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October 1, 2015

— Galileo, 1564-1642, Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, mathematician, and philosopher

Bulbs on Sale

Last Day to Add-On

Award-Winning Daffodils

JFK’s Tulips: More History, New Sampler

Seasonal Tips

Earthworms Good and Bad

Although we’re still waiting on some bulbs (including most of our lilies), everything else has arrived and looks great. We’ll start shipping today — and, as always, we’re thrilled!

Please remember that we reserve bulbs on a first-come first-served basis (starting with orders placed as long ago as LAST November) and ship to our customers in colder zones first. If you’ve given us your email address, you’ll get an alert when your order is shipped. And if you have any special delivery needs, simply mention them when ordering or call us at 734-995-1486.

As for the sale, it’s always hard to guess how many bulbs we’ll need six or eight months in advance, and I’d always rather have too many than too few — which is why 41 of our treasures are now on sale at savings of 10-25%. See them all at our Bulbs on Sale page. We’re hoping you’ll find some of them — at these savings — irresistible!

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We love it when customers add to their orders, but our fall shipping season is so busy that — to better serve all of our customers — we’re no longer accepting add-ons once we start shipping. Although that’s today, we’ll give you this one last day to add bulbs to an existing order.

If it’s less than $30 worth of bulbs you want to add, please call us at 734-995-1486 or email us at because our website won’t let you do that — but we will. If you’re adding more than $30, go ahead and order online and simply mention that it’s an add-on order in the “Special Requests” box of our order form. We’ll combine your orders offline and adjust your shipping charges before charging your credit card.

Of course you can always place additional orders later — they’ll simply need to meet our $30 minimum and normal shipping charges will apply. But why wait? Save money and get the bulbs you want by adding on today!

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The results are in, and here are the top award-winning Historic (pre-1940) daffodils in ADS shows across the country this past spring, with links to the ones we offer:

‘Sweetness’ (23 awards), ‘Beryl’ (17), ‘Dreamlight’ (15), ‘Thalia’ (11), ‘Actaea’ (11), ‘Saint Keverne’ (11), ‘Mrs. Langtry’ (8), ‘Geranium’ (8), ‘Hawera’ (7), ‘April Tears’ (6), ‘Erlicheer’ (6), and ‘Trevithian’ (6).

Order yours now and enjoy an award-winning spring in your own backyard!

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We knew that ‘Blue Parrot’ tulips were featured in the redesign of the White House Rose Garden initiated by President Kennedy in 1962, but now, thanks to a tip from a friend, we’ve learned a lot more about that iconic garden — and we’re celebrating with a brand new sampler of five fabulous tulips that bloomed for Kennedy there.

Located just outside the Oval Office, the Rose Garden has a long history, but by Kennedy’s time it was woefully neglected. He re-envisioned it as a flower-filled ceremonial space for welcoming foreign dignitaries, hosting major press conferences, and so on, and he enlisted the remarkable Bunny Mellon to turn his vision into reality.

Mellon was a philanthropist, art collector, and avid amateur gardener. Her redesign featured an open lawn surrounded by boxwood-edged flower beds and four great saucer magnolias transplanted from the Tidal Basin. Kennedy was intimately involved in the development of the garden and, having read Thomas Jefferson’s garden diary, urged Mellon to include plants in it that Jefferson grew. “It was truly President Kennedy’s garden,” Mellon said later. “His concern for its growth and well-being was never ending.”

See photos and learn more about the Rose Garden’s long history at the White House Historical Association’s website or — for even more — treat yourself to a copy of the summer 2015 issue of White House History which is devoted to the topic.

And now with our brand-new “Springtime in Camelot” sampler, you can enjoy five of the tulips that bloomed in Kennedy’s garden. We’ll send you three bulbs each of lavender ‘Blue Parrot’, dark maroon ‘Black Parrot’, flamingo-pink ‘Fantasy’, rose-pink ‘Mariette’, and ‘White Triumphator’, all for just $25. No matter what your politics, this beautiful sampler deserves your vote!

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Besides planting bulbs, there’s a lot more you can do in the fall to make your garden a healthier and more beautiful place — so here’s some seasonal guidance from our always helpful website:

how to clean up iris and peonies NOW to protect them from borers and mildew,

how to dig and store dahlias, glads, tuberoses, crocosmias, rain lilies, and crinums (but only IF you want to!),

how to plant spring-blooming bulbs in outdoor containers,

how to force bulbs indoors for winter bloom.

For even more, check out the 39 other links at our complete Planting and Care page. Or email or call us. We’re here for you!

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“Why would anyone want to destroy earthworms?” we asked in our July article “Advice from 1683: Killing Earthworm Pests with Tobacco.” In the 1600s it was to keep unsightly worm castings from blemishing gravel paths, but today there’s a different reason.

“In northern parts of the country, earthworms are not native,” our good customer Robin Schachat of Shaker Heights, Ohio, explains. “It’s now thought that the greatest loss of the duff layer in our native forests is due to earthworm infestations, not to deer browsing.”

Although worms can be beneficial in the disturbed and compacted soils of our backyards, since the last glaciers retreated some 14,000 years ago there have been no native worms in the area once covered by them —north of NYC and the Ohio and Missouri rivers, and in the Rockies and parts of Washington — so in those areas forest ecosystems evolved without worms.

Recent research at the University of Minnesota has shown that “without worms, fallen leaves decompose slowly, creating a spongy layer of organic ‘duff.’ This duff layer is the natural growing environment for native woodland wildflowers. . . . Invading earthworms eat the leaves that create the duff layer and are capable of eliminating it completely. Big trees survive, but many young seedlings perish, along with many ferns and wildflowers.”

Although there are native earthworms in unglaciated parts of the country, if you live further north we encourage you to learn more at the Invasive Earthworms page of the Minnesota DNR and at the Great Lakes Earthworm Watch.

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We posted a lot of beautiful photos in September, including lilies (announcing that ‘African Queen’ and ‘Golden Splendor’ are back!), peonies (when our hundreds of big fat roots arrived here from Iowa), and a cheery first-day-of-fall bouquet of dahlias from our trial garden.

If you missed them, you may need to let Facebook know you’re still interested in us by checking “Follow” under the “Liked” button near the top of our page.

Thanks to all 12,671 fellow gardeners who’ve liked our page, and especially to the 266 who joined us in the past month. Here’s to a fun and flower-filled fall together!

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September’s articles included better bouquets with the Easy Arranger, Florentine tulips gone wild in the UK and Sweden, Wisconsin’s Heritage Flower Farm, fall is the true spring (according Karel Capek), don’t worry about killing our rarest bulbs, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at

Please help us “Save the Bulbs!” by forwarding our newsletter to a kindred spirit, garden, museum, or group. Or if a friend sent you this issue, SUBSCRIBE here!

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