Thursday, February 16, 2012

Summer Bulbs

I'm just getting in to my catalogs for ordering our summer bulbs for the gardens. This is a cost-effective way for us to start many of these plants early as we'll pot them up in late March or early April to give them a headstart. While we don't have a greenhouse to warm these up, we do take them inside and outside as the weather allows and start about a dozen types of tropicals early in the Horticulture Center. Caladiums, as seen above, are a plant I would not do without as they are so durable and are ideal for brightening up some of our shadier gardens. At the top is 'White Queen' which is one of hundreds of caladium varieties available. We order our varieties in batches of 100 and they arrive as you see above. We also start the green leaf elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) from "grapefruit-sized" bulbs in early April so they are about 18"-24" when we plant them in early June. With plenty of water, fertilizer and full/part sun, these tropicals can shoot up to 5-6' easily in one season and offer a great, bold texture as seen to the left. Other bulbs that we order and start early include the fragrant tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) which really needs an early jumpstart on growth so it will bloom by late summer and extend color (and fragrance) in to early October. To the right is the double fragrant tuberose variety called 'The Pearl'. The single version of this is the variety 'Mexican Single'. We start hundreds of these every late winter in 4" pots. However, we stagger the planting of these bulbs which thereby staggers the peak bloom time of the plants out in the garden. For instance, if we purchase 400 fragrant tuberose bulbs, we start 100 in late March, the next 100 a week later, etc. etc. Instead of all 400 peaking at once out in the gardens (if you started them at the same time) you get the staggered peak timing of these blossoms for a longer window of wonderful scent. These tuberoses will be another important feature in our Smelly Garden this year. To the right is summer hyacinth (Galtonia candicans) which is another fragrant bloomer (native to South Africa) that can be started early and placed out in the gardens. This plant will top out at close to 48" or so. All of the tropicals I've mentioned here are best planted out in the gardens in the first week of June. May soil temperatures can be quite damp and a timely planting a bit later will result in a happier plant overall.

We had another busy day at the gardens and saw lots of volunteers (like Marianne to the right) at the Horticulture Center today. Marianne worked on organizing some of the last of our seed selections and we'll be able to distribute our seeds to our growers within the next two weeks or so. Directly below is a shot of more winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) emerging in the gazebo garden today. Recent sun and warm temperatures have encouraged more of these early bulbs to pop up and we're also seeing plenty of snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) out there too. The next photo down is a visual "progress report" on the winter adonis (Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai') in the gazebo garden. This early perennial seems ready to pop open in short order.. Most of our Grumpy work for the day was in and around the Horticulture Center. Above, from left to right, are Dick W., Del, Jim, Vern and Dave. The guys had a busy day of carpentry that was focused on more deer cutouts and the continued repair of our garbage/recycling bins. Urban was outside pruning all morning and Rose popped in as well. Dr. Gredler was in to paint another obelisk and moved on to applying stain to some additional, wood tone obelisks. Marv and Terry were here this morning. Marv painted some of the new bowls which will ulimately be part of the pvc pipe and bowl containers. Larry worked on pouring more of the concrete bases for the new tree and shrub signs and was later joined by Bill O. Maury came in for a meeting for our annual tree sale which also included Curly, Glenn, Dick H. and myself. Dick H. and Larry also went on a run for supplies today. Janice was in for more plant sale preparations for most of the day too. We also saw Tom and Nancy F., Tom C. (thanks for the electrical help!), Kris, Sue M., Gary and many others. Directly below (bottom shot) are the future noses for the "rudolf-style" reindeer at the shop. The picture of cups (also below) shows the batch that Maury picked up for Larry to use as forms for our contrete sign bases. He should be in good shape for awhile.

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