Tag Archives: ipheion bulbs

Early Spring in the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Garden

bachelor buttons…

The past week we had two nights below freezing, and I wondered how the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Garden would fare across the street from the shop. I’d been checking it regularly, hand weeding the henbit. This pesky weed (Did you know it’s edible?) was determined to come up between the ferny larkspur, flat poppy leaves, and the blue gray foliage of bachelor buttons that looked like they were just beginning to stretch up toward the sky.





This garden is truly a stepchild of the garden world. I was out of town the day the temperatures were forecast to drop. I knew everyone at the shop was moving the inventory into the greenhouse – a big job and one that I’m sure would take a good part of the day. I let the garden go, hoping for the best.

sweet pea and oriental poppy…

With the first cursory glance as I parked my car across from Emmet O’Neal Library and walked up the sidewalk toward the garden,, everything still looked green, a very good sign. Looking more closely, the only damage appeared to be to the few sunflower seedlings that obviously didn’t get the memo that it was much too early to sprout, and were now black and quite dead.

Maybe the fact that I didn’t thin the crowded seedlings out like you’re supposed to kept everything warm, snuggled up together, I thought. Whatever the reason, it was good to spot even the sweet peas that I’d recently planted on one of the front arbors. I was looking forward to seeing them begin to climb up the fishing line I’d strung along the metal of the support.

I’m hoping some of the poppies coming up near the arbor in the front beds are the gifted seeds from a friend. She was given them on a garden tour to Maryland last spring and offered them to me to try, saying the color was exquisite. I can’t wait to see!

ipheion bulbs and larkspur…

Though there are always sights like that to look forward to,  many large flowering shrubs and trees in our landscapes may well have been affected by the last cold spell, their buds frozen. One of my gardening friends mentioned she was particularly worried about her summer blooming hydrangeas, and I’m concerned about my fringe tree blooms.

Only time will tell, and we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed. Until then, enjoy the beauty apparent in the fresh green hue of unfurling leaves and the return of the many  pollinators that grace our gardens and landscapes. Be prepared also to plant the  flowers, herbs and perennials that they appreciate…and that we do as well. Happy gardening!

By Kris Blevons





The ‘Better Late Than Never Garden’ – A Winter Update

Tucking in winter plants around fall annuals, late fall...

Tucking in winter plants around fall annuals, late fall…

The ‘better late than never garden’ is certainly living up to its name, since it was planted at the beginning of November 2014, and most of it finished just prior to the hectic holiday season, a full month later than I would have liked. This ‘better late than never’ schedule is working out okay so far, though, as the plants are growing steadily. Of course, more updates will follow, documenting successes and the inevitable failures that every garden and gardener has.

Most of these pictures were taken quickly  very early on a mid-December morning in the middle of the holiday rush. Since there were other things that needed to be done, I couldn’t linger; but now, with the new year and more time, here’s an overview of the planting process and selection in this ‘better late than never’ winter garden.

Mid-December. Mulched and growing...

Mid-December. Mulched and growing…

Let me admit right off that I’m not a “garden designer”. I can’t tell you that I drew a beautiful rendering of what I envisioned this garden to be come spring. No, the reality is that I grabbed a few packs of this and a few pots of that (usually in the middle of a busy day), raced across the street trowel and plants in hand, and plugged them in wherever I felt they worked best. So, in that way, little by little and over and over, the garden was planted. Time, attention, and the weather will determine how it turns out this spring.

Violas, delphinium, poppies, kale, curly parsley, bachelor buttons and more growing... Mid-December

Violas, delphinium, poppies, kale, curly parsley, bachelor buttons and more growing… Mid-December

I began by planting a few foxglove, delphinium, and bachelor buttons under the still blooming summer tithonia. Then, when it was finally pulled out (Better late than never too!), pansies, violas, and sweet alyssum were added to large spaces that opened up.

Red Veined Sorrel, Rumex sanguinea in the winter garden...January

Red Veined Sorrel, Rumex sanguinea, in the winter garden…January

Since the summer annuals were pulled out of them first, the two front beds were planted the earliest with snapdragons, poppies, bachelor buttons, chard, curly parsley, dill (The dill will eventually freeze at some point.),  red veined sorrel, ‘Bull’s Blood‘ beetskale, and mustard “Red Giant“.  There’s quite a mix of annuals, herbs, flowers, and even bulbs (dwarf narcissus and ipheionin each bed.

The 'better late than never garden' in mid-December...

The ‘better late than never garden’ in mid-December…

A good layer of mulch is really important for your winter garden. Some folks start with a completely empty bed, add the mulch, then plant through it, a great method and easy to do. Of course,  I did just the opposite. I had the time to plant before I had the help for the mulch! So, inevitably, there I was, mulching in the dark before the first cold snap of the season.

I also made sure everything was watered well before spreading the shredded pine bark around the little plants. There will be many more cold snaps before the winter is through, and I’m counting on this mulch to keep the soil warm since this isn’t a garden that gets babied.

A poppy, in bud, with 'Red Giant' ornamental mustard in the 'better late than never garden' in January...

A poppy, in bud, with ‘Red Giant’ ornamental mustard in the ‘better late than never garden’ in January…

For people that don’t have big blocks of time (That’s most of us, I think.), planting a little bit at a time does work…obviously I’m a poster child for it. Now I’m concentrating on keeping winter weeds controlled in the beds, since the two worst offenders, chickweed and henbit, insist on coming up. Don’t let these winter weeds get hold in your garden. Pulling a few every week is far more preferable than tackling them come spring, after they’ve been allowed to smother your pansies and  violas.

Have you planted some flowers for spring? If you haven’t, try a few poppies, pansies, or violas since, as you know now, it’s never too late to plant a garden. I’ll keep you posted on our ‘better late than never’ garden’s progress too!



Bulbs – Plan Now For Spring Beauty In Your Garden


So many to choose from...

So many to choose from…

Want to be extra happy next spring? Start planning now for your spring garden to include more bulbs. They’re so easy to overlook in the fall since they don’t have flashy flowers to tempt you, but you’ll be so happy you took the time to plant them when their pretty flowers appear next March, April and May!

This fall’s bulb shipment has arrived, and the varied selection includes packages of tulips already mixed in beautiful color combinations. The important thing to remember when buying tulip bulbs is to buy them early and refrigerate them. Other bulbs you can purchase early simply to get the best selection, then keep them cool and dry until the time is right for planting all your bulbs, generally November into December here in the south.

Refrigerating the tulip bulbs at least 8 weeks is important for all of us who live in our warm climate where the winter soil temperatures don’t get cold enough for tulip bulbs to flower well. In the north, folks can buy their bulbs and plant them directly in the soil in the fall. Here, we’re tricking them into thinking they’re going through weeks of  necessary winter chilling.  Remember also that  tulip bulbs  should be treated like an annual and pulled out when they’re finished blooming.

Narcissus - Jack Snipe

Large blooming 'Ice Follies'

Large blooming ‘Ice Follies’

In addition to the tulip bulb mixes, there are also many packages of narcissus.  The smaller blooming varieties are perennial here and won’t need to be replanted each year.  With names like ‘Sailboat’, ‘Minnow’, ‘Sun Disc’, ‘Thalia’ and ‘Baby Moon’,  just to list a few, how can you resist? These smaller bulbs come in packages of 12,  and it’s best to plant them in groups in your garden, to make more of an impact each year.

For all of you who like the big yellow and white blooms of daffodils, we have those too. ‘Dutch Master’ and ‘Mount Hood’ are favorites with their big blossoms on tall stems, and just a few in a vase are so beautiful.

Lycoris radiata

Lycoris radiata




Each year we also have some of the lycoris , or red ‘Surprise Lily’ bulbs.  You’ve no doubt seen them blooming around town late in the summer, the long stems appearing, seemingly out of nowhere with their spidery red blooms. I have forgotten where I’ve planted them, and it’s always a happy surprise when they show up again each year. When they’re finished blooming, strap-like foliage will appear, persist all winter and then die down in the spring.

Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'

Ipheion ‘Rolf Fiedler’

Another of my favorite bulbs is the old fashioned ipheion. It’s a tiny naturalizing bulb, meaning it will spread gradually where it is happy, generally in a sunny, open area. They come in shades of blue, purple and white; however, the one we have is the sky blue ‘Rolf Fiedler’.  There are 18 tiny bulbs in a package, easy to plant and worth it too! You’ll see blooms late spring to early summer on these diminutive plants.

Another good one to have in the landscape or pots is muscari or grape hyacinth. These small bulbs  will spread if conditions are favorable and add even more color to the early spring garden.

Planting Tips For Bulbs:

Always plant your bulbs twice the depth of the bulb itself. For example, if a tulip bulb is 2″ long, plant it at least 4″ deep. There’s no need to plant tulip bulbs any deeper here in the south. The reason folks up north plant deeper is to protect the bulb from freezing. Our soil doesn’t stay below freezing long enough for this to be an issue.

Fertilize with a bulb booster fertilizer at planting time and fertilize established bulbs in the fall with a granular fertilizer as well. If you miss this fall feeding, you can also fertilize them in February with a liquid, even-formula fertilizer like Jack’s . A liquid feed is better in the spring since it will reach the root system faster than a slow release granular will.

By Kris Blevons