Home from California!

A parade of spring yellows greeted me on returning from California… not the Keukenhof river of blooms I had envisioned but lovely daffodils, all varieties in shades of yellow, have burst into bloom in borders and clumps throughout the lawn.

Our yellow forsythia blooms are now just past prime with tiny green leaves unfolding everywhere.

Pots of yellow pansies that I planted earlier have thrived in the sunny days and cool New England evenings.

Throughout the grass, the dainty four-petaled white Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) with their yellow centers, dot the yard. This is one tiny wildflower that I don’t mind seeing in the lawn. If I could find a way to mow around them all, I would. They bloom profusely until July.

The only yellow I was not thrilled to see was the dandelion….. not one but dozens of them spread out like blankets over the lawn. There was not a hint of a weed in this yard a month ago. Now I know this lawn is besieged with hundreds of dandelions. My sleeves are rolled up. My work is cut out. I must eliminate them all before they go to seed.

A River Runs Through it….

Yesterday, 32 members, family and friends of the Garden Club of Gloucester completed Stage II of a three year commitment to bring “A River of Blooms” to Ware Academy in Gloucester. Last year the club began the project by planting over two thousand bulbs and this year we added another two thousand bulbs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs located just a stone’s throw from the school.

Temperatures were brisk when the first trucks arrived with compost that was spread 2″ thick over the designated area. Borrowed from Brent and Becky was a metal grid that was pressed into the compost to show squares where single bulbs would be needed. Members were assigned to an area and gently eased the bulbs into the compost. More compost, then a cover of shredded pine bark mulch spread across the top finished the job.

Saint Keverne, Ice Follies, Primeur, Salome, Hillstar daffodils will continue the river of February Gold, Geranium, Pink Charm, Ice Follies, and Tripartite planted last year. We expect all to be in bloom when we invite the public to the Garden Club of Virginia’s 78th Annual Daffodil Show at Ware Academy in Gloucester on Thursday and Friday, March 29-30. We hope many will plan to stop by the show and be a witness to a room full of daffodils… all shapes, colors and sizes. Brent and Becky will also have a  display of the best of the best daffodils from their gardens. Awe and amazement are guaranteed.

Ware Academy is located on John Clayton Memorial Highway conveniently located between Gloucester Courthouse and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Yellow Fever in Gloucester VA

We might have Yellow Fever in Gloucester at this time of year but daffodils certainly aren’t just yellow anymore. Fields of daffodils in shades of yellow, orange, red, white and pink have bloomed all across Gloucester County in preparation for the annual Daffodil Festival and the Garden Club of Gloucester’s Daffodil Show that was held last weekend. This was the Garden Club of Gloucester’s 61st Annual Daffodil Show, an American Daffodil Society accredited and judged show.

The show was a great opportunity to explore the many varieties of daffodils. If folks wanted to see antique daffodils as well as the newest varieties in all types of colors, shapes and sizes, last weekend was the perfect opportunity. Members of the club and Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs were on hand to assist novice exhibitors and answer questions about the 13 divisions of daffodils and share much enthusiasm about the show. Click the flowers for a closer view:

Daffodils will thrive just about anywhere in the garden except in deep shade. They do best with 6 – 8 hours of sunlight but can do well in light shade. They are practically maintenance free but appreciate a bit of compost when planted. A rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is tall and add a little slow release fertilizer each fall after the first year’s bloom. After that, just sit back and enjoy.

At our daffodil show, not only horticulture is on display. There is an artistic flower arranging section that interprets a theme. This year, the theme revolved around colors of the rainbow with several styles of arranging from miniatures not over 5″, to Tussie-Mussies, to large Dutch-Flemish arrangements, and Landscape floral designs. There was a children’s arranging section, a photography contest, and a tabletop competition.

At the conclusion of the judging, it is exciting when the doors open and the crowds surge forward in anticipation of seeing the blue ribbon in each class as well as the best standard daffodil in the show and the best artistic arrangement in the show.

Winner of the American Daffodil Society Rose Ribbon for the best standard seedling in the show are Clay and Fran Higgins.

Winner of the Best Arrangement in the show, the Most Creative award, and the recipient of the People’s Choice Award is Cam Williams for her tabletop interpretation of ‘Whirlwind of Color’ with the table set for an intimate yet colorful dinner for Lady and the Tramp.

If you missed our Daffodil Show in Gloucester, it’s not too late to experience another in Virginia. On Wednesday April 6, 2011, 2:00 – 8 p.m. and Thursday April 7, 2011 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., visitors will be invited to be our guests at the 77th Annual Garden Club of Virginia’s Daffodil Show, sanctioned by the American Daffodil Society and located at the Holiday Inn, 601 Main Street, Lynchburg, VA.  Again, over a thousand blooms will be on display…. different varieties from those seen at our Gloucester show as there will be varieties that have not yet bloomed. The theme for the artistic flower arranging is ‘Everything Old is New Again.’ taken from the Broadway show All That Jazz. The title reflects the revitalization of old and notable properties in Lynchburg. Some of the most talented and creative members from forty-seven Garden Club of Virginia clubs will compete in an inter-club flower arranging challenge. It’s a visual experience not to miss.  Click HERE for more information.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

It’s Not Too Late for Fall Bulbs…

James Johnson, Gloucester County Buildings and Grounds

According to Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, it’s not too late to plant our leftover fall bulbs in our area. Matter of fact he told me he spent one entire day last weekend getting the last of his bulbs planted in his garden. As long as the bulbs are properly prepared, he said, it’s fine to plant them now. The blooms will try their best to bloom, maybe late the first year, but should be on schedule for the following year.

When he said bulbs need to be properly prepared, he meant that spring blooming bulbs need a period of dormancy in the cold in order to bloom in the spring.  When you plant your bulbs in the fall, Mother Nature provides the chilling for you but you have not kept your bulbs cold, you can chill them in the refrigerator for several weeks to replicate winter conditions. But never store the bulbs in the refrigerator with apples or pears, fruits that emit ethylene gases. This would adversely affect the flowering in the spring.

James carefully tends to the Katie Heath Garden

Confirmation that bulbs can be planted now was evidenced in Gloucester Courthouse this morning as I took my morning walk. Gloucester County employees were busy at work getting crates of tulips in the ground. These are a fraction of the bulbs that Brent and Becky donate each year for their community. James Johnson was busy adding hundreds of the lovely cultivar tulip, Menton, to the borders and gardens in the Courthouse area. The garden he was concentrating on this morning was begun years ago by Brent Heath to honor his mother, so James makes sure he takes the extra time to make this border one that would make Brent proud. He said the bulbs are “crying to be in the ground” and he was making that happen.

Eric pauses from planting bulbs

In borders like the one James was working on, mulch and compost were carefully pulled aside and the bulbs scattered over the ground, pointed end up. The mulch/compost was replaced and new shredded mulch was waiting to be raked over top. In other borders, holes were drilled with equipment and the bulbs were dropped into the holes, covered loosely, then topped with a nice layer of mulch. County employee, Eric takes great pride in the gardens and expressed much appreciation for Brent and Becky’s generosity. Because of them, Gloucester is known for her daffodils.

What fun it always is to stop and chat with fellow gardeners. Even though we may not know one another, gardening is a shared interest that facilitates friendship. Gardening is a universal language. Have you ever met a gardener who didn’t want to share their garden? I have not.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Ready, Set…. SHOW!

"Geranium" - Click to enlarge photos

Daffodils are the first flowers to bloom each spring, bringing us  a sea of yellow drifts throughout Gloucester County.  Whether they are planted in a flower garden or naturalized in a field, their presence brings joy to all.  It’s a flower we can simply plant and forget for it is one of the easiest to grow.  But there are some growers who are serious about the daffodil and devote much time to growing the perfect specimen and entering their blooms in competition at daffodil shows. Growers will get that chance this weekend. The Garden Club of Gloucester is primed and ready to present their 60th Annual Daffodil Show on Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 at Page Middle School on Rt. 17 in Gloucester. The show is sanctioned by The American Daffodil Society and is open to the public.  Green Offerings are accepted.

Putting on a flower show takes Herculean effort but the Garden Club of Gloucester is a well-oiled machine with members following a trusted time line the day before the show.  Steady streams of husbands in trucks transport equipment from storage to the cavernous gymnasium of the school where members and husbands are ready for setup.  Every member is assigned a task and in no time, they have created the staging.  In less than 24 hours, the room will be transformed into a floral wonderland of horticulture and artistic arrangements.

The chairmen have selected ‘Birds In Flight’ as the artistic theme this year. Novice and experienced arrangers will enter flower arranging competitions in several classes depicting a variety of feathered friends. There is a class for children, one just for men and a timed challenge class for adventuresome arrangers. Each of our members performs several duties from food preparation, clerks and runners for the judges, setting up supplies for the exhibitors, registering exhibitors and arrangers, tabulation and recording the judges’ choices,  assisting novice exhibitors, working with the children and much more.

After experiencing daffodils on a personal level for two days, the show closes and tear-down by members and husbands begins efficiently and swiftly.  Risers, covers, test tubes, blocks and truckloads of equipment are packed and transported by trucks for storage to await the 61st Annual Daffodil Show in 2011. For more information on the show, visit the Parks and Recreation website.

Shortly after the Gloucester show, the Garden Club of Virginia’s 76th Annual Daffodil Show takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, April 7 & 8, at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar. The complex task of putting on a state show will be performed by the Hillside Garden Club with the theme for the 2010 ADS show, ‘The James Runs Through It,’ reflecting the significance of the James River to the history of Lynchburg and Amherst.  This club will mirror our set-up and take-down and numerous jobs on a larger and more complex scale. Their space will be transformed into a seemingly endless variety of colors, shapes, sizes and fragrances of daffodils and artistic arrangements.  This will be an experience not to miss. The show is open to all daffodil growers and exhibitors but there are sections that are open only to Garden Club of Virginia members in club competitions. For more information on the Garden Club of Virginia’s Daffodil Show, visit the GCV website. The show is open to the pubic. A Green Offering will be accepted.

We invite you to stop by and experience both daffodil shows and we encourage you to think about entering your daffodil(s) in a show.  It is fun, it is easy, and we guarantee it will be painless.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Historic Garden Week: Behind the scenes in Gloucester Gardens

Brent and Becky's hybridizing fields Brent and Becky’s Bulbs was named by The Wall Street Journal as the number one bulb company, but for the citizens of Gloucester, Brent and Becky have always been number one in many ways.  They are incredibly knowledgeable and their generosity is legend, both in Brent’s native Gloucester and far beyond Gloucester to cities and communities across the country.

The Garden Club of Gloucester relies on Brent and Becky for advice for Historic Garden Week bulb plantings.  With their recommendations, we turn our gardens into a sea of colorful daffodils. Gardeners and landscapers look to them for guidance and for the best bulbs available today.  It all makes sense when you know Brent and Becky consider themselves educators first, gardeners second and bulb-sellers third.

Ware Neck landscaper, Sue Perrin, has her own list of personal favorites from Brent and Becky’s Spring/Fall catalog.  For homeowners on the Historic Garden Tour or bulb lovers statewide, she has listed the bulb name, catalog page number and the reasons behind her choices.

Sue:  “The following are my favorites. They have multiplied and remained strong performers in my garden. I tend to like the miniature and mid-sized bulbs for flower beds. I like to see the large sized ones grouped in the landscape away from the house, at the edge of the woods where the maturing foliage gets at least 4 hours of direct sunlight a day and some dappled light after that. In such an area you can let weeds/grass grow along with maturing foliage and not be bothered with the ‘mess.’ Too often I have seen daffodils planted in too much shade and they decline with time even though they are fertilized. Apply fertilizer in October after the first year. I use “Potato Fertilizer” from Southern States Cooperative. It is their own 3-9-18 and has quintupled in price in the past 2 years. It comes in 40 lb. bags, so you would not be able to use it until you had a large bed but it is still quite a bit cheaper than BulbTone. For just a few daffodils, use BulbTone or whatever Brent and Becky have in their shop. They are making their own brand and it will be excellent.”

* Will bloom for Garden Tour the last week in April.  Brent suggests planting them in late Nov. or early Dec. to make them bloom late.

Miniature and mid-sized Daffodils:

Baby Moon*   p. 29, qty: 20, late bloomer, adorable.

Hawera    p. 31, qty: 20, mid-late, multiplies like crazy.

Jonquilla var. henriquesii   p. 31  20, Golden gold, showy, likes to bake in the summer sun by a walk of rock.

Golden Bells  p.31, qty: 20, teeny tiny but showy.

Minnow p. 32, qty: 20, 5 or more tiny yellow and white flowers per stem, delightful.

Sun Disc* p. 33, qty: 50, reliable, late.

Sweetness p.25, qty: 20, So fragrant, a must.

Golden Echo (!!!) p. 24, qty: 20, Brent and Becky’s own hybrid, great substance, mid-sized, long-blooming, top of my list.

Jetfire p. 22, qty: 20, early (Feb.), reliable.

Ice Wings p. 21, qty: 10, nodding, white, 3 per stem.

Large favorites:

Bravoure  p. 10, Greatest substance, gorgeous.

Pink Silk  p. 11,  I won best-in-show, plus it multiplies like a rabbit.

Lorikeet  p. 11, Unusual color combination, stunning.

Audubon  p. 12, Great substance, reliable.

Ceylon p. 13, One of Brent’s favorites.

Pink Charm  p. 15, Reliable pink and white, lovely.

Stainless* p. 16, Pure white, late.

Other favorite bulbs for here and there:

Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior’*  p. 71,  qty: 100, voles like these so protection, old-fashioned, can seed around in time, likes the woodland setting.

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Rolf Fiedler’  p. 74, qty: 50, Grows in the grass, sweet.

Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’* p. 76,  qttL 50, underrated, white, long blooming.

Muscari armeniacum p. 78, qty: 100 (a must !), electric blue complements all other bulbs, esp. daffodils.

Galanthus elwesii  p. 8,  qty: 20 (plant now!), snowdrops are earliest, can take some shade, like a moist but not boggy area. Almost all bulbs require good drainage.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester