Emailed October 25, 2011.To subscribe, click here.
To reprint any of this material, simply credit © 2011

Friends of Old Bulbs Gazette

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

"A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible."

-- Welsh proverb

Save 25% on 47 Bulbs at Our Better-Late-Than-Never Sale!

Good news: Now you can give yourself something to look forward to all winter long and decades of garden beauty while you help us "Save the Bulbs" and save yourself 25%!
        Last Friday we invited our 799 Facebook friends to start taking advantage of our sale prices -- and they did! -- but we still have plenty of awesome bulbs looking for a good home this fall. Here's your chance to try something pricey that you've been longing for (maybe 'Mabel'?) or to plant a big splash of something cheaper but just as wonderful (maybe Spanish bluebells?).
        See the whole list at and then order online or call Rita at 734-995-1486 for a winter full of sweet anticipation and the satisfaction of getting a great deal!

Invite Your Friends to Our Sale!

Share our sale with your garden friends by either (a) forwarding this newsletter to them or (b) sending them to our "Better-Late-Than-Never Sale" page. And if a friend sent you this newsletter and you want to receive it every month, click here to SUBSCRIBE.

Shipping Update: Where's My Order?

If you don't have it already, you will soon! Our awesome crew has been working harder than ever this fall to overcome snafus caused by a major software upgrade. We'll ship every order we currently have by this Friday, Oct.28, and all new orders by Friday, Nov. 4 -- which is pretty much what we do every year.
        Please remember that we reserve bulbs for orders on a first-come first-served basis (starting with orders placed as long ago as LAST November) and ship to our customers in colder zones first. If you've given us your email address, you'll get an alert when your order is shipped. And if you have special delivery needs, simply mention them when ordering or call us at 734-995-1486 and we'll do whatever we can for you.

Albuquerque Gardeners Get Paid to Save Water by Planting Bulbs

In an October 3 article titled "Droughtbusters," TIME magazine spotlights five innovative efforts to conserve that increasingly rare resource, water. Along with mandatory rainwater harvesting in India and purifying toilet water for drinking in Namibia, the article explores how Albuquerque, NM, has reduced its per-capita water use by 38% -- thanks in part to hyacinths. Yes, hyacinths! "Since 1996," it reports, "Albuquerque's water authority has been paying residents $.75 per square foot to rip out their thirsty lawns and replace them with plants that need little water to thrive. To date, some 6 million square feet of turf have been replaced with agave plants, Joshua trees, hyacinths, and other desert-appropriate vegetation in a style known as xeriscaping."
        Although we've always recommended keeping hyacinths dry in summer because, like most bulbs, they're native to parts of the world where summers are parched -- it seemed a stretch to call them "desert-appropriate." As it turns out, Albuquerque includes hyacinths on a list of twelve bulbs whose water needs are rated either low or medium which therefore qualifies them for the xeriscaping rebate: alliums, blackberry lily (Belamcanda), Colchicum, crocus, hyacinths, bearded iris, bulbous iris, surprise lily (Lycoris squamigera), grape hyacinths (Muscari), daffodils, tulips, and rain lilies (Zephyranthes). You can learn more here -- or just add "saving water" to the long list of good reasons to plant our bulbs!

How About Forcing a Few Bulbs This Winter? Our Easiest are Now 25% Off!

Where winters are cold and long, forcing bulbs into bloom indoors is one of gardening's greatest pleasures. And it's easier than you might think! Two of our least expensive hyacinths, 'Lady Derby' and 'L'Innocence' both of which are now on sale for 25% off -- can be forced by simply storing the bulbs in a paper bag in the refrigerator for a couple of months and then setting them just above water in a jar or vase. Tazetta narcissus, which are close cousins of paperwhites, are also extra easy. For inspiration and step-by-step guidance, see our awesome Forcing Bulbs page -- and order now!

No Digging Required Just "Top Plant" Your Tulips

Although planting bulbs is great exercise, if you're looking for an easier way to do it, Cornell's Flower Bulb Research Program has a new idea: "top planting" your tulips. As horticulture professor Bill Miller explains, "In our trials in Ithaca, N.Y. -- a very cold-winter climate -- we found very good results from shallow roto-tilling of a planting area, placing the bulbs on the soil, then covering with 2 to 4 inches of good mulch." Not only did every tulip bloom the first spring, the bulbs produced even more flowers the next two years. The researchers used "double-ground bark mulch" but Miller says "any good garden mulch should work equally well." Another important factor in the tulips' success was that the planting areas were left bare and received NO watering through the summer. Although most gardeners will have a tough time replicating those conditions at home -- to say nothing of the challenges of roto-tilling among established plantings -- we're intrigued enough that we're going to try adapting the technique in our own garden. If you're inspired to try it, too, please keep us posted. Who knows, top-planting may be the wave of the future! Learn more here.

Elwes Snowdrop: Sydney and Scott Say Try It (and Save 25%!)

In a lifetime of gardening, Sydney Eddison has grown thousands of plants and evaluated them all with the eye of an artist. If you haven't tried the wonderful Elwes snowdrop yet, this description from Eddison's first book, A Patchwork Garden, might help you see why you should: "[My friend] gave me clumps of giant, early-blooming snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) with flowers three times the size of the common snowdrop (G. nivalis). The buds are like tiny perfect snow-white eggs. And when they open, the three large outer segments spread apart, revealing a little underskirt patterned with a green hourglass."

Protecting Historic Landscapes: "The Landscape I Love" Calendar

All across the country, historic gardens, parks, cemeteries, battlefields, farmland, and other important landscapes are at risk. Now you can help protect them -- and learn more about them -- by simply hanging the 2012 "The Landscape I Love" calendar on your wall. It's a striking calendar, with photos by award-winning photographers of twelve at-risk landscapes and the inspiring people who are working to protect them. The landscapes range from a grand plantation-house garden in Louisiana and Olmsted-designed parks in Newark and Washington, DC, to Michigan's Saugatuck Dunes and the entire Sonoran Desert. See all 12 here. Produced by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, America's leading non-profit devoted to preserving our landscape heritage, the calendar is just $14.94 and shipping is free. Order it here.

"Slow Gardener" Felder Rushing's Favorite Daylily

I've been reading and savoring Slow Gardening, Felder Rushing's new book in which he promotes -- in his typically humorous, down-to-earth style -- a "no-stress philosophy" of gardening that's meant to help you follow your bliss in the garden and not worry so much about what the experts and your neighbors might say. Felder has always been a big fan of heirloom plants "rescued from the compost heap of fashion," and in a chapter titled "Plants -- The Real Deal" he sings the praises of one of our best-selling daylilies: "My all-time favorite daylily is the old double orange 'Kwanso', grown for eons as a nutritious food (more vitamins than broccoli!) and actually mass-planted outside the royal gardens at Kew in London. Though nearly impossible to find in a daylily-society display, it grows for me, you, anybody, anywhere, with absolutely no demands. None." You don't have to be a slow gardener to appreciate a plant like that!

Free Bulbs: Now's the Time to Store Your Dahlias, Glads, Etc.

It's easy! You can save money and have more bulbs for next year by digging and storing your dahlias, glads, tuberoses, and crocosmia this fall. Wait until frost "blackens" their foliage, then follow our bulb-by-bulb how-to in the Planting and Care section of our website. Since temperatures and humidity vary from region to region and even house to house, you may have to experiment to find what works best for you -- but you can do it!

'Ehemanii' in Winter: Don't Store It Dry, Keep It Growing Inside

Unlike most cannas, our spectacular 'Ehemanii' often fails when stored as dormant rhizomes. But no problem! When frost threatens, dig the entire clump and split it into smaller divisions to pot up and bring inside. Make sure each division has at least one stalk that's just starting to grow. Shorten the other stalks somewhat to help make the plant more manageable and compensate for the loss of feeder roots. Put each plant in your warmest, sunniest window, and keep the soil moist but never soggy. Bottom heat is VERY helpful, especially when it's first recovering from being transplanted. A seed-starting heat-mat is perfect for this, but you can also put a 100-light string of Christmas mini-lights in a shallow plastic storage box with the pot on top, or improvise. Our 'Ehemanii', for example, makes it through the winter on a broad shelf a few inches above a window radiator. Your goal is simply to keep it alive until you can plant it outside again, so don't expect a magnificent house-plant. If you're lucky, though, you may be surprised by some beautiful blooms when summer is still far, far away.

Did You Miss Our Last Newsletter? Read It Online!

September's articles included links to 23 years of Scott's articles for The Old-House Journal, baskets to protect bulbs, a poet's reflections on a century in the garden, the hottest summer since the Dust Bowl, and making dahlias last longer in bouquets. You can read all of our back-issues, by date or by topic, at .

Share Our Gazette with a Friend!

        Please help "Save the Bulbs!" by forwarding our newsletter to a kindred spirit, garden, museum, or group. Or if a friend sent you this issue, click here to SUBSCRIBE!

Remember: We will NEVER share your email address with anyone!

To Guarantee That You Get Your Next Newsletter . . .

        Please add to your email address book or safe/approved list today.

To Unsubscribe

        We hope you find our Gazette helpful and fun, but if not simply email us at with Unsubscribe as the subject and we'll drop you from our list immediately.