Is It Fall Already?

Yesterday’s winds, today’s rain, and the smell that has been on the air tells me so. The asters blooming, the store displays burgeoning with mums (I bought two huge ones at Sam’s Club) also tell the undeniable story that summer has past.

I still have tomatoes ripening on the vine, and they should continue to the first frost, which I expect around midway through October. How did the summer get away from me?

Oh yes, all through the hot and humid days which kept me immobile in my house. When the weeds had their way – and due to my health I could do nothing about them. Do weeds laugh? If so, mine were in the throes of hilarity.

But such restrictions do have their bright side, believe it or not. I am learning, once again, to savor the days and their blessings. To be thankful for the gift of a hummingbird sighting, or a morning spent muddling about. The small joys to be had, no matter what the circumstance.

And now it is fall.

In Ohio, these really are the best of days. A cool, crisp edge to the air, and intense skies of celestial blue. A clear, strong blue so unlike summer’s. The bird calls change, with a Blue Jays strident voice above the others.

The menu changes, too, with everything becoming apples, pumpkins, and soups.

There is always a sense of reflection in the autumn, for me. Is it that way for you?

Looking back over the growing season as it now comes to its natural close, brings a little sadness, too. I am one of those people who begins with a burst of enthusiasm, and closings bring more melancholy than satisfaction.

The only antidote for closing is the cycle of seasons, a slow accumulation of progress and the sense of ebb and flow that the larger picture gives. I find comfort and satisfaction in that.

But fall time is a joy. Just that transition where everything balances on the cusp of change -a mad rush to enjoy all the fruits, the warmth, the abundance before winter’s advent during November. Time for walks in the woods, gathering the fallen leaves, a color scheme of oranges, yellows, purples, black.

I love fall, but it is a parting, a closing; so it is always tinged with the edge of a certain awareness of its brevity. It is the season of my life, as well. I sense I must enjoy and savor in this season. Enjoy each clear day, prepare during each cloudy one, and gather comforts in memory and materially for the winter ahead.

But a large lesson of the seasons is to not get ahead of oneself… one season at a time.

chinquapin leaves and acorns
chinquapin leaves and acorns

A couple weeks ago I was taking a walk in a small park my husband and I like for its proximity and short, manageable trail distance. During a respite on a metal bench at one of the overlooks, a loud “kerplink” signaled falling acorns.

It caught my attention and I looked around for the nuts. They were so tiny, and the oak leaves were different from the usual Red or White oak, or the huge Burr oaks of my county. The leaves were almost dainty in their size and scallops, one had turned a premature yellow. Tufts of green ones, nuts attached, had blown off the trees on this upland ground, cut through with a fast running creek at the bottom of the ravine.

What were they?

The Oak at Indian Run

I have identified it as the Chinquapin Oak. It is also called Yellow Oak or “Yellow Chestnut Oak” as the shape of the leaves are reminiscent of Chestnut leaves.

The description says it is often found on the summit of hills, and this was the location of these.

I brought home some of the fallen leaves and a couple acorns to photograph. The nuts seem unusually small, and I thought of little cups for a fairy garden vignette. The drought of this summer may have contributed to how small they were, but maybe this is normal for the Chinquapin.

It is a “climax species on dry, drought prone soils, especially those of limestone origin

What Is In a Name?

Latin name of this oak species is ‘Quercus muehlenbergii‘. I like the common name (first known use: 1612) which seems to be derived from Virginia Algonquian  chechinquamin, denoting the acorn as an edible nut. citation 

The word ‘chinquapin’ seems to be used in old times for sweet nuts, like Chestnuts, and the acorn of this tree (called by one source, the Shin oak) was supposed to be sweet. If it anything like other acorns, it has to be prepared properly to actually be edible.

This was the rabbithole I went down because I wanted to know what kind of oak this was. Oaks are incredibly important in their ecosystems.

Homesteader Heirloom Apples and Real Cider

The Renaissance of Heirloom Apples

Traditionally, an old fashioned fall treat has been the availability of aromatic autumn apples and the rich complex flavor of pressed cider.

Source: fishermansdaughter 
Source: fishermansdaughter

Although grocery stores attempt to carry “cider” in pasteurized containers all year, the taste is insipid in comparison to the special flavor that blended heirloom varieties give to their juices.

Some of those heritage types especially loved for cider making were in danger of being lost, but there has been a resurgence in planting and growing the old heirloom trees. We can now enjoy many of these flavors, again.

Apples Are An Old Standby For Americans

We make apple desserts and sauce, cook them with meat and poultry, and eat them fresh. And nothing is as American as apple pie!
We make apple desserts and sauce, cook them with meat and poultry, and eat them fresh. And nothing is as American as apple pie!

What Can You Learn From This Page?

The old types and how they are best used, tips on which you want to choose for cooking, eating fresh, or making cider. Products for preparing and preserving the fruits, resource books, and some great apple pie recipes follow in the paragraphs below.

Informative videos for picking and choosing some of the selections you may find in a Farmers Market near you!

About Old Fashioned Apple Varieties – What were they used for?

Cox Orange Pippin
Cox Orange Pippin

Old Time Apples

Cooking? Fresh Eating? Long Storage?


Ashmead’s Kernel apple is not a pretty face, but has delicious flavor and is useful for eating, salads, cider, and cooking. Wow- if I were a homesteader this is the apple I would want to grow. Learn more about Ashmead’s Kernel

Gravenstein is a coastal type of apple. Quite famous in the past, a very old variety that originated in South Denmark. It is used mainly for cooking and cider.

Esopus Spitzenburg apple is an eating apple. It was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite. “The flavor is truly aromatic and matches the complexity of the English aromatic apples. The flesh is a buttery dense yellow, and there is a rich sharpness which is often characteristic of high quality dessert apples.” It is not a very healthy tree, though.

Cole’s Quince apple is a very rare cooking and eating apple.

Adam’s Pearmain apple is an old-fashioned dessert apple. Dry rather than juicy, it has an aromatic flavor.

Cox’s Orange Pippin is an old dessert apple variety, Gala apples are today’s version.

Antique Varieties

Grow The Best For Your Climate

Old Southern Apples: A Comprehensive History and Description of Varieties for Collectors, Growers, and Fruit Enthusiasts, 2nd Edition
Old Southern Apples: A Comprehensive History and Description of Varieties for Collectors, Growers, and Fruit Enthusiasts, 2nd Edition

Not every apple tree grows well in every part of the nation. Farmers developed those which grew well. Like many other fruit crops, there were particulars ones that were prized by those in Southern Climates.

This book, in its second edition, provides history, cooking and growing information of the classic apples of the South.

All About Apples

Learn about the old apples

  • Trees of Antiquity
    Trees of Antiquity : fruits of all kinds-heirloom trees,
  • Apple Journal- “A Passion for Apples”
    Apple Journal is a comprehensive resource for growers and consumers about apples and apple growing. Find information about cooking, nutrition, variety selection and usage, farm market reports, historical archives, and orchards

For Cooking And Eating

Cooking, Eating, Or Applesauce?

Did you realize that certain fruits have qualities of texture and flavor that make them best for cooking or fresh eating? The same goes for qualities that produce the best cider or applesauce.

Make Lots of Apple Sauce

Heirloom Varieties And Their Uses

Brier’s Sweet Crab originated in Wisconsin. Very sweet and good as dessert apple and for applesauce.

Newell’s Late Orange is good for cooking.

Dula Beauty, great for baking, hails from North Carolina. Dark red with yellowish, crisp flesh.

Winter Banana is a tart-sweet apple which makes it good for cooking. Also prized as an eating apple which has a “banana aroma”. Originated in Indiana.

Bentley’s Sweet is a very sweet and long keeping apple. Late ripening dessert apple.

Bietigheimer, from German origins, is an early ripening cooking apple.

Bramley’s Seedling, an English variety, is good for baking and cider. It has a sharp taste that is excellent used in those ways.

Chenango Strawberry, from New York, an aromatic apple good for eating and cooking.

Duchess of Oldenburg is an old Russian apple which is fine for both eating and cooking.Has a tangy flavor reminiscent of Winesap.

McIntosh Red is widely available in supermarkets, but is an old variety. Great for salads, and for cooking and baking. Famous for its sweet but mildly tangy flavor.

Margil was widely grown in England in the1700’s and established popularity in the Colonies here by the 1750’s. It is now a rare apple, tends to the small side with russet coat. Its flesh is tender, ivory, very sweet, and flavorful. Red Jacket Orchards of Genvea, New York grows it and I found it in my market in Ohio. Delicious!

Northern Spy from New York in the early 1800’s; it has a spicy, aromatic flavor. Quite famous for pies.

Softer apples are best for applesauce

Best varieties to use: Pippin, Rhode Island Greening, McIntosh, Elstar, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Gravenstein

apples by kightp
Source: Kightp

Cider Apples

Best apple varieties for cider making

Cider is a blend of several apple juices made from crushed apples.

How To Make Cider

Crush ripe apples and extract their juice under pressure.

If making an alcoholic sort of cider there is a fermentation process.

“The four types of apples for cider are describes as sweets, sharps, bittersweets and bittersharps. Sweet and sharp are easy enough to understand (eg Cox and Bramley) but the bitter types are apples grown specifically for cider and are not used for eating or cooking.

The specific thing about these fruits is that they have high levels of tannins, flavour compounds which set your teeth on edge if you bite into the apple, but which ferment out to give a richer, aromatic flavour with good mouth feel in the finished cider” [1]

Old Fashioned Cider

Apple Cider
Apple Cider

Special Cider Varieties

American Varieties for Cider

  • Red Limbertwig
  • Harrison Cider
  • Campfield

English Varieties for Cider

  • Kingston Black – Bittersharp
  • Dabinett – Bittersweet
  • Sweet Coppin – Sweet
  • Crimson King – Sharp

How To Press Cider From Your Apple Crop

New England Cider Pie

Recipe from James Beard– that man really knew how to cook!


  • Pie dough for a 1-crust pie
  • 2/3 cup boiled cider or 2 cups apple cider- boiled down to 2/3 cup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar- to taste
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter -melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large well beaten eggs
  • 2 tart apples such as Granny Smith- peeled | cored | coarsely grated
  • 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream


  1. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a large circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fit it, without stretching, into a buttered 8- to 9-inch pie pan. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Fold under the edge of dough, pressing along rim of the pan and forming a high, fluted border. Chill the pie shell while you preheat the oven to 375° , with a rack in the lower third.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the boiled cider, sugar, melted butter, lemon juice, salt, and eggs. Add the grated apples and stir to blend well. Pour the filing into the pie shell; sprinkle the brown sugar and nutmeg over the top.
  3. Bake until mixture is just set in the center, usually 50 minutes.
  4. Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, topped with ice cream or whipped cream.

Apple Gadget – Pare lots of apples

Norpro 865R Apple Master-Apple, Potato, Parer, Slicer & Corer with Vacuum Base & Clamp
Norpro 865R Apple Master-Apple, Potato, Parer, Slicer & Corer with Vacuum Base & Clamp

This is the original style of apple parer you may have seen in your grandmother’s kitchen. Still works great!

Baking and Cooking Apples

Apples need to retain their shape to be good for cooking and baking, should not be too sweet. Good varieties are: Granny Smith, Jonathan, Jonagold, Pippin apples, Gravenstein, Braeburn, Fuji, and Pink Lady Apples

All American Favorite

Middle Western touch of cheddar cheese. Photo by bucklava
Middle Western touch of cheddar cheese. Photo by bucklava

Deep-Dish Apple Pie from Emeril Lagasse.

Use the included Pie crust recipe


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples-sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 pounds Macintosh Apples-sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • packed
  • 1 lemon- juiced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 egg- beaten
  • 4 ounces Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar-grated
  • 1 Pie Crust recipe below


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the apples and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sugars, lemon juice and flour. Continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Season the apples with nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Mix thoroughly and remove from the heat. Mix in the pecans. Cool the mixture.
  3. Lightly dust a surface with flour. Cut the dough in half. Roll out each half to 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Fold 1 circle of dough in fourths. Carefully lift the dough and place in a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Unfold the pie dough and spoon the apples into the pie shell. Place the second round of dough over the apples. Using a sharp knife cut away the excess dough. Using your fingers, crimp the edges of the pie firmly to seal the dough completely. With the same sharp knife, make 3 slits, about 4 inches long and 2 inches apart, across the pie dough. Brush with the beaten egg, place the pie in the oven, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Return the pie to the oven and continue to cook for 8 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Let cool to room temperature before slicing, about 1 hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
  5. Pie Dough:
  6. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  8. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 11 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  10. 3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  11. 5 tablespoons ice water
  12. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingers, work in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and work with your fingers until the water is incorporated and the dough comes together. Add more water as needed just until the dough comes together, being careful not to over mix. Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
  13. Yield: enough for 1 double crust pie

Bake A Great Apple Pie – KitchenAid can Help

KitchenAid KEBS208SSS 30 Double Wall Oven - Stainless Steel
KitchenAid 30 Double Wall Oven – Stainless Steel

Dependable appliances that work well to deliver you the best baking, and roasting outcomes.

Thanksgiving Cider Pie

Old fashioned pie from the archives of the Columbus Dispatch “Cooks Corner”

New England Speciality

Serving Size

Serves: 8

  • Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter-diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 large egg yolk-lightly beaten
  • Filling and topping:
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature-separated
  • 1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream or whole milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  1. Combine flour, butter and salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and egg yolk. Process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes or longer.
  2. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold in overhanging dough to form a high-rising border. Flute the edges. Refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes. (Pie shell can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.)
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. To make filling: Put cider in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until cider reduces to 1/2 cup, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add sugar, water and butter to cider and return pan to high heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until mixture reduces to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a medium, heatproof mixing bowl and cool to room temperature.
  6. Whisk yolks into the cooled cider mixture. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until just firm. Fold them into the cider mixture in three additions.
  7. Spoon filling into the prepared pie shell. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° . Continue to bake until crust is golden brown, and filling has puffed and set and has become dark brown on top, about 25 minutes more. If filling and crust are browning too quickly, cover pie with a buttered sheet of foil.
  8. Cool to room temperature.
  9. To serve, place creme fraiche in a serving bowl, and whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons cream to lighten slightly. Dust pie with confectioners’ sugar. Garnish with creme fraiche.

Growing Heirloom Apples – Resources

Keep Your Apple Crop – Old Fashioned Apple Rack

Orchard Rack, 6 Drawer
Orchard Rack, 6 Drawer

With good air circulation, the drawers slide for easy access. Ideal for keeping apples, squash, potatoes, and even drying herbs.

  • Cider
    Apple cider notes from a personal point of view. The apples we grow are described more fully in the varieties page
  • Real Cider and Perry
    Old Scrump’s Cider House: one of the most valuable web resources for cider & perry enthusiast.
  • The Wittenham Hill Cider Portal
    All about small-scale cider making, cider growing, and making apple juice and vinegar – written by Andrew Lea, a food scientist and hobby cidermaker
  • In Celebration of The Apple
    Apple recipes

Tomato Troubles

I have large tomatoes, plenty of them…that is not the trouble. Hornworms. and cracking, those are the troubles.

Right now, I am picking the fruits just turning red and ripening them on my window.

Hornworms are officially called Manduca quinquemaculata. As caterpillars they are voracious pests, munching through incredible amounts of your tomato harvest.

How To Prevent Hornworms?

  • Till the ground pre-season to destroy up to 90% of overwintering of them.
  • Wasp larvae attach themselves to hornworms and are a biological control.
  • Dill, basil, and marigolds are companions to tomato plants which help repel them.

Some Cracking Rainstorms

cracked tomato
Skin cracked, but delicious all the same.

The other malady of my tomato plants is the case of the cracking fruit. What causes the lines and opening of the tomato skin? Just the weather conditions we experienced: Dry weather period followed by rainstorms. It was the lack of water which caused the splitting skin. The answer would have been more regular watering during a droughty period.

Rains have left the ground in good condition for sowing some late summer seeds for the fall crops. That is next on my agenda.

This Is The Time Of Year That My Garden Gets Away From Me

The weeds, the harvest, the garden maintenance…. all need attention. As an older gardener both my health and summer’s heat conspired against me. I must take a laissez faire attitude against the chores which go undone while I take refuge from hot temperatures.

But thankfully, the days are cooler and less humid this week! I look forward to catching up.

The earth looks so gratefully green after its thirst is quenched. I, too, have joined its gratefulness and drink in the blue skies and high cotton clouds.

The Turn Of Summer

Chrysanthemums have appeared at the stores, a sure sign that we face the end of summertime. It is this shift of plant focus that signals the wax and wane of our seasons.

Chrysanthemums used to be perennial in my garden, but now it is difficult to bring them through the winter. They have always needed more protection in this rural garden. The scathing winds and bare winter earth was too much for the varieties planted here. I imagine there were other factors of neglect that contributed to their short lived existence, as well.

Mums tend to be garden plants that thrive on cultivation and fade way with a wild, competitive garden. They like space and room, plenty of fertilizer and being reset every few years.

These days I treat them like annuals.

I will look for an apricot one to place in my large container, and soft pinks for the containers on either side of my front walk.
Cushion mumsGrowing Cushion Mums

It is too early, but already my thoughts turn towards the hope that I will be a better, more attentive gardener next year. I am reining them in to create a more “in the moment” framework of savoring the bounty of autumn.

The garden is not finished with the end of summer, it is gathering strength for a grand finale.

How is your garden growing? Are you tempted by the bulbs and baskets of chrysanthemums yet?

I Have A Thing For Bicolor Bulbs, Especially Tulips

Château du clos de Vougeot

We all have our weaknesses, and one of mine is for those bicolor tulips that have a rim of one color and central color of another. while solid colors make a strong statement in the landscape view, the striking look of two colors suits me best.

Three Examples

One way I like to see these flowers in the garden are in the company of a harmonious lowgrowing perennial. One that picks up the lighter of the two colors.
If a two tone of red and white is planted, then one of the white flowered perennials like Arabis would be pretty.

Other Perennial Companions
  • Phlox subulata
  • Alyssum (Aurinia) saxatile
  • Arenaria montana
  • Ajuga
  • Aubrieta deltoidea
  • Bergenia

Plant Companions For Bicolor Bulbs

Besides perennials that echo the color of one of the hues, a solid color companion is probably best. Strong green foliage background may be the ideal foil, but plants that provide a frame and not a pattern competition allows the two tone blooms to stand out.

Another good companion is a solid color in a similar type of tulip. Bringing out one of the shades or contrasting altogether. This is where you color sense comes into play. Just be sure to match up flowering times and heights when planting tulips for this kind of display.
Tulips, Pansies, and Phlox

The Spring Ephemerals

Perennials that bloom in spring and then fade from the scene are called “ephemerals”. Virginia bluebells, Bleeding hearts, are two of the best known. Their foliage is an attractive match with flowering bulbs. The two tone bleeding hearts in cherry red and white look well with similar bicolor flowers.

The Bluebells have a fantastic blue and pinkish color with lush green leaves which looks especially pretty with pinks, but harmonizes with other colors, too. These two plants grow well with spring bulbs.

In The Landscape

Sometimes a flower or plant looks wonderful close at hand, but its qualities are lost when viewed in the overall landscape. Tulips tend to stand out. Their colors make a powerful impact on the impression even when viewed from the a distance.

Two tone, bicolor tulips tend to blend in distance viewing, but many still retain some feeling of shade distinction. I think it is always an attractive result. It might even be a better look than the solid tones, giving the effect of outlining the individual blooms.

Bulb Planting Rules

The rule of thumb is to plant no less than 10 in a group, preferably 20. It is more important to effect for the bicolor varieties. a larger group enhances their qualities, but too small a number looks lonely and small. So be sure to plant a proper sized group of them. If you add a blooming perennial at their feet, I think you will really like the picture that creates in your garden plan.

Are you planning on planting tulips this fall? what do you think of the bicolor varieties?

How To Plant Dutch Bulbs For Fabulous Spring Flowers

Start Spring With A Big Pop of Color

Apeldoorn Tulips
Apeldoorn Tulips |

Though the usual sequence is to plant the bulbs in the fall for bloom in the spring, some growers cheat the system by chilling those sold for spring bloom. This is necessary for Southern gardens which don’t get the required cold temperatures.

Presented here are some of the fine selections that you can plant in your own gardens to brighten up the Springtime with color and fragrance.

Find out if the small bulbs, tulips, or daffodils might be best for you.

Planting and maintenance tips, secrets to success, all included for your pretty garden.

A Healthy Look

Fat, Healthy Tulip Bulbs
Fat, Healthy Tulip Bulbs

These Are Always Planted In Autumn

Though planted in Autumn, Spring is the best time to make lists of varieties to order or look for when the season rolls around in late August.

Pick Healthy Bulbs

Dutch Perfection

  1. The Dutch have perfected the bulb growing for ideal blooms.
  2. Most bulbs are shipped to stores and gardeners at planting time ,starting about September.
  3. Bulbs come in different sizes according to variety, but also due to quality.
  4. They produce 4.32 billion tulip bulbs annually, some of which will grow cut flowers.

Fat Bulbs: Heavy Means Healthy

Because tulips and other fall planted spring bubs are grown in Holland to ideal size, it is important to get the largest bulbs you can. Look for tight tunics (the brown skin), a feel of heavy weight for the size, to indicate freshness and health.

Although bulbs differ in look, they should feel heavy, since the lighter they are the more they may have dried out. When taking care to get the best bulbs, be sure to plant them promptly. This allows the roots to get a start on the winter.

When ordering online, the catalog should record the diameter of the bulbs offered, usually in centimeters. This is the way to gauge the quality of what is offered.

  • 10 cm. minimum for tulips, 12 cm. is better
  • Daffodils depend on variety and class, but look for those with 16 cm. bulbs for best results
  • Not sure of size? Choose according to feeling of weightiness

Glory of the Snow
Big impact from a small size: plant in large groups. Glory of the Snow



How To Plant And Naturalize

Put Those (Plant) Babies In The Ground

Bulbs are simply a storehouse which contain the baby plant in entirety. Everything needed for a beautiful blooming plants is right inside the bulb along with a storehouse of food for that year. This is why we can “force” bulbs for inside the house during winter months.

It also explains two other things: why forced bulbs are useless to plant in the ground and why we need to leave the foliage growing after blooming. The foliage is fattening up the storage bulb and creating the next year’s flowers.

First Steps For Fabulous Results

  1. Find a sunny spot- most spring flowering bulbs need full sunshine.
  2. Make sure the soil is well-drained. These bulbs will rot in soggy ground.
  3. Dig holes or a trench 3 x deeper than the bulb’s height.
  4. Sprinkle in the fertilizer.
  5. Plant bulb root (or plate) side down and cover with soil.

Mixed Triumph Tulips (25 Bulbs) - Assorted Colors of Tulip Bulbs
Mixed Triumph Tulips (25 Bulbs) – Assorted Colors of Tulip Bulbs

Add pretty color with old fashioned looking Triumph tulips. They are a bit shorter than Darwins, but their large flowers are held on sturdy stems.

These bulbs are grown to flower this spring, and don’t forget that they can look lovely in containers plantings, too.

Nothing says spring like a bunch of colorful tulips.

Plant them towards the front of the flower bed.They bloom mid-Spring.

Blooming Together For A Spring Picture

Daffodils and grape hyacinths usually bloom together
Daffodils and grape hyacinths usually bloom together. They are just one example of the layering technique, where large sized bulbs are planted deeper with small ones are planted a few inches higher.

This produces a carpet of contrasting color for the larger blooms of Daffoils and Tulips. It is a favorite method of Dutch growers in their display gardens.

How To Mix Bulbs Together In Pretty Combination In Your Garden

Check bloom times on bulbs for the greatest likelihood of pretty garden pictures.

Given the variability built into Mother Nature it still is no guarantee that the bulbs will all flower on cue. However, the upside of that truth is that sometimes many flower simultaneously with other plants that you didn’t expect.

This past winter delayed everything in my own garden, and provided quite a few surprises, but in normal years the inner clocks of the flowers are dependable.

The garden always surprises.

Good combos?

  • Small bulbs and earliest daffodils
  • Early Kaufmanniana tulips with crocus
  • Choosing two or three harmonious tulips of the same class
  • Daffodils and Scillas
  • Tulips and Hyacinths

My Favorite Spring Flower Pairings

Low growing perennials like Moss phlox ( Phlox subulata), Iberis sempervirens, ‘Basket of Gold’ Alyssum at the feet of tulips are probably the best of the blossoming spring show.

The moss phlox and Iberis are also attractive groundcovers all season long with attractive foliage that persists and smothers many weeds.

Moss Phlox With Red Tulips, And Yellow Daffodils

In my driveway garden, this carpet of moss phlox is paired with red tulips and golden daffodils.

What Flowers Make You Think Spring?

Which is Your Favorite Spring Flowering Bulb?

While there are many perennials which flower in springtime, it is the Dutch flower bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, and Crocus which most of us identify with the beginning of the new garden season.

In fact if you would choose an icon for the Spring, it might well be one of those blooms. Although they may not come first to mind, there are a plethora of other flowers that bloom from bulbs in the spring: Hyacinths, Frittilarias, Snowdrops, Glory of the Snow, Eranthis, and numbers of lesser known like the Alliums and dainty bulb forming Irises.

Start the garden out right with a plan that includes a display of these easy care bulbs with good looking perennial plants to bloom with them, or cover them later.

Cover The Ground With Perennials

I like to grow perennials with Spring flowering bulbs, not just to cover the dying foliage, but also as companions that bloom in tandem with them.

Low growing perennials are the classic pairing, Phlox subulata, Arabis, Basket of Gold are just a few. Forget-me-nots and pansies create bright, colorful panoramas of bloom along with the larger flowers of tulips and daffodils.

Another Landscape Idea

Perennials that are slow to emerge will give the bulbs time to bloom and then cover the fading foliage. Hostas are ideal, but daylilies are better for sunny spots and keep the color going into summer months.

What Sort Of Fertilizer Should I Use?

Add Long Lasting Fertilizer

Fertilizers such as bone meal or the special formulation sold for bulbs create perennial vigor and bloom.
Organic fertilizers are often slow acting and soil building which is just what bulbs like to produce gorgeous flowers.

Fertilizing For Bulb Maintenance

Be sure your flowers come back year after year and bloom to maximum results by adding fertilizer when planting and annually thereafter.

Scotts Bulb Continuous Release Plant Food, 3-Pound (Not Sold in Pinellas County, FL)
Scotts Bulb Continuous Release Plant Food, 3-Pound (Not Sold in Pinellas County, FL)

I personally prefer to add bone meal, which has a typical analysis of 3-15-0. The middle number is phosphorus which aids in root growth and promotes blooms.

Fertilize as you see the shoots emerge, and then after bloom each year.

Remember that roots are growing under ground in the fall, and that is another period of time to add slow release fertilizers.

The food that is formulated especially for bulbs takes out the guesswork.

Scilla Hispanica or English Bluebells Naturalize In Shady Places

Scilla hispanica
Like in an English woods, these wood hyacinths have covered the ground with blue flowers. source: Wikipedia Commons



“Scatter” is the operative word in naturalizing.

Whether you scatter the bulbs on top of the ground before planting, or scatter seed after the flowers set seed, the effect is as if mother nature herself were at work.

Have you ever seen pictures of a river of blue flowers among trees? A lawn with an endless parade of spring flowers such as daffodils, or even a hillside covered in crocus? They probably did not get there by accident, but by the artful planting in a style called “naturalizing”.

Chionodoxa is a good choice for naturalizing
Chionodoxa is a good choice for naturalizing

Some bulbs will helpfully seed and multiply, but many need a gardener who distributes bulbs each year in a way that looks so unstudied that it seems as though it had to be Mother Nature.

It is easy to do. Simply choose the bulbs you wish to grow, a spot where they can be left alone after blooming (remember they need time for leaves to die down), and patience.

How To Naturalize

  • Scillas and Chionodoxa are easiest to grow this way. Crocus is a little more difficult, because rodents may eat them and they don’t spread through seed in most gardens.
  • I like to scatter the bulbs in the area I want to plant them, and then use a shovel or trowel to open the ground. Drop in the bulb with a bit of bone meal. Done!
  • Under shrubs and trees when a neat lawn is required; in the lawn itself, if you don’t mind some weeks of shagginess for withering foliage.
  • Along a driveway, mulched during bulb dormancy, is a pretty way to naturalize Grape hyacinths.
  • In lightly wooded areas, on hillsides, within a shrubbery.


  • 5 Best Small Spring Blooms
    One of the ways I like to combine these small bulbs is to have a garden with all blues, naturalized in the grassy areas and under trees. A mix of Scillas, Glory-of-the-snow, blue Muscari, are a melange of blue color spilled over the ground

My Daffodils Multiply Every Year

Daffodils readily multiply. In fact, they will need to be divided every once in awhile if they become crowded; but this simply results in more free bulbs for you!

Bulb Garden Maintenance


  1. After bulbs bloom, snip off dead flowers, leaving stems.
  2. Allow all green parts to wither and die down, or lift bulbs and keep in a cool, dry place.
  3. Allow to grow in situ until bulbs no longer bloom well. Then lift, divide, and move.
  4. Don’t allow to go to seed unless they are minor bulbs which you wish to naturalize. Seed formation weakens daffodil and tulip flowering. Allow all strength of plant to go to bulbs.
  5. Lightly fertilize in following fall to help roots and plant prepare for next year.


Take off the spent flowers to prevent bulb strength going into seed production.

Garden Snips I consider my garden snips to be invaluable for the job of dead heading and a surprising number of other garden tasks. Read my review of the economical, favorite brand I use.

Spring Garden Harmony

Choose colors, heights, and bloomtimes
Choose colors, heights, and bloom times

Fall Planted Spring Bulbs

Plant Type Colors Depth
Tulips many colors,except blue 6 to 8 inches
Daffodils mainly yellow and white, but also oranges 6 to 8 inches
Fritillaria imperialis yellow, orange 6 to 8 inches
Hyacinths blue,purple,pink,white,salmon, 6 to 8 inches
Hyacinthoides hispanica blue, white, pink 4 inches
Alliums, large Purple 6 inches
Minor bulbs: crocus,scillas,galanthus,iris,etc multi-colors and single colors 3 to 4 inches
Alliums, small rose, yellow, white 3 to 4 inches

Quick color and planting depth chart

© 2014 Ilona Erwin

change for social media

I need to make this post in order to claim my blog and change the settings on Bloglovin:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

This blog is the Ilona’s Garden Journal moved onto its own site. Someone had squatted on “” years ago so I bought “Home Garden Companion” and moved the blogger site to this self hosted WordPress site.

I finally took the old blog private now that there has been time for my readers to locate the new url.

On Bloglovin there were some followers and I moved them to the published site so they can enjoy the posts they signed up for!

Apologies for the awkward way I have moved and changed my blogs over the last year. Hope for smooth sailing ( writing and gardening) ahead.

A Dry And Crispy Lawn

We have had heat and my part of Central Ohio has been skipped for the last several thunderstorms. I see the toll it is taking on the surrounding cornfields: pineappled upper leaves and browning lower ones. The soybeans handle the conditions in far better shape.

My lawn, as it were, is crunchy underneath as I trudge the hose around to my suffering containers. I don’t water lawns. Ever.

Yet, my grass areas have a semi-green appearance. The white clover defies succumbing to our August drought; though the grass is dormant, dry, and crispy.

clover and grass

This is rather normal for August, actually. Very hot, horridly humid, looking for rain, seeking shade and coolness.

What I Water

So, the chores! Sometimes there is no escape, and a nagging guilt that I will regret my procrastination moves me forward.

Besides the flower containers, which honestly could use it more often than I proffer it, I water tomato plants. Waiting until it is obvious they desperately need a drink, I finally gave them a good deep watering the other day.

The forecast rain went south and headed east- I saw none of the promised rain!

Not all of the procrastination of outside work as been deliberate. For health reasons I can no longer go outside in the humidity saturated 90 degree weather.  So my garden languishes in this drought.

Believe me, I suffer looking at it!

Morning Sessions

Work can be pleasant on summer mornings as long as the temperatures drop a bit. Yesterday I half-weeded the vegetable beds, finally removed the spinach which weeks before had gone to seed.

As you can imagine, mine is no picture perfect garden.

buddleia bush
Buddleia bush and striped Miscanthus grass

Today I am enjoying a lovely morning.

Especially this year, I am disposing of those inner promptings to make the garden for imaginary others. No one comes to see them, even when they are at their best. My yardwork is for my own benefit, and the challenge is to adjust my thinking to calibrate with that truth.

Enough Moaning

new hydrangea bush
I bought this Forever and Ever Hydrangea as a half dead sale plant- it perked up when promptly planted and watered.

I might seem to be moaning- forgive me, I hope not. The adjustments to changing conditions does not always have a downside… even when we are in a season of “less”.

I am enjoying the breeze of the morning, observing a couple incredibly small hummingbirds jockey for territorial rights to their space in my apple tree. So much of life is rich and we have only to focus elsewhere if one area is going through drought.

We don’t need to complain. Too many people just complain about the weather. Not that I never do- but what usefulness is there in complaining about something you have no control over?

In Sum

And so I walk on my dry and crispy lawn, crunching underneath my counted (yes, daily counts of steps are measuring my actions) steps. Much of the days energy might be relegated to hauling the infernally heavy hose around (I need to try one of those lightweight ones again…. maybe they will last longer for me this time), but I can see which plants do well in my climate, plan for a fall crop of new spinach and salad greens, catch up on writing, and find any number of ways to flow with life rather than fight and rail against it.

It is choice. It does help to plan for the lean times. I have a love for clover in a lawn; for hardy and tolerant plants; for variety in seasons; for help when it is given and grace when it is not.

Maybe the choice is generously mixed with gratefulness.

I leave you with that thought…until next time, my friend.