Spring Thoughts



On a recent visit to Blithewold to see the amazing daffodil display, I also stopped by the greenhouse to see what was being raised. A number of the pots had white sand sprinkled on top and of course I had to find out why. Dan Christina, the Asst. Grounds Manager, told me he had seen this as a suggestion to keep very fine seeds from rising to the top when they were watered. So I tried it outdoors on top of a small circle of “Pepperbox Breadseed Poppies” (the name given by John Scheepers to what are actually opium poppies or Papaver somniferum) and it works! When you come on the Garden Tour in June, ask to see them and I will try and find the coarse sand I used – I think I got it when I was trying to make a terrarium. So, although it is a bit late now for starting seeds, there is still time if you want to try this trick outdoors.

By now, I sincerely hope that any damaged trees have been taken care of and that armloads of branches have been hauled away. If you should find there is a gaping hole in the landscape where you would like a shrub, do consider another member of the Witch Hazel family, Corylopsis or Winterhazel. Sylvan carries two varieties – pauciflora and spicata. I was all set to order the latter, described thus in an old Roslyn Nursery catalogue:  “Hanging tendrils of yellow bell-shaped flowers punctuate the garden in APRIL and perfume the air with their fragrance”, when I was beguiled by John and Mikel of Sakonnet Garden into trying a hardy camellia. The five Winterhazels that I do have are a joy. No matter how wild the winds or how heavy the rains, their lovely little flowers hung on for dear life and were untouched when the sun came out, something that can not be said of flowering crabs or cherries. An added bonus: their lovely, veined, heart shaped leaves. They need sun to part shade.

If you have a shady spot and would like something to cheer your heart during those dreary winter months, try a little cluster of hardy cyclamen. In December of our miserable winter I saw tiny pointed buds, like little birds’ beaks. All winter long they survived and in March they bloomed! Even if you don’t want to plant any, I suggest you either ask for a catalogue or go to the McClure & Zimmerman’s web site – www.mzbulb.com- just to see and learn about the many “Miscellaneous and Small Bulbs” that they carry. Fifteen pages of them, all illustrated with charming line drawings.

Hope to see you in my garden on June 5th  !

Sidney Tynan




May 14th, 2013

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