Sunday, October 6, 2019

Deer-Resistant Bulbs in the Lily Family for a Spring Show

From Cherie Lejeune, President of NCAGC October 6, 2019
We are fortunate to have a new Blog Post Editor/Contributor...Peggy Riccio. Her website, is growing fans not just locally but, attracting readers from across the globe. She is a member of Camelot Garden Club (DIII), the new President of the Potomac Chapter of the Herb Society and, a member of GardenComm, an international association of garden writers. She is a Mother of twins, both freshman in college, and, still works full time. Oh, and she gives many weekend workshops! 
She will definitely keep our local antenna in good working order for green, local activities.  

So with her permission, we are reprinting her latest post on Lily Family bulbs. For those of us with too many deer in our yards, this is welcome information. Thank you Peggy!                            ______________________________________________________________________

Deer-Resistant Bulbs in the Lily Family for a Spring Show

Of the fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs, there are several in the lily family (Liliaceae) that are deer resistant. These are worth trying in your garden. If you have a severe deer issue, you may want to try deer-proof bulbs. As mentioned in my deer-proof article, I talked with Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, VA, who explained the difference between deer proof and deer resistant.
“Critter-proof bulbs are poisonous to animals such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, and voles,” Brent said. “Critter-resistant bulbs have some quality that is unpleasant to the critter but if the critter is hungry enough it will eat the plant.” Because there are three types of deer-proof bulbs in the amaryllis family–daffodils, snowflakes, and snowdrops–you may want to expand your palette of colors with deer-resistant bulbs in the lily family. Try planting these in areas where you know deer do not frequent or cannot gain access. Brent also recommended using Plantskydd repellent for these bulbs. “Plantskydd is most effective,” he said. “You dip the bulb in the liquid, let it dry, and then plant in the ground. It prevents the critters from smelling the sweet smell of the bulbs so they tend to leave the bulbs alone.” Here are six deer-resistant bulbs in the lily family to plant now for a spring show.


The drumstick shape of Allium sphaerocephalon
Alliums, also called ornamental onions, are grown for beautiful flowers, not for edible onions. “Allium bulbs have a distasteful, strong onion smell that critters find offensive,” said Brent. Usually the flowers are globe shaped and can be quite large. They bloom in late spring and early summer, preferring full sun and well-drained soil. Many of these flower heads work well as cut flowers and as dried flowers. There are globes, large and small; the drumstick shape (Allium sphaerocephalon); the firecracker shape (A. schubertii); and the large chive shape (A. unifolium), to name a few. The size of the bulb varies so planting depth varies but generally bulbs are planted 2 to 3 times their width.

Grape Hyacinths

Grape hyacinths in a container
The grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is a small bulb but makes a big impact if planted in masses. Most people think of blue or purple grape looking flowers but there is a wide variety of colors. Some flowers are two-toned — blue and white or yellow and purple or white and purple. Some have all white flowers, or purple, or pink. Some flower structures have hairy, fuzzy flowers, instead of the common, grape-like clusters. Grape hyacinth bulbs naturalize well, can be grown in full or partial sun or dapple shade, and are great for planting under deciduous trees. Because of their small size, they do well in containers for forcing for an early indoor bloom. They bloom in March and April.


“Hyacinth bulbs have scales that are a skin irritant so wear gloves when handling them,” recommended Brent. “This also is an irritant to critters.” Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are less than a foot tall and flower colors come in ranges of pinks, yellow, blues, and whites. The actual flower shape does not vary much with cultivars. The bulbs last for a long time in the garden and over the years, the florets become looser, with more space between them instead of a tight cluster. Hyacinths prefer well-drained soil and full sun. They are very fragrant which is not as noticeable outside but can overpower a room if cut for a vase inside. Because of their small size, they do well in containers for forcing for an early indoor bloom. They bloom in March and April.

Spanish Bluebells

“Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) are highly critter resistant,” said Brent. These have about the same height and color palette as hyacinths but the florets are tubular bells. They can tolerate shade, are often found in woodland areas, but also can be grown in sun. They naturalize well and can be used as a cut flower. They do not have such an overpowering scent like hyacinths.

Star flowers

Star Flowers

Star flowers (Ipheion uniflorum) have a nice fragrance but are too small for cutting and the foliage reeks of garlic. “When crushed, the star flower leaves smell like garlic so the plant is critter resistant,” said Brent. The flowers have six petals in pale blue, lavender, pink, or white, resembling a star. The plant is about 6 inches tall with thin, grass like foliage so it is best to grown them in a group or drift. As long as the soil is well drained, they have a wide range of soil tolerance and can be grown in full sun to part shade. They bloom in April and naturalize well.

Glory of the Snow

Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) also has star-shaped flowers but they are more open and each flower is lavender with a white center. Again, a small, 6-inch plant so they are not used for cutting. They work well in a group or drift and naturalize easily. Glory of the snow blooms in March, sometimes with snow on the ground, and in April. They need well-drained soil and full sun to part shade.

Glory of the snow in a drift
All of these bulbs should be available to purchase now at your local independent garden center or order online through one of these bulb companies.
All photos courtesy of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bumper Stickers and Garden Haiku - Creativity Blooms in NCAGC Workshop

Last year’s NCAGC Conference's Writing Workshop produced some interesting bumper sticker ideas and garden themed Haiku poetry by attendees. Such thoughtful creativity. Enjoy! Thea

NCAGC: We have met the gardeners and they are us
(Sumer Bomar)

NCAGC = Flower Power
Gardeners Love Growing Things
National Gardeners Grow Across the Nation
Metro Gardeners Grow Around NCA
(Mary Cottrell)

NCAGC  - More Than Just A Flower Bed
Yes! We Are A State! NCAGC
N ew
C onnections
A lways
G row
C ommitment
(Ronnie Levay and Ginny Vorhees)

Friendships Begin In A Garden Club
(David Healy and Ann Kiehl)

NCAGC: Our Capitol’s Garden Club
(Jane Kneessi and Linda Nordstrom)


Buzzing on a rose
Oblivious to the sun
Creating a yum
(Jane Ragezhi, Haymarket T&C GC)

Sunset on water
As solar slips to slumber
Night closes the day
(Mary Cottrell, Rock Spring GC)

Bee round and fury
Softly kissing a flower
Gathering pollen
(Bunny Barrett, Haymarket T&C GC)

Dark eyes, bright at birth
Precious little girl of mine
Black eyed Susan, light
(Esther Neckere, Mount Airy Clay Breakers)

Glowing petals rise
Uplifting natures buffet
Dining in midflight
(Teri Speight, Capitol Hill GC)

See the colors bright
Bees and insects all alight
Then they all take flight
(L. Millette, Mount Airy GC)

Dancing in the wind
Dressed to sparkle in sunlight
Color for a princess
(Ronnie Levay, Town and Country GC)

Each day a new bloom
Together catches your eyes
And more tomorrow
(David Healy, Capitol Hill GC)

Shimmering koi flash
Golden beneath the water
God’s moving flowers
(Jane Kneessi, The Garden Party GC)

Pink trees give blossoms
To Kenwood neighbors and friends
Kissing their petals
(Ginny Voorhees, Kenwood GC)

Black centered Susan
Arms stretched out to catch the sun
Happiness in Fall
(Mary Cottrell, Rock Spring GC)

Perching on flower
Extracts the golden nectar
A new plant is born

Petals spread like arms
Reaching toward the sun above
Thanking its creator

Daffodils awake
The sun arising on high
Heralds a new day
(Sue Bomar, Laurel GC)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Crazy About Daffodils - A post by Thea McGinnis

Across America, the daffodil season has begun or soon will! Here in the National Capital area, it's both cherry blossom and daffodil time, and this spring has been rather spectacular for both species.

Last weekend, fellow NGC flower show judges Connie Richards, Anita Brown and I attended Course I of the Amercan Daffodil Society's Daffodil Judge School.  Exciting, too, was that the course was  held at Brent and Becky's Bulb Farm in Gloucester, Virginia. I highly recommend you visit their farm if you are down that way. What a beautiful place! What a fascinating learning experience!  For more information on Brent and Becky's, click here

Following the course, we attended Gloucester's Daffodil Festival. We're talking parades, history, daffodils, food, music and attending their splendid Daffodil Show.

Look! The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on the road museum! 

Back here in the National Capital Area this past weekend, I competed in the Washington Daffodil Society and Mid-Atlantic Region Daffodil Show.  Show leaders told me they had record attendance. 
My triandrus, 'Thalia' even won a blue!

One thing I've learned in the last month is how many people are fascinated by growing and showing

 daffodils.  And for some, it's not just competing. It's about spring and poetry.

For more information on joining the American Daffodil Society, click here  and for more information on Virginia Fine Arts Museum on the road museum bus, click here

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Late Winter in the Nation's Capital - A post by Thea McGinnis

Every time I think spring is going to break through, it snows!  School is cancelled.  We sit home, mostly, reading our seed catalogues.  I did get out last week, however, when my best friend from third grade came into town.

We toured two historical homes: Tudor Place( here) and ( in Georgetown, which is a lovely home with historic connections from George Washington on into the twentieth century.  It also boasts a lovely garden.

Hillwood's cutting garden in late winter - they just turned the soil
The other home was Hillwood, a garden I've featured here (here) before.

Even though it was brisk the day we visited, we couldn't resist a stroll into the gardens. They've turned the dirt on the cutting garden but there's not a lot of action yet...except in the Orchid green houses.

Yowza! Enjoy!  Thea

Monday, March 11, 2019

It's Flower Show Time In Our National Capital Area - Mark Your Calendars! A post by Thea McGinnis

The purpose of an NGC Flower Show

.  To educate club members and viewing public
.  To stimulate interest in horticulture and floral design
.  To provide an outlet for creative expression
.  To communicate NGC, Inc. goals and objectives

Last month, National Capital Area Garden Clubs held Flower Show School Course I.  Over 30 garden club members from National Capital area, Maryland, and Virginia attended, with 23 future
student judges taking the final exam.

NGC Design Instructor, Jackie Davis
I think that is a very healthy sign for our organization.  The two expert National Garden Club Instructors were, frankly, fantastic.  Sue Kirkman from Kentucky, and Jackie Davis from Pennsylvania, had an incredible amount of information to convey to our students. They each explained, in great detail, flower show procedures and aspects of judging horticulture and design. In my opinion, Flower Show School is the most challenging of the excellent courses of study and certification offered by NGC.

Another indicator of organizational health - and the fun part -  is the clubs and districts that will host an NGC flower show this spring.  Flower shows are free and open to the public. I'll post more site specifics as I get the information. Here's the list so far - mark your calendars!

April 5, 2019 - District II will host a Standard Flower Show at River Farm in Alexandria, VA.

May 8, 2019 - Tanta Cove Garden Club will host a Small Standard Flower Show, "Sing A Song of Spring," at the home of Shirley Nicolai in Fort Washington, MD. (1:30 - 3:00 p.m.)

May 16, 2019 - Rock Spring Garden Club will host a Horticulture Specialty Flower Show, "Poetry In the Garden," at Little Falls Presbyterian Church, Arlington, VA. (2:00 - 4:00 p.m.)

May 22, 2019 - Manassas Garden Club will host a Standard Flower Show.

June 6, 2019 - The Garden Party and Friendship Garden Clubs will host a Small Standard Flower Show.

Leave a comment if you want to know more details about NCAGC garden shows happening this spring.  And if your club or district is hosting a show - let me know!  T

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hellebores - February is the Time to Prune!

A word about hellebores. . . .

A lot has been written about hellebores.  These wonderful plants bloom at the end of the winter just when you are beginning to wonder if spring will ever come.  If you are lucky enough to have some in your garden, now is the time to prune them.  Their leaves are indeed evergreen, but by February many are looking a bit frayed and could do with some rejuvenation.  The way to prune most hellebores is to cut off their leaves – yes, all the leaves – just as the buds are emerging.  This will not harm the plant and the buds will be followed quickly by new leaves.  The advantages of this are that the flowers are easily visible and not hidden by ugly old foliage, and the new foliage will look lovely and fresh. 

If you have Corsican hellebores (Hellebore argutifolius) this advice does not apply.  Corsican hellebores bloom a little earlier than lenten roses on top of two to three foot stems.  Prune each flowering stem down to the ground after the bloom has faded, or when the weather permits.

In recent years dozens of new hellebore introductions have come to market.  Traditional colors are more intense and a pallet of new colors has been added, especially purples, yellows, vibrant reds, and even greens.  Flower forms now include doubles, as well as cut and picotee edges.  

I was skeptical about yellow hellebores, but I have changed my mind because they are the most visible ones in the garden, and are a good choice for planting at a distance from the house or path.  I particularly like those with mottled green foliage, since it is very decorative for the rest of the year, after the flowers are finished.  

Christine Wegman is a Rock Spring Garden Club member in National Capital Area Garden Clubs' District III.  She is one of the go-to 'hort' experts in her club. Christine and her husband, Charlie Flicker, are avid and generous gardeners and have cultivated a delightful garden (for any season) in Arlington, Virginia. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Weather is Frigid! A post by Thea McGinnis

Yes - it's cold everywhere! But that isn't stopping the Superbowl or National Area Garden Clubs' activities!

 This weekend we start a new Flower Show School Course I, with more than 30 new students! Volunteers from NCAGC and NCAGC Judges Council have been extra busy getting our classrooms, displays, horticulture and designs ready for our two expert National Garden Clubs, Inc. Instructors. 

I'll be there and I'll post pictures next week - Thea