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April 3, 2014
“All through the long winter I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.”
— Helen Hayes, American actress, 1900-1993
Shipping Starts Monday — Finally!
After months of record-setting cold and snow, winter has finally ended here (knock on wood), and bulbs are arriving all this week from our far-flung growers. The snow is finally gone from our micro-farms, too, and our iris and daylilies are starting to sprout. That means we can start shipping Monday — a week later than usual, but woo-hoo!
We’ll ship to customers in the warmest zones first (although bulbs are always reserved for orders on a first-come first-served basis). Despite the late start, we expect to have every order shipped by the first week in May — so hang in there, and thanks for your patience!
What Are You Waiting For? It’s Spring and Time to Order!
Kathy and Vanessa are standing by at (734) 995-1486, and our easy website is always open for your shopping pleasure. Why wait a minute longer? Order your boxload of summer excitement now!
“Share” Us on Facebook and Win $25 Worth of Bulbs
We’ve always relied on word of mouth and the recommendation of friends like you to help us reach new customers. Now we hope you’ll give us a hand by “sharing” our Facebook posts this spring. As added motivation, we’ll be giving away $25 worth of bulbs — or a $25 gift certificate, if you prefer — to one customer every week from now through the end of May. To be our weekly winner, all you have to do is “share” one of our posts that week and then either “like” or comment on it. Share a different post every week through the end of May for eight more chances to win. Help us out, introduce your friends to our awesome heirlooms, and win some free bulbs — does life get any better than that? We’ll hope to see you at facebook.com/HeirloomBulbs.
Kristen Says “I Do” with Dahlias(and Andy Does Too)
Whenever someone tells us they want to use our flowers in their wedding, we get nervous. Sure, our flowers are gorgeous, and — since they’re also traditional and enduring — they’re perfect for the “something old” that every wedding needs. But garden conditions vary widely, the weather is always unpredictable, and plants aren’t very good at sticking to schedules, so to have everything in bloom for that one special day — well, wouldn’t that make you nervous?
Quite a few of our customers have made it work, though, including Kristen Fotta of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who emailed us saying, “I have always loved dahlias, so I decided to grow them and arrange our own flowers for our wedding last fall. We used ‘Nonette’ in the main arrangements. I can’t tell you how much everyone loved them, and I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful flowers.”
Kristen was smart to choose dahlias. They hold up well in bouquets, one plant produces lots of flowers, and they continue blooming for weeks and weeks in late summer and fall, making it more likely that you’ll have something to pick on the appointed day. Kristin says hers “grew and flowered like crazy,” but since she’d never actually grown dahlias before, she “bulk-ordered roses, alstroemeria, and other flowers to include in the arrangements, so that even if the dahlias didn’t grow well, we’d still have flowers.” Happily, she says, “it all worked out and we had more flowers than we knew what to do with.”
Another fan of dahlias for weddings is our friend Andy Sell of Ann Arbor — and he’s a pro. “I caught the dahlia bug from my last order of ‘Nonette’ and ‘Prinzessin Irene,’ he emailed us last fall. I freelance floral design and those two dahlias produced like mad!” See photos of Kristin’s wedding and one of Andy’s bouquets at our new “Dahlias for Weddings” page.
Timeless Advice for the “First Peeping of Ye Spring”
We aren’t the first gardeners to be troubled by weeds. In 1686, the eminent London author John Evelyn wrote a long list of Directions for the Gardiner at Says-Court, and despite modern chemicals and technology his simple advice for controlling weeds is still essential:
“Above all, be carefull not to suffer weedes (especially Nettles, Dandelion, Groundsill, & all downy-plants) to run up to seede; for they will in a moment infect the whole ground: wherefore, whatever work you neglect, ply weeding at the first peeping of ye Spring. Malows, Thistles, Beane-bind, Couch, must be grubb’d up and the ground forked & dilligently pick’d.”
Meet Me at Winterthur and Mount Vernon
I’m excited to be lecturing this spring at two of the country’s most historic estates — and I hope you’ll come see me at both. On Saturday, April 26, I’ll be at Winterthur in Wilmington, Delaware, talking about “Heirloom Bulbs” with a special emphasis on the daffodils planted there in the early 1900s. Impressive drifts of many of these now-rare daffodils survive in the estate’s 60-acre naturalistic landscape, and while I’m there I’ll be helping Winterthur’s staff identify as many of them as possible. Learn more at winterthur.org/?p=862.
Then on Saturday, May 31, I’ll be at Mount Vernon speaking about “Flower Bulbs in the 18th Century: What Would George Have Grown, and Why?” My talk is part of Mount Vernon’s first Triennial Garden Symposium, a three-day conference of lectures on topics ranging from historic greenhouses and heirloom vegetables to garden archaeology and the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s landscape at Poplar Forest. Learn more at mountvernon.org/gardens/symposium.
Books of the Month: Save 60-80% on These 7 Classics(and Hundreds More)
Although you may be too busy gardening to read much these days, now is a great time to buy garden books from discount bookseller Edward R. Hamilton. His latest print catalog includes 18 pages of garden books, including these seven that we highly recommend:
Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940, essential masterwork by Denise Adams, $10 (originally $40),
Bulb, 544 luscious pages by expert Anna Pavord, $10 (originally $40),
Old-Fashioned Flowers: Classic Blossoms to Grow in Your Garden, with a chapter about our bulbs, by Tovah Martin, $4 (originally $10),
Spring-Blooming Bulbs, by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with a chapter I wrote on heirloom bulbs, $4 (originally $10),
Bulbs for Indoors: Year-Round Windowsill Splendor, by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, $3 (originally $8),
Flowers and Herbs of Early America, by Colonial Williamsburg’s Larry Griffith, $10 (originally $50),
Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation across Two Centuries, by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, $7 (originally $28).
To Build Up Your Daffodil Bulbs, Does 1 Stem = 4 Leaves?
“Leave those leaves alone” — that’s one of our bulb-growing mantras. But an article in the March 2012 Daffodil Journal explains that, for more bulbs and future blooms, what you do with the stems is also important. Daffodil breeder Peter Ramsay of New Zealand writes:
“My old Dad used to lecture me constantly on the virtue of looking after leaves. He growled at me when I would bend some of the leaves over so that they didn’t rub against flowers. He also favored dead-heading flowers, claiming the stem was worth four times the value of one leaf [and] that letting daffodils go to seed was similar to pregnancy and it could sap energy. . . .
“Last year I posted Dad’s claim on Daffnet . . . . Some of the replies were very interesting. [Irish daffodil breeder] Brian Duncan commented, ‘I’ve long been one to accept that a stem can have a significantly greater effect than a single leaf. I think possible reasons for [this] are: stems are often . . . longer than leaves [and therefore] less shaded; stems are rounded and stand more vertically than leaves, thus being more exposed to sun from sunrise to sunset; and stems usually stay green longer than leaves. . . . .’
“Ted Snazelle, a research scientist, added . . . ‘Deadheading is important. Otherwise a fruit (seed capsule) might develop; fruits are said to be “sinks” for sugar. Thus less sugar would be available to transport down into the bulb and ultimately less sugar for the carbon compounds and energy required to make a new flower.’
” So there we have it — scientific explanations and the observations of one of the world’s best exhibitors support Dad’s views.”
Are Your Poppy or Larkspur Seeds Sprouting?
Last fall we included a small packet of heirloom poppy or larkspur seeds — collected from our garden — in every order we shipped. Hopefully you followed our instructions and planted them as soon as they arrived so they’d get the cold period they need to sprout this spring. Keep an eye out for their tiny seedlings, and if you’re not sure what they look like, check out the photos at our Larkspur and Poppies page where you’ll also find complete growing instructions. Hopefully they’ll bloom gloriously for you, and if they do, please send us a photo. We’d love to see how they turn out, and we’re hoping to post a few photos at our website for other gardeners to enjoy.
37 Hellstrip/Boulevard Names . . . and Counting
When I asked in our February newsletter, “What do you call that space between the sidewalk and the street?” I never dreamed we’d hear from so many readers with so many different names for it. A full report will have to wait another month (sorry!), but I can tell you we already have 37 names, including nine that were mentioned by just one reader: ditch, fairway, frontage, grassy strip, greenway, outlawn, pavement strip, planting buffer, planting strip, and skirt. If you’ve used any of these names for that space, we’d especially like to hear from you. Email Kathy@oldhousegardens.com. Thanks — and stay tuned!
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
March’s articles included Scott’s chat with popular garden blogger Margaret Roach, our best tips for growing spring-planted bulbs in pots, artist Georgia O’Keeffe and garden catalogs, why our Southern-heirloom “French” jonquils are different, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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