|Above, three shots of The Butchart Gardens indoor garden display including the Japanese garden. Below, the Razzleberri (Loropetalum chinensis ‘Rubrum’) that was a big feature in the gardens and the highly unusual Japanese spiketail (Stachyurus praecox). Author photos. |
On Wednesday last week we drove down the Island to Victoria to view The Butchart Gardens’ wonderful indoor garden display. This is something they just started, I believe, last year. They stage it in the Blue Poppy Conservatory which actually is a dining room during the regular outdoor gardening season, but for just two months—January 15 to March 15—it serves as a beautiful venue for this indoor gardening display. You may also visit ‘Benvenuto’ the Butchart’s family home of almost 100 years ago. There you may have afternoon tea between Noon and 4 PM each day.
One of the reasons I like visiting shows such as this is that one always discovers some plant previously unknown--and that was exactly the case last week at Butchart. There indoors (but they grow it outdoors as well, where it blooms slightly later) was Spiketail (Stachyurus praecox). I’ve included a photo of the plant in their indoor display with this article. Spiketail is a spreading, deciduous shrub that bears oval, mid-green leaves on arching, reddish-purple branches. It is a Japanese native grown for its hanging spikes of tiny, bell-shaped, pale yellowish-green flowers that appear on bare stems in late winter and early spring. They look like yellow catkins, and are up to 10cm (4”) long. Rick Los, Butchart’s horticulturist, told me that its performance outdoors is spasmodic and unpredictable and that they just wait each spring to see how spectacular (or not) it is going to be. From information I’ve gathered it should be hardy here in the milder parts of coastal B.C. but I don’t think it has a chance even in southern Ontario!
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And now to the questions!
Susan Colvin wrote from Buffalo New York this week: “I just love your show and have learned so much from you!! My question is about bulbs; I received from my husband two of those new lovely planters for Valentine's day that came with bulbs sitting atop water.....the roots extend into the water and the clear glass container lets you see them sprout up and breath some spring into your home...but they did not come with directions on what to do when the flowering is over. How do you then care for the bulbs to make them flower again in that kind of a setting (I talked to someone at work who heard you put them in a dark container in the refrigerator but didn't know for how long).
“If I wanted to place other bulbs in the container....do I need to do anything special to get them going? The root systems are quite extensive, so it says just make sure the water touches to base of the bulbs....could that be all there is to it?
“If you could help me out, I would love to be able re-use the bulbs again, they are just so beautiful and I have enjoyed watching them take on the adventure of growing! Thanks again for your insight.”
Well that’s a dandy question Susan. Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for you.
In general bulbs that are forced (which is the term used when manipulating the bulbs’ environment in order to bring them into bloom earlier--or later) are good only for garbage after they finish blooming. Now, there are definitely exceptions, and daffodils, narcissi, grape hyacinths are often worth recycling. As an example, all of the daffodils and narcissi which bloom annually on the slope of the escarpment in Niagara Falls’ Queen Victoria Park were planted there after they had been forced for use in the NPC Greenhouse displays in various years.
Since you do not say just which bulbs you have I cannot make a definite statement, but if they are hyacinths or tulips you should discard them. Putting them in the dark will accomplish nothing.
In order to get any type of spring-flowering fall-planted bulb(s) to bloom indoors (early or late) they have to be given a cold treatment, which basically means ‘pre-cooling’ them to between 5o and 9o C (40o - 48o F) for a period of nine to 14 weeks. The general method of doing this is to plant them in pots called bulb pans (flat pots, although deeper pots may also be used) in a well-draining medium, and placing them either out-of-doors buried in the ground, say near a house foundation and covering them with just leaves so they may be retrieved easily after about ten weeks, or in a spare basement refrigerator.
And finally for this week, Connie Holden of Nanoose, just south of us, wrote: “A note to say how much I enjoy your friendly, helpful hints on "the Daily Gardener" -- channel 4. As relative newcomers out here in Nanoose I wouldn't mind further clarification on what to do with moss in lawns. I have put the Dolopril on the grass. Does it turn the moss black (like Moss Out)? I understand I have to rake up the moss - how long should I wait after putting on the Dolopril to do this? I then hope to top-dress it with new soil and fertilizer as well as aerating. Also, I have rhodos that are seriously wilting. Is this a drainage or nutrient problem? Any further information you provide is most appreciated.”
Several good questions here. First, neither Dolopril, nor any other liming agent, will turn the moss black. In fact it is not a bad idea to rake the lawn fairly aggressively before applying the Dolopril. This allows the lime to get down to the soil faster. What the lime (and Dolopril does it the fastest of all formulations) does is help reduce the acidity of the soil which acidity is what encourages the moss to grow. If you wish to be truly free of moss then you’ll need to apply a product such as Wilson’s MossOut which has a 5% nitrogen fertilizer that will help with the early greening. It would be fine to put that on now following the container directions.
I always warn gardeners away from top-dressing lawns with soil. All that usually does is import weed seeds that will haunt you later. Only if the lawn needs to have low areas raised should you even consider top-dressing, in my opinion. As to aerating, I think I would do that after the Dolopril and before the MossOut, because aeration will help get rid of the moss as well. It is important to put the Dolopril on before the fertilizer.
And finally, I suspect your ‘wilting’ rhodos are only showing their unhappiness with the unseasonable cold weather we have been experiencing. They certainly cannot be dry, so just keep an eye on them once the weather warms up. In Toronto, we did not need a thermometer outdoors to know just how cold it was, we could tell by checking a group rhodos just outside our front kitchen window. Not all rhodos are the same, but all reflect the temperature to some extent.