}

February 21, 2015

SUFFERING FROM ICE DAMS? HYACINTH THERAPY CAN HELP.

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.


The back of the Suburban is packed with bulbs. First, Joe heated the vehicle for nearly an hour as it was so cold, while I set up the boxes in the studio before it was time to run them out to the truck. Joe manned the door on the Suburban, so that I could get the tender bulbs into the heat fast, as flowers can freeze in seconds in this weather.


If you are just about ready to give up on winter, I have the perfect cure.  Go to a flower show. This weekend you have a few choices with the kids during this vacation week:.You can shovel snow and go skiing, or drive into the city, find parking and walk through sub-zero temperatures to sit in a frozen ice stadium as see Disney's 'Frozon' on Ice, or you can go to a spring flower show and walk through warm, humid tropical greenhouses and inhale the hyacinths. If you are in New England and happen to have a bit of cabin fever, the later is going to help. Treat yourself, you know that you want to.



We rushed bulbs into the display areas at Tower Hill on carts. Here are a few bulbs waiting to be staged.



I saw Asparagus at the market yesterday, and it looked decidedly non-Chilean, a sign that the first of the northern hemispheric crops are being harvested (indeed, this asparagus was the first picking from California); and although we are expecting another 6 inches of snow later today here in the Boston area, there is no holding back the spring bulbs which have spent the winter under glass. Hot cross buns are at the market also, and the better oranges ( the larger Mandarin crosses which cost nearly $2.00 each are out too), but spring remains missing. I need a good dose of something, right now.



Our final display of tulips and hyacinths - I wanted to use the brightest and newest varieties of hyacinths like 'Woodstock', a deep magenta purple variety.


We've finished setting up our displays of forced spring bulbs which will be on display this weekend and through the end of the month at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden (located just an hours drive from Boston). Come visit, and escape. I have no idea how I was able to get most of our bulbs to bloom on time, but somehow, they did. As you have read before in a few posts, they were rushed in and out of the greenhouse - under lights, and then back out to the cold - and being away for a week in New York didn't help much either. You can force bulbs at home easily, as these bulbs spent most of their forcing time in some bay windows in the house - so I don't want to hear those "but I don't have a greenhouse' excuses. You CAN do it. Plan on it next year.



Muscari on display - just a selection of commercial varieties of hyacinths available from most Dutch bulb catalogs in the fall. You might think that tall muscari, or Grape hyacinths look the same, but when viewed up close and against their peers, one can spot all of the subtle differences in tone and scent.

14 comments :

  1. Matt,
    Wish I lived closer to Tower Hill. Indeed your exhibit is so uplifting. As always, luv your signature top coat of rocks (in your alpine flower pots). The chartreus, reindeer moss on the hyacinth is fun-great contrast. However, I am most curious about your Muscari display and the varieties. With all your "free time" any chance you would post a larger image of that photograph? I would love to compare them all... since the shot also includes the signage. ;) Great post for those of us buried in 3-6' of snow!

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    1. Thanks Miss C! I will try to head up there tomorrow since I wanted to get close-ups of each variety, but I can't guarantee that I will make it there. Will try though, as I would like to see close ups myself.

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  2. I remember only to clearly living 35 years in Ohio, waiting for the Cincinnati Botanical Gardens to annouce their Spring Flower Show, running gunho just to smell the hyacynths. Living in Las Vegas with all year growing season, I still can appreciate the first daffodils popping their little heads out. All my friends in Ohio and further East say I give them "Spring Hope" Love your blogs. Judy
    http://judyscottagegarden.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks Judy - I'll tell you, I am really ready for some spring right now! Enjoy.

      Matt

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  3. Dorothy Swift8:39 PM

    I was looking forward to news of the show, and really enjoyed this particular blog with all the pageant contestants on display. It really helps. Some people send news of their blooming snowdrops; I see only 2 feet of snow everywhere.

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    1. I think our snowdrops will be blooming in April this year, Dorothy!

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  4. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Beautiful flowers and pots! Off topic but while looking at spring shipped bulbs catalogs I was wondering about Nerine and when there bloom season is for you? Is it only October or do they last until November? I've haven't seen them available to purchase at that many sites, any vendors you could recommend? I wanted to get some and put them in pots. I read that I might have trouble getting them to bloom the first year after I plant them? Is that true? I really would love some color in November and am worried I won't get any this year. Any help would be so appreciated! Your blog is wonderful. Thanks!

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    1. Nerine are difficult to find in the US. Sometimes, Nerine bowdenii varieties can be found in a few commercial Dutch bulb catalogs, but collectors often consider the crosses of N. bowdenii x sarniensis, or the named N. sarniensis varieties as better for containers and bloom. That said, the N. bowdenii species is hardier (USDA Zone 6-7?) vs N. sarniensis, which is more tender. Look for N. bowdenii in the McClure Zimmerman catalog, and N. sarniensis, which are more difficult to find, at UK sources such as Paul Christian Rare Plants, or Nick de Rothchild's site/nursery at Exbury ( sorry, not certain of the URL, but Google it, and if he is still selling them, that is a good source). http://www.nerines.com and he ships to the US, this is the premiere source for Nerine. Many of mine came from here, and from a small nursery on the Isle of Wight owed my Ken Hall called Springbank Nerines, Newchurch, not sure if he still publishes a catalog, or even if he is still in business, but it seems as if it still shows up on bulb sites as a source - Springbank Nursery, Winford Road, Newchurch, Sandown, Isle of Wight PO36 0JX.

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    2. Anonymous10:26 AM

      Thanks very much. I will check those out.

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    3. Anonymous9:28 AM

      Do you find any of your nerine are ever blooming as late as the 10th of November or are they primarily a mid-late October bloom season?

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  5. The muscari look fabulous especially in the terracotta pots. Very often overlooked and taken for granted but you have made them look really special.. Great blog.

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  6. Simply gorgeous and such good advice. I forced a lot of bulbs here too. The ones that did the best were those I put in the fridge for a couple of months. I still had trouble with a few things. I wanted to force snake's head fritillary. I think the bulbs were too old. Oh, but the hyacinths were so lovely. Only the white ones didn't bloom, and the muscari? They were wonderful too.~~Dee

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  7. Dee - I always think of those hyacinths you grew last year in your forcing vases - so gorgeous, they inspired me for sure. I had great luck with Snakes Head Frit's a couple of years ago, finding them very easy to force - plus, a friend gave me 50 bulbs that she never got planted before the ground froze, and I potted them up into 4 inch pots in january, and they all bloomed in March, so I say try them next year - of all the frittilary's, they are the easiest.

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