To read more by topic or date, see our Newsletter Archives page.
December 2, 2014
“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
— Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Greek philosopher and scientist
From all of us here at Old House Gardens, thanks for another wonderful year of friendship and flowers. We hope we’ve served you well, we hope your holidays are merry, and we hope the new year brings you many beautiful surprises — in your garden and your life.
Santa Says: Give the Gift of Spring this Holiday Season!
Warm someone you love all winter long with our unique, dream-inspiring gifts:
Gift Certificates: We’ll hand-write your personal gift message in our beautiful bulb-flowered card and include our fabulous, full-color catalog.
Bulbs and Samplers for Spring Planting: Dahlias for bouquets, perennial iris, charming little glads, unusual daylilies, fragrant tuberoses, easy samplers – including our Intro to Heirlooms – and more, all for delivery in April.
For Delivery This Year, Order by 3:00 EST, Friday, Dec. 19
If you need your gift certificate delivered this year, please make sure your order reaches us by Friday, Dec. 19, at 3:00 Eastern time. After that, we’ll be closed until Monday, Jan. 5, to give our crew a well-earned rest.
Price Freeze! Order Bulbs Now for NEXT Fall at This Past Fall’s Prices
Although all of this fall’s bulbs are long gone (thank you!), you can order now for delivery next fall at this past fall’s prices – and put yourself at the head of the line for our rarest treasures. Since you can always add to your order later, why not get first dibs and save on the fall-planted bulbs you want the most by ordering NOW?
Garden Gate Showcases Two of Our “Out-of-the-Ordinary Daylilies”
“If you think daylilies are overused and passè, think again!” writes Stephanie Petersen in the “Editor’s Picks” column of the December Garden Gate. She spotlights eleven unusual varieties that reflect the vast diversity of colors, shapes, heights, and bloom-times found in daylilies, and two of them are ours.
Wildflowery ‘Corky’ – “The upper part of the scape and flower buds on ‘Corky’ are burgundy-bronze,” Stephanie writes, and since the color persists when the small, yellow flowers open, “it gives a delightful contrast.” What’s more, ‘Corky’ “looks more like a wildflower” than most daylilies, with its “slender grass-like foliage and . . . massive flush of flowers that stand high above on thin, wiry stems.”
Extra-tall ‘Challenger’ – This robust variety will “provide you with lots of flowers” which “stay open . . . longer than many daylilies,” Stephanie writes. What really sets it apart, though, is its height: “With scapes up to 6 feet tall, the brick-red spider flowers are held high and perfect in the middle or back of the border.”
These and all of our other heirloom daylilies can be ordered now for April delivery – or you could add them to your Christmas list!
Flora Illustrata: Sumptuous New Book for Holiday Giving (and Getting)
A dazzling image of a parrot tulip from the 1700s is sprawled across the cover of Flora Illustrata, and it’s hard to imagine any gardener resisting its allure. Open the book and you’ll find nearly 300 other fascinating images, most in color and some covering two full pages.
But this isn’t a picture book. Subtitled Great Works from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden, it’s a collection of essays that explore the riches of the Library – which holds over a million books and eleven million other documents – and its development since 1899. In many ways it’s like taking a walk through the Library with a group of incredibly expert guides who keep pulling rare volumes off the shelves to give you a glimpse inside of them while they explain their importance and how the Library acquired them. Since the works are all discussed within the context of their times, the end result is a bibliographic history of botany and gardening.
The three essays in Part IV, “Celebrated Works on American Gardening and Horticulture,” bring this history right into our own backyards. I especially liked the one on 19th-century nursery and seed catalogs (what a surprise, eh?) which is richly illustrated with images drawn from the more than 58,000 items in the Library’s collection.
Although any gardener will enjoy the book’s illustrations, I’ll caution you that the scholarly prose often makes for slow going, and this is a book about books and botany as much as it is about gardening. That said, I believe readers with anything more than a passing interest in the history of plants and gardens would love to get Flora Illustrata for their own library this holiday season.
Spectacular Photos of Our Tulips Win Grand Prize in Moscow
Here’s another holiday gift suggestion: a spectacular, 4 x 4-foot photo of purple-flamed ‘Insulinde’ tulip in hyper-detail by our good customer David Leaser. If $4200 is more than you were planning to spend (or ask for), no problem. David offers the same incredible image in other sizes for as little as $100.
With their bee’s-eye view of flowers, David’s photos allow you to appreciate details that you’d miss from even a foot away. As he explained to me in a recent email, “I use a special macro technique I developed that marries Nikon to NASA to achieve extreme detail. I am literally layering dozens of photos in a focus stack so the entire flower is focused from front to back, and you can see nearly microscopic detail.”
David’s photos can be found in museums and galleries around the globe, and a collection of eight of his favorites – including ‘Insulinde’ and ‘Estella Rijnveld’ – recently won the Grand Prize for nature photography at the prestigious Moscow International Foto Awards competition.
Save the Oak! 250-Year-Old Heirloom Dug and Moved
A 250-year-old tree here in Ann Arbor got an early Christmas present recently: a new lease on life.
Standing six stories tall, the majestic bur oak started life long before Ann Arbor was founded in 1825. It’s a relic of the “oak openings” – scattered oaks with a light understory of herbaceous plants and grasses – that drew the first settlers here and inspired the city’s name. Unfortunately it grew right where the university wanted to build a $135-million addition to the Ross School of Business.
Instead of cutting it down, the university decided to dig and move the oak about 500 feet. Last summer, workers from a Texas firm that specializes in moving large trees dug a trench 40 feet in diameter to define the edges of the mammoth root ball and spur additional root growth. Next they drove a series of pipes under the tree to create a platform to support the roughly 700,000-pound mass during the move.
In late October they returned to sever the roots under the pipes and insert heavy-duty air bladders that were then inflated to lift the tree so they could position a pair of huge industrial transporters under it. Although various complications – including an exploding air bladder – delayed the replanting until ten days later, officials are still optimistic that the tree will “outlive all of us.”
The $400,000 move was paid for by private donations that are funding the building project. That’s a lot of money, and there were many critics, but I for one am glad the university – which is making enormous efforts to become a greener, more sustainable institution – decided to save this spectacular heirloom which has now become an icon of both the university’s history and its commitment to the future. I’m also hoping that, as with medical procedures that were once experimental and have now become routine, the more often moves like this are done, the easier and cheaper it will be to save truly priceless trees like this.
Sit by the Fireside with Us on Facebook
198 fellow gardeners “liked” us at Facebook last month, bringing our friendly group of heirloom flower lovers there to 9237. Welcome, and thank you, all! If you haven’t yet, we hope you’ll come take a look and join us as we look ahead to longer days and the first seed catalogs of the new year.
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
November’s articles included a free guide to historic daffodils, the rediscovery of the last surviving “eyed” hyacinth, customer praise of our true Byzantine glads, Amy Stewart’s “letter to the next gardener,” and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
Share Our Gazette with a Friend
Please help us “Save the Bulbs!” by forwarding our newsletter to a kindred spirit, garden, museum, or group.
To Reprint Any Part of Our Gazette . . .
Simply credit www.oldhousegardens.com.