The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Striped crocuses, like the classic ‘King of the Striped’, add maximum impact to the spring garden for minimal expense.

Tips

Amaryllis = holiday cheer.

Amaryllis = holiday cheer.

Now is the time to start amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for Christmas bloom.



November 13, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Striped Crocus

You might think that after thousands of years of coming up too soon and getting frozen, the crocus family would have had a little sense knocked into it. The words of twentieth century writer and humorist Robert Benchley make me smile every time I plant my crocus bulbs.  Still, as I carve planting holes out of the recalcitrant earth, I am glad that the family has not “had a little sense knocked into it” over the millennia.  Nothing is as reassuring to winter-weary souls as the appearance of the first spring crocuses. This year I have a passion for big, striped Dutch crocuses because they look especially joyful in March.  For reasons known only to the crocuses and their geneticist friends, stripes are less common than solid colors ...

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November 7, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Tulips on Trees

Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States when he wrote, “Altho’ the times are big with political events, yet I shall say nothing on that or any subject but the innocent ones of botany and friendship.” Jefferson kept to that resolution in the lengthy letter he posted to his friend and fellow garden enthusiast, Madame Noailles in 1803.  In lieu of political commentary, he sent a long list of North American plants that he intended to ship to her in France.  Among the listed plants was a favorite of his, Liriodendron tulipifera or tulip tree, which he grew at Monticello.  Jefferson’s Garden Book shows that he also sent the plant to other horticulturally-minded friends in England and France. Why did Jefferson refer to ...

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October 30, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Grant Mitsch

If you haven’t thought about it yet, now is a good time to plant your daffodils and other spring bulbs.  The ones I ordered still await my tender ministrations and I hope to get them all into the ground this coming weekend.  Of course, first I have to rake up the mountain of leaves, obligingly dropped over the past few days by the maple tree out front.  Some excellent planting spots are currently submerged under that mountain, so it makes sense to start by removing it.  I try to reduce the tedium inherent in leaf clearing by thinking about how beautiful the garden will look next spring when the leaves are long gone and the daffodils are blooming. Most people who know bulbs think of the Netherlands, which is the world’s largest ...

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October 23, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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October’s End

When I am alone in my garden in late October I often think about music, especially Ralph Vaughn Williams’ elegiac settings of English folk tunes.  My favorite is the haunting “Fantasia on Greensleeves,” because the musical images just seem right for the season of variable weather, early sunsets and mornings when the grass glistens with frost. “Greensleeves” is about memories, and on the surface the garden is on its way to becoming a repository of memories.  Rose hips on the once-blooming bushes remind me of their fragrant summer blossoms, and the ever-increasing piles of brilliant fallen maple leaves take me back to the spring days when the newborn leaves were the size of mouse ears.  The roses of Sharon’s abundant seed ...

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