Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frit Tip

One must make time - just as soon as they arrive - for planting the expensive special bulbs that by virtue of their immediacy and priciness can't wait out on the porch until Thanksgiving. All the lilies are in this category, also colchicum, its lesser cousin autumn crocus, my beloved arisaema and fritillaria (big and small) are in this group. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, galanthus, allium are much hardier souls - most will probably not even arrive until mid-October and planting is good through Thanksgiving. I know that Jack Larsen successfully plants all sorts of spring bloomers as late as January at LongHouse Reserve, which is a fine indication of the steadfastness of spring bulbs (and the singular methods of Jack Larsen), even though the flowers look so ethereal when they bloom, many are as tough as nails

Which summons up another reminder - when planting fritillaria - they all have a sort of chasm or cavity in the middle of the bulb. The big ones and the small ones all follow this same pattern. The last thing you want is for water to collect in this crevice once your bulbs are planted, so to avoid this water-logginess - when you place your fritillaries into their nicely dug hole be sure to tilt them to one side, like this

Well, the picture is not very do - just tilt them....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Great White Combinations

Some plants really come into their own in September, bringing a completely new life to any garden, and especially to a white garden that has long been devoid of many flowers. With the exception of the great Cimicifuga racemes, it's all about the leaves...Cimicifuga racemosa purpurea wafting over the delightful dogwood, Cornus kousa 'Angela' (much like the more well-known 'Wolf Eyes', but with a 'tighter' habit)

The graceful branches (ones not eaten by the deer) of the superb Aralia elata 'Silver Umbrellas' in perfect harmony with the small shrub Hypericum 'Glacier'. Its leaves seem to be getting whiter as it produces it's dark contrasting berries....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Turned On By A Tuber

It's the little delights that often make my day. As a more-than-grown woman you wouldn't think the sight of an Arisaema tuber, no matter how healthy and pink, could elicit a screech of pleasure, but it did. Filled with life and fraught with growing buds galore, this big fat tuber caused me to circle around the garden for - at least - fifteen minutes - clutching its little protective plastic moss-filled bag - trying to decide where to place this one pricey tuber (franchetianum, a kind I have never tried before)...

I realize it may not look like much to you, but to me it was heaven and Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery ( gets a huge thumbs-up for delivering this gorgeous sure-to-be-amazing tuber and other very nice whoppingly healthy plants - of course, it's those shipping charges from Oregon that always get you; but what can you go where you have to go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Deadline Looming

If you haven't ordered any spring-blooming bulbs - the time is now and if you haven't ordered enough - it's not too late. Thank God, because September's end has arrived much too quickly. A garden can really never have enough spring flowers; but of course, when the orders add up and you have to produce a credit card --- well, that's another story and when it is time to dig the holes (or the trenches) and the weather has turned chill --- it seems like you have ordered an insurmountable number - but press on! Come next spring when everything looks breathtaking but paltry, you will say, But why did I only get 10 of these and 20 of those....???It is easy to go whole hog withVan Engelen - one of my very favorite suppliers and should be yours too. The wholesale trick is that you have to buy in some quantity...but believe me, it is not so much and there is no garden into which you cannot tuck 100 Fritillaria meleagris, 50 English bluebells (though the Spanish bluebell - Hyacinthoides hispanica 'Excelsior' - is a little bigger and blooms later) and an assortment of a few hundred tulips - at least.

Fritillaria meleagris are happy in sun or shade and100 cost only $16.50... Not everyone knows that the venerated John Scheepers and Van Engelen are one and the same, though it's no secret given they both distribute their fine Dutch bulbs from an adorable address at 23 Tulip Drive in Connecticut. Ordering on-line is by far the easiest because the well-working web site adds everything up for you and you can see how much you are spending as you go along. (This is good or bad, depending on your spending attitude) Anyway, making the decisions about which kinds and colors to buy I find much easier with the catalogues in hand. The Scheepers book has great pictures with smaller minimums and slightly higher prices, while the Van Engelen catalogue is nothing but words. They sell exactly the same great things and there are fabulous collections too: all-white, deer-proof, pastel tulips etc; but my favorite this season is The Magical River Special.
Comprised of the elegant Narcissus Thalia (without question, my favorite daffodil) - you get 200 of these white-winged beauties to spread among 500 classic blue Muscari hyacinths. Having seen this simple blue and white combination in Holland - I promise you it is most breathtaking. And just think, every year you can add more bulbs and make you enchanting river flow further...Here is Muscari in its blue splendor popping up among variegated Solomon's Seal as they innocently and gracefully burst forth from the earth - little did we know that the deer would soon devour e
.very single one... heartbreaking

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get Busy

Now more than ever, you need the trowel to dig holes and all of the other Ten Garden Greats uniquely available at The Best @ Dianne B ( With the Fall Fantasia Sale now in full force, you would be crazy not to stock up on the very best tools available. Enter the code word FALL when checking out for a juicy 20% off - for this propitious limited time.

"Money is like a sixth sense, without it what would you do with the other five?"
loosely translated from Somerset Maugham


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Think Tulips - Part 4

Rembrandt's Favorite is the tulip on the right in front of a mixture of the biggest best whites, Maureen is the classic "French" tulip and the other is the lily-flowering 'White Triumphator' peeking through he new growth of a Japanese maple. Should you be a traveler on the Montauk Highway in the springtime, Maureen is the white tulip that is planted in profusion in front of The Creeks.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Think Tulips - Part 3 - Where to Buy

Not only which tulips - but from whom to buy them - and just how much to indulge . Oh decisions, decisions...

BesidesVan Engelen ( and Scheepers (, there is not a season goes by that I don't turn to Brent and Becky's Bulbs -this year especially for Fritillaria, Arum and Allium. Odyssey Bulbs captured my attention with their variegated leaf Fritillaria imperialis and I am returning to Colorblends for another great assortment of French Blend Rose mixed with Gudoshnik. These Darwin Hybrid tulips have a great prismatic quality --- each one is actually slightly different. Another terrific one that changes in its feathering and spotting is'Silverstream' --- this variable quality plus white-marginated leaves!

This fusion is the last to bloom and absolutely compelling for cutting. Order a few Ollioules while you are on that same Darwin Hybrid page - it is unbelievably big and beautiful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Think Tulips - Part 2

Tulip enjoyment is the best --- but tulip ordering is absolutely the worst. I can deal with making the decisions in all the other genre/categories/kinds, but when it comes to tulips - I am waylaid, flabbergasted - totally irresolute. This year I am torn between whether the black and whites should be Single Lates (Queen of the Night, of course + Maureen) or Peony Flowering (or Double Lates), Black Hero and Mount Tacoma. I am inching toward a purple/orange patch, but can't decide where to put it - and can't live without my favorites: Carnavl de Nice and Red Parrot are two that go particularly well in my hand-painted tulip vase. The beauty Estella Rynvald is outstanding among red and whites.