Select Fall Bulbs Now

daff-pots

Think spring now! The full range of fall planted, spring-blooming bulbs is here.

Choose from tulips, hyacinths, crocus, daffodils/narcissus, iris, freesias, anemones, belladonna lilies and more. For the best selection shop for fall bulbs early. Best to select bulbs by the middle or end of October for November/December planting.

Store fall bulbs in a cool dry place until the weather substantially cools this fall before planting. Refrigerate tulips and hyacinths for 6 weeks. The chilling enhances flower development providing for nice long stems. Put the bulbs in paper bags, label, date and put them in the crisper. Do not mistake them for soup ingredients. Be prepared to plant them as soon as you take them out of refrigeration (each day you delay you lose a week of chilling benefit).

fall-bulbs-vertConsider planting bulbs in containers.

This is a great way to accent your porch or patio. When they are finished blooming you can then relocate them to a side yard where they can continue to be watered and nurtured allowing them to dry down naturally. It’s important that the bulb is allowed to reabsorb all the energy of the leaves before they rest in summer.

Add another dimension to your fall bulb pot or garden by planting a blooming blanket of flowers over the top. Here are some great double deck combinations: yellow daffodils and dark blue/purple pansies; peach tulips and light blue forget-me-nots; white tulips and pastel yellow pansies; red tulips, white paludosum daisies with blue pansies.

Most fall bulbs are planted point up, but when in doubt, plant sideways! Our nursery professionals will show you what’s up and what’s down.

Choose bulbs that will provide a succession of bloom. There are varieties of tulips, daffodils, and narcissus and more that will provide early, mid, or late spring bloom.

The layered look not only works in fashion but in the garden too. In a pot or garden bed plant bulbs in layers to produce a mixed bouquet look. Bulbs are planted 2½ times their diameter deep. So plant the larger bulbs, like daffodils deep. Over the top of daffodils plant tulips, then freesia and finally grape hyacinths.

You can even layer the same kind of bulb. For instance plant all daffodils some at the recommended depth of 6-8″ and another layer at 4″.  The shallower ones will bloom first and the deeper later.

 

 

The Value of Annuals

They are planted in botanical gardens around the world so there must be a reason. And that reason is: annuals are always in bloom. They never rest like their cousins the perennials. Annuals are even blooming in the month of January when most of everything is resting. They just bloom and bloom until they cannot bloom anymore.

Keep your garden looking BRIGHT during those cloudy days of winter this year by planting some of these great winter bloomers:

  • Pansy & Viola: smiling faces that say “HI” each time you go outside
  • Snapdragon: childhood memories with their “snapping” mouth shaped flowers. GREAT cut flower to cheer up a room during cloudy months.
  • Calendula: the winter marigold with its yellow and orange faces will always brighten up your garden during the grey months of winter.
  • Stock: the fragrance factor flower. Bring them into your house and they will lightly perfume a room for you.
  • Sweet Peas: plant bush form, knee hi, or tall vining varieties. Harvest many bouquets throughout the late winter and spring. The more you harvest the flowers the more the plants will give you in return.
  • Primroses & Cyclamen: These are not annuals but great winter bloomers for the shade garden. They will even bloom for you in the complete shade if you keep them on the dry side. Both will bloom and bloom when everything else is still asleep during the cloudy days of winter. They can also take full sun during Dec, Jan and Feb so you can do a mixture of all winter annuals for your winter garden.

Do not forget that the summer annuals will do the same thing for the garden. They will always be blooming their fool heads off just to make their cousins – the perennials – look lazy.

Enjoy annuals. They love to show off in your garden.

Patchwork of Color – Bulbs have Arrived

Like colorful patches stitched to make a quilt, the first bulbs to arrive for fall planting here at Alden Lane are cheerful and bright. Bulbs in the landscape, like patches on a quilt,  add color and beauty.

Many of the bulbs arriving now are water-wise and California friendly. They go into the ground now and bloom in spring with jewel-toned colors.

Dig, drop and done, as the saying goes. These bulbs are easy to plant. Let nature care for them over winter and be surprised when they bloom in Spring!

Bearded Iris
Colorful, bold and impressive, Bearded Iris are quite forgiving and require a minimum of maintenance. That is because their rhizomes (bulbs) are actually nutrient “storage” areas. Like camels, Bearded Iris can tolerate periods of benign neglect and are quite drought tolerant because they have this reserve storage that gets them through. But, rhizomes are both their strength and their weakness. Rhizomes are quite sensitive to moisture so be sure to keep them well drained and NEVER over water.

Freesia
Known for being quite fragrant, freesias are nice planted among low groundcover plants where their floppy nature can be well supported. They also work well in containers. Plants bloom at about a foot high in late spring. Plant in full sun or partial shade.

Watsonia
Bold spikes of Gladiolus type flowers make watsonia great as cut flowers, They look best when allowed to develop large clumps and can reach to 3′ or 4′ in height; plant in full or morning sun.

Sparaxis
Clusters of kaleidoscope-like patterned and colored flowers fill this plant that can reach up to 2″ wide. A spectacular addition to borders, rock gardens, and container plantings. Sparaxis is typically less than a foot tall

Ixia
These star-shaped flowers bloom on wiry stems among narrow bladed leaves. We have slipped them into planting beds in fall to enjoy a pleasing blend of 18″ high blooms in early summer.

Anemone
Also known as Wind Flowers, these are some of the first to bloom in spring. Soak your bulbs for a few hours in lukewarm water to “wake them up”. Loosen the soil and plant the anemones 1″-2″ down. Water well, soaking the area again after planting.

Ranunculus
Another early bloomer. These truly magnificent, rose-like blossoms are wonderful as cut flowers. They bloom in a profusion of colors.

Start Sweet Peas Now

September and October are sweet pea planting months for us here in the mild-winter west. We have a great selection of seeds to choose from including the earliest bloomers and the very popular Old Fashioned varieties. Old Fashioned sweet peas are particularly fragrant. We also have collections of sweet peas from 6-packs.

Sweet peas planted now, in soil that has been enriched with 2-3″ of Pay Dirt or Stear Manure will sprout and become established before winter cool temperatures arrive.

The earliest ones can actually bloom as soon as January as they require just 10 hours of sunlight per day to set buds. The later varieties will be nice large plants by the time early spring arrives and will set a profusion of blooms.

Protect new seedlings from insects, snails, and slugs with Sluggo Plus.

Sweet peas are beautiful and fragrant and they make great cut flowers. Choose from dozens of varieties including a number of mixes.

If you’d like to start with plants, we have six packs of knee-high & tall trellising varieties.

 

Landscape Care and Feeding Calendar

Time to feed your landscape!

As the days shorten, a little rain enters the picture, and temperatures begin to drop, plant’s needs change. September is a transition month in the garden. For many plants, It’s a perfect time for one last feeding for others, the beginning of a winter feeding routine.

View this handy Landscape Feeding Schedule and prepare to nurture your beauties.
Download a printable version here.

Amaryllis Belladonna Lilies – Water-Wise Bulbs

Amaryllis Belladonna is a late summer/fall blooming lily which grows from a huge bulb. They can survive with absolutely no additional water once established, putting on a lush display of strap-like leaves as soon as rains fall in November. By the dry days of summer, they shed their leaves again and remain hidden and protected to emerge in July as naked stalks reaching skyward to about 2 feet, then they bloom. These are hybrids, so they bloom across the pink spectrum; very pretty July, August and into September.

Culture

amaryllisAmaryllis grow in full sun to light afternoon shade. You can find them naturalizing around old homes and wooded areas, a testament to their longevity without care.  They can do well with or without regular water, but they don’t want to sit in water or moist soil.

We have enormous bulbs ripe with potential.

 

Wildlife Garden – Plant to Attract Birds & Animals

Would you like to add movement and life to your garden and at the same time benefit the environment? Why not build a wildlife habitat in your front or back yard? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; do I really want all those pesky animals in my yard? Birds eating my fruit, squirrels digging up my container gardens and oh! The insect invasion! But the truth be known, once a wildlife habitat establishes itself, all these problems will disappear in the wink of an eye.

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)
Escholtzia californica (California poppy)
Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed)
Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry)
Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry)
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)
Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon)

Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)

It’s all about balance and using nature to create a setting that will attract beneficial wildlife to your yard. And that’s the keyword: beneficial. Beneficial to you by creating a relaxing place to enjoy your new found friends; beneficial to the environment by reducing pesticide and herbicide chemical usage; and beneficial to the wildlife you’ll be attracting by giving them a place to call home.

Attracting birds

Yeah, if you plant a fruit tree you will have plenty of birds around come harvest time. But what you really need is for them to be around all year with a consistent food source so when harvest time does roll around they’ll be happy and content with the other edible plant material you’ve planted. Some great sources for seeds and berries are Eschscholzia californica (California poppy), Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed), Helianthus (Sunflower), Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape), Rhamnus californica (California coffeeberry), Heteromeles arbutifolia (Toyon), and Malus sp. (Crabapple). For hummingbirds plant Salvia sp. (Sage), Kniphofia sp. ( Red hot poker), Fuschia sp. (Fuschia), Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia), and Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree). Birds will also work as a natural pesticide as they eat an enormous amount of insects especially when they are feeding their young.

Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia)
Abelia x grandiflora (Abelia)
Malus sp. (Crabapple)
Malus sp. (Crabapple)

Kniphofia sp. (Red hot poker)
Kniphofia sp. (Red Hot Poker)

Water & Shelter

Don’t forget to provide them with a little bit of water; a birdbath, a shallow dish; something for them to bathe in, drink from and keep cool in on those hot summer days. Just remember to place your water source at least six feet away from any good hiding place a predator might use and keep that water fresh and clean every few days.
Put out the welcome mat. Birds also require shelter. Shelter from the elements and shelter from predators; so, hang some birdhouses, build nesting boxes, even brush piles will create a safe place they can call home.

This is just the beginning of creating your wildlife oasis. There are countless more aspects to creating an environmentally friendly garden; come into Alden Lane and about attracting and nurturing beneficial insects, and mulching.

-Josh Pulcinella

Fall Mums

mum-2016If there is one flower that really lets us know it’s autumn – it’s the Chrysanthemum or Mum! Richly colored and aromatic, the chrysanthemum comes in a dazzling array of colors. Choose from white, orange, yellow, bronze, maroon, purple, and pink.

Mums are perennial plants often blooming in both spring and fall. They appreciate average water and good drainage.

Pop some color into a bed or container to set the stage for autumn. Add Soil Moist Granules to cut watering in half.

 

mumbar[1]

We are carrying fresh 4″ pots, each is loaded with blooms just beginning its bloom cycle. Remember to remove dead flower heads to force more flower production. Don’t overhead water because this encourages blossom rot.

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris rhizomes have arrived.

iris-trioIf you want the impact of large blooming color throughout your garden without a lot of effort you may find that Bearded Iris was made just for you. Water-wise and long-lived, this perennial is easy to plant and even easier to maintain. It will give you gorgeous color in spring (and fall if you buy rebloomers). They are the perfect plant to take advantage of our Valley’s “second spring”. Plant immediately to establish by spring.

Bearded Iris is not only “forgiving” it is such a strong competitor it is often planted en masse in a row because of its ability to crowd out weeds. Strong, versatile with high impact colorful appearance, Bearded Iris is ideal both as a border defining plant and as an accent.

Bearded Iris gets its name from the appearance of the flower which has six petals; three upright petals (called standards) and three hanging petals (called falls). A fuzzy line or beard runs down the middle of each fall. Flowers come in many colors including blue, pink, purple, reddish, white, yellow, and bi-colors and have textures from plush velvet to silk — often on the same plant!

You will find that Bearded Iris produces a lot of results for only a small amount of effort and planting and care is easy – just follow these steps:

Choosing a Location

Bearded Iris prefers full sun, however, they are extremely versatile and will tolerate partial shade. Some of the delicate pink and blue Bearded Iris hold their color better in partial shade. There is a trade-off, however; as shade increases; flowering decreases. The other consideration is good drainage, which is essential for healthy Bearded Iris. Excessive water and dampness are the chief hazards to successful Bearded Iris cultivation. With those location caveats in mind, you should have lots of areas where you can locate this attractive, low-maintenance, high-impact plant to good advantage throughout your garden and landscaping.

Planting

The best time to plant bearded iris is August through October. This will allow them to become well established before winter. That is why they are ideal for our Valley’s “second spring” which starts in mid-August every year.

Bearded Iris is a little different from most other plants in that it comes from neither seeds nor true bulbs; rather they are based on something called rhizomes, which are sort of like a very thick fleshy root. Bearded Iris does produce seed that hybridizers use for developing new varieties.

Planting is easy — make sure you have a well-prepared bed (see our recipe for good garden soil); dig a SHALLOW hole about twice the size of the rhizome or clump of rhizomes. Form a mound of soil in the center for the planting base to promote drainage. Make the mound high enough so the top of the rhizome is slightly above soil level. Spread the roots around the mound, fill with soil, and water. For a mass of color, plant at least three rhizomes (spaced 8 to 10 inches apart) or plant undivided clumps; point each fan of leaves away from the center of the group. Clumps should be spaced 18 inches apart.

Caring

As I mentioned earlier, Bearded Iris is quite forgiving and require a minimum of maintenance. That is because its rhizomes are actually nutrient “storage” areas. Like camels, Bearded Iris can tolerate periods of benign neglect and are drought tolerant because each plant has this reserve storage that gets it through. But, rhizomes are both its strength and its weakness. Rhizomes are quite sensitive to moisture so be sure to keep them well drained and NEVER over water.

Special Tip: Feed monthly from March through September with Maxsea 16-16-16. The last number is potassium and it is critical to Bearded Iris success.

 

Salvias – Spectacular

 

Salvia Amistad

Salvias add water-wise color. The salvia family is endless! There are ornamental and edible members of this expansive family.

Salvias love the sun in mild areas and need a little shade in some of the hotter areas of the valley.

Many are long blooming, attract hummingbirds and butterflies and require very little care once established.

Favorite Salvias:

  • Salvia microphylla – This salvia is more leafy and dense than the Salvia greggii. Bright red flowers are borne in 4-6 inch clusters. The plant itself can reach 3-5 feet tall. This salvia is easy to grow and can be cut back almost to the ground if needed without harming the plant. It has a very long bloom season in mild areas. Hummingbirds love it!
  • Salvia leucantha – This variety is commonly known as Mexican Bush Sage. Long velvety purple spikes set with small white flowers crown the top of arching gray-green foliage. Long lasting bloom from summer to the first frost. Makes a good background plant in a border or large planting bed. Cut back in winter if stems have become too woody.
  • Hot Lips Salvia

    Salvia greggii – Known as Autumn Sage, this variety is available in a number of flower colors – red, yellow, pink, white and purple. Erect growth to about three feet with medium green foliage. Plant in full sun.

  • Salvia Amistad – 4-5′ shrub with spikes of dark purple and black. This is a long bloomer, hardy to 15 or 20 degrees.