Bragging Again

The weather has finally warmed up enough here to get things growing, and as usual it’s the tulips and daffodils which are my absolute favorites.  They’re not at all subtle and I think that’s needed in order to distract from the raw construction of other parts of the garden.

growing tulips

The border along the street is looking good with a nice show of returning tulips.  Some have been in place for over five years and are way overdue for dividing.

Tulips and daffodils are a weakness of mine and it may surprise some that I’ve been on a strict diet for the last two or three years and haven’t allowed myself to buy any new bulbs until I take better care of what’s here.  Crowded clumps need dividing in order to show off best and in the case of tulips a string of late freezes and excessively damp springs have brought on some serious plagues of tulip fire botrytis.  Fortunately it only takes a few nice flowers in order for me to completely ignore a thousand other issues!

tulip marit

‘Marit’ might be in the top five of favorite tulips.  The colors, shape, and size are just amazing to my eye. 

This year drier weather has also been helpful in keeping the botrytis down.  Between that and some Neem oil spraying last spring things are looking much improved this spring.  I’m also ruthlessly ripping out infected shoots and thinning the foliage on still overcrowded clumps.  We will see what ‘thinning the foliage’ does to next year’s flowers since obviously the bulbs need the foliage to grow new bulbs, but a few less bulbs might not be the worst thing either.

growing tulips

I’m not sure you can tell that these tulips have been thinned.  The one clump of orange was missed, but the others were all dug in late May(?) far earlier than they should have been, and immediately replanted after pulling off and tossing all the smaller bulbs.  I’m hoping the show next spring is again solid with color.

I’m pretty sure only the gardener will notice if there are a ‘few less’ bulbs next year.  Exponential growth means a hundred tulips can become three hundred in just a year, so better to revel in the luxury of me doing the thinning rather than disease or *gulp* deer or other vermin doing it for me.  Thank goodness the deer still avoid my garden.

growing tulips

An overcrowded daffodil patch.  Sadly this is a newer replant where I thought I was leaving room, but really wasn’t as I tried to pack too many bulbs into too small a bed…

At least deer don’t eat daffodils.  Someday the backup plan might be daffodils and a fenced in potager if worse comes to worst.

narcissus firebird

An airy little ‘Firebird’.  

I don’t know if anyone remembers but ‘The Purge’ took place two springs ago, and daffodils were downsized to just under 150 varieties and that still sounds generous, but I miss them.

narcissus tahiti

‘Tahiti’ will never be downsized.  Even as a double in a garden where doubles are under-appreciated, it’s a favorite.

A new bed of daffodils would likely help.  I think it’s worth a shot at least 😉

narcissus coral light

‘Coral Light’ also made the cut and looks excellent with some room to show off.  If only I could do more of this planting-with-reasonable-spacing thing I think I’d be alright and things would look much better.

Where would this bed go?  Who knows but it would probably involve less lawn and that’s also a good thing… unless someone wants a badminton net strung up and doesn’t want to avoid jumping over daffodil clumps…

narcissus Mrs R O Backhouse

The bulbs of ‘Mrs R O Backhouse’ did not look great after the purge, and I was worried, but many of these older varieties bounce back quickly.

‘The Purge’ reached a highpoint two years ago during the potager rebuild, and a couple daffodil plantings had to make way for the construction of raised beds.  Sadly since then I’ve found that I don’t like the way the daffodils look in the raised beds, so that’s a new space problem, and even worse I love growing tulips in the raised beds.  The digging and replanting seems to really help with controlling the tulip fire botrytis and I can spend hours each week just going back and forth looking to see how much they’ve grown each day, and what new surprise has opened up.  Sometimes I really have to wonder where they come from when it’s a flower I don’t remember ever planting or it’s one I haven’t seen in years!

growing tulips

I tried to keep two beds open for tomatoes, beans, and zucchini plantings this month.  Next year all bets are off and the whole thing might be tulips.   

Actually here’s a confession.  Last fall I did add 10 new bulbs of ‘Shirley’ and ‘Pink Impression’, so this bulb diet I’m on isn’t all abstinence and cutting back.  Maybe it should have been though, since both varieties were mislabeled.

tulip not shirley

This is not the tulip ‘Shirley’ but still nice, and for a clearance bulb I can’t complain.  The real ‘Shirley’ has more of an inky purple stain that spreads down from the edges as the flower ages, and of course I still need to get that one again…  and keep this one now…

A friend with excellent taste in tulips pulls hers each year after bloom and usually I say no thanks, but this year I already put in a save request.  I’m also looking through bulb catalogs.  I’m also excited about how fat and vigorous this year’s crop of bulbs should be.  I fear ‘The Purge’ shall be followed by ‘The Splurge’ and tomatoes will end up in pots on the deck next year… and I’m 100% fine with that! -until someone else here overrules me 😉

growing tulips

The view from my in-potager seating area.  When the sun shines and the flowers open wide there’s not much getting done around here.

Usually the saved bulbs end up as mixes since it’s (1) easier and (2) it’s easier.  Plus the gardener always misses a bunch of bulbs when digging, stray bulbs get dropped and returned to the wrong box, and the gardener is a little disorganized in general.  He tries though.  A solid patch of his favorite is always worth marking and digging separately.

growing tulips

I think this streaked orange is ‘Beauty of Apeldoorn’ and I wouldn’t mind a solid bunch of it, as well as the yellow behind which might be ‘Big Smile’ which is plain and yellow, and I have plenty of yellow, but it’s also excellent and I love it.

Don’t worry, there’s a good chance none of that will ever happen.  Just getting the bulbs dug will be work enough and trust me the gardener isn’t one to go out looking for extra work.

growing tulips

Most of the tulips here come from generic Darwin Hybrid mixes, and often they turn out to be something else, but I believe the large reddish orange with yellow edges is the Darwin hybrid ‘Apledoorn Elite’ and it makes up a big part of the mix.  

I bet a few complementary perennials would also look nice, but all we’ve got is purple deadnettle and a few self-sown clumps of bleeding hearts.  There’s much to be said for careful weeding.

growing tulips

One year bleeding heart seed somehow ended up in the compost and they came up all over.  Works for me I said!

Enough with the tulips, just one last photo on how much they multiply.  I came across this picture from two years ago of all the ones which were dug and saved during the potager upheaval.

growing tulips

The potager tulips all descend from these few saved bunches.  A few of the reds were added later as leftovers from the planters out front, but the nerd in me sees the baby pictures of ‘Red Emperor’ and ‘Apledoorn Elite’ just waiting to go back into the ground and explode!

Ok, one last confession.  I may have mentioned I did buy a few new daffodils last fall since I had been so good during ‘The Purge’ and made so many adult decisions about how many was enough and how many was too much.  They were all one or two bulb purchases from either QDaffs or PHS daffs and were more meant to support small growers and importers, and entirely not because I really needed them… but that sham is now falling apart.  I was either sent more bulbs than I ordered or the quality was so obscenely excellent that one bulb really amounted to three normal bulbs, and now there are enough and they’re so awesome that more would be even better.  Oh the cruelty of it all.

narcissus bernardino hyperbole

An older variety, ‘Bernardino’ with a newer variety, ‘Hyperbole’ behind it.  Both are outstanding.

Fortunately I haven’t clicked on any new orders.  Actually I think it’s downright irresponsible to even allow us to order more daffs while it’s still peak season here, and I kind of feel like I’m being targeted for my weaknesses… but on second thought I may be just fine with that.

narcissus red passion rocoza

‘Red Passion’ in front with ‘Rocoza’ behind.  To a daffodilista that’s what red looks like, just like peach is often called pink, but whatever, I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the plant-obsessed.  

So we will see if anything new is ordered.  I’m leaning towards responsibility and frugality, and more adult decisions which consider available space and appropriate choices, but when you come home from work on a Friday excited for the weekend only to find it’s raining inside the bathroom nearly as much as outside, your resolve weakens.  Plus there’s always that gardening budget just bursting with revenue from the new plant tax.  Construction is still as expensive as ever but when this genius decided to put a plant tax on all building costs it’s been a huge windfall for my plant budget.  This must be how the big oil companies feel when gas prices surge and then stay there… except that’s also my money vanishing… and it’s surely not being spent on plants…

In any case have a great weekend.  It’s still raining here (although the extra shower in the bathroom has stopped) but at least the rain has kept me from staring at flowers all morning.  Enjoy!

21 comments on “Bragging Again

  1. I envy your ability to grow tulips. Between the voles and the clay soil I’m lucky if they come up the first year. They certainly don’t return. I added Bernardino and Hyperbole to my Qdaffs wish list. They didn’t have Red Passion. No one seems to. Uh, by the way, if you’re going to search online for that daffodil, make sure you include the word “narcissus” in your search string. Otherwise a lot of other stuff will come up. Just sayin’. I will have to check PHS out.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah… I’ve also been surprised by google when it comes to plant names and typos 🙂
      You know how fast daffodils can multiply, give me another year before ordering the same varieties I already have and I’m sure we can trade something!

  2. You know, some nice clumps of daffs would look really nice scattered up on that bank at the back of your yard . . . Nothing fancy, of course; perhaps some purge victims?

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Honestly, there are so many beautiful tulip and daffodils hybrids, it is almost impossible to hold oneself back. I want so many, but have to be realistic about cost, but more importantly, remember that they all have to be planted! I generally groan when the box arrives in the fall and I see how greedy I was. I’m not getting any younger, ya know!
    I am reaping the rewards of your ‘Purge’ and this year, the bed has filled out nicely. I call it ‘Frank’s daffodil extravaganza. 🙂 I actually managed to fertilize all my daffs last year and divided several bunches and it has paid off big time… they haven’t looked so good in years. I tend to forget how many I have and where they are, so it is a delightful surprise when my yard bursts into bloom.
    Your yard beats mine though, everything looks wonderful, Frank.

    • bittster says:

      It might not be age that has you groaning when that box arrives! Even “back in the day” I would groan when the bulbs show up. Nearly every single fall I would have no idea where they were going and now it’s even worse as I pack more and more in.
      That’s great your daffs are filling in! They do respond well to a little tlc and even the ones here are looking better now that they’ve been thinned and given some better soil. Things would be perfect if only I had planted more of them in sunnier spots. I thought I was being smart tucking them in around the edges of the yard, but the shade and tree roots are too much so guess what?… they already need replanting… ugh!

  4. Cathy says:

    I am amazed at how your bulbs multiply! Mine dwindle away…. probably due to the mice. But we are unable to order bulbs until the new stocks are secured… maybe the end of June. So fortunately by then the euphoria has died down a bit! The potager would look lovely completely crammed full of tulips. 😉 Not that I am encouraging you. But my tomatoes are always grown in pots and zucchini do well in large pots too. 😁

    • bittster says:

      Did you order anything? I made it through bulbs season safely and now I’m looking at bearded iris websites! You can bet that even without any new purchases there will still be less room for vegetables next year. Right now I’m wondering if an Eremus would do well in the potager. Hmmmm…

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am impressed with all of this adulting with all the tax revenue available. Your tulip train appears to be quite nice this year. The dark purple tulips would look great with those white and pink tulips. Your daffodil decadence can be overlooked with the beautiful displays through out your garden. What ever you choose to purchase and plant will look gorgeous and no one will accuse you of not adulting.

    • bittster says:

      Of course I forgot to mark the colors of certain tulips that I wanted to separate out and plant on their own, mainly all the darker ones! I guess I’ll be stuck with a bunch of yellow again next year and golly can I think of worse problems to have 🙂
      I did adult yesterday. Finished the mulching and then resisted all urges to go to the nursery for new plants!

  6. Pauline says:

    I am so impressed! All your narcissus and tulips look amazing, no wonder you are pleased with them. I wish I could grow tulips but my heavy clay and squirrels and mice mean that not many come up and definitely not for a second year. I will just enjoy yours each year!

    • bittster says:

      Sometimes I feel bad when other gardeners struggle with tulips but in your case you have so many other exciting things I can’t imagine thinking twice about it. Your primulas by themselves outshine tulips any day, and here they just fade away and look miserable while doing it!

  7. Paddy Tobin says:

    You have a wonderful collection of bulbs.

  8. OMG! That’s an amazing display. The city and the utility co. are digging in my daffodil bed. Thus fewer blooming now and probably dug out in their work. So perfect excuse to buy bulbs for fall planting when the road project is all done.

    • bittster says:

      I really hope they leave you a clean slate and not some disaster of piles of rubble or drainage issues. Actually I hope that outside the noise and dust your trees and garden are barely disturbed. Good thing the deck is finished and the backyard is a wonderful escape from it all!

  9. Pamela Hubbard says:

    Your posts are so.o.o motivating, Frank. Now that I found I can grow tulips behind the fence in the kitchen garden, I need to order more bulbs for next year. Unfortunately, your postings also spark feelings of guilt that I don’t make more effort to divide thick clumps of daffodils and have more of a variety of plantings. I love Tahiti –need more of them. P. x

    • bittster says:

      Yes, Tahiti is one of my favorites as well, and usually I frown on double flowers!
      I’m glad the tulips have been safe in your vegetable garden. New bulbs can be a real bargain and outside of the work in planting them it’s fun to try something new each fall.
      You are not the only one feeling the guilt of undivided daffodils 😉

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