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An hour in the life of a crocus, a feast for insects

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog flying right useA honeybee covered in pollen flies from on 'Pickwick' crocus to another. Photos by Doug Oster

The warmth of the spring sun shining on a patch of 'Pickwick' crocuses unfurled their blossoms inviting a host of insects to feast on pollen and nectar.

There were European honeybees, native bees, flies, hoverflies and things I couldn't identify. Some would enter from the side, pushing through the purple striped petals. Others flew into the center, crawling around inside covering themselves with pollen. The tiny flowers vibrated until the insect flew off with its bounty.

It was amazing to see how many different insects were lured to the flowers.

It's a good lesson for us gardeners, to spend some time observing the garden. You might be surprised at what you see, I was.

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blog fly on crocus huverfly in background

 

 

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Hyacinth love

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog hyacinths tight 414Hyacinths fill the garden with their sweet fragrance. Photo by Doug Oster

hy woodstock main'Woodstock' is one of my favorite varieties.The intoxicating fragrance of hyacinths fills the air in late afternoon as the flowers give up their greatest gift.

Spring wouldn't be the same without hyacinths. I have them growing along the sidewalk which leads to the front door.

Cutting one or two blooms for a vase fills the house with the wonderful aroma too.

They are easy to grow, come back for years and come in many colors. I never met one I didn't like and they all go together. Like most bulbs they need decent garden soil and should be allowed to dry out in the summer.

Consider that when scouting for a planting location.

'Woodstock' is one of my favorite varieties. Beet red, double flowers fill the stem. Of course they also smell like heaven.

If you didn't plant any bulbs in the fall, you might be able to find some for forcing at a good nursery. Those bulbs can be planted indoors to be enjoyed in several weeks.

Put hyacinths on your planting list for the fall, they make spring smell sweeter.

blog hyacinths wide 414Hyacinths are a great spring blooming flower. Photo by Doug Oster

 

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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 .

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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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