Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  Living Treasure from the Past


March 2020

Mar
25
2020

For More Beautiful Daffodils Next Year, Start Now

Here are three simple tips for right now that will help make your daffodils even more beautiful next year.

Writing in Maine’s Camden Herald, our good customer Lynette Walther says first of all plant more daffodils – but where, and how do you remember those spots at planting time months from now?

“Cut some weatherproof markers from plastic yogurt containers or something that can be used to mark the bald spots where a clump of daffodils would look great next spring,” she advises. “Insert a marker in each sunny, well-drained spot, deep enough so that it will remain there all summer. Come fall when you’ve cleaned out the flower bed or border or wherever your markers lie, that is where you will rediscover them,” and you’ll know exactly where to plant your bulbs.

Then in a tip she calls her “crabby comment of the week,” Lynette says “Yes, everyone knows that after they are finished blooming, the daffodil foliage that is left behind looks rather icky. But don’t cut it off, and for the love of all things good, don’t be tempted to braid or twist or whatever it is you are compelled to do in an attempt to tidy it up. You won’t be fooling anyone. Just leave it alone! That tatty foliage is performing an important job that involves photosynthesis, and is in effect working to store enough energy in that bulb down below to enable it to bloom again next spring. So, hands off!”

Finally, Lynette writes, “Looking for some tried and true bulb selections? Visit the Old House Gardens website for a selection of trusted daffodil varieties.”

Good advice all around, we’d say!

Mar
17
2020

Now Online: A Paradise of Historic Iris Catalogs

If you enjoy paging through the latest garden catalogs and daydreaming about all the plants you’d like to add to your garden, how about trying it with catalogs that are 50, 100, or even 200 years old?

Thanks to several dedicated members of the Historic Iris Preservation Society, catalogs in the HIPS archives are being scanned and posted online along with others from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

The oldest catalog in the Hager-DuBose Memorial Library is the 1807 list of the pioneering American botanists John and William Bartram. Although irises are only a small part of its offerings, it includes several North American native iris as well as “exotic” varieties such as Florentina and Germanica. (Although we won’t offer these two again until next year, 11 other fabulous old iris are available now for delivery next month.)

The library’s oldest iris-only catalog is the 1915 catalog of Dean Iris Gardens and it also includes several of the earliest catalogs of Bertrand Farr such as the one from 1910 pictured here. Farr was America’s first important iris breeder and the person who did more than anyone else to popularize iris (and daylilies) in the US.

Scores of other iris catalogs follow, all organized by date, and many are richly illustrated. It’s a garden-daydreamers paradise. Enjoy!