Category Archives: Daffodils

TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON

To everything there is a season

And a time to every purpose under heaven

Familiar words.

And true.

I’ve come to realize over the years that some people seem to time their deaths.

I first realized this when a man named Bill Frass died.

Bill was a kind, gentle and happy soul.

He was also an Iris fanatic.

A plant your backyard full of Iris kind of fanatic.

I first encountered Bill when my neighbor Geraldine shared some of his iris.

After that he was my guide during the annual iris rhizome sale each July.

But the thing is Iris only bloom for a few short weeks each spring.

Somehow Bill managed to die while they were blooming.

His fellow Iris fanatics cut their precious children for his funeral.

The room was filled with Iris.

Full of the scent and aura that was Bill.

What a send off.

I’ve also read about Henry Mitchell.

For years he was the garden writer for the Washington Post.

He died after an afternoon of plating Daffodils with a friend.

Imagine.

Leaving this world with dirt under your fingernails

Having planted the hope of spring.

I like this plan.

But for me the most poignant is the story of when my father died.

It was two years ago this week.

My father was many things.

Most of all he was a farmer. 

His life would take him to meet world leaders

Their conversation would more often than not be about farming.

But there came a time in his late 80’s to stop his active involvement in farming.

It’s a gut wrenching decision echoed by families all through the farm belt.

His decision was made in typical Henry style.

Get the facts – make the decision – don’t look back.

So it was that spring that he came to his last harvest.

Elliott came home to be a part of his own history.

The wheat was cut.

It was a record crop.

All through that summer Daddy came three times a week to my home for lunch.

That had been his pattern for several years.

He could no longer stroll through my garden.

Instead we would sit in the breakfast room and watch the garden grow and change.

We would talk gardening, farming and politics.

I had a sense something was changing but didn’t know what.

He was winding down.

I think I’ve mentioned his theory on color in the garden.

Red.

Only Red!!!

Then there is my theory.

Everything but red.

Except in late summer

When the cockscomb takes over.

It’s the only red flower I grow.

It blooms wildly

Actually out of control this time of year.

There is one non red flower that Daddy liked.

Maxmillian Sunflower.

A late summer blanket on the prairie.

And so it was to be.

His last days came when his beloved country side was covered in Maximillian Sunflowers.

And cockscomb filled my garden.

The Wednesday before his Saturday services

Elliott and I drove through the countryside and cut sunflowers, cattails and maize.

Actually we stole the maize from the field of an old friend.

Along the way we laughed and cried a little and remembered.

We basked in the glory of the sunshine and a life well lived.

We took it all to the florist who filled two urns with fabulous arrangements.

They flanked Daddy as friends came from across the state

To say goodbye.

To tell stories to his grandsons.

To celebrate his life.

At the same time I asked my local florist Ryan to go to my garden

Cut everything he needed to make the casket flowers.

Make it red.

He did.

It is true.

To everything there is a season.

Even for giant spiders.  Sloan and Cassidy just came by on their nightly spider check.  It’s gone….till next season.

Gail

Thanks Elliott & Debra letting me use some of your pictures.

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Filed under Cattails, cockscomb, Daffodils, Gardening, HELIANTHUS, Iris, late summer garden, Maximillian Sunflower, Orb Spider, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

TIMING

To everything there is a season

And a time to every purpose under heaven

Familiar words.

And true.

I’ve come to realize over the years that some people seem to time their deaths.

I first realized this when a man named Bill Frass died.

Bill was a kind, gentle and happy soul.

He was also an Iris fanatic.

A plant your entire backyard to Iris kind of fanatic.

I first encountered Bill when my neighbor Geraldine shared some of his Iris with me.

After that he was my guide at the annual Iris Society rhizome sale each July.

But the thing is Iris only bloom for a few short glorious weeks each spring.

Somehow Bill managed to die while they were blooming.

His fellow Iris fanatics cut their precious children for his funeral.

The room was filled with Iris.

Full of the scent and aura that was Bill.

What a send off.

I’ve also read about Henry Mitchell.

For years he was the garden writer for the Washington Post.

He died after an afternoon of plating Daffodils with a friend.

Imagine.

Leaving this world with dirt under your fingernails

Having planted the hope of spring.

I like this plan.

But for me the most poignant is the story of when my father died.

It was two years ago this week.

My father was many things.

Most of all he was a farmer. 

His life would take him to meet world leaders

Their conversation would more often than not be about farming.

But there came a time in his late 80’s to stop his active involvement in farming.

It’s a gut wrenching decision echoed by families all through the farm belt.

His decision was made in typical Henry style.

Get the facts – make the decision – don’t look back.

So it was that spring that he came to his last harvest.

Elliott came home to be a part of his own history.

The wheat was cut.

It was a record crop.

Daddy had selected a young local man to rent his land.

J. Russell began that process.

All through that summer Daddy came three times a week to my home for lunch.

That had been his pattern for several years.

He could no longer stroll through my garden.

Instead we would sit in the breakfast room and watch the garden grow and change.

We would talk gardening, farming and politics.

I had a sense something was changing but didn’t know what.

He was winding down.

I think I’ve mentioned his theory on color in the garden.

Red.

Only Red!!!

Then there is my theory.

Everything but red.

Except in late summer

When the cockscomb takes over.

It’s the only red flower I grow.

It blooms wildly

Actually out of control this time of year.

There is one non red flower Daddy liked.

Maxmillian Sunflower.

A late summer blanket on the prairie.

And so it was to be.

His last days came when his beloved country side was covered in Maximillian Sunflowers.

And cockscomb filled my garden.

The Wednesday before his Saturday services

Elliott and I drove through the countryside and cut sunflowers, cattails and maize.

Actually we stole the maize from the field of an old friend.

Along the way we laughed and cried a little and remembered.

We basked in the glory of the sunshine and a life well lived.

We took it all to the florist who filled two urns with fabulous arrangements.

They flanked Daddy as friends came from across the state

To say goodbye.

To tell stories to his grandsons.

To celebrate his life.

At the same time I asked my local florist Ryan to go to my garden

Cut everything he needed to make the casket flowers.

Make it red.

He did.

It is true.

To everything there is a season.

Even for giant spiders.  Sloan and Cassidy just came by on their nightly spider check.  It’s gone….till next season.

Gail

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Filed under cockscomb, Daffodils, Fall, Iris, Orb Spider, Sunflowers, Timing, Uncategorized

PLANTING HOPE

Last week we talked tulips

Glorious tulips

Now lets see what else we can find to bury this fall.

Daffodils are just about the happiest flower there is.

They will often begin poking their noses out of the ground  before Christmas.

Some years they even bloom by Valentines – more often in early March.

My favorite is a solid yellow called King Alfred.

It’s the traditional large cupped solid yellow.

There are hundreds of varieties, but I must confess to only planting this one kind.

Don’t let that stop you from finding your own favorite.

Daffodils are more perennial than tulips.

King Alfred edging the garden in late winter

Which is good since they cost more.

Another standard for me is Dutch Iris. 

You might recognize them as a standard in florist bouquets.

Dutch Iris "Delft Blue"

They are a smaller bulb, don’t require much space and easy to plant.

One of my real favorites is the tiny bulb and bloom of the Grape Hyacinths.

They bloom early and long. 

They are wonderful at edges.

I’ve lined much of the path of my garden with them.

Grape Hyacinths along the brick path

I’ve also scattered them on my one little “hill” and let them roll down to the edge.

Grape Hyacinths and vinca minor on the "hill".

And best of all they are pretty cheap!

The other bulbs I order this time of year are lilies.

Asiatic, Oriental and Trumpet

I love them all.

This year I’ve found a semi-shady place to add lots of Oriental lilies.

So I’m buying a mix of pinks and creams and whites.

Stargazer - a staple Oriental Lily

Mixes generally save you a little money, but you don’t get to pick the colors.

I’m also adding Oriental Lily Golden Star to the yellow Orientals I all ready have.

I’ve also found Trumpet Lily African Queen.

I saw this melon colored beauty in a magazine and tracked it down.

Now…no bulb order would be complete without Amaryllis.

You will know them as the fantastic flowers forced into bloom at Christmas.

My favorite is the  Hybrid Dutch Amaryllis.

The pink and white Apple Blossom is glorious.

Apple Blossom Amaryllis

A fairly new Black Pearl is a most dramatic dark red.

Black Pearly Amaryllis

Actually, there isn’t a bad color of Amaryllis.

They are monster bulbs fitting snuggly into a 6 ” pot.

Forcing Amaryllis for Christmas in the garden house.

OK

Where do these bulbs come from?

How many do you order?

How do you know a good bulb?

How do you plant all of this stuff?

We’ll save the last question till time to plant.

Which for me is in November.

Suffice it to say it’s good to have friends in November.

Let’s tackle the rest.

Where to get bulbs?

You’ll find them at garden centers, nurseries and stores that add seasonal greenhouses.

Along with all kinds of catalogs and websites.

I find them well…everywhere.

I will tell you though I don’t like the pre-packaged bags of bulbs.

Though my friend Debra literally grabbed a bunch of these last fall

Through them into the ground.

And had glorious bulbs.

But, I like to pick out each one to make sure that it is firm, has no sign of mold, and most importantly, big.

The bigger the bulb the bigger the bloom.

It’s just that simple.

Though I do my best to support local merchants I do have to confess to being a little picky about the colors I want.

So for that reason I do order from catalogs.

My long time favorite is a company called k. van Bourgondien.

I have found their selection to be very good – to the point it takes me a week to figure it all out.

I also think their quality is excellent and reliable.

Their prices are fair.

As for quantities.

Well…this is my weak point

I always over buy

But I always get them planted

With Megan’s help.

Here are a few guidelines

But remember – it’s just my own opinion

Which is worth exactly what you are paying for it here in the blogosphere!

With the exception of grape hyacinths and other tiny bulbs I never plant in rows.

I dig  – rather Megan digs – big oval-shaped holes.

In them we plant odd numbers of bulbs

Daffodils & Dutch Iris – 5 or 7 or 9

Tulips  – 9 or 11 or 15

Lily bulbs are bigger and need a bit more space 3 or 5 per hole.

So…that gives you a guideline.

You can measure and multiply and see how much trouble you can get into.

We’ll cover more planting information come fall.

OK

This should get you in over your head.

But come spring you’ll be so glad you took the time to plan ahead

I think of it as planting hope!

Gail

Hope !

 

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Filed under Amaryllis, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Grape Hyacinths, Oriental Lilies, spring, Spring Flowering Bulbs, tulips

Sandpaper Hands

I can tell it’s spring because by Saturday night my hands felt like sandpaper.

I know I should wear gloves but just can’t seem to keep them on.

Just need to get my hands in the soil – really in the soil. 

And that’s what I did this weekend – all weekend.

It was, for me, the first long gardening weekend.

Actually, it began on Thursday evening in the front yard.

I went out to stake down the daffodil leaves and Torry, Cassidy and Sloane from next door pitched in.

Daffodil leaves need to die all the way back in order to feed the bulb and bloom for next year. 

This takes awhile and can be not so pretty in the process.

I used to braid them and stake them down which is lovely.

Or it was until Megan and I succeeded in edging all my loooooong beds in daffodils.

It would simply take forever.

So instead I take leaves in each hand, twist them around each other, tuck the ends in and stake them down.

The stakes are made by cutting the ends from a wire clothes hanger with wire cutters. 

Just make one cut on the bottom to save your hands.

They work great and are free – except for the Advil you’ll need to get your hands back in shape. 

You can also use landscape cloth stakes.

By Saturday the real fun began.

I spent most of the day in the shady part of my garden. 

Ferns have been sending out runners all winter and were popping up everywhere.

So I spread the joy a bit transplanting them to other shady areas.

Then new Digitalis, Astilbe and Bleeding Heart were added. 

Digitalis is really not known to like my house but I keep trying.

Because they like an acid soil, last fall I added a few pecan shells and leaves to the soil and today I added a bit of lime.

I’ll keep you posted.

The good news is that Belinda’s Dream roses are looking great – considering. 

Hopefully, I’ll at least have fall roses and they may still surprise me this spring.

And speaking of bloom the Japanese Tree Peony bloomed this morning.

I’ve put this poor plant through two moves and once sliced it in half with a shovel.

This year it’s full of buds and blooms – proving that patience does pay of.

Nature teaches us to be patient if we will listen.

Dahlias are some of my favorite flowers. 

 They are fall blooming so they are one of the last things to come out of the ground in the spring.

Technically, they should not overwinter in this zone but they often do so I don’t dig them in the fall.

Come spring it’s always a guess to see what holes I’ll need to fill in.

So this year I came up with a new plan.

The tubers arrived this week and today I planted them in pots. 

They can begin to grow in the pot and when I know what is or is not coming back I can fill in with new ones.

Hopefully, I’ll be ahead of the game – we’ll see.

The rest of today was filled with transferring tomatoes into bigger pots.

I won’t put them out until later on in the month so this should give them more space to form more roots.

The weekend ended as it began.

Torry, Cassidy and Sloane returned.

This time we planted fescue in basket liners for their Easter baskets.

It’s easy.

Fill the liner about half full of moist potting soil.  Cover with a solid coating of fescue seeds.

Then add a light coat of potting soil and water with a gentle spray.

Keep in a sunny window and spray to keep moist.

In 10 to 14 days you’ll have a bed of real grass for all those Easter eggs.

Tulips are beginning to wane so I’ll end with small pictures of the ones that remain and other joys of spring.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

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Filed under Daffodils, Dahlias, Easter Baskets, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials