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October 24, 2013
“Find out what you can grow well, and grow lots of it.”
— Lord Abercrombie, quoted by Thalassa Cruso in Making Things Grow
It’s Not Too Late: Shipping Ends Nov. 8 and NOW is Still a Great Time to Order
Save 20 on 20!
If bulb sales are any indicator, the economy really is picking up steam because this fall our sales have been stronger than ever. In fact, 87 varieties are already sold out. Hallelujah, and thank you!
Like most gardeners, though, we sometimes get a little too excited and bring home more plants than we know what to do with. That’s good news for you, though, because we just cut the prices of 20 great but over-stocked bulbs by 20%! Fragrant ‘Philippe Rivoire ’peony, wildflowery white martagon lily, jewel-like ‘Firetail ’daffodil, 250-year-old ‘Wapen van Leiden ’tulip, autumn-blooming pink surprise lily, and 15 more — see them all at our Bulbs on Sale page.
And Even More on Bumper-Crop Tulips — Now Including ‘Zomerschoon’
Some years we get just 25 bulbs of ‘Zomerschoon ’— which may be the most exciting tulip we offer. This year we were happily expecting 100 — and were thrilled when 200 arrived. To share the bounty, we’ve added it to our Bumper Crop list and slashed its price by 50%.
How wonderful is ‘Zomerschoon’? Our good customer Adam Barmore of Louisville, KY, writes: “This spring when ‘Zomerschoon’ bloomed it took my breath away . . . with its vivid color and perfect form. I brought people to see it like it was a relic in some dusty chapel. I have a very small garden and that one flower became the very soul of it for as long as it lasted. Thank you!”
BBG Children’s Garden Celebrates Its Centennial with Our Bulbs
A recent order from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for 100 ‘Van Sion’ daffodils and 25 ‘Duc van Tol’ tulips piqued our interest. Were they for something special, we asked, and the BBG’s Margarita Poulsen replied:
“In 2014 Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be celebrating the centennial of its Children’s Garden. This garden is one of the oldest children’s gardens in the world and was started by Ellen Eddy Shaw. In my research I found a book written by Ms. Shaw, The Library of Work and Play: Gardening and Farming, in which she recommends planting these two specific bulbs, so I thought it would be a good way to commemorate this special occasion. I was elated to find them both at Old House Gardens. Thank you!”
Learn more here about the Children’s Garden and its long and fascinating history.
Historic and Classic Daffodils Win Big at Shows
Time-tested daffodils were among the biggest award-winners at daffodil shows across the country this past spring. In fact, as Bob Spotts and Melissa Read reported recently in the ADS Daffodil Journal, 12 of the 21 top award-winners this year were classified as either Historic or Classic daffodils. Although ADS awards are based on the perfection of individual flowers, not overall garden-worthiness, and the most commonly grown varieties tend to win the most awards, you might like to add some of these award-winners to your garden this fall.
A special section for Historic, Pre-1940 daffodils was established by the ADS in 2001 (at the urging of a group of enthusiasts that I’m proud to have led). This past spring, 99 different cultivars won awards in the Historic section, and six were among the top 21 award-winners:
‘sweetness’, 1939 (23 awards),
‘Beryl’, 1907 (19),
‘Hawera’, 1928 (15),
Actaea, 1919 (14),
‘Erlicheer’, 1934 (12), and
‘saint Keverne’, 1934 (12).
‘Thalia’, 1916, was close behind with 10 awards, and several other Historics won five or more awards: ‘Trevithian’ (8), ‘Daphne’ (6), ‘White Lady’ (6), ‘Avalanche’ (5), ‘Limerick ’(5), ‘Queen of the North’ (5), and ‘Trousseau ’(5).
In 2012, the ADS added a section for Classic, 1940-1969 daffodils, and this past spring 155 different cultivars won awards in it, including six of the top 21: ‘Tete-a-Tete ’1949 (19 awards), ’Snipe’, 1948 (18), ‘Ceylon’, 1943 (16), ‘Minnow’, 1962 (16), ‘Jetfire’, 1966 (14), and ’segovia’, 1962 (14).
Stone Bouquet: 17th-Century Mosaic of Tulips, Roman Hyacinths, and Crown Imperial
A friend sent us a notecard recently with a striking image of tulips, Roman hyacinths, and crown imperial, all worked out in semi-precious stones. Dating to the second half of the 1600s, the artwork is an example of pietra dura, an expensive, mosaic-like inlay made with thin slabs of stones such as jasper, malachite, and lapis lazuli. Now in the collection of Nelahozeves Castle in the Czech Republic, the artwork shows flowers that were new and expensive at the time — and so little changed since then that they are instantly recognizable today — including a crown imperial, sparsely-flowered Roman hyacinths, and a tulip that looks a lot like ‘Lac van Rijn’. See it here.
Bulbs for Partial Shade, South and North
In her weekly column in the Greenville [SC] News, Marian St. Clair offers good advice for shade gardeners everywhere — and recommends several of our bulbs that she’s planting this fall.
“Spring-flowering bulbs grow and bloom from energy stored within the bulb the previous year,” Marian explains. “For repeat bloom, gardeners must maintain nutrient-rich and moist soil conditions to nurture the bulb until foliage dies back and the bulb becomes dormant. Of course, this is also the most important time for bulb foliage to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. For success, shade gardeners should select bulbs that flower early, so foliage has time to restore energy to the bulb before trees produce a new crop of leaves.”
For her zone-8, South Carolina garden, Marian writes that she’s “especially excited about a pair of early-blooming daffodils from Old House Gardens. . . . Early Pearl, a tazetta . . . rediscovered in an old garden in our region’s ’spanish moss belt, ’[and] Campernelle; a tried-and-true heirloom grown for more than 400 years. . . . This fragrant yellow daffodil looks like a wildflower compared with many of the new, chunkier hybrids . . . and its slightly twisting petals remind me of a child’s pinwheel.” Other shade-tolerant heirlooms from us that she’s planting this fall — all of which are good north through zone 5 as well — include Crocus tommasinianus, “a lavender beauty known as the best crocus for the South,” white Spanish bluebell, giant snowdrop, and Trillium grandiflorum.
Tips for Forcing Bulbs in Winter (#1: Order Now!)
You can enjoy spring flowers all winter long by forcing almost any bulb to bloom indoors — if you order them NOW. Some are so simple even kindergarteners can do it (‘Lady Derby’ hyacinth, for example, now at 20% off), while others are a bit more challenging. For inspiration and tips, see our Forcing Bulbs How-To page and our Forcing Bulbs newsletter archives.
Every winter we get lots of calls from gardeners looking for bulbs to force, but by then it’s too late. Our fall shipping season ends Nov. 8, so if you want some spring blooms on your windowsill this winter, order now!
Easy Underground Storage for Dahlias, Glads, Etc.
For our usual advice on storing your dahlias, glads, and other tender bulbs this winter (IF you want to), see the “Winter Care” sections of our Planting and Care page.
But if you want to try something different, here’s a new idea: bury them underground. Although we haven’t tried it, it’s recommended by a gardener we trust: Janet Macunovich, a Detroit-area horticulturist and writer who really knows how to garden. At her website gardenAtoZ.com she writes:
“It’s easy to dig a hole about 24” deep and as wide as needed. . . . Then we put [the bulbs] in the hole and cover them with something like burlap that can let some air and water pass but that slows our shovel so we don’t slice right through our prize when we reclaim it in early spring. Then we backfill the hole and put something like a bag of leaves on top to mark the spot and for extra insulation. We’ve been told we should be burying things 42 inches deep to be down where the soil stays at 40-50 F year round — below the potential frost line. Yet frost rarely gets that deep into the soil in our area. Even though the temperature may drop to -20 F, it doesn’t hold there long enough to drive the ice that far into the ground.”
Every garden is different, though, so if you decide to try Janet’s technique we recommend starting with just a few bulbs to see how well it works in your soil and zone. And please let us know your results! We love learning from our customers.
Larkspur Blooms in the Wreckage of Katrina
When she heard we were giving away larkspur (or poppy) seeds in every order this fall (learn more here), our good customer Coleen Perilloux Landry of Metairie, Louisiana, posted this at our Facebook page: “Several months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I went into an area that had 20 feet of water on it for many days. The house was totally ruined and still a disaster, but the yard was full of larkspur in bloom.” If it can thrive there, imagine how beautiful it could be in your garden!
Celebrate Bulb Planting Season with Us on Facebook
With the addition of 86 new “likes,” our happy online clan of bulb-lovers now numbers 6164. Thank you, all! When you’re taking a break from planting bulbs this fall, please come check us out, join the conversation (or just listen in), and help spread the word about the joys of heirloom bulbs.
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
Early October’s articles included honors from the Garden Club of America, the best garden blogs, Gardenista’s 10 tips for planning a bulb garden, a 1917 paean to bulbs and keeping “always young in spirit,” peonies in zone 8, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives .
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