Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amaryllis anxieties

After losing multiple amaryllis bulbs last year, I am more than a little anxious about this year's cycle. Those remaining are my favorite bulbs for sentimental or aesthetic reasons. Can't let anything happen to them!

So, this weekend, I started the bulbs on their countdown to next year's bloom. "Royal Velvet," "Minerva," and "Ruby Meyer" had spent the summer in the bright light of south-facing windows. Thanks to restraint in watering and fertilizing, their leaves were green, their bulbs looked firm, and this "Minerva" amaryllis had even sprouted a fat little off-spring.

The bulblet released easily from its mother. Hopefully this baby will actually sprout. So far, I've had no success with growing bulblets. And, even worse, last year's mother bulb expired after giving birth.

Because last year's amaryllises were plagued by death and decay and because this treatment had seemed to help, I dusted the bulbs with a copper fungicide.

Again, thinking of the rotted-out bags I discovered in the refrigerator after 12 weeks of chilling last winter, I placed the bags on a layer of crumpled newspaper hoping that this will promote better air circulation.

The final step was following good garden hygiene by scrubbing the pots in a dilute bleach solution.

Well, it's not quite correct. The true final step is waiting--anxiously--for five months.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dumbarton Oaks, autumn

Folks rave about the beauty of the Washington spring--cherry blossoms lining the Tidal Basin, swathes of daffodils running along Rock Creek Parkway--but autumn is pretty darned lovely, too.

Last weekend, I spent an Indian Summer afternoon at my very most favorite garden, Dumbarton Oaks. I've raved about the sublime Beatrix Farrand landscape in a previous post, so here's a single highlight: the herbaceous border.

From outside the towering walls of yews bounding this garden, all you can see are billowing clouds of pale purple asters.

Inside, two 100-foot long beds of mixed perennials and annuals line a sloping central walk. At either ends are columnar yews. No fantastically exotic flowers here: just masses of zinnias, chrysanthemums, asters, ageratum, and verbena.

And this sublime beauty.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


This is the glory of dahlias: you can just step outside your back door and pick a bouquet of earth-shattering beauty.

And then, the next day, you can do it again. Sometimes you even have a helper.

Bulb addenda

A finale to the bulb ordering . . .

Brent and Becky's Bulbs
20 Narcissus Tazetta "Ziva" (indoors)
10 Narcissus "Ceylon" (new side yard)

. . . and on to the bulb planting, chilling, and potting up!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Fall plans for spring plants

Last night, I finally settled down in front of the computer to place my fall bulb order.

Given the rabbit feeding frenzy this year, I am reducing the percentage of delectable tulips and am hoping that the daffodils planted last fall will continue to flower. I'll also no longer be digging hundreds of little iris reticulata into the beds by the front walk, only to see them--or, more accurately, not see them--disappear. Miniature daffodils will go into their place.

Here's this year's very short list:

Old House Gardens
10 Tulipa "Generaal de Wet" (back of house)

White Flower Farm
50 Narcissus "Tete-a-Tete" (front yard by walk)

Brent and Becky's Bulbs
10 Tulipa "Purple Prince" (old side yard)
10 Tulipa "Prinses Irene" (old side yard)

And for indoor forcing:

White Flower Farm
1 Amaryllis "Temptation"

Old House Gardens
3 Hyacinth "Gipsy Queen"
3 Hyacinth "L'Innocence"
3 Hyacinth "Lady Derby"

It was way past my bed-time when I pushed the final "Enter" button, so I seem to have left a few dozen bulbs of paperwhite "Ziva" off those orders. An excuse to expand the list . . . more daffodils, I think!