Tag Archives: Tete-a-Tete daffodil


I admire gardeners who spend time each fall choosing top-notch bulbs for their spring displays and pay a fair price to the premium retailers we all rely on.  Oftentimes, I do the same.  But I also love plundering local DIY stores during the big bulb markdown that coincides with Thanksgiving.  These leftovers, though not “choice,” are perfect for a one-time show.


Bargain basement bulbs, including Darwin hybid tulips, and Tete a Tete, Fortune, and double mix daffodils.

I was a bit late in my search this year, so selection was limited.  I’m happy, however, with the cheerful collection of 165 tulips and daffodils that cost less than $25 total, or roughly 15 cents per bulb.


Tulips first!

Luckily, I ended up with the perfect number for the four black plastic pots I’ve used in past years.  Will you think I’m a cheapskate when you hear I recycled old potting mix for this project too?  I hope not.

The containers are the perfect depth for 3 layers of bulbs.  Tulips go in first, and then the big daffs before the small ones.  Pot pairs will be slightly different when they bloom, as two containers are planted with ‘Fortune’ daffodils, while doubles fill the other set.

While on the subject, have you ever wondered where “cheapskate” comes from? Here is some of what World Wide Words has to say:  “The best suggestion we have is that skate was originally a Scots contemptuous word, still known in a weakened sense in Australia and New Zealand, where it’s usually written as skite. We retain it in blatherskite for a person who talks at great length without making much sense.”

Finally, here’s another good value for bargain hunters–Ideas for an Inspiring Garden–the Greater Greenville Master Gardener’s 16th Annual Symposium to be held on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

Featured speakers will include Kelly Norris, Director of Horticulture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden who will present an “A-list” of stunning plants; Gary Smith, NY artist and landscape architect on harnessing your creative spirit for expressive design; and Bill Thomas, Executive Director and Head Gardener of Chanticleer, with a behind the-scenes-look at what the Washington Post has called “one of the most interesting and edgy public gardens in America.”


Chanticleer, known as “interesting and edgy,” will be featured at the upcoming GGMG symposium.

The symposium also offers two sessions of concurrent programs provided by Norris and three additional speakers: plant explorer and nurseryman Ted Stevens of Nurseries Caroliniana, garden writer and photographer Pam Beck, and permaculturist Eliza Lord.  The first session offers a choice of Stevens on plants for Southern gardens, Beck on mixed border design, and Lord on sustainable gardens, while the second offers Stevens on soil science and plants, Beck on shade gardens, and Norris on bearded irises.

Registration, including morning refreshments and lunch, plus a fabulous vendor’s market full of plants and other garden necessities, is a steal at $70 ($75 after December 31 if there’s still room).  If you’re eager to go, don’t hesitate, as tickets are already dwindling.  To register, simply print a brochure from the GGMG website and get your check in the mail pronto!


Oh, for the perfect shade garden…maybe I’ll learn a new trick or two from my friend Pam Beck.



Tulip Time

In November, I made out like a bandit when I found a variety of bargain bulbs at a local home store. Then, remembering the success of a blogging friend, Jason, I decided to plant a pair of containers in hopes of a colorful spring display for my front stoop. Here’s what the pots looked like in mid March.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Here’s what they look like today!

Tulip time!

Tulip time!

If you’re wondering who would plant pink tulips with orange and yellow tulips, let me explain.

End of season bargain bulbs.

End of season bargain bulbs.

Clearly, the bulb fairies had a bit of fun filling the “Spring Blend” bag, as the package only shows red, orange, and yellow tulips.

But I love the result! Don’t you?

Here’s the full bulb story in a nutshell:

Against expert advice, which discourages planting different blubs together because of varying bloom times, I decided to give it a try anyway. Bulbs in pots are typically planted much closer together and more shallow than bulbs in the ground, but I knew to arrange them so they were not touching and to provide plenty of soil under the blubs for adequate root growth. So, I added five inches of soil before carefully spacing the daffodils in the containers, and then added more layers of soil before arranging the tulips and, lastly, the grape hyacinths.

With planting complete, I watered the pots and huddled them against the wall of the garage under the overhang of the house, where cold temperatures could be somewhat moderated by the warmth of the brick wall and I could regulate soil moisture. I planned to keep the pots outside, but Old man winter had other ideas. The pots were moved inside the garage when temperatures plummeted.

At first, I made an effort to shift the containers outdoors on better days, but I soon became weary of the task and settled on leaving them in the garage. As the weeks rolled by, I simply forgot about the bulbs. Then, in mid February, I stumbled across the containers again when I was looking for my pruning shears. Surprisingly, the grape hyacinths had sprouted stringy, grass-like foliage, even though the bulbs hadn’t been watered in more than two months. As soon as the pots were returned outside and watered, the foliage perked up a bit. And it wasn’t long before the tips of tiny grape hyacinth blooms began to push through the soil. Within a few days, the daffodils were up and growing too.

You know the rest of the story.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jason. Pots of spring blubs are now an annual tradition in this Upstate garden.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Talking Turkey

The calendar says spring, the weather says winter, and Mother Nature says it’s a good time to talk turkey. At least, that’s what I assume she intended when I glanced out the window yesterday after a cold, wet morning of garden chores to catch a wild turkey hen strutting through the woodland between the house and the Reedy River. Surprisingly, I saw the hen a second time just a few minutes ago, which puts me at the computer to share the excitement with you, since I managed to grab a camera in time to take photos. A turkey can move fast when it wants to, however, so the pic below, made utilizing the zoom on a Panasonic DMC-ZS19, is a bit blurred.

Wild turkey hen

Wild turkey hen

And here’s a photo Tim captured yesterday with his phone showing the turkey in the larger landscape — including our tiny back garden above the woodland terraces that slope down towards the river. (Clicking on the photo will provide an enlarged view.)

turkey photo 2

At the bottom right, you can see the second of two stone stairways that are recently constructed for easier access up and down the steep slope. And if you look closely, you can see the new fescue (grass) seed I spread in yesterday’s cold rain, after carefully hand cultivating the soil with a prong hoe. Growing a lawn in this area is problematic, to say the least, and a new plan (which I’ll show you soon) eliminates grass completely. Work in this garden area is on hold, however, until the basement patio and first level deck are removed and replaced with a pair of porches.

I also pruned this weekend, cutting back foliage burned by single digit temperatures and winter winds, such as that on the evergreen fronds of the Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum) and autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora). Here’s an after photo, taken this morning.

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

The new fronds, which were just visible above the soil when I cut away the old, have been quick to unfurl. I’ll be dashing around to provide cover later today, as we have another deep freeze with temperatures in the mid 20s headed our way. Though the last average frost date for the Upstate is April 15, we seldom see temperatures below 30 degrees F in late March. Fingers crossed this wave of frigid cold will be our last.

Thankfully, these pretty pots will be easy to move under the protection of the front porch.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.