Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Generosity of Gardeners

I met her at a Las Vegas nightclub, of all places.  We chatted over cocktails - and found out that, lo and behold, we were both gardeners.  She leaned over to me.  "Would you like some plants?" she asked.  "I have a bunch I can give you."

Free plants?  Somehow even I had found my drug of choice in Las Vegas!


As it turns out, the woman I had met was the wife of one of Mr. Red House's coworkers, who were in the middle of downsizing and moving to a condo.  The wife was a gardener and one of the nicest people I've met, and she was thrilled to find someone to take some of her plants.  When we got back to Massachusetts I came over and we dug dozens if not hundreds of plants.

a newly acquired Dianthus
I haven't had much time to be online lately as I have been planting non-stop the past few weeks.

Lanium, one of my newly aquired plants
I've been planting those plants,
free plants I picked up after working the local Garden Club plant sale,
other plants given to me by generous older club members with overflowing gardens,
and my own seedlings.

It's been a busy spring!

plants still awaiting planting
People probably think I spend a fortune on my garden (and Mr. Red House would probably agree with them), but they don't know just how generous the gardening community is.  Gardeners are a sharing bunch, and I highly recommend joining a local gardening club if available.

My hellstrip is filled almost exclusively with free plants or plants from seeds.
Members with mature plants will often share seeds and cuttings, and gardeners are always giving away divisions of plants that are growing too crowded in their garden. They don't call them 'pass-along plants' for nothing!

Bleeding hearts passed along to me
I would say about 80% of my plants were given to me by other gardeners or grown from cuttings or seeds.  (That percentage would be higher if it weren't for my bulb addiction...)

Bee visiting Baptisia that was passed along to me
as a little seedling by another gardener a couple years ago.
I love getting 'pass-a-long plants', and these plants are living reminders of friends and kindred spirits who so thoughtfully share bounty from their garden.

Dianthus grown from seeds given to me by my Mother-in-law from her plants
Gardeners are also generous with sharing their experience and advice with how best to grow their plants.  Older gardeners are an invaluable resource, especially for those of us who are unfamiliar with local challenges.

just one of the local 'challenges'
I love being part of the online gardening community as well, even though I haven't had much time for it this spring.  I learn so much, and get so many great ideas!

I got this idea of filling my kids' out-grown rainboots with plants somewhere online.
Now if anyone could give me some tips for how to multitask or be in two places at once, I would be very grateful.  I still have the weeding to do...

A striking iris passed along to me
...and the watering, and the edging, and the mulching, and the mowing...


It might be a busy summer in the garden, too!

Happy summer and happy gardening,
and thank you to all those generous gardeners out there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Daffodil Awards

One afternoon in early May I was browsing the plants at a local nursery.  There was another woman shopping there, and we looked at each other.  She was wearing a long down winter coat; I was wearing my fleece and winter hat.  "Only New Englanders would be dressed like this while plant shopping," she commented dryly. 

Ah, spring in New England.  It's been a rollercoaster of cold and rainy mixed with unexpectedly warm and sunny (that early thaw! that late freeze!), but it's made for a long season of spring blooms this year - especially for my favorites, the daffodils.


This year I got to go to the Daffodil Show at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.  It the first Daffodil Show I've seen, and while others said it was quite small this year, due to being in the middle of the week and a very rainy one at that, I loved it.  It was so interesting to see the different types of daffodils - and get ideas for which ones I want for next year...

Clockwise from top right:
Narcissus 'Actaea', Narcissus 'Sentinel', Narcissus 'Oh Wow',
collections of pink-cupped daffodils,
a split corona miniature! Narcissus 'Itsy Bitsy Splitsy',
Narcissus 'Crackington'
It was hard to pick a favorite out of the show, but I think Narcissus 'Chipper' has stolen my heart.  I just love this division of daffodils, called the Triandrus Daffodils, with their nodding heads and swept back petals.

Narcissus 'Chipper'
In honor of this nice long daffodil season, I've decided to highlight some of my favorites from my own garden this year.  They might not win a prize at an awards show, but I enjoy them nonetheless!  Here are my awards for just some of the beloved daffodils here at the Red House Garden:

The Earliest Daffodil Award:
(aka The Most Anticipated Daffodil)

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
The last days of winter are usually spent in eager anticipation of the first daffodil to bloom, and Narcissus 'Rijnveld’s Early Sensation' is usually it. This year they started blooming on March 11 and kept on blooming despite late snow and freezing weather.  Definitely an award winner in my book!

The Cutest Daffodil Award:

Narcissus 'Mite'
The pictures I have (taken on my phone) of the miniature 'Mite' Daffodils sadly do not do them justice.  These are teeny tiny little daffodils, and oh so adorable!

Congeniality Award:
(aka Plays Well With Others)

Narcissus 'Thalia'
Narcissus 'Thalia', another one of those beautiful Triandrus daffodils, is lovely just on her own.  However, I think when paired with some of the other spring blooming bulbs, 'Thalia' gets even prettier.

Narcissus 'Thalia' with 'Blue Giant' Glory-of-the-Snow
'Thalia' is especially nice for pastel-colored gardens, where yellow daffodils would be discordant.  I could also see it being great for a patriotic-themed garden with its pure white petals. 

The Showiest Daffodil Award:

Narcissus 'Replete''
The hands-down most luscious daffodil in my garden this year was the doubled Narcissus 'Replete'.  This unique garden diva has so much going on with all those petals!  The colored segments start out yellow-orange...


...and then turn a fabulous coral color.

Narcissus 'Replete'
Replete' is classified as a 'pink' daffodil; however, I would not call the color truly pink.  The coral fades to what I would call a shade of apricot or peach.  Either way, it is a very striking daffodil!

Narcissus 'Replete'

Most Unusual Looking Daffodil Award:
(aka Looks Least Like a Daffodil)

I was chatting with my mailman the other week, and he pointed to a patch of flowers and asked, "What are those flowers?"  "Daffodils," I answered.  "And what's that?" he pointed to some others.  "Daffodils."  "And that?"  "Also Daffodils."  This went on for several more iterations, much to the amusement of my mailman, who probably now thinks all the flowers in my garden are really just strange looking daffodils.

Narcissus 'Trepolo'
There are so many different types of daffodils now, and some are quite a far cry from the standard yellow trumpet variety.  There are some very unusual looking doubles (like my showiest daffodil 'Replete'), but I think the most unconventional looking daffodils are the Split Corona Daffodils, where the cup is split.

Narcissus 'Trepolo', a Split Corona Daffodil
Last year the Most Unusual Daffodil Award might have gone to Narcissus 'Trepolo' with its orange starburst of a center; however, this year it's been edged out by the new addition of the very undaffodil-looking Narcissus 'Electrus'.  Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more...

Narcissus 'Electrus'
Unusual and unexpected-looking daffodils are so much fun to have in the garden.  They add a different look, but are usually still as easy to grow and as critter-proof as the standard yellow trumpet varieties.

There are so many different and beautiful varieties of daffodils that it is easy to catch 'yellow fever', as it's called by daffodil lovers!  Daffodils are one of my favorite flowers, and I'm thankful that this year's season has lasted so long.  The first daffodil bloomed on March 11, and different daffodils were in bloom from then until now near the end of May.  My last to bloom, the miniature Narcissus 'Baby Moon', are finishing off the daffodil season with their diminutive, sweetly-scented flowers.

Narcissus 'Baby Moon'
That is, unless my rather sad-looking (but still alive!) 'Watieri' Daffodils decide to bloom.  (Narcissus 'Watieri', a white-flowering subspecies of daffodil that is native to the mountains of Morocco, is the lucky recipient of my Most Challenging to Grow Daffodil Award!)

Do you have a favorite daffodil?

Narcissus 'Baby Moon'
As always,
Happy Gardening!


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Is it Time to Just Stop Planting Tulips?

After some wild fluctuations in weather, spring has finally arrived (still knocking on wood).  Several of my shrubs were affected by the drastic drop in temperatures we had, and I am still waiting to see how well they recover, but the spring bulbs were mostly insulated by snow.  I was delighted to see that the cold barely slowed them down, and they are now blooming their heads off.


Well, most of them...


My tulips are one of the few flowers that I spray with deer deterrent, but I must not have been as diligent with reapplying as I should have been as almost every single one of my fabulous 'Flair' Tulip flowers have been eaten.

a couple surviving tulips
While daffodils are one of my favorite flowers, and I plant a lot of them as well as other bulbs, there's just nothing like that instant impact that a mere handful of those orangey-red tulips makes.

last year's display of tulips, grape hyacinth, and daffodils
Instead, thanks to the greedy deer, my front garden hellstrips definitely look like they are missing something...

Now imagine this with some wonderfully brilliant orangey-red tulips...
I console myself with many of the fabulous and, more importantly, deer-proof bulbs blooming around the yard.

deer-proof daffodils around the greenhouse
Would any of them be bright enough to take the place of my 'Flair' Tulips?

Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'
Bright daffodils take center stage in other places around the garden, especially when underplanted with contrasting flowers.  While I don't think they make quite as bold a statement as the tulips, at least the flowers are happily nibble-free!

Narcissus 'Intrigue', 'Golden Echo', and others with Grape Hyacinth
I fear my tulip planting days are over.

a mass of Narcissus 'Barrett Browning' and 'Trepolo'
The tulips may come back next year, but either way I think I will need to amend my spring plan for my front hellstrip gardens.  Something more deer proof...


Which sadly definitely rules out tulips.


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