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

The Netherlands

Today I am tiptoeing through the tulips in and around the historic village of Alkmaar, the Netherlands with Brent and Becky Heath of daffodil fame and with members of the Garden Club of Gloucester and friends. The brilliant fields of bulbs were visible from the air when landing in Amsterdam, then through the windows of our bus as we traversed villages to Alkmaar about 50 miles north.

muscari fields

The Heaths are well-known in this area and have used the grounds around here for raising and developing varieties of bulbs.  We are learning first hand knowledge of the manic tulip culture of 17th century Europe, the bloom that dominated culture for generations.

As we travel over the next few days, I will attempt to share photographs of beautiful gardens… although internet access is not readily available.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

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