Wednesday, February 20, 2013

David Griffiths' 1934 BULBS FROM SEED

The post title says it all. Here is the full text of David Griffiths' BULBS FROM SEED, published in June, 1934, as Circular No. 311 of the US Department of Agriculture.

Two of my favorite passages: on page three, he points out that a seedling bed 3 feet by 50 feet can produce about 25,000 plants! That should rejoice the heart of all of you who cherish dreams of a back yard cottage industry. On page 25, he points out that many bulbs need to mature into a drought - I've worked this one into many of the bulb presentations I've given. I think it's one of the most important things to know about bulb culture in our climate. 

The plant he mentions as Cyclamen europeum (sic) is almost certainly C. hederifolium. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Witch-hazel in morning sun

What a treat in the middle of winter! The flowering of the witch-hazels always catches me by surprise. Yes, I know from long experience that they bloom in the winter. But really severe conditions will delay the flowering, and I've never been sure just what combination of conditions allows them to bloom. This winter, another of our recent mild winters, has had its mild and its bitter times, enough cold to shut down the snowdrops for a while. A haze of red out over the pergola caught my eye the other day, and sure enough Hamamelis 'Feuerzauber' was in full bloom. Yesterday I got out into the garden to do some close-up checking, and found 'Jelena' also in full bloom. 'Diane' is also blooming. That's 'Jelena' in the image above.

Nothing lights up the winter garden the way a witch-hazel in full bloom does.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's spring in the cold frames

We are in the throes - temporarily I hope - of another cold wave.  Recent mornings have brought temperature readings of 16⁰ F. Early bloomers outside in the garden are frozen stiff. But it's spring in the cold frames. If you look carefully, you should be able to make out four flowers of Iris unguicularis, the Algerian iris. To the right of the iris is a white-flowered Cyclamen persicum. And then there are the primroses. These are garden forms derived from Primula vulgaris (long known as P. acaulis).

What a pleasure it is on a day like this to bundle up, go out into the garden and open the frames to find a sight like this! This really cheers me up. And it matters not if the temperature again drops: all of these plants are snug in the cold frame.

The iris took a couple of years to dig in and begin to bloom: but you can see that it's now putting on a good show. The cyclamen was purchased either late in 2011 or very early in 2012: these deliciously scented plants bloom for months - they will probably still be in bloom in April! I bought the primroses last week at the grocery store. They cost all of three for five dollars: what a deal! In the house they would probably last only for a week or two before the heat gets them. In the cold frames they will go on for weeks as long as they are watered regularly.