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Heirloom bulbs are perfect for an old house

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog best pickwick'Pickwick' crocus was released the same year my house was built. It's fun to grow things from that era. Photos by Doug Oster

blog sidways pickwickWhen I discovered 'Pickwick' crocus was released in 1939, the same year my house was built, I had to grow it.

It doesn't hurt that it's one of the most beautiful flowers in the early spring garden. 'Pickwick' is also readily available at local nurseries in the fall. Like all things in the garden it's ephemeral, often only lasting a few short days when temperatures rise.

I'm always adding bulbs from the pre-war and WWII era. I think it's interesting to plant things which were grown when my house was new. To me the bulbs compliment my old Tudor house. When they bloom, I'm the only one who knows about the connection, unless I happen to have a visitor. Then they'll have to endure the history tour. Good friends don't mind, others might get a little annoyed, but that's the requirement for seeing the spring garden.

One of the coolest bulb catalogs is Old House Gardens, run by Scott Kunst. His catalog is a wealth of information and heirloom treasures which will fill your garden with character and beauty. I can shop by date on the web site, which is perfect for what I'm doing. 'White Triumphator' is a beautiful tulip from 1942 which fits the bill for my spring garden.

Even though we are inundated each season with new improved varieties each season, cultivars which stand the test of time are always a must for my garden.

There are plenty of spring planted bulbs in the Old House Gardens catalog too that work for me. 'Kidd's Climax' dahlia from 1940 produces large pink and yellow blossoms. Dahlias are the queen of the summer garden. Often times people don't plant them because the don't want to lift the tubers at the end of the season. It's a easy garden job, and once you've figured it out you'll be storing lots of bulbs and tubers like I do. I'll cover how to save them at the end of the season.

I also have my eye on 'Blue Rhythm' iris from 1945. It won the 1950 Dykes Medal, the highest honor an iris can win. The blossoms are bluish purple and offer a lemony fragrance.

Growing plants from the same era as my house was built is fun twist to gardening. Old House Gardens has bulbs dating back to the 1500's, maybe even earlier. You can certainly find something which will work in your garden.

blog tight pickwick

 

 

 

 

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A KFC corsage, big bucks for Versace, Victoria's Secret fashion show changes and more fashion headlines

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Victoria-s-Secret-Fashion-Show

It's been one of those days where tweet after tweet is another tidbit of fashion news.

Don't have time to go social media surfing to find out the latest? Stylebook has done the work for you! Here's a brief link roundup of where you can find more on today's fashion headlines:

Big bucks for Versace: Hundreds of millions of dollars are going to the Italian fashion house. Fashionista.com has the scoop on who's shelling out how much.

Victoria's Secret annual fashion show is on the move: The spectacle of bras and bodies is leaving the Big Apple. Check out Elle.com to find out where it's going next. (Hint: It's heading across the pond.) Photo above from Associated Press

More -- and more -- (and more) Coachella style: If you haven't had your fill of Coachella style yet, www.nytimes.com has compiled a slideshow of "predictable and pin-worthy" fashions from the festival.

In time for prom, KFC debuts the "chicken corsage": This is more quirky than newsy -- but intriguing nonetheless. Turns out KFC has created an edible corsage, just in case girls get hungry while dancing the night away. Seventeen.com has the details (and photos).

Dior's next fashion show is heading to Brooklyn: Alexander Wang isn't the only designer who thinks Brooklyn is the next high-end fashion hot spot. Find out from Elle.com when and where the Dior runway show will be.

Steve Madden website gets a makeover: Next time you visit www.stevemadden.com, you'll find a new and improved look and user experience. Its the first major revamp for the site since 2006. FashionUnited.com explains.

 

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Record low temperature predicted for tonight, don't panic in the garden

Written by Doug Oster on .

mystery lettuce under row coverEven though it won't get cold enough to kill things like lettuce, a floating row cover will make the plants happier. Photo by Doug Oster

There's a possibility temperatures will reach a record low of 21 degrees tonight and that could adversely affect some plants in the garden. Don't panic though, most of these plants have seen this many times over the years.

Lets start with things we're not worried about and/or couldn't really protect anyway. Most shrubs and trees will be fine. Things like azaleas and rhododendrons shouldn't be affected along with dogwoods and pines. Magnolias and fruit trees might get the worst of it. In my garden, both are too big to do anything about, so all I can do is cross my fingers. If the magnolia has started to bloom, flowers might get zapped and if not, the buds stand a chance of freezing out.

For spring blooming bulbs, I won't do a thing. They have been through this for centuries, worse case scenario there will be some bud blast and loose the blossoms for the season. This is most likely to happen on daffodils.

I'm not worried about pansies or violas either, they should be able to take the cold.

Most of what I'll be protecting is in the vegetable garden. Peas and greens like lettuce, arugula, spinach and more won't be killed by these temperatures, but will be happier with a little protection.

The easiest thing to use is a floating row cover. It's a spun bound translucent fabric which is so lightweight, the plants themselves can hold it up.

Since soil temperatures have warmed up, I'm not too worried about one night of cold. We should reach 50 by tomorrow afternoon. Lets hope that's the end of the really cold weather, but don't forget, we'll get frost all the way through May.

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Secrets in the daffodil patch; spiders and flowers beyond yellow trumpets

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog secrets spider 3Secrets are revealed when you get close to the flowers. This tiny spider tried to hide behind a daffodil petal. Photos by Doug Oster

The forest is filled with scrawny deer, tired and hungry from a brutal winter. But even though they are starving, the four legged thieves turn their noses up at daffodils, that's one of the reasons I grow so many.

I love yellow trumpets, but their are countless other colors and flower forms to experience.

Spring is officially here when the daffs begin to bloom, but the season can be extended by choosing early, mid and late season varieties. I enjoy the subtle differences each one offers. It's fun to get close to the flowers, and when you do, surprises can happen. As I was cutting bouquets I saw a tiny spider jump behind a petal, hoping not to be seen. I slowly laid down on the soft, cool soil with camera in hand. The close-up lens was perfect to capture the tiny hairs of the hidden spider's legs.

My connection with daffodils goes back to 1967, when I visited the graves of my grandparents at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. Behind me were thousands of flowers in bloom on Daffodil Hill. The area was started in the 1940's with an initial planting of 100,000 bulbs. I was profoundly affected by those flowers and when I moved to Pittsburgh, told my mother I would create my own Daffodil Hill in memory of my grandparents. I'm a long way off from 100,000 bulbs, but I'm working on it.

I had the honor of being in Rick Sebak's Cemetery Special talking about Daffodil Hill and how it changed my gardening life.

Here's a look at many of the early flowering daffodils in my garden. I'm looking to add more each season, this is the time to decide where I need more. I'll shoot some pictures so when fall planting time comes around I'll know where to plant them.

When I see the flowers in bloom, I always remember that day in 1967 and smile thinking of my grandparents.

blog secrets pink daffI've recorded the cultivars of every daffodil I've planted. They are tucked away in garden journals so in this garden it's all about enjoying the flowers not the names. I love this pink throated beauty.

blog double yellow daffDouble daffodils might be my favorites.

blog secrets whiteThis patch was here when I moved in, I think they are an old fahsioned favorite called Mt. Hood.

blog secrets 2It's fun to see al the different variations in daffodils.

blog secrets bridalGet close to the flowers and really take a good look.

blog secrets daffodil 1Daffodil season signals the "real" start to spring.

blog secrets orange heartThis one is also a favorite.

blog secrets still tightOne trick to extending the season is planting varieties which bloom at different times.

blog secrets yellow and orangeSimple, elegant and beautiful.

blog tight bridal daffsFor some reason flies are attracted to this variety.

blog white and orange doubleAnother cool double daffodil.

blog secrets daffodil overallThere's nothing wrong with yellow trumpets. These are some of the toughest and most beautiful daffodils in the garden.

 

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Prom spending drops 14 percent

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Prom 400

For many high schoolers, prom night is the most enchanted evening of the year. But that fairy tale does come with a cost.

According to a survey released this month by Visa Inc., families are tightening their wallets when it comes to prom spending. The average American household will spend $978 on prom attire, accessories and activities related to the dance, down 14 percent from $1,139 in 2013

The decline comes after three years of steady increases in prom spending. The survey also showed that families out West will spend the most on prom -- $1,125 on average -- when compared to those who live in other parts of the country. Parents who are younger than 40 years old also spend less to help their children prep for the prom than those who are older. 

Other Visa survey statistics:

  • Parents who earn less than $50,000 will typically spend less on prom than the national average
  • Parents will cover about 56 percent of prom costs on average, with students paying for the rest
  • Canadian households tend to spend about 25 percent less on prom than Americans
  • Men will spend more than double what women will on prom (about $1,357 compared to $673)

The survey is based on information collected from 4,000 telephone interviews. For prom money saving tips, visit the website for Visa's Practical Money Skills for Life education program at www.practicalmoneyskills.com

And don't forget!

For prom prep tips for guys (social graces, what to wear, etc.), check out the PG's Guys' Guide to Prom.

(Photo: Getty Images/Fuse)

 

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