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January 7, 2015
“Aside from the garden of Eden, man’s great temptation took place when he first received his seed catalog.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, American poet
Happy New Year!
Despite some major challenges here last year, bulb sales were up again (thank you!), we hired a great new VP for IT Justin Hunt (watch for exciting changes at our website soon), I had a lot of fun lecturing at Winterthur and Mount Vernon, Country Gardens published a wonderful article about us, and Toby just kept wagging his tail.
Here’s hoping that your 2015 will be green and sunny, with just enough rain, very few weeds, and plenty of flowers!
Warm Your Winter by Ordering NOW for Spring Delivery!
As you’re poring over all the new seed catalogs this month, don’t forget to order your BULBS for spring planting, too. Delivery starts April 1 for our:
lush dahlias for endless bouquets,
graceful little glads (that even glad-haters love),
elegant, unique ‘Ehemanii’ canna,
If you’re a RETURNING customer (that is, if you’ve EVER bought bulbs from us before), you’ll also get our 5% “thank you” discount if you order by midnight EST on January 31. So why delay any longer? A beautiful summer awaits you!
Newly Added: 18 Web-Only Glads and 1 Exquisite Dahlia
Woo-hoo! The corms have been cleaned and counted, and 18 of our rarest glads are now online, including lavender little ‘Caribbean’, the nearly 200-year-old parrot glad, and never-before-offered ‘true Love’.
What’s more, thanks to a better-than-usual harvest you’ll pay less this year for several of these treasures including ‘Allegro’ (26% less than last year), ‘Dauntless’ (37% less), ‘Mexicana’ (22% less), and ‘snow Princess’ (a whopping 48% less!).
Last but not least, we just added the exquisite, champagne-and-blush ‘Cafè au Lait’ dahlia, a favorite of stylish brides (and romantic gardeners) everywhere.
The Bishop in Winter: Resurrection of a Lost Tuber
Is it a miracle? Maybe not, but we think you’ll find this recent testimonial from Tulsa garden writer Russell Studebaker inspiring.
“This spring I ordered some of your dahlias, but somehow I forgot to plant the ‘Bishop of Llandaff‘ – and only rediscovered him in late summer. Since the Bishop was still plump, as most real life bishops are, and wee red sprouts were showing, he was reverently planted in a gallon container on August 17.
“He grew and is now about a foot tall. Before our first frost in November I moved him inside in front of two large south windows where he’s been residing happily ever since. Although I don’t expect him to flower this winter, I’m giving him some time to build up his strength before I give him a rest. Then I’ll look forward to his grand, proper, and belated appearance in the garden next summer.
“You’ve got good stock – and perhaps the Bishop has good connections with the heavenly father.”
Thousands of Glads Bloom Forever in 1921 Saginaw Show
Have you ever seen a flower show devoted entirely to gladiolus? Well, now you can, thanks to a “virtual exhibit” by the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History.
Four photographs at the Michigan museum’s website offer glimpses of a 1921 show sponsored by the Saginaw Woman’s Club, with thousands of glads displayed in wicker baskets and milk bottles. The show included big displays by commercial growers such as the leading glad hybridizer of the era A.E. Kunderd (“Originator of the Ruffled Gladiolus”), Fred Baumgras, and P. Vos (with mood lighting and what looks like wisteria dangling from the ceiling), as well as a room full of glads grown by local amateurs.
The images are part of a larger online exhibit of garden photos by a 1920s club member. Most of the photos show gardens in Saginaw, including a spectacular formal garden by Charles Platt that’s been preserved by the Saginaw Art Museum, but there are also shots of the Michigan gardens of chemical magnate Herbert Dow and popular garden writer Mrs. Francis King. Paging through the nearly 100 photos provides viewers today with an introduction to some of the defining features of early 20th-century gardens — birdbaths, sundials, benches, gates, trellises, pergolas, and summer houses – as well as many of the era’s most popular plants – peonies, iris, phlox, golden glow (Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensia’), Shasta daisies, and, of course, gladiolus.
Stop Hating Versatile, Misunderstood Orange
Although “orange is the color people love to hate,” according to garden designer Rebecca Sweet in the September 2014 issue of Horticulture, it’s also “one of the most versatile colors in the garden, fitting in with just about every season.”
“When I ask a new client what colors they prefer,” Sweet writes, “I can almost guarantee orange will be top in the ‘do not include’ category.” That may be because people associate it with “uninspired plantings of bright orange marigolds rigidly lining a pathway” or because it’s become the “poster child of 1970s shag carpeting.”
A self-described “champion of orange,” Sweet says that while it “can sometimes be bright, dominating, and perhaps a bit garish, it can also be soft, gentle, and subdued . . . , [harmonizing] with just about every color on the color wheel.” Pairing it with its analogous colors red and yellow will tone it down, while pairing it with its complementary colors blue and purple will “create an exciting burst of energy.”
Among my favorite orange heirlooms for spring planting are the radiant ‘Andries Orange’ dahlia, orchid-like ‘Firedance’ gladiolus, and wildflowery ‘Orangeman’ daylily. For fall planting I’m a big fan of amber-orange Henry’s lily and the fragrant ‘Generaal de Wet’ tulip.
But why stop there? Check out our entire list of orange heirlooms and see what this under-appreciated color can add to your garden!
“Like a Hibernating Hedgehog . . . Let Garden Thoughts Rise”
Although winter is rarely a gardener’s favorite season, in A Gentle Plea for Chaos Mirabel Osler encourages us to embrace its enforced stillness:
“When the ice of winter holds the house in its rigid grip, when curtains are drawn early against the vast frozen waste of landscape, almost like a hibernating hedgehog I relish the security of being withdrawn from all that summer ferment that is long since past. Then is the time for reappraisal: to spread out, limp and receptive, and let garden thoughts rise to the surface. They emerge from some deep source of stillness which the very fact of winter has released.”
Thanks to the 2987 New Fans Who Joined Us Last Year at Facebook!
Here’s a new year’s resolution that’s easy and fun: “Like” us on Facebook. Almost 3000 gardeners just like you did that last year, bringing our happy group of green-thumbed followers there to 9474. Together we’re learning, sharing, and spreading the word about heirloom bulbs – and we’d love to have you join us!
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
December’s articles included ultra-HD tulip photos, “out-of-the-ordinary” daylilies in Garden Gate, moving a 250-year-old oak tree, the sumptuous new Flora Illustrata, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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