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November 4, 2014
Today Only: Save on Byzantines
“Extinct” Hyacinth Rediscovered
Invite Your Friends to Our “Dutch Auction” Sale — Please!
Share our sale with your garden friends by either (a) forwarding this newsletter to them or (b) sending them directly to oldhousegardens.com. They’ll thank you for it and so will we!
Tamara Says: Save on Hardy Byzantine Glads for Fall Planting
Unlike most years at this time, we’re NOT sold out of what may be the most exciting bulb we offer — the TRUE, fall-planted, perennial-in-zone-6-and-warmer Byzantine glad. The last of them are discounted 10% today ONLY, and as our good customer Tamara Bastone of zone-7b Chesapeake, Virginia, will tell you:
“Without a doubt your Byzantine glad is the real thing and worth every penny to boot! When it bloomed alongside of the other Byzantines I had for years (of course thinking they were the ‘real’ thing but wondering why they didn’t look like the ones in English gardens), well, I was in awe of its beauty. The color is a deep magenta and it’s taller and sturdier. Plus, it was a good investment because it has been multiplying for me for many years now. I’ve even shared some with friends. Trust me, you are the only ones offering the real thing. And I thank you!”
New and Free: The Georgia Daffodil Society’s Historics Handbook
Our good customer Sara Van Beck of Atlanta has been a tireless explorer and advocate of heirloom daffodils for many years. Although her much-anticipated new book Daffodils in American Gardens: 1733—1940 won’t be released until February, you can get a preview of some of what it’s sure to include in her recent online publication Historics Handbook: A Short Field Guide to the Most Common Old Daffodils in the Deep and Coastal Southeast. The 66-page booklet can be downloaded for free from the website of the Georgia Daffodil Society. There’s no direct link to it, but just go to georgiadaffodilsociety.com , click on the Historics Handbook link at the very top of the page, and then click on the link under the GDS address.
No matter where you live, if you’re a fan of historic daffodils you’ll find this handbook a valuable resource. Most of the daffodils in it are hardy well into zone 5, and it starts off with universally helpful sections on Characteristics of Historic Daffodils, Saving and Moving Daffodils, Rules for Rescuing, and Taking Photos for Identification. More than 50 historic varieties are pictured and described, along with many unknowns, and Sara’s descriptions are often rich in details that will help differentiate a variety from other similar daffodils. Some photos may be confusing to gardeners further north because the colors of many varieties bleach to paler yellow or even pure white in the stronger sunlight of the South, but other than that they’re generally excellent.
Although the handbook is free to view or download, the Georgia Daffodil Society is welcoming donations in support of it, and we hope you’ll be inspired to send them a check.
And remember, all of our daffodils for the South are now on sale!
Extinct No More: Last “Eyed” Hyacinth Rediscovered in Romania
“What really is extinct?” our good friend Alan Shipp asks in the fall 2014 journal of Plant Heritage, the UK’s non-profit devoted to conserving garden plants. “The coelacanth was considered to be extinct,” he writes. “The ‘fossil pine’ was only known by its fossilized remains.” And then Alan tells of another exciting rediscovery.
Although originally considered inferior, double hyacinths came into vogue in the early 1700s after one breeder discovered a double white that had “red” petals in the center of each floret. “Eyed” hyacinths with other contrasting colors were soon developed, fueling a Hyacinth Mania in the 1730s — but, as Alan writes, “we considered all of these extinct many, many years ago.”
Recently, though, “a lady called Ingrid living in Switzerland had a lorry driver friend called Theo. Theo and a fellow driver took a lorry load of humanitarian aid to a remote little village in Romania where Theo’s friend met, courted, and eventually wed a local girl. Theo returned to the village for the marriage, and so splendid was the hospitality that Theo gave the bride’s father a pocket watch.” In return, the father invited Theo to “take anything he wished from the garden. Theo selected a hyacinth bulb labeled ‘Gloria Mundi’ and on his return to Switzerland gave the bulb to his gardener friend Ingrid.
“Very fortunately for the plant world, Ingrid passed it on to Alan Street of Avon Bulbs who [eventually] gave two small bulbs to me for the Hyacinth National Collection. . . . ‘Gloria Mundi’ was illustrated in 1767, and a pot of ten small bulbs in bloom was this spring awarded an RHS Certificate for Plants of Historic or Botanical Interest.
“Footnote: The garden in Romania has been located and visited this past April. The old man is dead and his son has dug up all flowers to grow vegetables. Saved just in the nick of time one might say!”
See ‘Gloria Mundi’ here, and then while we wait for Alan to increase and share it with us, why not enjoy a few of our other fabulous hyacinths, both doubles and singles, which are all on sale now.
Amy Stewart’s “Letter to the Next Gardener”
From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden isn’t a new book, it’s just a good one. Published in 2001, it was the first by Amy Stewart who went on to write best-sellers such as Flower Confidential and The Drunken Botanist and co-found the popular Garden Rant blog. It’s a funny, honest, and engaging book that will resonate with anyone who’s struggled to learn the mysterious ways of plants and transform their yard into one of those flower-filled paradises that we all envy in the garden magazines. In the final chapter, Stewart and her husband are preparing to move and she says goodbye with a bittersweet “Letter to the Next Gardener” which reminds us that every garden has a history and we’re just one small part of it:
“Maybe it’s a little crazy for me to write a letter like this. After all, we don’t really own the land, do we? We just occupy it. Gardening taught me this. I moved onto this piece of land and knew immediately that someone had been there before me. The daffodil bulbs scattered along the fence, the ancient florabunda, the citrus trees, all pointed to a long-ago gardener with ambitious plans. But these plants didn’t tell the whole story. They were newcomers, too. Once, digging in the garden, I found a piece of stone, chipped into a crude blade. Someone was here long before me, crouched on a bare bluff overlooking the river, before the settlers arrived and colonized the rim of land around the bay. This piece of earth was never mine, and not just because I rented rather than owned it. Land is the one thing that can’t be moved, that I can’t bring with me. It will remain here for the next generation, and the generation after that, and it will tolerate our pounding on it and digging into it the best it can.
“I hope that I have left the garden in better condition than when I arrived. It may be weedy and unkempt when you find it, but just wait. I’m sure the cosmos will self-sow, and the yarrow will hold its own against the oxalis, and somewhere, in the wilderness, in the gentle tangle, the butterflies and the bees will return, as they have for years.
“Wishing you luck and patience and plenty of sun — Amy Stewart.”
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Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
October’s articles included protecting lilies with alliums, snowdrops at warp speed, daffodils gone wild in Japan, organic bulbs, fall and winter care, dahlias in zone 8(10WC), and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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