susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Dozens of Dozens of Daffodils

For me, daffodils are the sure sign of spring.  They are not subtle, but come on strong and take over the gardens.  I love it!

Neither deer or rabbits are interested in eating these bulbs or flowers.
I keep dividing the bulbs as they multiply generously.

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This bouquet lives in a Goddess Vase I made.
Of porcelain clay, fired in my hybrid wood-fueled kiln.


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Treasure Hunt

Back in Fall of 2013, I purchased a bag of pastel color tulips from a local store.  All 40 bulbs were planted under a Japanese Maple Tree, and bloomed beautifully the next spring, in April 2014. Copy of DSCN0106
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A year later in March 2015, the flower production was not quite as spectacular.

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I am suspicious this is inherent in tulips, that they bloom less every year the bulbs stay in the ground.  Or it could be a plan by the tulip breeders, to get customers to buy fresh bulbs every year.

I decided to dig up the bulbs under this particular tree, divide them and replant in the fall.  It doesn’t seem like I have a lot to lose, especially if the flowers diminish even more next year.
So . . I went on a treasure hunt.  After hours of shoveling and sifting with my fingers through the dirt, I had over a gallon of bulbs in a bucket (about 5 liters). Copy of DSCN3445 The bulbs had definitely multiplied, but none were near as large as the original bulbs.  Next, I sorted the bulbs by size. Copy of DSCN3447 I selected the forty largest bulbs and put these aside to replant under the Japanese Maple tree.  Into another container I put fifty of the next size down bulbs.  And into another container went 100 of the next size bulbs (very close to the same size as the 50 bulbs).  Containers 4 & 5 hold 150 bulbs each, and in the last container went hundreds of very small bulbets.
If I looked at it as multiplication, I hit the jackpot by turning 40 bulbs into more than 500.  Or I could look at my ‘winnings’ from a different point of view and see a very slight increase in bulb volume.

This fall, the plan is to plant as many bulbs as I can.  I will try to note where each size goes, so I can learn if they all have a chance of blooming again. I’m wondering what is done commercially?  Do the tulip farms replant all the small bulbs?  Do the bulbs take more than one year to grow large enough to be marketed?  I hope be able to answer some of these questions next spring!


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Purple Power

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With some warm days, early spring flowers have come into full bloom.

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These windflowers close up overnight, and in cool or wet weather.  But when the sun emerges or even on an overcast afternoon, they open to the warmth.

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It will soon be time to move crocus bulbs around.  Unlike most other flower bulbs, they are amenable to a change in location as soon as the flower dies, but before the leaves do.


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Early Iris

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Early iris sure are short in stature, just like the bulb catalog claims.  It has been relatively warm and sunny for February, with the temps in the low 50 degrees F (barely over 10 degrees C).  Since the sun has come out the last couple of afternoons, the plants are basking in it.

These blooms were open in the early morning fog, while the crocus stayed closed.

Through the years I have planted so many bulbs in the ground.  Now, I have no idea what will come up where.  If I move a perennial from one location to another in a flower bed, too often, I find I have sliced bulbs with my shovel.  One time, I moved crocus bulbs to encircle perennials to solve over-crowding.  Then I intermixed some tulip bulbs with the crocus.  Now I find those, and other bulbs, showing up in interesting places.  I’ve heard of small animals, as mice and voles, moving bulbs around underground.  It seems to me, the rodents must see the bulbs as winter food to be stashed in case of need.


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Violets are Coming on Strong

Violets near Violets

From a shovel-full many years ago, this ground cover of violets grows prolifically in my yard.  It loves any shade it can find, and thrives under a deck or under rhododendrons.  If I am digging plants or bulbs surrounded by violets, the violets are the first to come back.  The blooms will continue into summer if they get enough moisture.


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Winter Sprouts

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Bluebell and daffodil leaves are sprouting all over my garden.  Signs indicate that spring can not be far away, no matter what page the calender is on.  But I know to be wary, as a freeze can come at any time and set things back.

The bluebell clumps look like they are getting a bit crowded, and may need to be divided again.  These are prolific bulbs, and I wish I could plant them in the woods.  Unfortunately, for me, the local deer find them quite tasty and they do not last long in the wild.

On the other hand, our deer do leave daffodils alone.  Yesterday, I moved some sprouting bulbs out of an enclosed area, to the “wilds”, as they do not need to be protected.  I’ve tried to plant daffodil bulbs in the fields, but they rarely regrow and bloom again.  Finally, I realized that spring grass mowing also mowed down the daffodil blades.  The plant needs its leaves to die-off naturally to replenish its nutrients and energy to rebloom another year.


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Autumn Gladiolus – Maybe

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I’m sure I found the starts for this flower early this spring.  They tempted me with their beautiful photos.  After planting the bulbs, I forgot about them all summer long, and never noticed the gladiolus-type leaves growing.  I definitely like this sort of surprises in the garden.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they came back next year?  We’ll just have to wait and see.  If they really like where they are planted they may multiply.  That is Lemon Queen Helianthus peeking in on the right.  Hollyhock leaves are on the left.


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Belladonna or Naked Lady Amaryllis

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When I first saw the Naked Lady blossoms, I was very surprised that a flower could bloom without any leaves.  Then I learned the leaves emerged back in the springtime, and the flowers much later in the summer.  How strange.

Later a friend showed me a flower that grew in his garden that was named after his mother, Donna.   I thought is was cool that a grown man would love his mother so much, he wanted to have flowers that reminded him of her after she was gone.  He had many of these flowers growing and offered to share some bulbs.

I did not plant my samples wisely and am pleasantly surprised that one survived.  It really does need  a better location, then it would have a better chance to multiply.

My pictures show the flower emerging from the ground, the first bloom, then more on the same stem.  What a treat!  The helianthus are crowding this beauty and need to be thinned.   Another garden project for after the rains soften the ground.

Japanese Maple with tulips

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Japanese Maple with tulips

This is the second year for the tulips and the tree – in a newer planting bed. The pink tulips are starting to fade while the yellow ones are coming on. When both colors are still here and the tree is just leafed out, is the prettiest display time for this combination.

The Japanese maple has very tiny flowers right now. I have not figured how to capture them with the camera – yet. It may take another year, as my window of opportunity is small.

According to its tag, this tree is supposed to get taller. Maybe then I can remove the deer fence/flower jail when it is not tulip season. Besides spring, there are other times of the year when the deer will look for anything fresh and green to eat. I believe the wildlife look at tulips and roses as humans see chocolate. Not that they taste similar, just that they are treats to savor. If no people are around to make the ‘natives’ keep their distance, they can get specially brazen with their choices of food.

Tulips with Bluebells

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Tulips with Bluebells

I view these flowers from my kitchen window, although it is at a different angle. The purple tulips opened a few days before the orange ones. They are on alternate sides of an Autumn sedum, which is just inches tall at this time of year.

Bluebells line the inside of this ‘flower jail’, which is large enough to enclose 4 rhododendrons, 3 medium rose bushes, and many bulbs and flowers. The bluebells are so prolific at increasing their numbers, it will not be long before I need to rearrange what grows in this surround.
Bluebells, anyone?