Our Tuberous Begonias – Chapter 1: Waking Up the Tubers

By Cheryl Whalen, Head Gardener

Each year I look forward to Valentine’s Day with eagerness and anticipation. It’s not the chocolate and candy hearts I crave but something much more satisfying. That mid-February love-filled holiday marks the start of the Tuberous Begonia growing season here at the farm. And tending these Begonia beauties is what I love!

Each summer, our display of Tuberous Begonias attracts visitors from hundreds of miles. Our collection of the English-bred Blackmore & Langdon Tuberous Begonias showcases more than 70 varieties of this fantastic strain of Begonias. Perhaps it’s a rare sight to see on this side of “the pond” . . . so many B&L varieties all together composing a colorful symphony for the eyes.

Tuberous Begonias wrapped in paper for winter storage
The Tuberous Begonias, wrapped in paper for winter storage, are brought out of the root cellar on Valentine’s Day.

I keep the display tubers from year to year. The age of the tubers ranges from 2 to 15 years old. The tubers have been in winter slumber mode for nearly 3 months . . . each tuber wrapped in a paper blanket with its name label tucked inside. They have been carefully nestled into lily crates, the heaviest tubers on the bottom. The guest cottage here has a fabulous dirt cellar where I store the tubers. The temperature hovers around 50 degrees F.

Begonia tubers with tags
Our tubers range in age from 2 to 15 years. It’s important to keep a tag with each one so you know which is which.

I like to have all the tubers potted up by March 1. In between Amaryllis photo shoots and garden planning sessions at my desk, I scramble about scaring up plastic nursery pots of various sizes, anywhere from 4” to 10” diameters. Barrels of Begonia soil are churned out for me by our potting department. On potting day, I carry my crates of precious cargo up from the basement to my potting station in the headhouse. And then, the fun begins.

Small tuber and large tuber
The size of the tubers varies considerably.

Working through a crate at a time, I unwrap each tuber and, after a brief health examination, lay them out on the table being careful to not separate the name label from its owner. I keep a running inventory of the varieties and how many I have of each. Ideally, I like to have at least 3 of a variety because these are living beings and sometimes I do lose a few to rotting in storage or during the growing season. It’s a sad day if I lose a tuber that was my sole representative of a variety.

Begonia tubers and pots
When selecting a pot for each tuber, choose one that’s just big enough to hold its occupant. The plants will be transplanted into larger pots once they’ve rooted in the first.

Recently, I had the table covered with tubers and I was taking my tally. A co-worker happened by and asked, “Cheryl, what are you doing with all of those cow pies?” I had to laugh, and I could see his point. The tubers do look like non-descript, brown lumps to the passerby. To me, they are beautiful. Each is unique in shape and size. Some are quite large, nearly the size of a human brain, while others fit quite comfortably in the palm of my hand. I once had a ‘Tahiti’ tuber that looked like the Starship Enterprise! (When you receive your new tuber in the mail, don’t be alarmed at its smaller size. It’s just a baby. Young, happy tubers are eager to add girth increasing in size each season. Remember that my display tubers started out as tiny tots, too!)

tubers nestled in their pots
Here are the tubers nestled in their pots.

I assign each tuber to a pot that is just big enough to hold its occupant. This is only round one in the potting process. The plants will be transplanted into larger pots once they’ve rooted into the first. I find that stepping the tubers up in this way decreases the chances of rotting tubers. Putting a small tuber in a large, moist soil mass before the tuber can get growing can sometimes have disastrous results.

pot with potting mixture and tubers
Fill each pot about halfway with potting mixture, and settle the tuber in, making sure its eyes are looking up.

Actual potting is easy. I put soil in the pot and place in the tuber making sure its growing eyes are looking up. I add soil, firming in around the tuber as I adjust its potting depth. I like the surface of the tuber to be no more than 1” below the soil surface.

Begonia tuber in pot
Add soil, firming in around the tuber and adjusting its potting depth so the surface of the tuber is no more than 1″ below the soil surface.

The pots then take up residence shoulder-to-shoulder in our warm and cozy propagation house surrounded by the freshly rooted cuttings of annuals and tomato seedlings. I give everyone a good drink of water and then I wait.

Begonia tubers in propagation house
Properly potted and labeled, the tubers take up residence in our propagation house, surrounded by freshly rooted cuttings of annuals and Tomato seedlings.

To be continued . . .

Our Tuberous Begonias begin shipping around mid-March, and you can pot them then. For information, see our Grow Guide, and watch our video, How To Grow Tuberous Begonias.

Fragrant Shrubs Perfume Your Garden From Spring to Fall

Spring’s first scent of Lilac. The unmistakable sweet spicy vanilla fragrance of Viburnum carlesii. The sultry summer perfume of Roses. Fragrant shrubs can fill your garden with heavenly perfume from spring to fall. Choose a variety of shrubs to add fragrance to your garden (and to fill vases in your house) throughout the growing season. Among our favorites, early spring brings the sweet perfumes of Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights,’ Lilac Bloomerang® ‘Pink Perfume,’ and the native Lindera benzoin. Late spring offers the spicy scent of Daphne Eternal Fragrance™ and the sweet citrus fragrance of Philadelphus (Mock Orange). Roses and Clethra can be relied upon to perfume the garden in summer with some of the Rose varieties continuing into fall. Scroll below to learn more about these fragrant plants, and find more here.

Syringa Bloomerang® Pink Perfume

If you’ve always wanted the intoxicating scent of Lilacs in your garden, but didn’t have room for them, take a close look at this lovely addition to the Bloomerang® family of reblooming Lilacs. Its upright, bushy form reaches just 4–5′ tall, and its dainty spikes of reddish purple buds open to intensely fragrant, soft pink flowers. ‘Pink Perfume’ blooms heavily in May and, after a short rest, flowers again intermittently until fall. These charming plants give a neat show of color for containers, pathways, and intimate spaces.

Viburnum carlesii

This is one of the most gloriously fragrant shrubs known to man. The dense flower heads, which measure up to 3″ across, produce white flowers from blush pink buds, and the perfume, which is a sweet, rich, spicy vanilla, carries a considerable distance across a lawn or garden. Plant one or two where you take your springtime strolls.

Rose Sweet Spirit

A profusion of vibrant, violet-red blossoms, 3-5 per stem, appears nonstop on this vigorous Hybrid Tea. The fully double 3” flowers are richly perfumed, and they are handsomely displayed as they gleam in the sunlight against a backdrop of subtly glossy, dark green foliage. These bushy, mounding plants show increased resistance to black spot and improved tolerance of humidity. A staff favorite at the nursery.

Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights’

This deciduous Azalea is a welcome addition to the garden for those of us who must suffer through brutally cold winters. Released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 1994, ‘Northern Hi-Lights’ is hardy to Zone 4. Its sweetly fragrant flowers emerge white with splashes of yellow on the upper petals. Mildew-resistant foliage on this strong grower turns a striking burgundy red in the fall, before dropping for the season.

When Lindera benzoin displays its dense clusters of fragrant flowers, we know for certain spring has arrived. These lovely yellow blossoms appear before the leaves emerge. In summer, the light green foliage makes an attractive backdrop, and in autumn the leaves turn bright golden yellow. Lindera benzoin is native to eastern North America and parts of the Midwest, and it makes a handsome addition to woodland gardens and moist areas near ponds or streams. More reasons to love this shrub: The beautiful Spicebush swallowtail butterflies rely on it as a food source for their caterpillars, and deer tend to avoid it.

A Tribute to David Austin & His Exquisite English Roses

Late last year, on Dec. 18th, David C. H. Austin, Sr., the legendary English rosarian and founder of David Austin® Roses Ltd., passed away at the age of 92. According to representatives, he died peacefully at his home in Shropshire surrounded by his family, an end befitting a man who brought so much beauty and wonder to the lives of others.

Rose hybridizer and writer David C. H. Austin founded David Austin Roses in 1969 in Shropshire, England. The Austin nursery, display gardens and plant center in the village of Albrighton draw visitors from around the globe.

Born in 1926 and raised on a family farm in the Shropshire countryside, Austin’s interest in flowers blossomed early. As the story goes, he was just a schoolboy when he found in the school library an issue of the great garden magazine Gardens Illustrated. What he saw on the pages ignited a passion that would last a lifetime. Austin’s father, a farmer, did not initially approve of his son’s interest in breeding flowers, but when the younger Austin turned 21, his sister gifted him with a copy of A.E. Bunyard’s book, Old Garden Roses. The rest, as they say, is history. Austin devoted his adult life to breeding what eventually became known as “English Roses.” His groundbreaking varieties combine the beauty and fragrance of classic varieties with the diversity of color and repeat-flowering habit of newer Roses. Austin eventually achieved worldwide success, but it did not come overnight. Austin’s first rose, introduced in 1961, was ‘Constance Spry.’ Industry professionals told him buyers would never be interested in what they called his “old-fashioned roses,” but Austin persisted, initially selling stock from his own kitchen table. By 1969, he had developed and was offering repeat-bloomers. But his real breakthrough came in 1983, when he introduced three of his English Roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Back at Chelsea the following year, Austin won the first of many gold medals. With a subsequent increase in sales, Austin was able to upgrade and expand his business and also his garden at Albrighton, which today is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful Rose gardens in the world.

The Austin gardens in Albrighton, England. The photo was taken in 2018 by White Flower Farm’s Eliot Wadsworth.

To best understand the patience, perseverance and wonder of what Austin accomplished in his lifetime, it helps to know that from pollination to sale, the process of creating a new Rose takes nine years. For each new Rose released, roughly 120,000 unique Roses are grown for research.

Rose Olivia Rose Austin™: Any Rose named for a member of David Austin’s family must be exceptional, and this lovely Shrub Rose is certainly that. Cupped, double blossoms of blush pink expand into old-fashioned rosettes that pale to pearly pink at their edges. They carry a rich perfume with sweet fruity notes.

Austin has 240 Rose varieties to his name. Although he was awarded countless honors during his lifetime, he has been quoted as saying that his greatest satisfaction was “to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers around the world.”

Rose Claire Austin™: This intensely fragrant, double-flowering beauty is named for David Austin’s daughter. The shrub and its flowers are an elegant presence in any garden. Plants have an arching form that makes them well suited for use as small climbers.

At White Flower Farm, we are honored and privileged to have worked with David Austin’s company over many years. We are delighted that David Austin® Roses Ltd. and its remarkable breeding program will continue under the guidance of Austin’s eldest son, David J.C. Austin, who has been with the company since 1990 and who assumed the role of managing director in 1993, and David Austin’s grandson, Richard Austin. We look forward to doing our part to perpetuate David Austin’s remarkable legacy and to encourage the enjoyment of his exceptional Roses.

New for Spring

Each year, our staff spends a significant amount of time searching out and sourcing new plants. The process can involve world travel, internet searches, phone calls, and visits to breeder’s and grower’s fields. It also involves growing new plants in our greenhouses and garden beds and experimenting with ways we can best offer new and old favorites. The results of our journeys and discoveries for spring, which also include a number of exceptional garden accents and tools, can be seen below and on our website.

Cafe au Lait Trio

Create a spectacular display in your late summer sunny border with this trio of Dahlias from the Café au Lait series. Each plant produces large, 10″ blossoms that arrive in profusion atop tall, sturdy stems. The color mix shades from the mocha pink of the original ‘Café au Lait’ to the lavender-pink of ‘Café au Lait Rosé’ and the unabashed fuchsia of ‘Café au Lait Royal.’

Clematis ‘Taiga’

For beautiful colors, extravagance of blooms, and graceful habit, nothing compares with Clematis, the queen of the flowering vines. Attracting attention at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show, Clematis ‘Taiga’ combines a compact growth habit with abundant double blossoms bristling with bicolor petals. Bred in Japan, the blooms feature a central nest of purple petals tipped in cream against an outer star of rich purple.

Tomato ‘Madame Marmande’

From France comes Tomato ‘Madame Marmande,’ a gourmet beefsteak with fruits that tip the scales at 10 oz of delicious flavor. The handsome, ribbed, broad-shouldered fruits do not crack while ripening. Indeterminate. Fruits ripen about 72 days from transplant.

Sculptural Garden Stakes

Add a bit of botanically inspired sculpture to your garden with charming decorative accents that can be displayed in any season. British master craftsman and sculptor Paul Cox creates these ornamental stakes in his Sussex studio. The metal stem on each arrives gray in color before gradually and naturally oxidizing to become a rust orange color that blends beautifully with the plants in your garden.

Hydrangea Endless Summer® Summer Crush™

Hydrangea Endless Summer® Summer Crush™ is a vibrant Mophead that delivers a color breakthrough of riveting raspberry to purple flowers (depending on your soil) that pop from a distance. Plus, the plump blooms are densely held on a compact, conveniently container-sized shrub. Great planted in multiples along a walkway or a stone wall, too.

Growing Roses Is Easier Than Ever

Today’s Roses are not your grandmother’s finicky, high maintenance plants. Thanks to the efforts of talented and patient breeders, many of today’s Roses are vigorous plants that more readily shrug off pests and diseases and bring years of classic beauty, and often fragrance, to the garden. What this means for gardeners is that growing Roses is easier than ever. For novices or those who could use a refresher, our nursery manager Barb Pierson offers these simple tips:

Helpful Tips for Growing Roses

1. If you live in a colder climate, as we do here in Connecticut, try growing Roses close to the foundation of your home. This provides plants with some degree of winter protection. Walkways are also good spots provided there is full sun. This is generally defined as at least 6 hours per day of direct sunlight.

Rose Suñorita™

2. Remember that light changes as the angle of the sun shifts throughout the season. If you live in the upper half of the U.S., choose a site that will offer full sun year-round. The more sun you have, the more flowers your plants will produce. In the lower half of the U.S., choose spots with a little bit of afternoon shade. This protects blossoms from the scorching sun and helps your flowers last longer.

Rose Ebb Tide™

3. Roses love sandy soil. Amend your soil accordingly to provide the best footing for plants. Also choose sites with good drainage, which helps ensure that Roses overwinter more successfully. They do not like wet, cold feet.

4. Do not crowd your Roses. Plants that don’t have adequate air circulation and sunlight are more susceptible to powdery and downy mildew. Remove any spent foliage from the ground around your Roses. The leaves contain natural fungal spores that can transfer to your Roses.

Rose Olivia Rose Austin™

5. Artificial liquid fertilizers tend to promote plant growth that is soft and tender, and this type of foliage can attract aphids and other pests. Instead, rely on compost and natural fertilizers to feed your plants.

Rose Julia Child™

6. If problems develop, horticultural oil and insecticidal soap can help control insects and mildews.

Rose Pretty Polly™ Pink

7. When pruning, be judicious. If you prune too hard in autumn, plants can be damaged beyond recovery. Instead, wait until spring, when plants begin to leaf out for the new season. (Roses are often not the earliest plants in the garden to respond to spring’s warming temperatures, so be patient.) Give the plant time to show its leaf buds then prune above that level.

Staff Favorites for Holiday Gifting

Around the farm, our staff is a wee bit busy picking and packing gifts for customers all across the land, but between things, we’ve all been placing our own orders holiday gifts. If it helps you wrap up your shopping, we put together a collection of some of our staff members’ favorites for holiday gifting. Please bear in mind, the standard shipping deadline for online orders is Dec. 19th at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Resplendent Reds Bouquet with a Vase and Starlight Bouquet with a Vase

‘I especially love the pinecones in the Starlight Bouquet, and the rich reds of Resplendent Reds. They’re both terrific for seasonal decorations, or for any day you or someone you love could use a lift.

Chinese Evergreen

Also great for gifting and getting are our houseplants. Philodendron ‘Congo Rojo’ and Chinese Evergreen, shown above, are great choices for low light. Draceana ‘Jade Jewel’ will add great color and interest to a bright spot. They’re all so easy and beautiful!!’

~ Lorraine

Honeybells

‘While I am typically a plant enthusiast, there is nothing like biting into our incredibly juicy Honeybells. Perfect to give or receive, as there aren’t many people who would pass up that incredible flavor in the dead of winter.’

~ Rob

Mini Red Cyclamen Quartet in Ceramic Cachepots

‘In addition to adding easy, festive color to a holiday dinner table, mantelpiece, or side table, these long-blooming little charmers are perfect for brightening small nooks around the house or the corners of office desktops. I’m giving my daughter a set to share with her coworkers to lend a touch of holiday cheer to their workspace. And the graceful blossoms and silver-patterned leaves will continue to provide enjoyment long after the holidays are gone. Plus, no green thumb is required to grow them.’

~ Ann

Armscote Bee Pot

‘I’m going to fill the Armscote Bee Pot with a few gardening supplies, a trowel, gardening scissors, and a pair of gloves. It makes a terrific gift for gardening friends.’

~ Mary

Organic Culinary Herb Set in Art Seed Packs

‘If you love gardening and cooking then you can’t go wrong with gifting or receiving the Organic Culinary Herb Set in Art Seed Packs. This set has an excellent variety of herbs that you can use everyday. Plus it’s so fun to get them growing indoors, it will help take your mind of the winter blues.’

~ Shantelle

 

Red Amaryllis to 3 Addresses

‘I have 3 favorite picks for gift giving: Red Amaryllis or Bicolor Amaryllis to 3 Addresses, and Holiday Cactus. The#1 is Red Amaryllis to 3 Addresses: It’s fast and easy, and foolproof. Holiday colors! #2 is Bicolor Amaryllis to 3 Addresses: I sent this last year. I don’t like to repeat colors so this year I switched to red.’

My #3 pick is Holiday Cactus Blush: It’s easy, takes all light levels, and plants are easy to keep alive.’

For receiving, I’d be happy with any Amaryllis.’

~ Cheryl D

Anthuriums in Terra-Cotta Cachepots

‘I love to give and receive anthuriums as gifts because they add a decidedly tropical flair to almost any location and  provide a welcome splash of color during the snowy months of winter.  Add to this that they are easy care and tolerant of a wide range of conditions and you have a winning combination!’

~ Martha

Pine Cone Party Holiday Wreath

‘For giving, I love the festive feel of the Pine Cone Party Holiday Wreath, and the simplicity of the colors and tones go with anyone’s holiday décor.’

‘For receiving, I’m asking for our Leaf Brush. Big-leafed houseplants are so fun to grow, but sometimes they need a little help in getting the dust off of their leaves. This brush is the perfect tool to gently clean them. It’s one of those items that I didn’t know I needed until I learned it existed.’

~ Liz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fragrant Blooms Banish Winter Blahs

In the depths of winter, there is nothing quite so lovely and transporting as the natural fragrance of flowering plants. The heady scent of Lavender conjures sultry summer days in the fields of southern France. Jasmine and Gardenia can carry your spirit to a tropical garden where warm breezes blow. And Paperwhite Narcissus summon spring in a southern garden. As winter settles over much of the country, enjoy the escapes these beautiful, carefree plants can provide indoors until it’s time, once again, to return to the garden.

Lavender ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ in Woven Basket

 

Paperwhite ‘Ariel’ Kit in Glass Vase

 

Gardenia in Embossed Metal Cachepot

 

Jasmine in Grapevine Basket

 

Scented Geranium Duo

Amaryllis: Trumpets of Winter

Written by Tovah Martin

Illustrations by Michelle Meyer

Reprinted with permission, excerpted and adapted from the December 2001/January 2002 edition of The Gardener magazine.

Gardening is not, in general, overburdened by foolproof flowers, but Amaryllises are as  close as you’ll come to foregone conclusions. Tuck an Amaryllis in a pot at the proper time of year, and chances are that in eight weeks you’ll see big, luscious blossoms —no cold treatment, no fuss, muss, or bother. In the realm of houseplants, these South American natives are a dream come true.

They’re embarrassingly easy, and I wouldn’t be without several Amaryllises staged about the house, planted in a staggered sequence for a long season of bloom. Because in winter who wouldn’t welcome big, bright blossoms? There’s nothing discreet about an Amaryllis, and that’s just what we crave in winter.

This particular brand of midwinter drama is a fairly recent affair. The history of Hippeastrums in cultivation is lengthy, but their presence in the trade has been brief. (Hippeastrum is the proper botanical name for the plants that we call Amaryllis, although botanists ousted them from that genus decades ago.) Like the true Amaryllis, A. belladonna, Hippeastrums are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Beyond technical botanical differences, Hippeastrums differ in their region of origin. Amaryllis belladonna, with cheerful red, 4″ wide, tubular blossoms in late autumn and early winter, is native to South Africa. Hippeastrums, on the other hand, originate in South America, with species scattered through Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

A handful of Hippeastrum species arrived in Europe late in the 17th century, and though they tended to have thinner petals and didn’t boast the broad trumpet look that we associate with today’s Amaryllises, the species’ flowers were flamboyant. And for plant breeders, they held great promise.

The first hybrid appeared in about 1799, when an enterprising British watchmaker took H. reginae (5″ long, bright red flowers) and bred it to H. vittatum (striped red-and-white 6″ flowers).

Amaryllis undoubtedly reached the U.S. not long after they arrived in Britain, given that bulbs are able to withstand long journeys intact. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that they had any presence, commercially speaking. Moreover, until the 1950s their popularity was restricted to the southern U.S., where they were used primarily as bedding plants. They worked well in that capacity, providing color when other bulbs were in a lull.

At some point around the 1950s, someone saw the potential for Amaryllises as indoor plants. Breeding for this purpose progressed by fits and starts for quite some time, but 20 years ago hybridizing suddenly became frenzied. As a result, petal and flower size increased substantially, and the color spectrum has expanded similarly, moving beyond the longstanding palette of white, pink, and red. Not only have oranges and peaches appeared (my favorite is ‘Nagano’), but picotee-edged, striped, streaked, and flowers with throats of contrasting color have also shown up in greater numbers.

On their normal schedule, Amaryllises grow for eight to nine months after flowering, typically slipping into dormancy in September. They then require a nine- to ten-week dormancy period before beginning the cycle again. In Holland, where Amaryllises have traditionally been hybridized and grown, the October harvest makes it difficult to produce flowers by the holidays. That’s why South African hybrid Amaryllises are also popular.  There’s another solution to the desire for early blooming plants: smaller flowering types, which tend to bloom more rapidly than their outsize kin. This explains the downsizing of a flower that everyone worked so hard to inflate. The so-called miniatures aren’t actually smaller in stature than regular Amaryllises—the overall size and the length of the flower spikes are virtually the same, sometimes even greater than the large-flowered types. But the blossoms are one-third the size.

Hyrbidizers are continuing to expand not only flower size but also the spectrum of colors. The push is on to create a true golden yellow. And blue might be in the future, too.

Getting the Best Flowers

Amaryllises are as close as you’ll come to no-fail flowering houseplants, but they still have their druthers. Achieving the first spike can hardly be avoided—they’re so eager to blossom, in fact, that Amaryllis bulbs often arrive with the snout of a flower bud poking out of the bulb. Even if that spike has made progress, it always straightens out and greens up when you get it potted.

Soil is not a big issue, although a well-drained potting medium is preferred. Much more crucial is proper watering. Over-generous watering when you first pot an Amaryllis can cause bulb rot and poor root development. Better to let the bulb dry out between drinks.

Plant Amaryllises so the top quarter of the bulb is exposed above the soil level. Firming the bulb into the soil helps prevent the plant from tipping over when balancing a full head of flowers. Potting in a clay pot also anchors plants. Staking the stems is another good preventive measure.

I always assumed that Amaryllis spikes stretched long or stayed short depending upon environmental conditions—longer spikes being the result of too much heat and too little light. But in fact certain varieties are bred for longer spikes (though it’s true that any Amaryllis grown in a dark corner with the heat cranked high will get leggy). A distinct, long-stemmed breed has been developed to fuel the cut flower trade. Furthermore, all Amaryllises tend to make shorter flower spikes late in the season.

A temperature of about 55˚-60˚F is ideal for keeping your flowers in prime condition. This will prolong a spike’s bloom for roughly six weeks. Then there’s always the promise of further spikes to come: as many as two or three are typical if you continue to water the
bulb regularly but sparingly.

After blooming finishes, the growth cycle begins. Rather than struggling to keep your Amaryllis content indoors, you might as well entertain it outdoors in the garden, watering and fertilizing the bulb as you would any other garden plant. Reduce water around Labor Day to provoke dormancy, and when colder temperatures arrive in autumn, bring the bulb back indoors, storing it in a cool (but not cold—45–50 degrees F works well), dark place. Then begin the potting-blooming-growing cycle once again.

Sounds simple and easy. All the same, I often have trouble coaxing Amaryllis to bloom for the second time. I always assumed that the fault lay with inattentiveness on my part during the busy summer months. But Thomas Everett eased my conscience.  Apparently, he experienced the same problem, and in his Encyclopedia of Horticulture he explains that, unlike other bulbs, Amaryllis roots are accustomed to growing year round. However, the bulbs are cut clean for shipping. Everett’s theory is that the effort of regrowing roots often precludes flowering in the second year. So, there’s always year three and beyond.

I’m never without an Amaryllis in winter. Every year there’s another shade, or a different spin on the same theme to try. Something with more green in the throat, or with more petals — there is always some new temptation waiting to lure me in. And I’m willing. An Amaryllis in winter is worth a whole brigade of spring bulbs.

 

 

Memorable Host & Hostess Gifts

Set your holiday table in style, or send a favorite host or hostess any of our charming botanical or botanically themed decorative accents. All are distinctive gifts that make for memorable gatherings. Holiday colors abound in our array of living greens, fresh-cut flower bouquets, and a treasured collection of Italian-made ceramic serving pieces. From tabletop to sideboard, and living room to kitchen, these festive accents bring the beauty of nature to all your seasonal celebrations.

Scroll below to choose your favorites.

Mini Red Cyclamen Quartet in copper-colored ceramic cachepots

 

Holiday Euphorbia Trio in ceramic cachepots

 

Handcrafted Woodland Ceramics made in Italy by Italian artisans

 

Christmas Colors Holiday Bouquet

 

Mini Orchid Quartet in 3″ white ceramic cachepots

Front Door Decorating

Share the joy of the season with family, friends, and neighbors when you decorate your front door for the holidays. Using beautiful evergreen wreaths and garlands, you transform your front entrance into a beacon of holiday cheer. Annual planters also help create a festive look outside your home by making beautiful use of the decorations Mother Nature provides for the winter months. Take advantage of variously colored and textured evergreens, bright red winterberries, pine cones, seed pods, and colorful twigs. Scroll below for a bit of inspiration and to see some of the products we offer, and telegraph a little cheer around your neighborhood.

Holly and Greens Garland and Wreath

These handsome and traditional decorations hail from Oregon where members of a family-owned firm harvest holly from their own groves then combine it with the fresh-cut foliage of locally grown evergreens and Ponderosa pine cones. The sweet and tangy fragrance of these lush greens will fill a room with the classic, all-natural scent of Christmastime.

Huckleberry Crescent Ring

The rich, warm tones of Huckleberry add vibrant holiday color to this beautiful and inviting wreath. Arrayed on a gold-colored metal ring is a crescent of fresh Manzanita overlaid with red Huckleberry stems and finished with a burgundy satin bow.

Canella Berry Door Greeter

Welcome all who stop by your house with this eye-catching arrangement of holiday reds and greens. Freshly harvested, lush branches of fragrant Noble Fir, Incense Cedar, and berried Juniper are accented by clusters of red Canella berries and pine cones, then topped with a bright bow edged in gold.

Winter Containers

In the planting on the right, we feature live Chamaecyparis ‘Boulevard,’ paired with Dogwood stems and topped with frosted Pine Cones. The container on the left combines gold-rimmed Euonymus ‘Aureomarginatus’ and Chamaecyparis ‘Sungold’ complemented by berried Juniper stems. Both containers are brightened by Winterberry stems.

Touch of Gold Decorating Greens

For those who enjoy a DIY project, we offer boxes of freshly harvested greens that are ideal for filling outdoor containers and window boxes. Our Touch of Gold collections include gilded Nigella, Flax and Lotus pods to add sparkle to your decorations.