Category Archives: All Categories

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!

 

 

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus or Crocus Sativus 

Saffron Crocus The excitement is heating up as the bulbs are finishing their growth for the year and are being harvested in many countries around the world.  The Middle East is a prime location for big fields of bulbs, but India, France and the Netherlands are other countries growing the Saffron Crocus.  Each corm is planted 3″ down and about 2″ apart and they increase over time into clumps.

Growing  Saffron Crocus 

Saffron Crocus The corms are planted upon receipt and can be planted any time during the year, but are ideally planted in the fall after the harvest, drying and shipping of the bulbs from their country of origin.  They go dormant, much like naked ladies or other adapted bulbs to dry climates, and send up foliage and flower buds at the same time.  As the foliage is grass like and thin, most of the show comes from the flower.

Harvesting Saffron Spice and Aftercare

Each flower has three threads of saffron spice and they must be harvested as soon as the flower opens.  The threads are plucked off and placed on a surface to dry.  They are then ready to be put into an airtight container or used immediately for cooking.

Saffron Crocus

After the blooming period, the corms will divide and produce many smaller corms.  Eventually these will grow larger and produce clumps with many flowers.  In climates that get frost, the corms may be left in the ground as long as there is not a heavy freeze but will benefit from mulching.  Or they can be dug up and brought into a cool basement or garage as long as the temperatures are not freezing as well.  If left in the ground, they go through a dry and dormant period during the summer and begin to grow again in the fall and bloom usually in the late fall.  It takes 70,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron, and the price of $5000 per pound indicates the labor that goes into the production of the spice, saffron, and makes it the most expensive spice in the world.

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

Merle, Cedric and I drove to Cloverdale one fine morning in the rain to check out the homestead on 300 acreas that he knew as a boy.  It was owned by Margaret Adams who died in 2000 after a long friendship of almost sixty years with Merle.  As a young boy of eight years old, he began to take the daffodils she picked on her property to town and give them away.  Now, the homestead is abandoned, and Merle has permission to dig and replant her “pioneer” daffodils which were planted by settlers.

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

Margaret Homestead 2013

We walked up the road toward the barn and house which are deteriating, with Cedric stopping to drink rainwater.  Merle has permission from the heirs to pick, dig, separate and replant these pioneer planted daffodils on other properties.  From collapsed chicken coops, he has constructed planter boxes for daffodils and faun lilies.

Further Adventures with Merle, The Daffodil Man

Margaret Adam’s Barn

 The barn has a decaying car, boars root all around the buildings, boar hunters come occasionally to hunt, and otherwise it is just going away slowly.

Further Adventures with Merle, The Daffodil Man

Margaret Adam’s House

The torn up ground is from boar and Merle loves them for digging their holes so that he can populate them with his daffodils – gopher holes as well!

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

Merle Reuser holding a clump of pioneer daffodils

Merle is separating a clump in the photo above.  This rather small, yellow trumpeted daffodil also has a small bulb.  The daffodil is about 14″ tall and the photo below is of the bouquet brought to the meeting of the King and Queen of Daffodils described in a previous post.

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

Now this does not look very unusual to people who can distinguish a daffodil from a tulip, but this daffodil is very special.  Of all the daffodils that I grow, the larger yellow trumpeted ones do not rebloom for as many years as many others, particularly the Mediterranean types, jonquills and hybrid narcissus.  But this little beauty multiplies and doubles, Merle says, until the single daffodil becomes sixteen daffofils in the fourth year!

Where this settler’s or pioneer’s daffodil came from is yet to be explained.  But for thise of us who have come to love the daffodil, it stands alone.

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

After Ceddy’s Second Pond Rescue

Merle was a hero twice for Cedric who cannot walk by a puddle or a pond (even after being weil hydrated in the car with his water bowl and case of bottled water).  Ceddy leaned forward to get a drink from the pond, his arthritic hind legs failed to hold, and he nosed into the pond twice.  Merle made a full rescue both times, and Cedric went back into his blankets a very wet dog while Merle planted the daffodils he dug up from the homestead around his dance floor beside a country road.  The border of the dance floor will be six feet wide.  

Further Adventures with Merle Reuser, The Daffodil Man

Merle at Work on His Dance Floor with Daffodil Frame

Look for “Dancing with Daffodils” on Facebook to see more about Merle’s activities and giving projects.

https://www.facebook.com/DancingWithDaffodils?fref=ts

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures with Merle, The Daffodil Man

Adventures with Merle, The Daffodil Man

Merle Reuser With His High School Wheels – Now Used to Deliver Daffodil Bouquets!

Merle Reuser is a daffodil “freak” as he describes himself.  He has become well known in Cloverdale and Santa Rosa for his work since the age of eight of giving away bouquets of daffodils.  Margarat Adams, who lived on an old homestead outside of Cloverdale was like a grandmother to him, and he carried bouquets of pioneer daffodils she had picked to town to give away and make people happy.

Over time, cows carried material on their hoofs, birds planted seeds and these daffodils planted by settlers in the 1820s or later spread across her fields.  Each clump would grow and divide up to about fifty bulbs and then stop dividing but keep reblooming.  Merle found that if he lifted the clumps and pulled the individual bulbs apart, he could replant each one individually (gopher holes and boar rooting made this easy!) and they would double each year.  Thus, after four years there would be sixteen daffodils where just one began.  His efforts now are focused on landscaping “the last two miles” of a country road in Cloverdale in honor of Margaret Adams.  He has plans to rip out broom with a tractor to make the roadside more amenable to hosting the daffodils.

In addition to that project, which he believes will take his remaining years, during the months when he can locate and move them, he digs up and replants the daffodils.  He also picks the blooms each spring and gives away bouquets in memory of young people who have died of cancer.  Each year he takes the clusters of blooms to their schools and gives them to students.

Merle found me because he had seen an article in The Press Democrate in Santa Rosa and saved it.  When he called, he said he had heard that I was called the Daffodil Lady and I replied that I had heard that.  He then said, “Well, I’m the Daffodil Man and we have to meet.”  He brought up Chris Smith who is a reporter for the Press Democrat and who was unaware of the previous article.  We toured my paths and hillside which were full of daffodils in bloom.  When Chis’ article came out we had been promoted to the “King and Queen” of daffodils.   

Adventures wirh Merle, The Daffodil Man

Marde Ross, Merle Reuser, and Chris Smith

 

Adventures wirh Merle, The Daffodil Man

Merle Reuser, Marde Ross and Chris Smith

Every since, Merle has been leading me to other daffodil venues such as that in Volcano, California, in gold country, called “Daffodil Hill” and which I had always wanted to visit, Ironstone Winery which has a million daffodils planted along the roadside and throughout, up to Cloverdale to see the site of the settler’s daffodils, and to various wild flower areas.  He is also correspoinding with the woman who is the most famous of “Daffodil Hilsl”, and who inspired “The Daffodil Principal” which goes round and round on the internet, author unknown.  Her name is Gene Bauer and she lives in the hills above and in back of Los Angeles.  At eighty-six, she is still going strong, although her property is no longer open to the public.

 

 

 

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