Early spring blooms in 2012

Remembrance Crocus

Crocus are up!  Daffodils are about 3″ tall.  Many Tulips and Hyacinths poking through the ground.  🙂

Dorothy Crocus

Dorothy Crocus

more crocus

more crocus

Enjoying the 65-70° temperatures and getting so excited for all my flowers to bloom!  After having 5″ of snow just 2 weeks ago, I wonder what weather we will have in another 2 weeks!


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Forcing Flower Bulbs- Part D

My first Tulips appeared this past Friday!  They look pretty good!  We will see if the longer chilled tulips look any better over the next 2 weeks.

These Hyacinths smell great, of course.  These were placed in the refrigerator for 13 weeks. Then, I potted them up and left in my warm office.  When you don’t allow for them to root in soil in cold temperatures, they may be a little stunted in their growth habit.

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Forcing Flower Bulbs Experiment Part C

We haven’t had to endure too much in the way of snow this winter.  However we did definitely experience a dumping of snow this weekend! (now it has all melted in 60° temps)

Despite this last weekend’s snowfall, I’ve still be enjoying my sights of spring indoors. Here are some updated photos of the bulbs I have forced.  The Hyacinths continue to grow well and keep the office smelling heavenly.  The Tete a Tete daffodils were so cute and adorable.  The warm office makes them speed through their blooms though.  I think a cooler place along the windows would have helped prolong them a bit more.  I keep potting up new Hyacinths each week when I throw out the spent ones.

I brought in a pot of tulips one week ago and another two pots today.  That makes about 13-15 weeks of cold before brought into the warm office.  The tulips are beginning to really push up through the soil.

The Allium do not look like they will do too well.  I gave them about 13-14 weeks of cold.  The leaves really shot up fast but are beginning to flop.  I would have thought the Allium would do better in the warmth, since they grow later in the spring…

We will see how the tulips do shortly!

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Picture Perfect Snowfall

We have hardly had any snow here in SE Wisconsin this year.  We’ve had very cold, dusty snow or none at all…. Until one day last week and today!  These are the snowfalls I love; big wet fluffy flakes!

I have seen pictures on Facebook from Ohio & Virgina of early spring bulbs!  Spring is still coming soon for us in zones 3-6!  Have a great weekend!

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Colorful Blooms Made for Shade

Color.  Variety of colors.  It makes things interesting.  Shade gardens can have more interest, besides shape, size and structure!  Adding color does not need to be complicated or lots of work.

Here is a list of colorful shade plants for summer:

  • Arum*    Arum italicum is a year-round plant which is at its best in winter and early spring when the arrow-shaped mottled white leaves are very striking.  The whitish inconspicuous blooms in summer are followed by brightly orange colored berries in autumn. Attractive foliage ends out the season on this unique beauty. Interplant near Hosta since they have opposite bloom time. Deer resistant.
  • Astilbe   Airy fern-like foliage gives this plant a beautiful texture while the plume-like flowers in shades of white, pink and red grace the plant in early summer. Once established they are almost maintenance-free and pest free.  Partial Shade

  • Begonia Great for containers, hanging baskets, or garden borders.  They grow very lush with waxy green foliage and produce practically non-stop blooms of rose-like flowers.  You can start them inside and move them outdoors after last frost to get them going quicker.  When you see wilting or browning of the blooms, simply snap off with fingers to allow for more vigorous growth.
  • Bleeding Heart   Wonderful soft blue-green foliage adorn this plant while producing numerous dangling pink heart-shaped flowers in late spring.  Will die back in late summer and go into a dormant stage.  Keeping soil moist will maintain its growth longer in summer.  Deer resistant.
  • CaladiumThese are great for containers, patio boxes or borders!  They love warm and shady areas, making it another plant you may want to start early indoors for longer enjoyment.  No flowers but striking leaves that come fancy, lanced, fringed and ruffled for textural interest. Many colors are available including red, green, white and pink.  Deer resistant.  Partial Shade
  • Columbine    Tall, airy clover looking leaves with flower colors of pink, purple, red, blue and yellow in late spring. Very easy to grow and can bloom until frost.  They do not require mulching or protection in the winter.
  • Cyclamen   Nice low-growing green foliage resembles rounded hearts with silver marbling. Produces butterfly-like rose, lilac, pink or white flowers in the late summer and loves dry, shady areas.   Tends to be untroubled by insects or diseases and is deer resistant.
  • Daylily    Full, bushy sword-like leaves bend gracefully with a wonderful variety of non-stop bloom colors all summer.  This perennial can be grown in partial shade to full sun, drowning or in dry cracked ground. This is definitely a plant that can take some abuse! Great full plant to help keep weeds at bay and use less mulching. 
  • Heuchera   Another choice for a variety of foliage color that has geranium-type leaves with dainty tiny flowers.  Spotted and rippled in all shades of purple, red, maroon, or orange hues with some green and soft white sometimes adding to the display. Partial shade.
  • Pulmonaria    Lance leafed with white spots that gets stalks of bell flowers that are shades of blue, pink on each stem.  These are a great option for extremely early spring bloomers to achieve signs of life soon after the winter!
  • Toad lily*      A hairy stem with clusters of flowers that bloom late summer.  The flowers open into little stars, much like mini orchids.  This plant prefers rather damp soil.

The plants with the asterisk (*) are hardy in warmer zones, 8-10, only.  The other plants listed are hardy in zones 3-9.  If they are not hardy in your zone, you could grow them as annual and enjoy for a single season or easily store them to use as a house plant or replant next year.  For more details on storing bulbs see my previous post: Preparing your over winter garden for winter.

Perhaps you are looking for a little more excitement in your shade areas without much change to your current flower beds. If this is the case, plant begonias or caladiums around a tree to give a little pop of color!  Plant them in the ground or even in some  pots around the tree for even more pop! The possibilities are endless.

If you need more help or inspiration, be sure to check back for my next post, which will have 3 wonderful shade garden plans to get you started!



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Forcing Flower Bulbs Experiment Part B

The 2 pots of Hyacinths (Jan Bos) in my warm office are open and smell heavenly! That is 3.5 weeks after I planted them and brought them in the warm office (after about 10 weeks of chilling).

Some of my other potted bulbs that I am keeping in the cold warehouse have sprouted a little bit too.  I will bring in a pot of the Daffodils (since they sprouted) and one more of Hyacinths at the end of the week.  I am waiting another couple weeks (to get over 15weeks) before I bring in any tulips.  Check back then for Part C update on my experiment!


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Garden Dreaming and Garden Planning

Now that winter has finally arrived and doesn’t appear to be leaving for a while, it is time to move on (mentally).  I have planted some bulbs for forcing, but there are no weeds to tend to.   So, that leaves one thing left for a hopeless flower freak: planning for spring!

I have enjoyed dreaming of new flowers that I will have to find a place for this summer.  (My yard will never be large enough for all the flowers I would like to own.)  My husband is planning his improved vegetable garden this winter.  That leaves me to do what I want for the rest of the yard!

I’m starting with the list of new plants I want to add to my yard.  I want to add more tropical plants on two sides of my pond.  Then I am planning on designing a perennial butterfly garden as well as a colorful shade garden…who knows! There may even be more! This should help me with my daydreaming about my garden.

My Tropical garden list of plants:

  • Cannas
  • Elephant Ears: Jumbo & Plumbea Nigra
  • Callas
  • Dahlias

My Colorful Shade garden list of plants:

  • Cyclamen
  • Columbine
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Hosta
  • Toad Lily
  • Astilbe

Butterfly Garden list of plants:

  • Sedum
  • Salvia
  • Rudebecki
  • Coneflower
  • Columbine
  • Phlox

Wish me luck!



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Why order flowers online?

I love flowers.  If you are a regular visitor on my blog, you know that is an understatement.  I have been involved in landscaping for over 13 years.  I have been to and made purchases at retail garden centers, wholesale nurseries, big box stores and online.

It is fun to look at, touch, and then immediately take home a new flower or plant.  However, there are a few downsides: when purchasing a plant in person, it is often in full bloom and begins to cycle down once brought home since it was most likely blooming earlier than it normally would. I unfortunately have had many plants I purchased and brought home never come back.  I’m not always the most organized person, and I often misplace the receipt or container and therefore, am unable to go back to the store for credit. Unfortunately, when purchasing wholesale, warranties and credits are usually not offered.

Online shopping is almost as fun as looking at the live plant because of all of the great photos!  I can plant my bulb, corm, tuber, bare root or rhizome at the right planting time and it will bloom when it’s supposed to.  My computer has records of my purchase, so I do not have to file any receipts or keep track of even MORE paperwork in my life. Plus, the company should have record of my purchase as well.   I hate when I lose a plant and it is rarely because of what I have done.  I know how to take care of my landscape…

The downsides to online purchasing of bulbs: You have to plant and wait for flowers.  Warranty? Replacement? Store Credit?  How do I prove that they died?  These answers depend highly on where you purchase them.  Problems with some online & catalog companies : They keep changing shipment times, don’t ship until next year (I have a hard time being that patient),  must return bad product for credit, and some times it can be difficult to reach a real live person on the telephone.

Many online and catalog flower stores have some type of warranty.  I suggest reading the details before making a purchase.  Actually, I would recommend reading it before you shop.  I would even suggest going to read reviews by customers.  (After all, just about anyone can sell something online!)

TulipWorld, for instance, has their warranty procedure spelled out and it’s pretty simple.  Check it out at: http://www.tulipworld.com/guaranteed-flower-bulbs.asp  Here is the really shortened version:  They have a 100% grow guarantee and you must contact them within that growing season if no growth.   They ask questions to see if they can figure out what happened such as weather,  or animal-related issues, or simple product failure.  Good business practices.  Rarely is anyone asked to ship back the failed product.  They are living plants, so unfortunately plant failure is a possibility.  They will either replace or give store credit to a customer which can then be used whenever they want on whatever they’d like! Now that sounds simple to me!

Read reviews from their customers here at:  Dave’s Garden  Bizrate  and the Better Business Bureau.

Plain and simple: If a company doesn’t sell a good product and doesn’t have great customer service, they are not going to be a successful business and probably won’t last very long.


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What makes Lilies a garden favorite

Lilies can be a symbol of purity, refined beauty and nurturing.

Asiatic Lilies, Oriental Lilies, Pixie Lilies, LA Hybrid Lilies, Double Lilies…. All are wonderful additions to perennial gardens of all shapes and sizes.  They perennialize and naturalize, meaning they return every year (in zones 3-9) and produce larger plants with more flowers each year.  That should be reason enough alone to have some of these beauties in your gardens.

All of these varieties have very strong stems and grow at least 24-36″ tall, except for the Pixies’ which are shorter, growing only 12-16″ tall.  They all make excellent cut flowers, especially the LA Hybrids.  Most of these lilies have large 4-5″ diameter flowers, although the Oriental Lilies can get even larger blooms.   The Oriental, Double and LA Hybrid Lilies have a sweet fragrance to enjoy as well as their many other stellar qualities.  If the sometimes messy pollen bothers you, try growing the Double Lilies which tend to produce less or none at all.   The Pixie Lilies would also work well for container gardening, due to their shorter stature!

Planting a mixture of various types of lilies would create an amazing garden, giving you a variety of heights, colors, and bloom times.   Colors of lilies range from white, pink, yellow, orange, speckles and all in between!  For early summer, you would enjoy these types of lilies: Asiatics, Pixies, and Doubles.  For mid summer, you would enjoy these type of lilies: LA Hybrids and Orientals.

Just to give you some more creative ways to make more good use of the lilies you grow in your garden:  They are the flower for May Birthdays and for 30th anniversaries. Perhaps you know of someone celebrating either of these this year that would love them as a gift!

All of these characteristic are what make the Lily a garden favorite.




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My Forcing Flower Bulb Experiment

Winter seems that it finally has ‘settled in’ here in Wisconsin.  The pure white snow makes the views outside a bit prettier than the lifeless drab coloring of dormancy.  Snow is beautiful when it sticks to each branch and nook and cranny!  From indoors or on a ski hill, that is.  Otherwise I will keep whining about the cold temperatures which I hate.

My Amaryllis have been knockouts this year!    I am thankful when they bloom once with multiple flowers.  This year some are blooming for the second and soon third time this season!  Unfortunately, those will also be done and there will be no more flowers for me to enjoy indoors either.

Therefore, I have decided to force more than a couple of Hyacinths this year.  (They tend to be the easiest bulb to force and I enjoy the extra bonus of their sweet smell.)  I have multiple packages of them this year to bring out into the warmth to bloom at multiple intervals.  I also am going to force Tete-a-Tete  and Fortune Daffodils, along with 3 different tulips.  I usually do not attempt the forcing of tulips, simply because it takes a bit more work and more room.  I am a simple, easy-going type of gardener (indoors & out)! However, I figured it was time for some variety this winter.

I have had these bulbs chilling for 7-9 weeks now.  I have potted all but 5 packages of Hyacinths today.  I think I will bring in a few pots earlier than their specified time.  Some of the potted bulbs I am leaving to chill for their appropriate time frame before I bring them into my warm office. I have brought 2 pots of Hyacinths into my warm office now.  Will they bloom?  Will they be straggly? It is a little early, but I am impatient when it comes to flowers. I just want to experiment and see how much of a difference it will make.

If you want more details and specific directions on forcing bulbs, check out my previous post: Forcing Flower Bulbs

Check back for more updates on my experiment!

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