The late Ryan Gainey had called Fall the “forgotten season” in the garden. He was an advocate for all fall blooms, especially chrysanthemum and asters. I was lucky enough to find his 4 namesake mums at the wonderful Woodlands Plant Sale and added them to the garden to commemorate his passing. And, of course, enjoy their beauty.
In the hot and humid summers of the South, it is hard to truly enjoy a garden – for people and plants alike. It is fall that makes me feel like we are bursting into life, celebrating that we have survived yet another year. The roses grow into a stunning display, the grass is finally green and lush from the last big rain shower, the vegetable garden bursts with juicy tomatoes and heavenly peppers. A crescendo of garden glory until finally we settle down for the cooler season. It may be obvious, but it is also my favorite season of the year.
I enjoy fall not only for the beauty and cooler temperatures, but also because it allows for dreams, hopes, expectations. It is the time to plant our visions of a spring to come. Believing that it will come and we will be here to enjoy it. Every year I add a little more to my collection of Daffodils and Lilly, a few Hyacinths and a lot of Crocus.
Do not get roped in by the big box store offers of “100 perfect blooms in a box”. They are cheap, because well… they are cheap. These bulbs are no comparison to the bulb size, condition and variety you can buy at online specialized retailers. I do not mail-order much, but bulbs come to this house only via the mail carrier. There are many catalogs and advertisements out there, and I have found that the quality of the catalog – picture and paper quality, information given about the plant, number of pages – says a lot about what to expect from their products.
My favorite bulb distributor is colorblends.com. The variety is almost overwhelming and bulbs are in fantastic condition, no matter if you order 25 or 250 bulbs. They have a special Daffodil blend for southern gardens that is stunning when in bloom. Their Amaryllis are a superlative of everything I have ever seen. It is recommended to order early, sometimes as soon as the catalog first arrives. Many of their varieties do sell out and some do not come back for a few years. This time I also added some of their giant Allium “Globmaster” and a small collection of woodlands specialty bulbs. I only wish they would carry Lillies and some of the more tropical bulbs and rhizomes, like Canna Lillies or Crocosmia – but as all products come directly from the Netherlands, I can see why they are not being offered.
For those tropical bulbs that can carry blooms from early summer into the fall season, my favorite resource is John Sheepers – a family owned business that has been around for nearly a hundred years. I am an enthusiast for their Heirloom Lilly species and the gardeners collections. I also purchase Iris and Peony from them, all with much success.
And since we are talking mail-order happiness, a head start on your spring planting will be offered by Swan Island Dahlias. Oh, the hopes I have for my Dahlias this summer. The few I had, made my eyes light up and my gardeners heart dismay – I have a lot to learn when it comes to Dahlia. But I will be positive. There is a whole winter coming to read up on the subject. And next year will be better.
After all it is said that planting a garden is to believe in tomorrow.