Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tulip Longevity

I am so lucky to live on the north (zone 4-5) because tulips love it cold! I have never treated tulips as annuals -- they act as perennials in my garden; and I couldn't be happier. So I'm stumped why so many in this area talk about tulips as annuals; and why I see so many gardeners dumping their tulips in the compost after they bloom.

Now further south I know tulips do not fair so well, and they will be annuals unless you dig them up and refrigerate them over the winter. Too much work for me, so if I lived further south, I wouldn't even bother.

And I know that not all tulips are created equal, as in not all tulips will come back strong or multiply year after year. I believe though that with a little extra care, even these tulips might do better here.

These red tulips are some of the first that I planted in my garden. I believe that they were planted in the fall of 1998 -- that makes them 9 years old. Not bad for 9, huh?

These Darwins (which used to be mixed but are all now one variety ) were also planted at the same time.

As were these Black Parrot tulips. I only bought 3 Black Parrot bulbs, so they have even multiplied for me. Just an FYI, in my experience, parrots are not the best multiplier but Darwins will multiply without much trouble.

The Gavota tulips (the maroon and cream with those red tulips in the background) are 8 years old, and they have multiplied as well. These are the tulips that most people ask about. Just today I had two people come off the street, while I was working in the garden, to ask me about those tulips.

And of course, my favorites, Princess Irene, in my blog header, are 7 years old. And they still look as great as the first spring they bloomed.

I don't do much with my tulips. I just follow a few simple rules.
- NEVER cut the foliage back. I try to plant them so that other plants will hide the withering foliage, but I do not cut or tie up the foliage.
- ALWAYS cut the flower stems off as soon as the flower is spent. Tulips need the energy in their bulbs, not in making seeds.
- Feed them bone meal if they look like they need it, and sometimes even if they don't. Tulips expend a lot of energy making big, beautiful flowers; make sure they eat enough to build it back up.

Even I think that those steps are easy enough. And for such wonderful, long lasting results!

Friday, May 23, 2008


I was walking through my garden on my way to work last week when I noticed something strange in the zen garden. It was a morel mushroom!
Why was this delicacy of the woods growing in a sunny gravel garden next to our house? Very strange.

I think we might have an attractive area for morels. I found a second one growing in my main garden.

I left both of them to mature in the hopes to have more mushrooms next year. Although I'm not counting on it, it would be pretty sweet to just go into the garden to harvest these yummy little things!

All Those Bricks

I had intended to use all the bricks, that I got from tearing down that chimney, for a pathway; but some of the bricks just weren't holding up to the foot traffic. So, I started to use them to hold back the berms.

This picture is from very early in spring -- see? No tulips.

The bricks really helped to define the beds and paths, and I think give an over all "finished" look to the garden.

These pictures were just taken a few days ago. Things are really looking pulled together and my garden is finally starting to look like I had imagined it should all those years ago when I started it from the flat grassy area that it was.

You can see all the planting of tulips really paid off. I really got a great show this year. I have already ordered more tulips for next fall from Brecks, but I think that I will save the majority of my bulb money for Menards. They actually had a great selection of what turned out to be some really great quality bulbs for not so much money. I think on average I paid about $4 for a pack of 12 tulips. That is a bargain!

Friday, May 16, 2008


I have had hard a difficult time getting daffodils to bloom (other than the mini ones that I got from Home Depot -- they not only bloom, they multiply like crazy!)These daffodils are nine years old and have only bloomed once. Even the spring after I planted them, they didn't bloom well. But now look at them.

And these daffodils have only bloomed twice in their seven years in the garden, and the second time there were only two of them. And there was another daffodil in my garden that never bloomed, even the spring after I planted them, and this year I have one!

I wish I could figure out what happened so that I could replicate it. But for now I'll just enjoy the results.


I have hepatica!

This is a native wildflower. I have two. The ones that I usually see are blue, but these are strangely pink.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New Camera

I had a very good shopping day yesterday. I needed a new camera for the up-coming trip. We have been looking at different cameras for well over two years and just weren't finding one that fit us. One trip to the National Camera Exchange got me the camera I was looking for: Coolpix P50.

I love the soft effect it has. I'm not one for super-sharp, HD-like pictures. I like more a more artistic looks. my husband is a fan of it too.

I could never get close-ups like the one here with my other camera, no matter how many settings I played with. This camera is far faster than my other camera too -- and it takes video, long video; with sound. And it's good video. I'm so excited.

I'm also very excited about the project that I finished today. The back of my garden is very exposed in the spring. I grow sunflowers in that area to get screening, but it isn't effective until late summer. I also had a grape vine that really did not have anything proper to climb. It has been climbing all over my lilac for the last ten years.

So I decided to take care of both problems with one solution - a trellis-fence. We got some large branches from the compost center. I installed them like fence posts, tore the grape vines from the lilac, wound them around the posts and tied them on with some rope. What a difference it makes. And once it leafs out, it will be awesome. Now I won't have to wait until late summer for decent screening.

Friday, May 02, 2008


I have been actually gardening the last few weekends -- and during the week too. I've been trying to get my garden ready for viewing as next week will be the start of my tulip season. My son and I planted over 700 bulbs last fall; adding to the army of bulbs I had already! It should be quite a show.

I have been adding more brick edging to the main garden bed. I have gotten lots of compliments on it, so it must be a good thing. I love the way the brick gets moss on it. I looks like it has been there forever!

I decided that I would put in a floor in the gazebo with left over patio block, brick chunks, and stones that we gathered from here and there. We had a real great find a few years ago when I was digging next to our shed -- an old millstone. I put the pieces together and made that the centerpiece of the gazebo floor. I'm going to have to do this floor cheap, as our money is currently being funneled into the trip fund. It will definitely be a project that I will have to re-do in a few years, but I really want it done now.

I had a surprise in my vegetable garden. I was not able to grow my leeks last year to size; and was just going to give up on trying to grow them altogether. This spring I saw that they were still growing! Hopefully I can get a harvest out of them this year. I'm going to plant another row, so that if this works, every year I will have leeks. I love leeks!

And I have garlic growing! I planted some really late last year. I just bought some nice garlic from the grocery store and planted. It is growing really well, so I should have lots of garlic this year -- now I just have to figure out how to store it properly.

I would have posted pictures, but after waiting a half hour to get my pictures off my camera, I could not find the pictures I took of the garden anywhere. I'm starting to suspect there are forces trying to keep me from blogging!