February 21, 2015


My potted  collection of alpine bulbs greets visitors this weekend at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden first annual Spring Flower Show. 

It's a feeling one gets when you are bundled up, your face hurts from the frigid wind but your eyes glimpse a site - it's "oh, thank GOD" colors of the William Sonoma catalog.  With icky, brown snow and icy grey icicles reaching to the ground, regardless of ones religion or nationality the tones of robin-egg blue and pale pink  - the commercial tints of the Easter season sooths us, or at the very least, it provides a bit of hope that this 'arctic vortex' might actually come to an end.

We humans are fickly, though.  Spot Halloween decor in late August and we Facebook about it. Catch the first glimpse of red foil Valentines hearts before Christmas (really - another red holiday?) and we groan, and God forbid if we see Christmas wrap in September, or better yet - Back-To-School supplies in July - see this and all Hell breaks lose on Instagram and Twitter,  but something happens to us when we spot those soothing tones of 'preemy' Peeps, custard yellow Kitchen Aid mixers and pale blue Cadbury eggs. I feel that big business has not capitalized enough on the value of what I call 'seasonal hope'.

But then... we stop into a supermarket after a long day of work to find something for dinner and our noses note a specific scent - 82% Diorisimo, 15% dirt - and 3% bunny piss - but 100% spring. Not so deep within each of us we are reminded that:  yes, we are still human beings. 

Hyacinths can do that.

February 19, 2015


 Even just 5 bulbs of Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin' makes a scene. Bred in the 1960's it's a cross between two rarer small iris, I. winogradowii and I. histriodes, both delightful choices to force if one dares to risk ruining their bulbs ( I prefer them in the garden) but 'Katherine Hodgkin' is easy, and relatively available - it just sells out early in the catalogs.

The snow here in the Boston area is insanely deep, the icicles are nearly 15 feet long, and connect the roof gutters to the ground, and although I am tempted a bit to snowboard off of our roof into a snow drift, now that we are back from New York, I am focused on the bulbs I have been forcing for a mid-winter flower show, being held this weekend at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden (you MUST come visit it, as nothing will lift your spirits more!).  I've talked them into regenerating the classic winter bulb show, very much like the way most spring flowershows began in Boston, Philadelphia and New York in the mid 1800's - it's in their DNA to to sponsor such an event, and I have so much hope that this event will inspire others to grow and enter plants during the winter months.

Even though I knew that I wanted to force many plants for this first of what I hope will be an annual show, I just didn't realize,  back in October when I started potting up bulbs, that this last week of February would require me to be traveling (New York Toy Fair and Westminster Dog Show). This is a critical time when one is forcing different types of bulbs, as timing can become tricky - snowdrops rush ahead as tulips need care, when coaxing them into bloom, small iris can burst into flower within a couple of warm, sunny days while the rarer muscari slug along hoping for a sunny week of 70º weather in the greenhouse. Needless to say, it's been a challenge to time everything to bloom on a single Friday.

Click below for more!

February 18, 2015


A bit off topic here, I know - - but as many of you are dog lovers, I thought that I might share our week in New York City attending the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Meet the Breeds event held this weekend.  Not only was our male Irish Terrier invited to compete this year, we were also selected to design and man the Irish Terrier Meet the Breeds breed booth ( and, since it was also a competition, I had to pull out all the stops to see if we might win!).

It was also New York Toy Fair, so I was busy in many ways with meetings, that trade show at the Javits,  and a few events to attend but since I took the week off as vacation, I spent much of it at the Kennel club events. 

Doodles ( our Daphne) was one of the breed ambassadors at our breed booth, which made her feel better as her brother was in the Westminster show all week. The AKC Meet the Breeds Experience, held at the Piers in NYC featured most of the dog breeds clubs entered at Westminster, plus, it too was a competition -  for Best in Show with breed booth design.  (Oh, OK, I'll spoil the surprise, we won Best Booth Design in the terrier group) Yay!

 The AKC 'Meet the Breeds' it is such a good idea, as attendees can come and see all of the dog breeds in person. It was a very cold weekend in the city, but nearly 20 thousand attended the event, which is incredible given that it was snowing all day. This event is held on the Saturday before the Westminster Event at Madison Square Garden.  I was asked by our breed club to create and design a booth which might win - and we were all so excited to find out that we did indeed win Best of Group  in the terrier group, which had a lot of competition. People even wanted to buy our fake potato bags after the show.

Click below for more!

February 9, 2015



Really, this new dahlia rage shouldn't be a surprise to any of us at all -  as the signs were everywhere. Farm stands, farmers markets both have been selling out of virtually buckets of dahlias for the past two years, and then there are those oh-so-sick (as in awesome) images over at Floret Farm - seducing us into wanting not only every single ball and dinner plate cut flower dahlia there is, but to also quit our jobs and move to Seattle where we can hang out our laundry on the line, and run all tanned, barefoot and bearded through a perfectly solar-flared bedazzled flower farm field in the holder alpen glow of ----oh wait, that was my fantasy --sorry. All of this endless snowshovelling is affecting my brain).  Still, for whatever reason, and there are many, the dahlia is officially back. 

Yay, right? 

Well, not if you are trying to find some of the best colors - why does it seem that all the good ones are all sold out? OK, if you are interested - here is my story:


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