-up: all of our other glads)

Bees – ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia (runner-up: ‘Mrs. H. Brown’ dahlia)

Fragrance – Tuberoses (runners-up: ‘Gold Band’ lily and ‘Caprice’ iris)

Cut Flowers – ‘Amber Queen’ dahlia (runner-up: ‘Requiem’ dahlia)

Wildflower Grace – ‘George Davison’ crocosmia (runners-up: ‘Abyssinian’ glad and ‘Kindly Light’ daylily)

Big Flowers – ‘Kelvin Floodlight’ dahlia (runner-up: ‘Trader Horn’ gladiolus)

Growing in Pots – Rain lilies (runner-up: tuberoses; and see our helpful Bulbs in Pots page)

Interesting Foliage – ‘Ehemanii’ canna (runner-up: ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlia)

Early Bloom – ‘Gold Dust’ daylily (runner-up: ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’ iris)

Drought-Resistance – ‘Coronation’ iris (runner-up: our other iris)

Iconic Beauty – ‘Germanica’ iris (runners-up: Cafe au Lait’ and ‘Thomas Edison’ dahlia, ‘Peter Pears’ glad)

Mar
15
2022

We’re Getting Ready to Start Shipping in April!

Despite snow this past weekend, we have snowdrops blooming, and we’re ramping up to start shipping spring-planted bulbs at the beginning of April. (While it may be warm where you live, our nighttime lows here in Michigan won’t stay safely above freezing until early APRIL – which is why we don’t start shipping until then.) We’ll keep taking new orders during that month, but if you want to add anything to an existing spring order, please let us know by March 20th, and as we are selling out of things, sooner is always better. You can either place a new order online, noting in the comment line that you’d like it added to your first order, drop us an email at help@oldhousegardens.com listing the varieties and quantities you’d like to add, or give us a call. And as usual, we’ll be sending you an email when your bulbs leave here so that you’ll have tracking information and an idea of when to expect them.