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March 4, 2015
“Picasso said that no one has to explain a daffodil. Good design is understandable to virtually everybody. You never have to ask why.”
— Hugh Newell Jacobsen, architect, in Architectural Digest, May 2008
For a Blissful Summer, Order NOW for Spring Planting
Good News: Four previously sold-out treasures are now available again, thanks to less-than-expected losses in winter storage: ‘Deuil du Roi Albert’ and ‘Mrs. I. De ver Warner’ dahlias, and ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Blue Smoke’ glads.
Hot Tip: Seven rare beauties are very close to selling out, so if you’ve had your eye on any of them, don’t delay: ‘Florentina’ iris; antique montbretia; ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’, ‘Wisconsin Red’, and ‘York and Lancaster’ dahlias; and ‘Charisma’ and parrot glads.
Adding On: Feel free to add to an existing order anytime before shipping begins April 1.
But Remember, Shipping Can’t Start Until Mother Nature Says So
No matter how warm it is where you live, we’re still deep in snow here in Michigan, and our nighttime lows won’t stay safely above freezing until early APRIL — which is why we don’t start shipping until then. So hang tight. Our bulbs are worth the wait!
Better than Ever — Come Take a Look at Our Newly Upgraded Website!
Ta-da! Our newly upgraded website debuted last week, and although none of the changes are earth-shaking, we think you’ll find it’s faster, easier to use, and better than ever.
Better Basket — As requested, you’ll now have photos in your basket, so you can see exactly what you’re ordering. Quick Order is there, too, and if you want to take a break while shopping, no problem. Return within 24 hours and everything will still be waiting for you.
Easier Second Orders — We’ll also hold your contact info (but not credit card info) for 24 hours, so it’s faster to place additional orders for a different season, gifts, or whatever.
Zone Assistance — When you first click to order a bulb, we’ll ask for your planting zip code. Then whenever you try to order something that’s not right for your hardiness zone, we’ll warn you. You can also search our site by half-zone now — for example 6a or 6b — to get a more precise list of bulbs for your climate.
Sortability — Click the column headings now in any of our bulb charts and they’ll sort by height, season, date, and so on. You can also sort our store pages by price or date, and choose how many bulbs to display on a page.
And that’s not all, but we’ll let you discover the rest on your own. Many of these improvements were prompted by suggestions from our customers — thank you! Please keep giving us your feedback, especially if you run into a glitch or inconvenience at our new site. We may not be Amazon, but we always want to serve you better.
‘Corky’ Daylily “Scores a Perfect 10”
With chocolate buds that open into a seemingly endless profusion of small yellow flowers, ‘Corky’ is one of my favorites daylilies — and I’m not the only one who feels that way. When he owned Loomis Creek Nursery in upstate New York, Portland-based garden designer Bob Hyland sold just a handful of daylilies, including ‘Corky’ which he called a “must-have” plant. His criteria for selecting daylilies were simple, he said:
“1. Great bud count for extended bloom time.
“2. Smaller flower size (2-4” diameter) to fit the look of naturalistic border designs.
“3. Strong flower colors with saturated hues and tint.
“4. Tall, sturdy flower stems (36” and taller) that punctuate borders with aerial theatrics.” “‘Corky’ scores a perfect 10 in our evaluation system,” Bob wrote. “Its flared, bright lemon yellow, 3-inch flowers are accented by bronzy-brown color bars on the outside of petals. Wiry, purplish flower stems rise 3 feet above the narrow, strappy foliage, and each stem is well-branched with a 40+ bud count, sending wave after wave of flowers your way.”
To see for yourself what Bob and I are so enthusiastic about, order ‘Corky’ now for April delivery. But don’t delay — we have fewer than 60 plants left!
Old Masters Remixed: The Floral Still Lifes of Bas Meeuws
If you’d love to own one of those sumptuous flower paintings from Rembrandt’s era filled with striped tulips, cabbage roses, and other exquisite blooms, but their multi-million dollar price tag is beyond your budget, take a look at the astonishing art of Dutch photographer Bas Meeuws.
With his digital camera and hours of painstaking work in Photoshop, Meeuws creates images that both mimic the centuries-old masterpieces and yet are strikingly new. Like the original artists, he starts by creating images of individual flowers — and insects, snails, and so on — and then later draws from this digital stockpile to assemble his bouquets. By the time he’s done composing, manipulating shadows, erasing cut lines, and so on, he may spend as much as 60 to 100 hours on a single work.
Meeuws’ bouquets feature many of the spectacular broken tulips we offer from the Hortus Bulborum. When the original paintings were created in the 1600s, these tulips — and many of the other flowers depicted in them — were so new and rare that it was actually cheaper to buy a painting of them than the flowers themselves. In his photographs, Meeuws says he tries to evoke the feelings that “people looking at the picture then would have had, the awe that they must have felt for all the expensive and exotic flowers.” Take a look and I think you’ll agree that he’s accomplished that remarkably well.
Brand New Daffodils in American Gardens: 1733—1940
This is a landmark book, not only because of its content but simply because it’s been published. Twenty years ago I don’t think anyone would have even considered publishing an entire book devoted to the history of daffodils in America. And yet here it is, and that in itself is a testament to the progress that’s been made in convincing people that old plants can be just as garden-worthy as new ones, and that preserving them is as important as preserving historic buildings and other relics of our cultural history.
Our friend Sara Van Beck, the book’s author, has been an advocate for historic daffodils for many years. Her late father John Van Beck, was the founder of the Florida Daffodil Society and joined with me in the late 1980s to persuade the American Daffodil Society to establish a special section for Historic Daffodils in every ADS show across the country. In Daffodils in American Gardens, Sara shares the wealth of information — and images — that she’s collected over the years not only from old books and nursery catalogs but from letters, diaries, periodicals, and from exploring the daffodils that survive at historic places and abandoned sites throughout the Southeast. And what a wealth it is!
Although this may not be the easiest book to read (think dissertation rather than pop fiction) and Sara and I may sometimes disagree in our interpretation of the historical record, Daffodils in American Gardens is a major work of garden-history scholarship, and I’m thrilled that it’s been published. Congratulations, Sara, and thank you!
Seasonal Tip: Fertilize Early, Before Bulb Foliage Emerges
Like all plants, your bulbs will do better when their nutritional needs are met, and that usually means fertilizing them every now and then. Early spring is one good time to do it, before — or as soon as — the foliage emerges. Don’t wait too long, though, or you’ll find it’s hard to keep fertilizer granules from lodging among the emerging leaves where they can burn the tender foliage.
Although it’s always best to be guided by a soil test — and over-fertilizing can cause long-term problems — if you haven’t fertilized in a while, you’re probably safe doing it this spring. A relatively balanced (something like 8-8-8), slow-release fertilizer is best, but anything other than high-nitrogen (the first number) lawn fertilizers will work just fine. Fertilizing can be especially helpful in revitalizing crowded clumps of daffodils that no longer bloom well.
Get MORE Excited about Spring with Us on Facebook
Our cozy community of flower-lovers numbered 9904 this morning. Thank you, all! 10,000 is within sight, and when we reach it we’re planning to celebrate with discounts, gift certificates, and free bulbs. If you haven’t visited our page yet (or lately), please come learn and share with us as we bid a weary farewell to winter and welcome green, glorious spring.
Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!
February’s articles included rediscovering Papaw’s Lavender Dahlia, 3 experts/3 centuries/3 iris, Vanessa’s staff picks for spring planting, the 1891-1922 garden diary of an Irish lady, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at oldhousegardens.com/NewsletterArchives.
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