Heirloom Bulbs & Garden History  •  Living Treasure from the Past


September 2020

Sep
30
2020

400 Years of Enjoying Daffodils at DaffLibrary.org

from The Ladies Flower Garden of Ornamental Bulbous Plants by Mrs. Loudon, 1841

The online library of the American Daffodil Society just keeps getting bigger and better.

“If you haven’t checked out DaffLibrary.org,” our friend Mary Lou Gripshover writes in the September 2020 issue of Daffodil Journal, “give it a look.” In it you’ll find every issue of the Journal from 1964-2014, ADS newsletters dating back to 1954, and a whole lot more.

“Interested in daffodil history?” she asks. “Then you might enjoy reading through writings of Peter Barr or W. Baylor Hartland from the 1880s. Or something a bit more recent? How about looking into the American Daffodil Yearbooks published from 1935-1938 by the American Horticultural Society? E-books are a recent addition, but check out Yellow Fever: A Prospect of the History and Culture of Daffodils by Dr. David Willis. In these days of self-isolation, this book should keep you happily occupied for some time.”

In the site’s navigation bar you’ll find tabs for Catalogs (from the late 1800s right up to this fall), Historic Publications (from the 1636 edition of Gerard’s Herbal to our OHG daffodil newsletter archives!), Articles and Notes, Diseases and Pests, Science, People, and more. In fact, there’s so much there that it can be a bit overwhelming, but if you think of it as a real library and start by opening just one title that sounds interesting, I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Sep
23
2020

Garden Gate’s Top Picks: 3 “Thrilling Lilies”

“For lily lovers, nothing is more exciting than the launch of lily season,” writes Susan Martin in the June 2020 Garden Gate. “These towering flowers are definitely ‘thrillers’,” she says, and “ideal for people looking to squeeze more color into chock-full garden beds since their narrow habit takes up a small footprint.”

Three of our heirlooms, we're happy to say, made Susan’s list of “top picks.”

‘Black Beauty’ (fall-shipped) – “Lily breeder Leslie Woodriff may be best-known for creating the ‘Stargazer’ lily,” Susan writes, “but many consider ‘Black Beauty’ … to be his crowning achievement….

“Anywhere from 20 to 40 lightly fragrant flowers line the towering stems … with dark raspberry-pink petals which reflex back to reveal a lime-green center starburst…. Described as ‘indestructible’ by many lily growers, this vigorous, long-lived variety is as elegant as it is durable.”

‘Gold Band’ (spring-shipped) – “The clear coloration and pristine form of this lily’s flowers will stop you in your tracks,” Susan says. Although it was “first sold in 1862, it has the look of a fresh new introduction….

“Huge blossoms up to 10 inches across open to reveal silky white petals, exuding a sweet fragrance that draws in passersby. Each lightly ruffled petal bears a glowing gold stripe down the center, while a dusting of cinnamon sprinkles completes the look. This lily will thrive in a cool spot that receives bright, filtered sun and requires acid soil to return well each year.”

Henry’s lily (spring-shipped) – “We couldn’t talk about lilies without mentioning this ancestor of many popular hybrid lilies,” Susan writes. Henry’s lily “is easy to grow and looks right at home in woodland gardens where it glows in the filtered shade of tall trees.

“It bursts onto the scene in midsummer with tall panicles carrying 10 to 20 nodding, reflexed orange blossoms apiece. Each flower is painted liberally with maroon spots. As the bulbs mature, their flower count increases and their stalks tower upwards of 6 feet.” (Please note that the flower pictured in the article was tiger lily, not Henry’s lily – pictured here – which is a much more golden orange and, to my eye, more beautiful.)

Sep
16
2020

It’s Dahlia Season! Tips for Cutting and Arranging

With night temperatures cooling as fall approaches, the dahlias in my garden are blooming exuberantly. If yours are, too, here are some tips for enjoying their bounty from cut-flower grower Michael Russo as reported by Sherri Ribbey in the October 2020 issue of Garden Gate.

“The best time to cut dahlias is in the morning before 10 AM so plants are well hydrated. Watering the night before can help if rain has been scarce. When you’re cutting long stems for arrangements, cut above a pair of leaf nodes ... and the dahlia will rebloom.

“Check the back of the bloom when you’re cutting. If it’s starting to curve, it’s too old and won’t last as long in the vase. Look for dahlias with a flat back to get the most life – usually 5 to 7 days. Put the cut stems in a bucket of water right away to help keep them fresh.”

As for arranging them in a vase, “Michael often uses an analogous color scheme (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel)” to produce “a harmonious feel.” To “create drama,” on the other hand, he recommends choosing complementary colors. “The strong contrast between colors across from each other on the color wheel is sure to turn heads.”

Although my dahlia bouquets tend to be mostly dahlias – or even just one dahlia – Russo’s include an inspiring array of other stuff found in many fall gardens: hydrangeas, goldenrod, fountain grass, tomatillos, dark red hibiscus foliage, the feathery seedheads of clematis, and even an unruly spray of hops.

So what’s in your dahlia bouquets? We’d love to hear from you, or send us a photo. In times like these, virtual bouquets are a healthy treat!

Sep
9
2020

“Exhilarating” Trio of Jewel-Colored Tulips

Tulips – including three of our favorite heirlooms – rule in a London garden featured in the April 2019 issue of The English Garden.

At the center of the “radiant back garden ... is a particularly exhilarating stretch of color, which draws the smiling visitor unstoppably towards it. There are hundreds of jewel-colored tulips emerging from clear-blue forget-me-nots and a frame of step-over apple trees smothered in pale pink blossom…. The tulips are a combination of the glowing pink ‘Mariette’, dusky purple ‘Queen of Night’, and the clear scarlet ‘Kingsblood’.

“Weaving their way through these, electrifying everything, are seams of flamed yellow-and-red tulips.” Architectural designer Charles Rutherfoord “smiles when asked to identify them. They don’t have a name because these are tulips that have ‘broken’. Charles and his partner, Rupert Tyler (a trustee of the National Garden Scheme), don’t lift the 2,000 tulips they plant each year. When, occasionally, a tulip ‘breaks’ (that is, it becomes infected by a virus), they delight in the delicacy and independent spirit of the resulting colors and patterns.”

At the end of the article, Rutherfoord offers some planting advice that we were also happy to hear: “Plant lots of bulbs and pay absolutely no attention to advised spacing!”