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July 8, 2015

Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, English philosopher, statesman, and scientist

More Bulbs!

Sold Out (and Almost)

New: Gender-Bending Indian Turnip

Daylilies in Bouquets??

Finding Historic Landscapes Near You

Earthworm “Pests” and Tobacco

Madonna Blows Up Our Facebook Page

Virtually EVERYTHING in our new catalog is online now — even though our print catalog won’t be ready to mail until August. So why wait any longer?

1. For 40 bulbs that are NEW or back from a break — including white Roman hyacinths, lotus-like ‘James R. Mann’ peony, native jack-in-the-pulpit, brown ‘Dom Pedro’ tulip at our LOWEST price ever, and maybe the best snowdrop of all, ‘S. Arnott’ — go to

2. For all FALL-planted bulbs, go to

3. For all SPRING-planted bulbs, go to

4. To SEARCH by zone, color, fragrance, animal-resistance, and more, go to

A few of our rarest bulbs are already sold out, and these six will probably be next — so if you’re thinking of ordering them, you’d be smart to do it now.

‘Souvenir de L’Exposition’ and ‘Philomele’ peonies,

‘Elegans Alba’ and ‘Willem van Oranje’ tulips,

‘Orange Phoenix’ and N. moschatus daffodils.

In 1820 when it was listed in America’s very first bulb catalog, Indian turnip was the common name for the striking native plant that most of us today call jack-in-the-pulpit. Although its raw corms are poisonous, Native Americans learned to neutralize the poison by roasting or drying them for six months, after which they could be peeled and ground into a flour for making bread.

Jack-in-the-pulpit and Indian turnip are just two of this intriguing plant’s many names which include (so the internet says) Iroquois breadroot, starchwort, pepper turnip, bog onion, dragonroot, memory root, Indian cherries (for its red fruit), Indian cradle, brown dragon (to distinguish it from its native cousin, green dragon), petit precheur (in Quebec), aronskelk (in Dutch-settled areas), tuckahoe, cooter-wampee, wake robin (a name more often applied to trillium), Adam’s apple, devil’s ear, cobra lily, and — from its Old World cousin Arum maculatum — cuckoopint and lords-and-ladies.

And here’s another fascinating tidbit: jack-in-the-pulpit can change from male to female and back again. When they’re smaller, plants are generally male, but when environmental conditions are favorable and they grow large enough, they become female, producing seeds in a cluster of bright red berries. The year after fruiting or when conditions are challenging, plants often change back to male until they can build up the strength to set seed again.

This multi-talented native bulb is easy to grow in light shade, and you can order it now for fall planting.

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You might not expect it, but daylilies make fine cut-flowers — or at least our graceful heirloom varieties do. Although an individual flower lasts just one day, buds will continue to develop and open for up to a week indoors.

Way back in 1954, two University of Illinois professors wrote in a USDA booklet that “daylilies have become very popular for home flower arrangements.” They recommended cutting stalks with “several perfect full-blown flowers and a number of well-developed buds,” ideally in the morning when they’re “still fresh and undamaged by wind, sun, or insects.”

“With a little practice, almost anyone can display them to advantage,” the professors continued. “They may be used alone or in combination with other garden flowers and a wide variety of green and dried materials. Delphiniums, gaillardias, gladioli, Japanese iris, Shasta daisies, snapdragons, and zinnias are only a few of the many annuals and perennials that work up nicely with daylilies. Endless combinations can be devised that will brighten up the mantel, party table, or altar. Leaves of caladium, canna, hosta, iris, and peony can be used effectively in place of the natural foliage, as can also the graceful branches of various shrubs and evergreens such as huckleberry, magnolia, rhododendron, and yew, [or] the silvery leaves of artemisia.”

For a little extra inspiration, check out the daylily bouquet we put together yesterday with flowers from our micro-farms and home gardens. And to learn more about using other bulbs in bouquets — from snowdrops to dahlias — visit .

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Summer is a great time for visiting other people’s gardens, and if you like historic gardens — or historic parks or maybe even historic cemeteries — there’s a wonderful online guide that will help you find ones close to where you live or travel, including some you probably never even knew existed.

It’s called “What’s Out There” and it’s an ongoing project by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, the country’s leading non-profit devoted to historic landscapes. With it you can easily search for landscapes by location — for example “Michigan” or within so many miles of your zip code — or by landscape type — including garden/estate, botanical garden, public park, golf course, and even roof garden — or by designer, style, or the property’s name.

To find out what’s out there by you, go to and click “Advanced Search” in the list on the right. Or if you’re using a smart-phone, click the handy, GPS-enabled “What’s nearby” button to see everything within a 25-mile radius. And have fun!

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Here’s a weird bit of garden advice for July from the Kalendarium Hortense or the Gardener’s Almanac written by John Evelyn in 1683:

July: “Now (in the driest season) with brine, pot-ashes, and water, or a decoction of tobacco refuse, water your gravel walks, etc. to destroy both worms and weeds, of which it will cure them for some years.”

Weeds, yes, but why would anyone want to destroy earthworms? Although we certainly don’t advocate it, back when hard-packed gravel was the paving of choice for garden paths, worm castings on the surface were considered as unsightly as weeds.

Brine and wood ashes kill weeds by making the soil too salty and alkaline for them, and tobacco kills worms just like it does humans. Tobacco water and tobacco powder were commonly used as pesticides well into the 20th century, as was tobacco smoke in greenhouses. Even today tobacco is sometimes recommended as an organic pesticide — which may sound good, but remember, whether it’s organic or not, it’s still a dangerous poison.

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Grown in gardens since 1600, Madonna lily is still a superstar — or at least our recent photo of it in bloom here with larkspur and poppies prompted so many likes (1,854) and shares (5,246) that almost 400,000 people have seen it so far. Yes, 400,000! And that’s a global fan-base — appreciative comments were posted in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Finnish, Thai, and Filipino.

Enjoy it yourself at — and to make sure you see our next big hit there, check “Follow” under the “Liked” button near the top of our page. Thank you, and happy gardening!

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June’s articles included Sissinghurst’s top tulips and OHG, The General in the Garden, summer tips for bulb care, and more. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at

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