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October 16, 2014
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960, French-Algerian author and existentialist
Bumper Crop/Unbridled Optimism Sale: Save Up to 40% Right Now!
Good news! The Hortus Bulborum and a couple of our favorite growers offered us more bulbs than ever this fall — and I have a hard time saying no to their exquisite rarities. Some would call that a weakness, but I prefer to see it as unbridled optimism. “We can’t save them if we don’t sell them,” I always say, and since it’s mid-October and we still have too many of them looking for good homes, we’re slashing prices to entice you into enjoying their awesomeness in your garden.
Save 30% on ‘Albatross’, ‘Horn of Plenty’, and ‘Lucifer’ daffodils; ‘Joost van de Vondel’, ‘Old Times’ and ‘Wapen van Leiden’ tulips, and four more broken tulips including pre-Revolutionary ‘Silver Standard’.
Save 20% on seven more daffodils including ‘Firetail’, ‘Glory of Lisse’, ‘Insulinde’, and ‘Mrs. Langtry’, as well as five more tulips including “spidery and mad” acuminata and sweet little ‘Duc van Tol Rose’.
See our entire list of sale bulbs here — and let unbridled optimism flourish!
Shipping Update: Where’s My Order?
Orders have been flying out the door since Oct. 1, and we’re now about a third of the way through our fall shipping season. We’ll ship every order we currently have in hand by the end of October, and we’ll continue shipping through Nov. 7 or so, as we do every year.
Please remember that we reserve bulbs for orders on a first-come first-served basis (starting with orders placed as long ago as LAST November) and ship to our customers in colder zones first. (Some places have already had snow!) If you’ve given us your email address, you’ll get an alert when your order is shipped. And if you have special delivery needs, simply mention them when ordering or call us at 734-995-1486 and we’ll do whatever we can for you.
Our Customers’ Favorite Bulbs
If you asked thousands of fellow gardeners — from beginners to experts, in all 50 states — which of our bulbs they like best, you’d be exhausted. So we’ve done the work for you! Every year we compile a list of our best-selling bulbs based on numbers sold and total dollar value. Although a couple are already sold out this fall, you can see all 30 favorites here.
Snowdrops at Warp Speed
“Well, here’s a cool thing,” our good customer Nancy McDonald emailed us last March. Nancy gardens in zone-5a Grand Marais, Michigan, a mile from Lake Superior, where the annual snowfall averages over 11 feet (yes, 11 feet!). “Three days ago my snowdrops were covered with more than a foot of snow. Two days ago the snow melted. Yesterday they had little green and white spears sticking up. Today the stems are long enough that the buds are starting to hang over. If it’s warm enough tomorrow, I bet some of them will open. That’s zero to sixty in only three days. Incredible!”
To speed your spring with snowdrops, order yours now!
To Protect Your Lilies, Plant Alliums
Our good customer Amy Reynolds of Saint Louis, Missouri, emailed us this helpful tip:
“Your lily bulbs are fabulous! I popped them in the ground immediately. To protect them from an abundant local rodent population, I’ve planted them (as I always do with lilies) with several allium companions. I’ve found that squirrels and chipmunks won’t excavate past the alliums to get to nearby lily bulbs while they’re dormant, and the rabbits won’t go near allium foliage come spring.”
Daffodils Gone Wild: Tazettas in Japan
With their clusters of small, fragrant flowers, the group of daffodils known as tazettas have been popular for hundreds if not thousands of years. In Japan they long ago escaped gardens to make themselves at home in the wild, as described at botanyboy.org:
“Narcissus tazetta . . . can be found in various stages of bloom anytime from late December through February along the roadsides and fields of southern Japan. . . . N. tazetta is a close relative to the most famous member of the [tazetta] group, Narcissus papyraceus, the common paperwhite. . . .
“It is the corona that gives this plant the species epithet, tazetta, from the Italian word tazza, which is a shallow wine cup on a pedestal-like base. . . . Their odor is intense, but not unpleasant, and much more floral scented than the musty smell of N. papyraceus. . . .
“In Japan, N. tazetta can be found in the warmer regions of Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku, but is not native. It is thought that it came from China centuries ago . . . but very likely was brought to that country in the distant past from the Near East along trading routes. In Japan it is found on roadsides, on rice paddy embankments, along rivers, and in vacant lots in both agricultural and urban environments. A number of different flower forms and hybrids are frequent garden plants in Japan and elsewhere [including ‘Grand Primo’ and ‘Early Pearl’]. The commonly grown N. tazetta ssp. italicus [‘Minor Monarque’] is in fact the hybrid between N. tazetta and N. papyraceus, the paperwhite narcissus, and is an import from Italy.
In Japanese the tazettas are called “suisen, meaning ‘water wizard.’ . . . This is a derivative of the Mandarin name, shui xian hua, meaning ‘water goddess flower.’”
Most of these “water wizards” are easy to force on pebbles and water, and they’re great in gardens from zones 6-8(10WC). See the seven we offer here, and order a few now!
Fall and Winter Bulb Care
Gardening doesn’t stop at Labor Day, so here’s some seasonal guidance from our always helpful website:
how to plant spring-blooming bulbs in outdoor containers,
how to force bulbs indoors for winter bloom.
For more, check out the 39 other links at our complete Planting and Care page. Or email or call us. We’re here for you!
Organic Bulbs: Dutch Farmers Growing Greener
I was surprised to see tulips instead of something edible on the cover of this month’s Organic Gardening. Inside, our friend Marty Ross explores the growing movement to adopt greener practices in the Dutch bulb fields – with several comments from our long-time Dutch friend and supplier Carlos van der Veek.
“Tulips represent 50% of the billions of flower bulbs grown every year in the Netherlands,” Marty writes. “At present, only a small percentage of them are grown organically. . . . But in Holland, attitudes and practices have begun to change.” Wilbrord Braakman, a leader in the movement, “has been growing bulbs organically for about 25 years. In the best years, his harvest exceeds that of conventional growing methods, he says. Braakman also teaches classes for growers who are interested in limiting their use of pesticides and in improving their soil.”
“Conventional growers are following the organic trend with considerable interest,” Marty adds, quoting our friend Carlos van der Veek. “‘I have open eyes to use as few chemicals as possible,’ and most growers feel the same way, Van der Veek says. The growers who follow completely organic practices ‘are true pioneers, and hopefully they will find ways of better growing which can be used by the whole industry.’”
As Braakman says at the end of the article, “We, the farmers, have it in our hands.” Read the whole article here.
How Do Your Dahlias Grow in the HOT South and Southwest?
In the highlands of Mexico where dahlias originated, the nights are always cool, and most varieties today still need those cool night temperatures to grow and bloom well. Some are more heat-tolerant, though, and we recommend these through zone 8 in the South and Southwest – as noted in our dahlia cart.
To expand our list of heat-tolerant dahlias, we’d like to hear from you if you garden in zone 8 or warmer in the South or Southwest. Which of our dahlias have thrived for you, and which haven’t?
Here’s one recent success story from zone-8b Mobile. (Read more at our Dahlias for Hot Nights page.) Our good customer Glenda Snodgrass emailed us last November to say her mother-in-law, Barbara Adair, bought a ‘Thomas Edison’ dahlia with a gift certificate Glenda had given her. “I told her dahlias couldn’t be grown in Mobile, but she said her mother always had dahlias here, and I’ve had to eat some crow because it bloomed last week and it’s beautiful!”
Barbara grew her dahlia in a large clay pot on her deck. (Pots can be tough for dahlias, but see our Bulbs in Pots page for tips.) “North side, full sun in morning, some shade during the day, until late afternoon full sun,” she explained. By mid-October the plant was six feet tall and the first flower opened. “It’s a darker purple than it looks in your catalog,” Barbara wrote, “a real beauty!”
Please help us guide other gardeners by telling us how our dahlias have done for you in the heat of the Deep South and Southwest. Thanks!
Enjoy Bulb-Planting Season with Us on Facebook
Our happy group of Facebook fans has grown to 8872. Thank you, all! On Monday we posted photos of pink heirlooms for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’ll be posting some last shots of the dahlias in our trial garden before this Saturday’s killing frost. Please come take a look and “like” us as we savor fall together and look forward to spring.
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
Late September’s articles included “bulbs that last” in every part of the country, fragrant tulips, offbeat heirlooms in Garden Design, growing surprise lilies in zones 5-8, mildew on peonies, Shelter Dog Month, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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