Friday, September 11, 2009

The smell of fresh bulbs....

Here in our business, the busy season is at our doorstep. The first shipment of flowerbulbs from Holland arrived and our warehouse has that unmistakable smell of fresh bulbs, a bit earthy, a bit sweet, very hard to describe but if you open a bag of bulbs at home and sniff you will notice.
It's always an exciting time full of anticipation. First there is the check-up, how is the quality this year? How do they look, how big are the bulbs?
Well, this year some of the tulip bulbs are so big that the usual number does not fit in one crate, that promises some big tulip flowers.
And although it still is late summer weather, the time for planting your spring bulbs is approaching rapidly. Late September and early October is the perfect time for the northern part of the country. Think about mixing some beautiful colored tulips into your perennial beds,late tulips and early perennials make a great combo.
Planting groups of Crocus in your lawn will excite you with bright color specks in Spring, wrap them in chickenwire if you have a lot of bunnies or squirrels.
One of my favorites still is the Scilla Siberica with it's bright blue flowers, easy to naturalize and they don't get eaten by critters.
get in the mood fro planting and take a look on

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New life in the garden!

Instead of writing my blog, much of my time right now is spend in the garden. With almost half an acre to cover, there is a lot to do.
For the first time this year we have created a little kitchen garden, squared off with willow fencing that we found in the catalog of National Gardening, this way the deer cannot come in and it also gives the garden a sort of a French look.
After an online search I found seed of my favorite 'spitskool' called Jersey Wakefield in english, a cone shaped cabbage that I've never found here, not even on the Farmer's markets. In Holland it is a very commonly used type of cabbage, very tender, great in Asian stir fry dishes. There are about 12 of them growing and I intend to plant some more later in the season. Because the kitchen garden was put in fairly late in the season I had started my tomatoes inside and then transplanted them to an Earthbox planter, a type of selfwatering planter that I'm trying out. It works excellent, the first green tomatoes are ripening. In the other Earthbox I have I planted 'Frisee' a curly endive, but that has been harvested by now (excellent!) The rest of my seedlings are all still small, but they look promising. Lots of compost have been worked into the soil and I regularly water them with compost tea.
The peach tree that I photographed in bloom for the last blog, now has several ripening peaches, that is a first time!
And while we were making long (but enjoyable) hours in the garden, we had the company of lots of birds. There were three breeds of Robins, the last two flew out the day before yesterday. A breed of wrens in a bright green ceramic birdhouse and a second breed of them is on the way. After they flew out and we cleaned out their nest they came back (at least that is what I think, I cannot tell one wren from the other) and started all over again. Apparently they don't like 'used furniture', experience has taught us that. They will sit and sing and try to get our attention untill we clean out their house, after that they start building a new one within the hour! Here are some pictures of our winged kids....

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Spring in the Midwest!

It looks like spring finally arrived here, albeit somewhat hesitantly. For some weeks in a row we have had warm weekends and cooler weeks but at least the bulbs are blooming in our yard. The blue grape hyacinths that we planted 2 years ago are getting nice and full, the eventual goal is too have them growing like a meandering stream of cool blue, bordering the bed at the side of the house.
Grape hyacinhts come in a variety of colors, from sky blue to more azure blue and lavender tones, to white. As you can see there are also some double ones in there that go by the name Muscari Plumosum, their flowers form a compact thick plume.
Combining bulbs with perennials looks wonderful as you can see in the combination of grape hyacinths and Pulmonaria Mrs. Moon with it's spotted leaves and pink/blue flowers.
Last year we planted Poetaz Narcissus Suzy around our small fruit trees. Narcissus are said to keep rodents away from the roots of the trees and at the same time they provide a lovely splash of color in the meadow under the trees.
The peach tree is already in bloom with double the flowers as the first time it bloomed. Whether that will mean peaches this summer is still unknown, but judging from the peaches that are offered on the farmers market here it's not impossible to grow excellent peaches here in Wisconsin.
If this gets your inspiration going for your own spring bulb planting, please contact us through our webstore to pre-order your Muscari's or Daffodils.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Flower bulbs, natural habitat versus cultivated

As a gardener I prefer a natural looking garden, where the plants look like they belong there and are allowed to multiply (if they want to) yet I have to say there is something mesmerizing about a straight lined intensely colored field of flower bulbs like you see them in Holland.

To illustrate these contrasts here are some pictures. Throughout the country side you'll be able to see an abundance of Snowdrops (Galanthus Nivalis) growing in wooded areas, around farms or just by the side of a ditch. I'm trying this in my American backyard but it will take some more years before it will look anything like this. For some reason my Snowdrops are not multiplying as fast as the Dutch Snowdrops are...
I have fond memories of early childhood when you knew spring had arrived because the florists were selling little bouquets of Snowdrops, their heads tightly held together by a big Ivy leaf.

And then there are the flower bulb fields where all kinds of bulbs are grown in well organized and modernized fashion. During our last trip to Holland, the fields of Crocus and miniature Daffodils (the early bloomers) were only just starting to color but by the time we left they were in full bloom and really, there is nothing like an intensely purple field of flowers against one of those famous Dutch cloudy skies!

As you can see in the pictures, the soil in the bulb region is light and sandy, traditionally most bulbs were grown on grounds directly behind the dunes.In winter the fields are covered with straw to prevent the flower bulbs from freezing and the pale color of the straw provides a beautiful contrast to the flowering bulbs.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tulip Museum Amsterdam

Did you know there is a Tulip Museum in Amsterdam?
Well, there is and the best thing is that it was founded by an American bulb importer/colleague of us. The museum is on a beautiful location, kitty corner across the canal from the Anne Frank Huis on the Prinsengracht. The museum has a traditional store front and you have to go up some blue stone steps to get into the museum. If the weather allows they have an outdoor display of bulbs they sell, indoors you will find a wide assortment of seasonal flower bulbs and most of the times they will have blooming bulbs so you can see exactly what the colors of the different varieties look like. When we were there in the beginning of March they had a lot of Amaryllis in bloom. (some of my favorites: Benfica, a deep velvety dark red and Hercules a wonderful deep pink with huge flowers)
The people in the museum can tell you all you want to know about flower bulbs and how to plant them and they'll be happy to help you find gifts for everyone back home.
Downstairs you can learn all about the history of the flower bulb industry in Holland on flatscreen video's and there are several books available on everything connected with flowerbulbs.
If you love tulips and daffodils make sure to visit this place!
Should you you happen to go there on a Monday morning, combine your visit with a trip to the Noordermarkt, just a few blocks away, one of the traditional outdoor markets that Europe is so famous for. On this market you will find a surprising assortment of goods, from antiques to fabrics (vintage buttons and trims also) clothing, hardware, produce and if you'r lucky there will be one time only deals that are ever changing.
As always, we welcome your comments using the comment button below.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bulbs by bike!

These are the treasures you will find if you rent a bike and pedal off the beaten paths and away from tourist attractions.... We came upon this lovely garden one early Saturday morning in March. The lady of the house was just busy bringing more planters out and agreed most kindly when we asked her if it would be okay to take some photo's of her garden. She herself hurried inside though!

We love how she made creative use of all sorts of objects to showcase her flowers, from tables, benches, bathtubs to bikes, everything was used to build a colorful outdoor room with lots of interesting contrasts. Even a still leafless tree was hung with baskets filled with sky blue Grape Hyacinths.

Spring was starting early in Holland as they had no winter to speak of, a promising start for the Keukenhof, which opens this week on Thursday March 22 - it's not too late to book your flight to Amsterdam

We'd love to hear from you and welcome your comments!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

No, this is not a flowershop....

this is just somebody's window in a street in Amsterdam.

Views like these are what inspire me!

Just see what a magnificent display you can make, two tall red glasses, filled with pebbles, 2 or 3 Amaryllis bulbs on top of them and red dogwood twigs surrounding the bulbs and giving support to the tall flower stems.
Amaryllis can grow just on water, so they do not really need soil; as long as you make sure that the water level is just reaching the rootpart of the bulb.
What a wonderful way to get through the dark days of winter!