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The Kitchen Sink Project

During winter and early spring I usually keep a vase of daffodils by my kitchen sink.

I am such a fool for dafs that I want to study and admire them as closely as possible during bloom season.

As I work at the sink, my eyes settle on the details of a particular variety and sometimes I get a delicious whiff of their fragrance.

It also has occurred to me that the series of arrangements that I make allows me to remember which varieties bloom together.   This knowledge helps me to place them more wisely in my landscape.

So today – I will share with you the blooming sequence this spring for the past month.  I am embarrassed to admit that the photo quality is not that great on some of these shots.  I believe all were taken with my cell phone – many under low light conditions.  The pictures were not intended to win any photography awards but were taken as a garden record.

On 2-26-2014, I was thrilled to see the early daffodils.

This arrangement contains the earliest bloomers for me this year and includes: ‘February Gold’, ‘Campernelle’, ‘Barrett-Browning’, ‘Grand Primo’, Lent Lily and Little Sweetie.  Notice how I padded the arrangement with boxwood greenery and used a disfigured blossom or two.  Dafs were in short supply!

Eleven days later on 3-9-2014, more daffodil varieties were blooming in the garden.

Most of the varieties mentioned above were still in bloom but I focused on collecting the newcomers for this arrangement.  Roman hyacinths and summer snowflakes are included along with the daffodil varieties: ‘Rapture’, ‘Petrel’, ‘Sir Watkin’, ‘Tete a Tete’, ‘Trevithian’, Texas Star (Narcissus x intermedius), ‘Grand Primo’ and Little Sweetie.

The weather was nice and my husband was cooking so I assembled this one on the deck railing on 3-15-14.

This week I chose to make an all daffodil (except for the lone Roman hyacinth) arrangement.  This arrangement contains: ‘Beryl, ‘Trevithian’, ‘Falconet’, ‘Petrel, ‘Little Sweetie’ ‘ Mrs. Langtry’ and a found ‘Incomparabilis’.  I still remember how good this arrangement smelled!

On 3-22-2014 I included the first azalea flowers from 'Vittatta fortunei' along with these mostly mid-season daffodils.

The daffodils were peaking when I made this arrangement.  It was hard to chose which contenders to put in the vase.  However, there is only so much room beside the kitchen sink so I picked stems of: ‘Barrett Browning’, ‘Pipit’, ‘Geranium’, ‘Trevithian’, ‘Tahiti’ ‘Little Sweetie’ and an unknown tazetta from Bill the Bulb Baron.

Today (3-27-2014) I picked these dafs which are mostly representative of the late season even though we had a hard frost 2 nights ago!

I picked one of the last pink camellias from an unknown variety and settled it into a vase with these (mostly) late season daffodils.  My arrangement includes:  ‘Beryl’, ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’, ‘Geranium’, ‘Stainless’, ‘Niveth’ ‘Sweetness’, Narcissus fernandesii, ‘ Hawera’, ‘Falconet’ and ‘Seagull’.

I wonder how many readers stayed with me until the end of this self-indulgent rambling.

If you hung in there I thank you for bearing with me.

You may now consider yourself an official daffodil fool and as my friend Peachie Saxon says “You are sick, sick, sick!”

Sensational

I've been studying the plump Van Sion buds and trying to cipher when the blooms will emerge.

Due to the unusually cold weather we’ve had, my daffodils are lagging behind.

Usually in January I have already picked a few stems of ‘February Gold’, ‘Van Scion’, ‘Minor Monarque’, ‘Early Pearl’,  ‘Grand Primo’ or Lent Lily.   Not all at the same time – but a few blossoms here and there that bring a smile to my face.

I did gather some early bunch daffodils or tazettas in December.  They were probably early blooming selections from Bill the Bulb Baron.  The ‘Minor Monarque’ also bloomed in December.

But then the single digits came and the snow.  As a result,  my daffodils have yet to produce a bloom in 2014.

I’ve visited the ‘February Gold’ patch several times in search of a flower or two.  So far all I’ve found are plump buds.

The first daffodil flower of 2014 - and the prize goes to 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'.

My ‘Van Sion’ clumps have even plumper buds – a sign of the double flower that is cocooned inside.   And while that does help my feelings a little bit… a bud is just a promise – not a flower.

Yesterday a took a walk with the camera.  My goal was to see which daffodils had visible buds and to calculate how soon the blooms might materialize.  So… I checked the ‘February Gold’ patch and then the ‘Van Sion’ clumps.

I walked to the bottom of the hill to see if any of the fall bloomers might be throwing off a 2014 blossom.

Then I saw a single yellow trumpet daffodil – blooming it’s fool head off!

It had no tag and I had no memory of planting it.  I’m fairly certain though that is is ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’.  This is an English selection that was introduced in the 1950’s.

It is hardly an heirloom.  The stem is kind of short and stumpy and there is no fragrance to speak of.  It will not likely win a blue ribbon.

But I will agree that  it’s sensational!!!

Beginnings

I gathered early daffodils, a pink camellia and Japanese apricot twigs for this New Year's flower arrangement.

I’ve been in the throes of a remodeling project and have done little gardening or flower arranging for the duration.

Now that the kitchen is remodeled and the porch has a roof, I am beginning to devote some time to the green world again.

After all, the winter flowers are beginning to bloom and I am a total sucker for winter flowers.

Today I picked the first yellow daffodil of the year – ‘Princess Hallie’s Gold’.  This is one of Bill the Bulb Baron’s selections. I also gathered a ‘Minor Monarque’ narcissus bloom.  This is a white and yellow passalong pilfered from an old house site.

I harvested a mysterious pink camellia and the first blooms off the ‘Peggy Clarke’ Japanese apricot.

I assembled all of these with some dried wildflower seedheads and have enjoyed my little arrangement all day long.

It was a good way to begin a new year.

It’s Incomparable!

This "Incomparabilis" type daffodil sparkles in Thera Lou Adams' field.

A few of the plants that came with my house are extremely precious to me.

Of course, there is the 100′ tall white oak, the turk’s cap mallow and the beautyberry that had been allowed to seed in from the woods.

The only daffodil that I recall from the early days is a lovely star shaped thing with creamy petals and a lemon yellow cup.  When I first encountered her, she had been planted in a circle around a flowering peach.  After the peach died, the circle of daffodils looked much like a ringworm.

Not a good first impression.

I craved other daffodils that were brighter, larger and that had recognizable names.

I was curious, so I asked around and met someone locally who called my “found” daffodil ‘Texas Star’.

I queried and searched but never heard that name again.

My daffodil friends, though, did speak in reverence of the hybrid Narcissus x incomparabilis.  This old school daf is a naturally occurring cross between the Lent lily (Narcissus pseudacorus) and the poets’s narcissus (Narcissus poeticus).

'Sir Watkin' is a very successful cultivar.

They say that over 100 named varieties came from this coupling including the famous ‘Sir Watkin’.

The incomparabilis part translates to “none can compare”.  The name was bequeathed early before Linnaeus devised the binomial nomenclature system.  The incomparable name was due to the large size of the flower compared with both the wild parents.

We now would consider it a medium or even a small flowered hybrid.

But – I have found several internet sources that list the common name as the star daffodil.  Not the Texas Star Daffodil, mind you, but pretty close!

A Measure of Respect

My Mama - Vivian Price Barton - Thanksgiving 2012

My Mama turned 90 today.

I will go to the family birthday party tomorrow rearranged for a Saturday so that the working folks can attend.

But… today on her actual birthday, I’ve been remembering Mama’s flowers, her tomatoes, the compost, the daffodils and how gardening became a passion that we shared.

You see, I come from a long line of gardeners but was too lazy to be one when I was young.  I craved the escape and chose to bury my nose in a book.

Meanwhile Mama and Sister, her elder sibling, planted flowers in the beds in the baking western exposure in front of the house.  

There were flowers along the south side of the house and in the back yard.  

The damp dark north side of the house was adorned with mophead hydrangeas.  

She begged sprigs from everyone she knew and established a lush St. Augustine lawn.  We had roses and a ‘Festiva Maxima’ peony from the old home place.  Mama seeded cutting zinnias every year and in her later years became obsessed with growing butterfly weed and black eyed Susans.

These flowers were never referred to as the “garden” though.  The “garden” was our food plot in the back yard.  And as much as Mama loved her flowers, she loved her tomatoes even more.

I grew up and went to college in my home town.  I lollygagged around in the College of Liberal Arts for a while but when all was said and done I graduated with a Horticulture degree.

In the years that followed I thought I knew everything about plants and my Mama thought I knew nothing.  It didn’t help matters that my Mama lived on the busiest street in my small home town.  So my friends were always marveling at her colorful plantings as they drove past.

She was legendary in our little town and often referred to by those who did not know her as “the lady on Jackson Street who grows such pretty flowers”.

I doggedly tried to teach her things that I had learned in college and from my motley crowd of plant buds.  I witnessed to her about composting and about antique roses, about wildflowers and my favorite daffodils.

One day she said to me “I wish someone had told me years ago that you could take leaves and make dirt.”  I think that was as close to an apology as I ever heard from her.   I had convinced her to make compost and she loved it!

And so we came to a sort of truce – she offered me a grudging measure of respect for a while.  At least until the fateful day that I took too many cuttings off her giant ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary and killed it.

But meanwhile – I had learned to cut her some slack.  Because, you see, I tried my hand at gardening in the heavy mucky black belt prairie soils that Starkville had to offer.

My attempts were pathetic and I realized the level of knowledge and extreme perseverence it had taken for her to grow those flowers in inhospitable clay and baking western Mississippi sun.

So even though I had killed her ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary she respected me for introducing her to ‘Mr. Lincoln’ her favorite rose.

We shared daffodil bulbs and she reminded me that I had first encountered black eyed Susans as we drove  the dusty gravel roads  to her old home place.  Maybe that’s when she planted the seed that led me to the green world.

Tomorrow I will go to see her on the day after her birthday and I will bring the biggest boldest most fragrant daffodil bouquet that I can muster.

Inspiration

Inspired by a pair of visiting friends I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon perusing a junk store.

This vase of winter blossoms reminds me of Icey, who taught me to love flowers.

Inspired by the color of my Professor Sargent camellia, I bought a red vase.

Inspired by the new vase and the waning Japanese apricot flowers I decided to make a flower arrangement.

Inspired by the flower arrangement, I cleared a place for the vase on my table.

My wet muddy dogs enjoyed helping me gather the flowers from the gloomy garden.

We found quite a few blooms on this cold rainy day.  Included in the vase are: white daphne (Daphne odora ‘Alba’), Professor Sargent camellia, an unknown pink camellia, Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’), sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans), star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and several clusters of bunch dafffodils (Narcissus tazetta).

I placed a stem of Michelia maudiae in the front center of the arrangement.  This Chinese banana shrub relative has blooms that look like a white Yulan magnolia.  Unlike the Yulan, this plant is evergreens with leaves similar to a sweetbay magnolia.   I searched high and low and could not find a common name for this uncommon plant.

I set the vase on the table and realized the arrangement needed just one more thing.

And so… I added a picture of the woman who raised me to love flowers.

In the photo, Miss Elise Price (a.k.a Icey or Sister) poses with my sisters circa 1966.  That was forty-six years ago and I am still inspired daily by the things I learned from her and by the love of green things that she bequeathed me.

Honeybee

'Honeybee' mingles with 'Autumn Pearl', 'Peggy Clarke' Japanese apricot and the final roses of the season.

We’ve barely had any winter yet – just a few nights in the mid-20’s and I already have spring fever.

I’m fairly certain that ‘Honeybee’ is the cause of my dilemma.

A couple of months ago I splurged on some daffodil bulbs from Bill the Bulb Baron.  Many of the Bulb Baron’s hybrids have been selected for their early bloom time.  I planted two of these very early bloomers – ‘Autumn Pearl’ and ‘Honeybee’  in the front driveway bed where I could not fail to notice their first flowers.

‘Autumn Pearl’ bloomed first.   I have really enjoyed her wonderful bunches of cream and white blossoms that are reminiscent of ‘Grand Primo’.     ‘Autumn Pearl’ has appeared in several bouquets.  She has also inspired me to pause and watch the wild bees and sulfur butterflies that forage in her nether regions.  That is quite a gift for the hectic holiday season.

When ‘Honeybee’ came along just last week though,  I was even more smitten.  Both these hybrids have one tazetta or bunch daffodil parent.  ‘Honeybee’, however has a wild jonquil (Narcissus jonquilla) or “Little Sweetie” as the other parent.  This means that my sweet little ‘Honeybee’ is golden yellow and full of that delicious jonquil fragrance that I cherish.

I’m pretty sure that i t was not just the appearance of the first yellow narcissus of the season that sent me longing for spring.  I think the scent sent me!

Now I’m not saying that I want to cut the winter short… I love that season too.  I’m just saying that sweet little ‘Honeybee’ with her precocious golden delightfully aromatic flowers makes me smile with thoughts of things to come.

Memory Lane

The dwarf huckleberry is budded and ready to burst into bloom.

Today is my birthday.

I awoke to thunderstorms and the rain has continued for most of the day.

I usually spend my birthday doing a little planting and meandering around in the garden.  After all those are my favorite things to do.

But today, due to the weather, I spent a lot of time listening to the pattering rain – ensconced on the couch with my computer.

When the rain slowed to a drizzle, I went forth to plant.

First I excavated a hole for a batch of spider lily bulbs (Lycoris radiata) that my friend Jerry Palmer gave me.  Then I planted 3 mysterious daffodils pilfered by my friend Pete from a field behind the Meat Pie Store we often visit in Louisiana.

The Optician, one of Marc Pastorek's ceramic heads, is thrilled that soon he will co-habit with a coral honeysuckle.

I headed to the back yard next.   I had set several pots in place for planting and they’ve been waiting on me for almost two weeks.  They seemed to taunt me every time I looked out the back window.

Their roots are in the real dirt now.  The rain tonight will settle them in and the taunting will come to an end.

I planted a couple of coral honeysuckles (Lonicera sempervirens) from Dr. Dirt.  I will train them to scramble up the posts that hold our Marc Pastorek heads.

I prepared three lovely holes for the native bellflowers (Campanula americana) that I got from Terri and Mike at Gro-Wild.

I admired one of my first year daffodils.  It is a large golden trumpet called ‘California’.  It looks like a keeper.  Then I found the first flowers on an old favorite, the sweet little ‘Hawera’.

'California' is one of the newest dafs in residence.

I was surprised to find plump pink flower buds on my dwarf huckleberry (Vaccinnium darrowii) and glad that the early viburnums and the pearlbush (Exochorda racemosa) are still blooming.

Like many garden rambles, this one felt like a walk down Memory Lane.  Almost everything that I planted or admired reminded me of one of my plant buds and brought a smile to my face.

I returned to the couch and my computer.  I was wet and muddy

The dogs slept contentedly after their garden romp.

In my younger years, I might have considered this to be a boring  birthday.

But… today was a good day.

 

A Valentine’s Bouquet

Valentine's Day Greetings!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all who visit this blog today!

Please accept this token of my esteem from ‘Sugar Cups’, ‘Rapture’, ‘Campernelle’, ‘Ice Follies’, ‘Incomparabilis’, ‘Erlicheer’, ‘Van Sion’ and the diminutive Little Sweeties.

These daffodils and the honeysuckle scented daphne are full of calorie-free sweetness.

The  ‘Professor Sargent’ camellia adds a touch of Valentine’s Day crimson.

The wild huckleberry is a reminder to be free.

And the luscious lavender ‘Koromo-Shikabu’ spider azalea is for those who are different.

Cheers!

Another Cup of Sugar… Please

This 2nd year clump of 'Sugar Cups' glows in the late afternoon sun.

I’m sure that those who have followed this blog for a while will agree that I am a daffodil nut.

I have been collecting for years and spend part of my annual vacation making daffodil tours.

I know those varieties that bloom early, mid-season and late.  I expect the first in February, peak bloom in March and a few late stragglers in April.

But this year…  I would say that my dafs are at least half finished ALREADY!

This turn of events has rocked my world.  I am discombobulated for sure.

My disorientation is further enhanced by the fact that I am in a new house.  The old garden is next door but the view from these windows is different.

The ‘February Gold’ dafs in the sideyard of my old house came and went before February – barely noticed.

The treasured ‘Barrett Browning’ blossoms in the back garden were gone before I picked a single stem.

Here are my 'Sugar Cups' up close and personal!

But there is always a silver lining…

When I survey the back garden from my new bedroom I am dazzled by a spectacular clump of ‘Sugar Cups” and a long golden swathe of ‘Campernelle’.

The ‘Sugar Cups’ are a tazetta hybrid that is creamy with a deeper yellow cup.  At first glance it looks like a golden tinted ‘Grand Primo’.

It is much taller than ‘Grand Primo’ with sturdy stems and an abundance of flowers.

I bought 8 ‘Sugar Cups’ bulbs last year from Bill the Bulb Baron.  The bulbs were hefty and, as usual, I planted them in a clump.

My theory is that if I dig a shallow wide hole and pack the bulbs in so there is a little space between each, the planting will look like an established clump very quickly.  Truthfully, I came to this method because it was much easier to plant this way.  I use this method almost exclusively.

The ‘Sugar Cups’ have responded well to this treatment.  In year two they look like an established stand.  I have harvested at least 9 stems from this planting and there are plenty left.

They gleam like a beacon when I look out my new bedroom window.  They are flanked by a fragrant lavender spider azalea and a 100 foot white oak.

Life is good!


 

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