September 19, 2009

Bulbs I'm Ordering Today

Act fast for the new introductions or they will sell out, like this pink muscari. Everyone wants this new pink Muscari, or Grape Hyacinth this year. It is very, very pale pink, but, still pink. Not sure how well it will perform but I must have it. Muscari 'Pink Sunrise' is available at most retailers mail order, but it is now sold out at Van Engelen.

You all know that I love rare and unusual bulbs, but one doesn't need to spend lots of money, or search for rare bulbs at tiny micro nurseries. Many interesting bulbs can be purchased on-line, from the main-stream bulb retailers. I order both rare and more common bulbs, from all sources, for I really don't care where they come from, as long as they are of the highest quality. Bulbs are graded, just like produce at your local supermarket, so you generally will get what you pay for. So, those glossy bulb catalogs where one can buy 50 bulbs for 9.99, will most likely send you smaller, less prime bulbs than the catalog that sells the same cultivar for 21.00 for the same quantity. I have noticed that although is is difficult to make a bad choice with bulbs, since most are rather fool proof, that also, one gets what one pays for. Especially with Amaryllis, for over the past 4 years, I have paid nearly $30.00 for those bulbs from White Flower Farm, and each has produced 3 buds each, and the quality was exceptional. So, although many will groan at the price of their plant material, when it comes to bulbs, the premium sources obviously purchase the most premium bulbs at the Dutch bulb auctions, whereas a Spring Hill, will take the riff raff. Business is business., and there are always exceptions. Here are some of what bulbs I am ordering today. ( NOTE: Bulbs are less expensive if you buy a higher quantity, a great source is Scheepers, and their sister site, (not wholesale, but higher-quanitity site) Van Engelen. Here is my list, some of it anyway, and where I am buying them.

From VanEngelen Inc

I am ordering these:

Narcissus cantabricus
This species Narcissus is a favorite of mine, and although I need to grow these in small pots in the greenhouse ( not unlike Paperwhite Narcissus), this tiny, fragrant, hoop flowered jem from the Mediterranean is choice and rare, and difficult to find, in fact, this is the first time I have ever seen it at a main stream catalog. Normally, I can only find the seed at rare bulb auctions or at the only source for rare, miniature Narcissus, Nancy Wilson where she sells slightly more noteworthy selections, but at a significantly higher price. Here at Van Engelen, they are around a dollar a bulb. Sweet!

Narcissus 'Peeping Tom'
Look at the scale of these trumpets! I love Cyclamineus-type of Narcissus, meaning those named cultivars which are bred from the wild form of N. cyclamineus, a species form with distinctive, blown back petals like a a cyclamen, and a long, long, pencil this slender trumpet. I adore the wild form more than any other Narcissus, but it is exetremely difficult to find, let alone grow. But the hybrids are available at the larger Dutch Bulb growers, and they will be listed under CYCLAMINEUS ( you will see that all Narcissus are listed by GROUP, divisions organized by the Narcissus Societies which sections them by form, like Large Cupped, Triandrus, and Tazetta - most either refer to the original wild species, like N. triandrus, as the parent of the hybrid, or the form, such as in miniature, or species). Cyclamineus may be challenging, but the hybrids are not, and all are beautiful. This hybrid called 'Peeping Tom' actually looks nothing like the wild N. cyclamineus, but the the genetics pushed the genes into extreme edges, and expressed in a super-long trumpet, which is open at the end, and smaller petals. This is smaller Daffodil, but like all Daffs. order as many as you can afford, but don't feel bad about it, they are long lasting and return every year.

Narcissus 'Sinopel'

At 10 for $18.00, this is not innexpensive, but always fun to have a greenish daffodil. I know, if you've grown this, it's not as green as the photo shows here, but it is still a fav. These I am planting along the east side of the greenhouse, in the bulb bed which is mostly sand, but they perform perfectly fine in regular garden conditions.

Frittilaria meleagris 'alba'
There are no comon names for most Frit's but don't let that stop you, these are not difficult to grow, and F. meleagris is perhaps the most easy. This rarer form is all white, and I just love how it looks, even as a cut flower. The typical form, of this "checkered lily' or 'Snakes Head lily' if fine enough, but the pure white form will show up better. These are fabulous planted in drifts, under trees in partial shade, where the naturalize for me by self seeding. The white form may revert back if it self seeds, but I am not sure. I will order 100 bulbs, and save 25 for growing in pots, forcing them in the greenhouse.

Iris dardanus

Sure, there are easier Iris species to grow, but the section of Iris organized as Onco's are choice. Yes, difficult, bot not this one. I grow enough of the more challenging ones, which actually are not that tough if one provides the right conditions, but if you want something different that will impress, this is the only Regelio Cyclus variety rarely carried by the big growers. I am going to try it in pure sand, that's it. Pure sand in full sun, no need for winter protection. I just bought bags of play sand at Home Dept, and dumped a few into a hole, in the front garden, and that is where I am planting these. That's it, now, that's not hard, is it? These Iris I have seen at some friends' gardens, and believe me ... NO one grows it, and EVERYONE will ask you where you got it. At 5 for 9.95 US, it's priced perfectly.

The all while form of Frittilaria persica, F. persica 'alba' available this year at some specialty bulb catalogs as well as the larger dealers like John Scheepers. I am getting a dozen to plant in the rock garden, since the dark violet form, which is more commonly available, did so well last year. Pricey? yeah, but I'm worth it.

Eremurus robustus

I know! Eremurus in New England, but these did so well for me last year, that I want more. I planted them in pure gravel, simply dumped gravel chips in a hole in the front garden, and they have retuned now for 4 years, at nearly 5 feet tall, they stop traffic.

Just a few for now, I will try and share more later!


  1. Great picks Matt!

    I now need to look at what I'm going to order. Love the Muscari and everything else for that matter.

    Great choices!


  2. As if a trip to Stonecrop Gardens isn't dangerous enough when it comes to learning about more bulbs, now you are doing it to me too!

    Those Narcissus cantabricus may have to be ordered.

    With my daughter's wedding next year, I may have to stop reading your blog, or I will be wearing my garden sneakers and jeans to her wedding!

  3. Hi Matt! I like your choice of bulbs. I always wanted Eremurus bungei. Is there a big difference between E. bungei and E.robustus?

  4. Hi Matt, I was doing a search on the iris dardanus to get as much info as possible before planting them in a couple of weeks and found your highly entertaining and educational blog. Thanks for all this info. I also ordered eremurus, for the third time and will try the gravel in the hole idea. Also ordered the yellow grape hyacinth, Muscari macroparpum. Love those little bulbs.
    Frances at Fairegarden

  5. great pick!!!
    above all thanks for the info. now cant wait to see how they bloomed. Amaryllis


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