Daffodil Mania!

Today, it was 70° back home in Gloucester Virginia and that means daffodils of all shades and shapes must be blooming profusely across the countryside there. Once called “The Daffodil Capital of America,” it all began when Gloucester’s early settlers brought the bulbs to across the sea in the 1600s. The climate and soil agreed with daffodils and the flowers eventually spread like melted butter across the fields of Gloucester. The flower is celebrated to this day.

Since 1938, my garden club, The Garden Club of Gloucester, has held an annual daffodil show where growers are encouraged to enter a competition for the best bloom in 13 different divisions. The American Daffodil Society sanctioned event, the oldest event in Gloucester, not only fills a gymnasium with a dazzle of daffodils for the Horticulture Division, it offers an Artistic Division where entrants compete interpreting themes in flower arranging, and two popular Artistic Divisions for children.  Click pictures to enlarge.

Parallel Arrangement: Line Dancing by Sarah HyltonInterpretive Design: The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh by Shannah CooperFor the last couple of days, I’ve read emails flying between club members in Virginia as they rush into a frenzy of action for the show this weekend. Today, husbands of garden club members gathered at a storage barn to transport several truckloads of staging supplies to the show site. A long day was in store for folks as supplies are assembled. I’m not there in person, but in spirit, as they transform an empty space into a daffodil wonderland by the time the show opens on Saturday, March 29. Following the two day show, it 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 and packed away.

HorticultureGood luck this weekend, friends!

A Hot Spot in the Garden

It’s been just over a year since we experienced a severe heat wave in Tidewater when temperatures topped 106˚ for several days in a row.  I survived only because I could escape to the comfort of the home but the garden suffered greatly. Water wasn’t enough to help in some cases. The worst casualty was a section of a bed of juniper (Juniperus c. ‘Blue Pacific‘) that endured the baking sun from sunrise to sunset.

Since I did not want to subject more junipers to this less than ideal location in the garden, I looked around for something else to fill the hot and dry bare spots. Sedum! Of course! Most sedums love the sun and will tolerate our coastal exposure. There are about 400 different species of sedum out there to choose from but I was attracted to Sedum ‘Gold Mound’ with its bright green needle-like foliage. It’s a low growing spreading sedum that will fill spaces around rocks or garden objects with soft mounds.

Gold Mound grows to about 8-10 inches tall and is relatively pest and disease free. This summer it spread gracefully around rocks, mingled beautifully with tuffs of grasses and has integrated with the surviving juniper creating contrasting shades of green. By the end of the summer, the sedum had snuggled into almost every crevice and was a focal point in this little garden. Garden objects and large rocks brought from other borders around the yard found their way to these bright green mounds, the happiest of whom is Peter who stands tall over the sedum welcoming visitors to the garden.


Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

Orange Clockwork: Bill DuPaulIf your idea of a perfect summer garden is drifts of colorful yet carefree flowers, then daylilies are the flower for you. They are a forgiving plant, easy to grow, long-lived, low maintenance, salt tolerant, accept soil from sand to heavy clay, and are ranked among the top five drought resistant plants.  They are perennial and can be used as ground cover, in drifts in borders or used as accents in the landscape. No green thumb is needed to enjoy summer-long blooms in a vast array of colors.

The invitation came from a neighbor, Bill DuPaul, to visit his glorious daylily gardens.  A scientist recently retired from Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Bill is now devoting more time to the science of growing and hybridizing daylilies in Martian Sunset: Registered by Bill DuPaulWare Neck.  He is a 1st class grower who has a strong desire to share his knowledge and his plants with others.

Despite inclement weather, mister gardener and I were delighted to join Bill for a drizzly excursion through his daylily gardens.  Just gazing at the vibrant colors brought us a bit of sunshine beneath the clouds. As we walked we learned more about substance, texture, colors, sizes and forms of daylilies.  We have certainly come a long way from the common orange ditch daylilies that are seen on roadsides, fields, and around mailboxes.  Today’s shades range from yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, near whites, to vibrant reds and one with a unusual touch of blue he is hybridizing.

Bill is meticulous about his methods and choosy about registering the hybrids he develops.  Only the very best of the best will heWare Yellow: Bill DuPaul register with the American Hemerocallis Society.  To date he has registered four but some of his daylilies are local favorites and hotly sought after.  To have a ‘Ware Yellow‘ in your garden gives you certain bragging rights.  Ahem.  Yes, I have two.

You can find Bill’s daylilies for sale at the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, May through October.  Bill’s wife, Jaye, is a member of the Garden Club of Gloucester.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester


The Azalea Gardens of Art and Betty White, Gloucester VA

Whites' Azalea GardenThese spectacular azalea gardens were created by Art and Betty White on the North River in Gloucester.  In the dappled light of loblollies and dogwoods, the Whites have created a natural wonderland of hundreds of mature azaleas and rhododendrons in a riot of colors.  Gentle paths lead to small ‘rooms’ inside the gardens where one can linger on benches to enjoy the splash of colors and individual blossoms. The Whites have generously opened their garden to friends each spring and have twice opened for HGW.  Over the years they have delighted in using their garden as a teaching tool to pass on their special propagation techniques to a multitude of gardeners.  Betty is a member of the Garden Club of Gloucester.

Whites' azaleas Whites' azaleasWhites' AzaleasWhites' AzaleasWhites' Azaleas

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester


Am I a horticulturist?

As a GCV member who likes all things technical and a bit of blogging, Nina asked me to be the administrator of the GCV Horticulture Blog.  “I’m not a horticulturalist,” I protested.  “You’re a master gardener…” she countered. “Just write what you know.”  I know all too well that being a master gardener makes me a little knowledgeable about a multitude of things and master of none, but trained to find answers.

I looked up the definition of horticulture: “|ˈhôrtiˌkəl ch ər|,the art or practice of garden cultivation and management.”  Well, maybe I can stretch the definition to include my amateur delight in gardening and I can communicate my adventures and misadventures in the garden.  I love to garden with a special interest all things insect, all things pond, all things photography, and all things birds.

Thank goodness GCV Horticulture Chair, Mary Eades, will continue her important educational ‘Hello’ blog filled with advice, monthly chores, garden instruction, and tips from gardeners in all the clubs. Her ‘Hellos’ will be the heart of this blog.  I will be posting Mary’s blogs, thus relieving Nina to concentrate of her many other duties.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester