Emailed July 29, 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

        "Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers -- and never succeeding."

        -- Marc Chagall, painter, 1887-1985

Our New Catalog is at the Printers -- and Online Now!

        It's an awesome catalog (if we do say so ourselves), and if all goes well we'll be mailing it in a week or so. But why wait? Our equally awesome website is updated and ready for your shopping pleasure right NOW.

9 New Samplers Debut Today

        Our samplers make it easy and affordable to sample a variety of our fabulous heirlooms. Here are the nine that are new this year:
        Southern Belles,
        Intro to Tulips,
        Classic Daylilies,
        Pint-Sized Glads,
        Ancient Trumpets,
        Antique Rubies,
        Tiny Dukes, and . . .

2 Pink Ribbon Samplers: Supporting Kelly and Cancer Recovery

        "You have breast cancer." Nobody wants to hear those words, but last year 200,000 Americans did, including our friend and Trial Garden/Shipping Manager, Kelly. The good news is, after surgery and months of chemo and radiation, Kelly's prognosis is excellent and she's back in the garden working harder than anyone. In celebration, we're donating $3 from each of our brand-new Pink Ribbon Samplers for fall-planting and spring-planting to the Live Strong Foundation -- and we invite you to help fight breast cancer with flowers!

45 Web-Only Bulbs You Can ONLY Buy Online

        Some are too rare for our print catalog, and others we just couldn't squeeze in there. We'll be adding add more, but these 45 treasures are for sale right now:
        17 tulips,
        8 daffodils,
        8 hyacinths,
        5 crocus,
        3 dahlias,
        3 gladiolus,
        and 'Festiva Maxima' peony.

But Where Have All Our Cannas Gone?

        Although we love them, and we've worked hard to preserve and share the best of them with you, we've decided to stop selling cannas -- at least temporarily.
        A new virus has been attacking cannas worldwide in recent years, and despite herculean efforts by our expert American growers, we've become troubled by what we've started seeing in our trial gardens and hearing from our customers.
        You come to us for great bulbs, and that's exactly what we want to send you. When we can once again be sure that every canna we ship is superbly healthy, we'll return them to our catalog -- and celebrate! But right now that's beyond our reach.
        There is one canna we're still offering -- 'Ehemanii'. It's the only one grown for us in a tiny nursery in Texas, and it's still as healthy as can be.
        And we're not abandoning our other rare cannas altogether. With an eye to the future -- and the possibilities that tissue-culture offers -- our indomitable Missouri grower will continue growing the best of them as scientists, farmers, and enthusiasts around the globe search for solutions.
        Coming to this decision has been a painful process. Our mission, after all, is to "Save the Bulbs," and we feel for our growers. But we're convinced it's the right decision.
        If any of the cannas we've sent you developed streaked, mottled, or twisted leaves, we recommend that you destroy them and please let us know so we can give you a credit or refund. Then together we'll look forward to brighter days ahead for cannas and those who grow and love them.

Made in Michigan: Oberon, the Perfect Summer Beer

        Last month, in the hopes of helping our home state work its way out of the economic sub-basement, we launched our "Made in Michigan" series -- and we already have good news to report. In May, Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 13.2%, making it -- for the first time in four years -- NOT the country's highest. (Sorry, Nevada!) Although that happened a month before we started plugging our favorite Michigan-made products, we're still feeling encouraged.
        So how about a drink? Though I've never lost my childhood taste for water straight from the hose, these days after a hot afternoon in the garden I'd rather have a nice cold beer. And as beer drinkers all across the Midwest will tell you, for a refreshing summer brew, you can't beat Oberon Ale. A sunshine-colored wheat beer with a big happy sun on its orange and blue label, Oberon comes from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, the oldest craft-brewer east of Colorado. "This isn't a dangerous beer," writes Matt at, "but it's also no slouch." He calls it "smooth and creamy" with "floral and citrusy-orange pulses" and sums up by saying, "No wonder Oberon has such a following."
        Oberon is sold in nineteen lucky states -- AL, AZ, DC, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, OH, PA, SC, VA, WI -- and you can order it online. Other award-winning beers from Bell's range from their flagship Amber Ale to the "bitter, tongue-bruising" Hopslam. Why not try them all? Cheers!

The Hottest June Ever

        It's official. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this past June was the hottest ever recorded. TIME magazine reports that "The combined global land and ocean temperature was 1.22 degrees F above the 20th century average." Temperatures in March, April, and May were also the hottest ever recorded, and "2010 is well on its way to becoming the warmest year worldwide since 1880, the earliest date for which global data is available."

Summer Reading: Between Tulips and the Gloomy Sea

        Flowers have been inspiring art and poetry for millennia. Here's a recent poem that starts with a familiar scene from the Dutch bulb fields but quickly morphs into something darker and more poignant. Thanks to our good customer Sue McIver for emailing it to us, the Poetry 180 program of the Library of Congress for emailing it to her, and Doug Dorph and his publisher for giving us permission to share it with you.

Dutch Boy, by Doug Dorph

        To one side, the North Sea like lead,
to the other, tulips, too bright, too colorful,
and your finger hurts. You are tied
to the big belly of the dike, your finger
a reverse umbilicus that sucks the boyish
into responsible sea. My complaint concerns
childhood, the premature loss thereof.
Mother, from under one of her headaches, told me -- cook dinner:
fish sticks, spaghetti sauce,
beef Wellington, hummingbird's tongue under glass.
How did I know we wouldn't wash away
like silt in the burst? The Provider,
the Protector, the Pleaser, Good Boy --
it's ingrained like the fat that marbles
choice beef. But there's no choice.
When the gloomy sea threatens, you're there
with your trusty finger. The bicycle lies forlorn
on the gravel bicycle path in the shadow of the dike.
The family windmill is brittle and blue as a scene on a plate.
Yet your other hand, the one with the free digit,
reaches for the painted flower heads
bobbing in their painted flowerbeds.
        (From Too Too Flesh, Mudfish Individual Poet Series #3, 2000, Box Turtle Press, New York, NY)

Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!

        June's articles included high-style praise for our iris at, Frank Lloyd Wright's tiger lilies and dahlias, crinums in the snow, peonies in 1901, heirloom sources and groups, Michigan garden bells, and more. You can read all of our back-issues -- by date or by topic -- at .

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