Category Archives: Gardening Tips for Daffodils, Tulips, Peonies & Naturalizing Bulbs

Tulips will be Ready to Plant in December

Tulips will be Ready to Plant in December 

I have quanties of less than 100 of most of the tulips I sell.  They are in the walk in refrigerator getting their full allottment of cold and will be ready to plant upon receipt.  

As they come in so many colors, they can fill a garden bed with the most wonderful colors in spring of every shade.  The shortest tulips bloom first with Apricot Beauty, a Triumph variety leading the pack.  Next come early parrots like Apricot Parrot and the Peony Flowered tulips ike Angelique and Mt. Tacoma.  Darwin Hybrids follow along and are the ones most likely to rebloom.  The latest are the tall single late tulips with the exception of Blushing Beauty which is the tallest and also early.

When I lived in Palo Alto, I planted my front garden with a couple of thousand tulips every year.  On one occasion, Sunset Magazine photopraphed my twins planting their selected plots in the front. David planted white tulips and Catherine planted Apricot Beauty and Blushing Beauty together and they were each delighted with the results as was Sunset Magazine.

Tulips will be ready to plant in December

 

 

Watsonia is a Tall, Cutting Flower from the Gladiolus Family

Watsonia is a Tall, Cutting Flower from the Gladiolus Family

Watsonia needs only sun and water and amended soil to thrive, multiply and keep producing tall stems as the corms produce 4-6 foot blooms!  They make a good back of the border addition and require no special care.

Even most non-gardeners are on a first name basis with Gladiolas, but not everyone knows Glad's cousin, Watsonia. Watsonia's an easy gal and we mean that in the nicest way. She doesn't need rich soil, copious amounts of fertilizer, insecticides or other fussing. Give her sunshine and some occasional water, and she's happy. Often happy enough to multiply, making her a perfect plant for busy gardeners. Watsonia bulbs are an excellent example of how simple gardening can be when the right plant is matched to suitable growing conditions. Warm climate gardeners, do yourself a favor and give watsonia a try. Fresh watsonia bulbs are available from early September through mid November only. Get them while you can!    Outdoor Beds Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2-3 inches to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Site your watsonia where they will receive full sun. Dig holes and plant the watsonia bulbs (corms, actually) 4" deep and 4"-6" apart. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs. There is a small point or even a bit of last year's stem on the side that should be placed facing up. After planting, water watsonia well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Roots and sprouts will form in the autumn. Winter will bring taller growth and flowers will develop in the spring. When in bloom, feel free to cut watsonia flowers for bouquets. This will not hurt the plants. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate. At the end of the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage may be removed at this point. Your watsonia will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. Watsonia form sizeable clumps over time and eventually flowering will diminish. When this occurs, dig up the clump and separate it into a number of smaller plants. Distribute them around your garden or share your bounty with friends. Replant promptly. Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns Use a large, heavy container; watsonia grow 4-6 feet tall. Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; watsonia must never sit in waterlogged soil or they will rot. Site your containers where they will receive full sun. Plant your watsonia 4" deep and 4"-5" apart for the most brilliant display. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs with a small point or even a bit of last year's stem on the side that should be placed facing up. After planting, water your containers well to settle the soil around your bulbs. Roots will form in the fall. A few sprouts may also develop in autumn if you live in a warm region. Taller top growth and flower stems will form in the spring. Enjoy your flowering containers, snipping a few flowers if you like. This won't hurt your plants. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" per week. At the end of the summer the leaves will yellow and die back as the plant slips into dormancy. Foliage may be removed at this point. Your watsonia will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle. Watsonia will form sizeable clumps over time and eventually flowering will diminish. When this occurs, dig up the clump and separate it into a number of smaller plants. Distribute them around your garden or share with friends. Replant promptly. Quantity tips: For 12-15” pots - plant 10 For 10” pots - plant 7 For 8” pots - plant 5   Customer Service  Contact Us Our Guarantee Ordering Info Track Your Order About Us  About Us Contact Us Follow Us on TwitterFind us on Facebook  Pin us on Pinterest  Add us on Google+ Shipping Info  General Shipping Info Shipping Charges Privacy & Security  Privacy Policy Site Security Sitemap Receive our Newsletter

 

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well and amend it with peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure as needed.
  2. Give them full sun.
  3. Plant the watsonia corms 4″ deep and 4″-6″ apart. The corms look like fat, flat gladiola bulbs. There may be a small point or even a bit of last year’s stem on the top of the corm that should be placed facing up.
  4. After planting, water watsonia well to settle the soil around the bulbs. Corms will root and sprouts will appear in the fall and flowers will bloom in the spring.
  5. Watsonia can be cut and will not hurt the plants.
  6. Let them die back in the summer.
  7. Foliage may be removed after the leaves die back and the corms become dormant.  In the fall they will begin the growth cycle again.
  8. As Watsonia will form large clumps over time and may eventually diminish in blooms, they can be dug and separated ar this time.  Replant promptly.
Barrels and Pots

Follow the same directions as above, but be sure to use very large pots or barrels as these grow very tall!

 

 

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

I had a couple of very pleasant surprises when we drove into a air field for a glider ride!  First of all, the glider ride over Hidden Valley in Sonoma was a delight. Before we got into the office, I had noticed a very large expanse of Brodaea, and after picking some and looking them up again, decided that they were similar to Queen Fabiola which I thought was a hybrid of a wild flower.  Instead, these were truly beatiful, full umbels of blue flowers like those I used to sell when I first began my bulb business and then grew for five years as cut flowers.   They have also been reclassified at Tritelia.  In the bouquet below, there are 2 stems of the Brodaea or Tritelia with some buds still to open.  

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

In any case, we added them to the bouquet of wild flowers we had been identifying and collecting, although we had left the rare Mt. St. Helena faun lily in place.  I listed twenty varieties that we had found and the brodaea were the last ones along with the unusal clover in their patch.  The owners of the air strip said the flowers had always been there and were not sown as far as they knew.

I’ve now added Brodaea, Queen Fabiola back onto my listing of bulbs and look forward to planting some in my pasture next year.  I want to go back to the airfield and dig some up to see how deeply they grow naturally and photograph them.  Meanwhile, here is a photo I found on line of them planted in a border.  They are a very long lasting cut flower, a breautiful addition to the perennial border and a very good value for such a beautiful flower.  The stems on the commercial varities is about 12″.  Do enjoy them in every setting!

Brodaea Queen Fabiola

 

The First Peonies are Blooming!

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Coral Supreme Peony

Here are the photos of the first peonies to bloom this spring.  The first ones are always the Coral Charm, Coral Supreme, Coral Sunset and the second and overlapping peony is Red Charm.  They were blooming in profusion (California’s version of profusion!) starting in mid April.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Red Charm Peony

The coral peonies are semi-double and somewhat double but open up very flat rather than staying in a tighter bloom.  Red Charm stays very fluffy and the center bomb stands out with the larger guard petals making a skirt.  These are among my favorite peonies.

And then there is Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt.  There was only one plant blooming this early with others to follow later.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

MRS. F.D. Roosevelt Peony

There was one early Festiva Maxima and one Do Tell a few days later.  And one I didn’t recognize as well as a Japanese single, Doreen.

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Festiva Maxima Peony

 

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Do Tell Peony

 

The First Peonies are Blooming!

Doreen Peony

What is to Come?

Peonies will be blooming for another month, if last year’s experience was typical.  Usually, I just enjoy the blooms as they come and don’t bother to document the timing and sequence, but I did do that last year.  I missed the end of the bloom as I left for a trip near then end of May which surprised me as I didn’t remember having blooms extend into June.  I missed seeing the last ones to bloom.

The varieties left to bloom apart are more coral peonies, Henry Bockstoce, Sarah Bernhardt, Mrs. FD Roosevelt and Festiva Maxima in their regular time, Carol, Charlie’s White, Cheddar Surprise, Coral Fay, Paula Fay, Duchess de Nemours, Gardenia, Mons Jules Elie, Princess Margaret, and Mr. Ed.  Most are doubles or bomb form in this group.

If you are in the area do call and come see them.

 

 

 

 

Tulips are in Bloom!

Tulips are in Bloom!

In Palo Alto, I used to be called “The Tulip Lady” and today in Glen Ellen where I have my farm with daffodil hillsides, I am called the “Daffodil Lady”.  Just as I was beginning to write this article on tulips, I got a call from a Daffodil Man who digs, divides and shares the early settler’s daffodil bulbs from around Cloverdale, California.  We  will meet next week here to walk among mine and set a time to visit his, and this will the subject of my next post.

Tulips are in Bloom! 

 

Tulips are Blooming:  

Tulips bloom in a sequence of earlier to latest which usually correspondes to shortest to tallest, which was in my mind when I found my tallest tulip, a single late called Blushing Beauty blooming first along with another one, Big Smile.  This year I planted my extra tulips very late at the end of Januay between every other peony row.  They are also planted on the west side of my property under deciduous oaks about 2″ deep.

Tulips are in Bloom!

The length of the cut tulips can be extended by using some of the white stems at the bottom of the tulips.  The deeper they are planted, the longer the white area.  I plant my tulips shallowly to allow me to pull them out completely when picking as the bulbs need to removed in any case as they will not rebloom reliably, especially when cut.

Tulips are in Bloom!Pull them out!

If you look closely, the tulips bulbs are starting to divide and make more and smaller bulbs.  In Holland, to make the bulbs larger, one years growth is sacrificed by cutting the HEADS off just as they begin to bloom. This makes the bulb grow larger.  When the flower blooms, the bulbs divide and thus it is difficult to have a reblooming tulip in warm climates where cold is needed to made the bulbs grow larger so that they can rebloom.

 

 

Tulips are in Bloom!

 

Reluctantly, I throw away the bulbs and tear off the lower leaves from the stem.

Tulips are in Bloom!

These Blushing Beauty and Rainbow Warrier tulips are very tall and could stand to be shortened or placed in a larger vase.  I didn’t plant my earliest blooming tulip, Apricot Beauty, as it was sold out.