Emailed April 23, 2010. To subscribe, click here.
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Friends of Old Bulbs Gazette

Old House Gardens, 536 Third St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103, (734) 995-1486

        "All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so."
        -- Joseph Joubert, French essayist, 1754-1824

It's Not Too Late! Order Now for Spring Planting and Summer Fun

        Hot or cold, it's spring and we're still shipping our easy, gorgeous, spring-planted daylilies, iris, dahlias for bouquets, cannas for humming birds, unusual glads, fragrant tuberoses, rain lilies, and crinums to plant now for summer beauty and excitement.
        Too busy to choose? Simply order our "Depression Buster" ($35 worth of great bulbs for only $30) or other samplers -- we guarantee you'll be thrilled. But don't delay! If you don't order them, you can't enjoy them!

And Don't Forget Your Mom! (Mother's Day is Coming Up Fast)

        If your mom loves flowers, how about sending her some of our great spring-planted bulbs? Maybe tucked into a flowery Old House Gardens tote-bag (for as little as $2)? Or a gift certificate so she can choose exactly what she wants, anytime? We even have a whole page at our website devoted to gift-giving. And we love making moms happy!

The Frugal Gardener: To Multiply Your Glads, Plant Cormlets

        If you dug and stored your glads last fall, you probably noticed lots of tiny cormlets (or cormels) clustered around the bases. Ranging in size from a BB to larger than a pea, these mini-corms will grow to blooming-size in a year or two.
        Getting them to sprout, though, can be a challenge, due to their nearly impermeable shells. You can nick or gently crack the shells, but it's easier to dissolve them by soaking in full-strength household bleach for a few hours just before planting. Plant in full sun, 1-2 inches deep and 1-2 inches apart, depending on size. Keep the soil moist but not soggy till grass-like foliage emerges and, for optimal growth, throughout the summer. With good care, any cormlet larger than a pea will grow to blooming-size by the time you harvest them in the fall, and the smaller ones by the following fall. Good luck and have fun!

Eating Locally: The Year's First Asparagus

        On one of our first dates, my wife Jane took me searching for asparagus growing along the roadsides out by her family's farm. Unfortunately, we'd picked just two stalks when our car got stuck in the mud and we had to call a tow truck. That wasn't a lot of fun, but it's a happy memory now and we laugh about it every spring when our favorite vegetable finally comes back into season here in Michigan. From mid-April till we can't get it anymore, we eat asparagus from our local Farmers' Market every single day. At first we just want it steamed or grilled (perfection!), but eventually we get around to recipes like this easy one from the old "Cartoon Kitchen" (anyone remember that?) which we hope you'll enjoy:

Pasta with Asparagus

        asparagus (1/4 lb. per person)
        rotini, penne, or similar pasta (two handfuls per person)
        grated Parmesan cheese
        butter (one pat per person)
        black pepper, salt to taste
        Bring salted water to boil while washing asparagus. Break stalks into 2-inch pieces. Cook pasta according to directions. Steam asparagus for 3-4 minutes. Drain pasta. Put pasta and asparagus in serving bowl. Add butter, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Stir until butter is melted and serve immediately.

Loving Your Bulbs? Please Tell the World at Garden Watchdog

        We just found out that we're the TOP-rated source for both Heirloom Bulbs and ALL Spring-Blooming Bulbs at the well-known catalog-rating website. Thank you!
        The ratings are completely based on anonymous customer reviews -- and if you love our bulbs, you can help us stay on top by posting a few kind words about us there. It's easy, quick, and we'll even walk you through the three simple steps at Thank you!

Laughing Locally: Arlo and Janis Grow Their Own

        Last week my favorite comic-strip couple did what a lot of us are doing this spring: they planted vegetables. And, as usual, they not only made me laugh, they got me thinking. You can enjoy their week-long adventure at Click on the arrow by the date above the strip to continue to the next day's installment. You could also ask to email "Arlo and Janis" (or dozens of other comics) to you every morning. It's free and, like gardening, laughing is good for you.

Bankruptcy Stuns Fans of Wayside, Park Seed, Jackson and Perkins

        The economy is picking up, but it's still a tough world out there. On April 2, three of the oldest and most highly respected plant suppliers in the country filed for bankruptcy protection. According to a spokesperson for the three, "The horticulture industry is challenging and highly seasonal in the best of times. As the general economic situation declined starting in 2008, demand for luxury, non-essential purchases dropped sharply. . . . Seeking court protection and restructuring is clearly our best option for returning to a position where we can focus on delighting our customers."
        We wish our colleagues at Wayside, Park, and J and P all the best as they face the challenges ahead. We can't imagine American gardening without them.

Scott's "Tulips with a Past" Now Online

        Way back in February 2002, Horticulture magazine featured on its cover a sumptuous close-up of 'Black Parrot' along with an invitation to "Touch the Past with Antique Tulips." Inside was Scott's six-page article, "Tulips with a Past." For those who missed it, we recently posted it at our website. Enjoy!

Heirloom Coleus for Every Garden

        All the rage in Victorian times, coleus fell out of fashion for most of a century, but now they're cool again. That's garden history. If you're a fan, you'll want to read Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens by our good customer Ray Rogers. In his book Ray focuses on modern forms, but when we asked him to recommend a few heirlooms, he gladly obliged:
        "As with daffodils [which Ray also collects] and many other plants, heirloom coleus -- some dating back to the 1850s when coleus first took the Victorian gardening world by storm -- have an enduring appeal. Many perform just as well as or even better than newer beauties. A few of my favorite heirlooms include 'Pineapple Queen' (almost certainly one of the oldest selections) in gold with dark purple leaf bases and stems; 'Beckwith's Gem', clad in changeable yellow, green, and red; 'Glory of Luxembourg', whose red leaves can be edged in gold or green; 'Violet Tricolor', decked out in green, dark purple, and vivid magenta; and icy-cool, lace-edged 'Crystata', with a white 'tree' marking the center of each leaf."

Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!

        Early April's articles included eating daylilies, 'Venetie' vanishing, OHG in Proven Plants: Southern Gardens, trendy "hyacinth purple," Wisconsin's Each Little World blog, and more. You can read all of our back-issues -- by date or by topic -- at .

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