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July 11, 2014
“A little studied negligence is becoming to a garden.”
— Eleanor Perenyi, 1918-2009, American author of the modern classic Green Thoughts
Our New Catalog is Online NOW!
So what are you waiting for? (What could possibly be more important than enriching your life with the joys of heirloom bulbs?)
1. For a quick list of our NEW bulbs, go to oldhousegardens.com/NewBulbs .
2. For all FALL-planted bulbs, go to oldhousegardens.com/FallPlantedBulbs .
3. For all SPRING-planted bulbs, go to oldhousegardens.com/SpringPlantedBulbs .
4. To SEARCH by zone, color, fragrance, animal-resistance, and more, go to oldhousegardens.com/search/ .
Our Print Catalog Will Follow in September
We’ve gotten a bit bogged down on our print catalog, and it probably won’t reach you until early September this year. But please DON’t wait until then to order, though, because:
our rarest treasures often SELL OUT early,
you can always ADD to your order later, and
if you’re a returning customer, you’ll get a 5% DISCOUNT for ordering early.
Our doors are always open at oldhousegardens.com, so avoid the crowds and start shopping today!
Now Delivered by Mail Chimp . . . But is it Perfect?
This month’s newsletter is the first one we’re sending via Mail Chimp, so we’re wondering — how’s it look? If anything doesn’t seem right — fonts, spacing, links, whatever — or it was diverted into your spam folder, PLEASE do us a favor and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heirloom Alliums: “Top 12” and Tough Enough for an “Impressionist Meadow”
In the summer issue of Garden Design, Ohio nurseryman and designer Nick McCullough recommends a dozen plants he knows he “can rely on — not just to survive, but to actually star in the midsummer garden.” For the complete list you’ll have to pick up a copy of the magazine (see below), but a few of McCullough’s stars are Veronicastrum ‘Fascination’, Rudbeckia maxima, ‘Cafè au Lait’ dahlia, and the heirloom allium known as German garlic. “This compact perennial,” McCullough writes, “sports a profusion of globe-shaped lavender flower heads perched on slender stems. Unfazed by intense heat, it adds a welcome splash of color to the front of the summer border. . . . Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds adore the blossoms. And as with all Allium, this plant has a faint onion scent, so it’s deer resistant.”
Garden Design plugs another of our heirloom alliums — purple-headed garlic or drumstick allium — in “An Impressionist Meadow,” an article showcasing a flower-filled meadow garden by Long Island’s Landcraft Environments. The colorful garden combines ornamental grasses with “strong-willed” perennials such as ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint, Gaura ’siskiyou Pink’, ‘Terra Cotta’ achillea, and drumstick allium. “Alliums extend the spring fling of bulbs,” writes author Tovah Martin, “and even after most alliums have come and gone, the drumstick allium begins its suspended display of tall 2-to-3-foot stems that are crowned with a topknot of garnet flowers. But what makes this element exquisitely invaluable for a meadow garden application is the drumstick allium’s ability to pop up from beneath the skirts of any plant . . . for a flash of color while the neighbors are revving up. The fact that grass roots slurp up any available moisture in the soil does not faze this allium in the least.”
We’re big fans of these dependable, “exquisitely invaluable” alliums, too — and now is the time to order them for fall planting.
Tulsa Garden Writer Swoons for “Spicy” ‘Madame Sophie’
Our good friend and long-time Tulsa garden writer Russell Studebaker emailed us a few months ago, agitated about a certain double white hyacinth that we offer:
“I want to tell you how ticked off I was when I tried to order ‘Madame Sophie’ again from you last fall and you were sold out! I LOVE THAT HYACINTH. It has the most spicy and wonderful fragrance of any of the hyacinths that I have grown, and its flowers persisted and lasted so long for me. I cannot image why it has become so endangered and hard to find. Since you were sold out so early in the season, I had to go on my search engine and after a great while I did get some out of England, at a premium price. But what the heck, things of beauty and quality are worth the extra cost. Please order more for this fall, and find additional growers for that superb hyacinth.”
Some might say it’s wrong to love a plant that much, but we’ve been there, and we understand. Could ‘Madame Sophie’ inspire such passion in your garden-heart? To find out, all you have to do is order a few for planting this fall. Russell, we’re happy to say, already has.
Elizabeth Lawrence (and Friends) on the Old White Trumpets
Elizabeth Lawrence, the revered Southern garden writer, had a great interest in heirloom plants, searching for them in rural “market bulletins” and researching them in old books. In this 1971 newspaper column (later collected in Through the Garden Gate), she weaves together her own observations with those of fellow daffodil-lovers from almost a century before:
“Many years ago Carl Krippendorf lent me William Baylor Hartland’s Original Little Book of Daffodils (1887), the first catalog ever to be devoted entirely to daffodils. Hartland, an Irish nurseryman, said white trumpets were a specialty at Temple Hill, his place near Cork, and he listed nine varieties. One of these was ‘Colleen Bawn’. ‘No daffodil is more pure white,’ he said, ‘or so easily recognized by its broad twisted propeller-like perianth segments, and long cylinder-like trumpet.’ It is described in A. M. Kirby’s Daffodils (1907) as ‘a gem among white daffodils, silvery-white, drooping, nodding flowers; gracefully twisted petals. Best when grown in shade and grass.’
“’Colleen Bawn’ is still with us, though extremely rare. . . . It is very like the other small trumpets of its day, the silvery swan’s neck daffodil, Narcissus cernuus (now called N. moschatus), and the silver bells of old gardens, but the very narrow, very long trumpet distinguishes it from the others. The trumpet is distinctly yellow though very pale, at first, and the segments are fawn color. The second day it lifts its bowed head to a horizontal position, and both trumpet and perianth become silver white. It has a delicate fragrance.
“In One Man’s Garden, Miles Hadfield quotes from a letter that [daffodil breeder] George Herbert Engleheart wrote about these old trumpets: ‘Away back in the 188os and 1890s I was collecting old forms of white daffodil, chiefly from Ireland. Miss Curry — some years dead — used to hunt them up from old Irish gardens, and a small club of three or four of us used to share them. They were all white things of the ‘Colleen Bawn’ type, but varying in size and form. They didn’t take kindly to cultivation, and are mostly, I think, lost. I made some attempt to discover their history, and came to the conclusion that Irish religious houses must have had some connection with Spain and Portugal — the focus of the white species.’
“. . . From these beginnings Engleheart developed ‘Beersheba’ (1923), still to me the most beautiful of all white trumpets, and very early, usually blooming the first week in March. Engleheart described it as a ‘miracle of stately loveliness,’ and was vexed when [daffodil breeder] P. D. Williams criticized the trumpet as 1/4 inch too long.”
Another great old white trumpet is ‘Broughshane’, although it’s sturdy and handsome rather than graceful. See them all here — and if you’re thinking of ordering ‘Colleen Bawn’, we encourage you to do it NOW because savvy gardeners have already snapped up over half of our very small supply for this fall.
Welcome Back, Garden Design!
Little more than a year after it quit publishing, Garden Design magazine is back in print and better than ever. I first heard the news from one of my favorite writers, Jenny Andrews, who’s one of 15 contributing editors at the reborn magazine, and I immediately re-subscribed.
The summer issue is a substantial 132 pages long and completely advertisement-free, so it looks more like a book than a magazine. The design and photography are stunning, and the mix of articles — which had sometimes been criticized as too heavily weighted towards high-end design and California — seems to have been re-balanced to include more about plants and other parts of the country. For example, there’s now a great section called “In Your Zone” that spotlights plants, events, public gardens, and so on for eight different regions. Elsewhere in the magazine I especially enjoyed the short piece about Longwood’s new 86-acre meadow garden, a short interview with John Danzer, founder of the history-inspired garden furniture company Munder-Skiles, and longer pieces about growing “seductive succulents” in containers, a Chicago rooftop garden, and our Michigan colleague Deborah Silver of Detroit Garden Works which is “considered by many to be the best garden shop in the country.”
Garden Design plans to publish four issues a year, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. To learn more or subscribe, visit gardendesign.com.
Make Your Summer Bouquets Last Longer with this Simple “Eco-Technique”
In her award-winning book Slow Flowers, Debra Prinzing shows how she created a bouquet every week of the year using only flowers, foliage, twigs, fruit, and seedpods from her yard or grown within a few miles of her Oregon home. Scattered throughout the book are earth-friendly “eco-techniques” for bouquet-making, including this one:
“There’s a proliferation of advice for keeping a bouquet . . . fresh and lasting for many days. But one of the most important things you can do is give stems clean water. . . . My friend Lorene Edwards Forkner shared this easy water-changing trick: Place the entire arrangement in the kitchen sink. Gently lift the foliage at one edge of the vase so the faucet’s spray nozzle is directed inside. Turn on the water and let it flow for a minute or two. The existing water will begin to overflow and go down the drain, displaced by fresh water that now occupies the vase. . . . Do this every day or two for the life of the arrangement.”
For more tips, see our “Bulbs in Bouquets” page — and then go outside and pick some flowers!
Come Sit a Minute on the Porch with Us on Facebook
We’ve been so busy working on our new catalog — and trying to keep up in the garden — that we haven’t posted much on Facebook lately. Sorry! Despite that, another 294 gardeners have “liked” us since our last newsletter, and we welcome you all! If you still haven’t dropped by, we hope you’ll come take a look at what’s blooming here and join 8227 fellow gardeners as we share the joys of heirloom bulbs and savor summer together.
Did You Miss Our June Newsletter? Read It Online!
June’s articles included hundreds of photos at HistoricIris.org, bulbs for pollinators, a squirrel-proof tulip, chuckling on the “outlawn,” and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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