Posts in Bulbs
Spring Blooming Gravetye Giant

Dainty Gravetye Giant Blooming There are certain pockets of my garden which ground me with normalcy and the beckoning of spring, despite our ongoing home remodel. With all of the mess, upheaval, and chaos, my "Gravetye Giant" have managed to come up and bloom in dainty spring glory, reassuring me that all is well, and everything will once again be fine in the garden.

Maybe our persistent intervals of somewhat light rains, have stoked the feverish blooming of these beauties this year. I had half forgotten about them until their dainty white bells caught my eye one day. I can almost imagine "Tinkerbell" from Peter Pan, magically dancing amongst these blooms. Perhaps, that is why my favorite gnome is not too far away.

A sure sign of spring, Leucojum aestivum Gravetye Giant, also known as Giant Snowflake and Summer Snowflake, is a winter-to-spring blooming bulb. When blooming, Gravetye Giant can reach 2' -3' tall. They have a clump-forming habit, with vivid green foliage and delicate pendulous white bell flowers punctuated with an emerald green dot at the tip of each petal.

It is best to plant Gravetye Giant bulbs initially in the fall, in a part-shade to sunny location. Gravetye Giant are ideal for flower beds, borders, naturalizing, woodland shade gardens, and even water features. They are extremely showy and elegant in mass plantings. You can enjoy them inside as beautiful cutting flowers.

Gravetye Giant is a very forgiving bulb, with the ability to tolerate extremes like frost, and excess moisture. They require little maintenance by dead-heading blooms when finished, and cutting back foliage only when it yellows. Clumps can be divided, if necessary. They are relatively pest free, even rodent and deer resistant.

Gravetye Giant bulbs can be found through most bulb companies. My friends at Easy To Grow Bulbs offer reasonable Gravetye Giant 25, 50, and 100 bulk bulb pricing, shipping these bulbs August through December.

Please share if you have Gravetye Giant in your garden? Please comment on what in your garden is first to bloom, and suggests your spring is here.

Thank You for Visiting VGG Sponsors!

San Diego Horticultural Society announces its Spring Garden Tour, Saturday March 13, 2010. Tickets are $15/members, $20/non-members. To purchase tickets and more detailed information, please go to

Vintage Container Design With Spring Bulbs

Bucket of Spring Bulbs With Easter in early April this year, you have time to create a special spring bulb arrangement in a great vintage container for your front door or patio. In the photo to the left, I created my spring bulb arrangement in a vintage wooden bucket. A simple container that lets its contents have the attention.

You can either start with various dormant bulbs, or if pressed for time you can purchase from nurseries ready-to-bloom spring tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, freesias, amaryllis, lilies, and more. Try mixing in ferns for softness, or perhaps some dainty violas. Remember, spring is just around the corner.

A few tips to help you plant a fabulous spring bulb arrangement: 1) Select your container, preferably one with a nice wide mouth or planting area. Let your container size, color, and shape dictate what bulbs and plants would look best.

2) Be aware of your "plant-to-bloom" time frame, so that you coincide your arrangement in full bloom to your time frame needed. Perhaps, you might even want to stagger different bulbs to bloom at various times, for a longer lasting arrangement.

3) Dormant bulbs are awakened by the sun. Once your arrangement is planted, keep your arrangement in a sunny spot. Bulbs like to be on the dry side or moist, but not wet. Plant your bulbs root-side down. Arrange your bulbs in a good all-purpose potting soil, and allow for proper drainage. If you do not have drainage holes, line your container with heavy black plastic, and water sparingly. Save your spent bulbs from your arrangement, and plant in your garden.

4) Forced branches from your garden or market are beautiful this time of year, too, and are excellent companions to spring bulbs. Have fun with these beautiful pliable branches by shaping them, creating forms for support, and using them as structure.

Please share how you announce and herald spring at your home? Please comment on your favorite spring bulbs? Is it daffodils? hyacinth?

Go Green With Gophers

Blooming Paperwhites Dancing In The Sunlight I can't say enough about the effectiveness of combating gophers "the green way" with bulbs. I owe my good friends at Easy To Grow Bulbs for the "aha" moment, when I learned that planting any type of jonquil, paperwhite, or daffodil bulb, in a somewhat strategic mass planting in your yard and garden will effectively deter gophers in a very green and very beautiful organic way. It is a gopher solution that is simple and appealing.

Last year I wrote about the benefit of planting bulbs to deter gophers around my chicken coop in the related VGG post, Narcissus Bulbs Naturally Deter Gophers, and how effective it has been. I also planted bulbs around the perimeter of my potager to deter any gopher invasion, as shown in the photo above.

Jonquil, paperwhite, and daffodil bulbs once planted in the ground send out a year-round message to deter gophers, rabbits, and even deer in their immediate area. These particular bulbs send out a "toxic fragrance" or odor that animals sense even without biting into a bulb. However, if these bulbs are bitten into, they have the capability to burn a gopher's tender mouth and cheek tissues. The result is a natural tendency for gophers to move away from the area where you have planted your bulbs, hence limiting their food source, and population. It takes a little while, but it really works.

I love this green solution because it is humane to wildlife, your bulbs look fantastic when blooming, and they bloom year after year. Your initial investment is your time involved planting your bulbs, and a generous amount of bulbs planted in your gopher problem-related area. Plant your bulbs one after another in a line 3"-4" apart, or planted randomly throughout a flower bed amongst your other plants. Once your bulbs bloom, cut them back after they are spent and dried. You won't see them for the rest of the year, yet they are sending out their gopher-deterrent message year-round.

Please share how you combat gophers in your garden and yard. Do you have any other green solutions for gophers?

How To Grow Perfect Paperwhites

Perfect Paperwhites, Photo Courtesy of Easy To Grow Bulbs For perfect paperwhites for the holidays, I asked the friendly bulb specialist, Easy To Grow Bulbs, for their expert advice. Easy To Grow Bulbs is a mail-order company which specializes in "bigger, better bulbs for warm weather gardens." I thank Kathleen McCarthy, Head of Customer Service, for graciously writing and navigating us through "How To Grow Perfect Paperwhites."

For those familiar with growing paperwhites, the benefits enjoyed are many. Fresh, fragrant flowers are easily and quickly grown indoors for the holidays and to brighten the grey days of winter. In mild winter climates they make terrific additions to the garden bed after the blooms are finished -- returning to bloom every spring, deterring gophers and deer all the while. Truly a wonderful addition to holiday décor, gift-giving, and as an early breath of spring.

Paperwhites have in the past, been just a bit short of a perfect experience, however. While many love the fragrance they offer, some find it entirely too much of a good thing, and long for varieties with a lighter scent. And just about everyone has had their paperwhites grow too tall with the stems and leaves flopping over. Whether this has happened occasionally, or every time you have grown paperwhites, you probably found creative ways to support them, wishing they would just stay straight and strong on their own. Now there are solutions to both of these issues – paperwhites can now be perfect.

For classic paperwhites with a less potent fragrance, I suggest the Inball paperwhite variety, With large, plentiful white blooms, Inball has the same musky fragrance as a typical paperwhite – just a lot less of it. If you think of a regular paperwhite as having a “gallon of fragrance,” Inball has just about a “cup” of that same fragrance.

Another less potent fragrance variety is the Wintersun paperwhite. It has a much lighter scent that must be appreciated with your face quite close to the blooms. With its pale yellow petals and prominent golden cups it is perfect for both Thanksgiving feasts, and as indoor sunshine for the long, grey days of January and February. Plant paperwhites at 2-3 week intervals to enjoy months of flowers and fragrance!

Tired of paperwhites flopping over just as they are ready to bloom. The reason – and solution -- is simple. Paperwhites prefer to grow in full, day-long sunshine. So, when grown indoors in dim light, they stretch, reaching for the sun they know must be up there somewhere. Where they stretch, they get weak, where they get weak, they flop over. No need to build a solarium to enjoy these beauties at their best, though!

Discovered by a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, the addition of a small amount of alcohol to their water keeps them straight and strong. It simply makes them unable to stretch, so they remain short and upright. Whether using hard liquor or rubbing alcohol, be sure to read the linked article to determine the proper dilution rate. Mix up a quart or so to use for weeks as your paperwhites need their water replenished. As an added benefit, the alcohol keeps the water algae free and crystal clear – an important consideration when growing paperwhites in pebbles and water. For more details on why paperwhites flop and how to stop it, go to This really works!

Having growing, blooming plants in your home is a joy, and easy to achieve with paperwhites. Have fun, be creative; and regardless of the weather outside, enjoy a breath of spring!

For more information on paperwhites and warm weather bulbs, visit Easy To Grow Bulbs.