Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the zone

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

The U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] is about to release a new version of the
weather map that divides the country into climate zones.

Just as a pick-up artist identifies himself, I'm an Aries, a gardener shares the salient information, I'm Zone 7b.

At least I do--don't you?

Are we in for a mass identity crisis? In an interview with the USDA, blogger Graham Rice was told the zones would not be changed but instead shown in more detail.

That's as may be. The USDA is, after all, a federal agency, and political pressure could be brought to bear on its good workers.

The temptations are great. Think of the massive population shift if Michigan were suddenly reclassified as warm Zone 9. Droves of naive gardeners yearning to grow tender plants could be fooled into buying Detroit real estate.

What if a Senator wanted to contradict global warming theory by giving his state a colder zone number?

Perhaps it's time to take this zoning power out of the hands of the federal government and give it to an expert, apolitical body.

Yes, I mean the garden editors at Sunset in Menlo Park, California. They developed their own Western states zones with detailed gradations, and expanded that system to cover the whole country.

I'd be fine with introducing myself as Sunset Zone 7.

The Sunset staff would have to watch their backs though. Lobbyists would be lurking in the Sunset test garden, leaping out from behind buddleias to harass editors.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Narcissus 'Misty Glen' takes home the Wister Award

Narcissus 'Misty Glen'
Photo courtesy of DaffSeek and Colorblends Flowerbulbs.

The what award?

We all watched the Academy Awards two weeks ago. The Wister Award is the daffodil version of the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Misty Glen is pictured above--she's wearing white, which was not as big as silver on the red carpet this year, but elegant nevertheless. Misty Glen is still clutching her Wister, presented to her last weekend by the American Daffodil Society at their National Convention.

To earn this honor Misty Glen was required to be a "good grower" with a "floriferous habit", "showy at a distance" and "resistant to basal rot".

In her acceptance speech she thanked her parents, Easter Moon and Pigeon; her hybridizer, Frederick Board; the bulb sellers who promoted her in the horticultural community; and the many home gardeners who gave her the opportunity to perform in their front yards.

I'm going to offer her a starring role in my garden next year. If you live in USDA Zones 4-8 you could do the same. Industry sources say she's not a prima donna.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Daffodil Blogorama 2010

Narcissus Nirvana is here with a Daffodil Blogorama (a round-up of blog posts about daffodils) and the annual meeting of the American Daffodil Society.

Drive to the Northern California Gold Country this weekend for the FREE show at the National Convention of the American Daffodil Society. The National Show will be at Ironstone Vineyards where the gardens boast 300,000 daffodils. Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Naturalized daffodils edge the vineyards.

Tubs of daffodils greet you at the entrance to the show.

Hundreds of flowers will be on display indoors, including the world's largest assemblage of miniature daffodils and a collection of green-hued daffodils. The National Show is open to the public March 12-14: Friday 1-5, Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 9-3. Click here for directions to Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys.

The Daffodil Blogorama tour of the world begins now, starting in California and moving East around the globe. Click on the name of the blog to see a daffodil story:

* Saxon Holt, the eminent landscape photographer, gives tips on taking pictures of daffodils at Gardening Gone Wild.

* The California farmers at Curbstone Valley blog about 'Dutch Master'.

* Pomona Belvedere posts at Tulips in the Woods on 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'.

* I post at Daffodil Planter on 'Passionale' and the garden writer Henry Mitchell.

* Mississippi blogger Gail at Yardflower has a daffodil bouquet for fans of the garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence.

* Winner of Blotanical's Garden Blog of the Year for two years running, Frances from Tennessee posts at Fairegarden about mid-season daffodils.

* The Canadian sister act: Helen and Sarah blog at Toronto Gardens about 'Ice Follies'.

* Jan of Northern Virginia at Thanks For 2 Day brings Wordsworth to the daffodil party.

* Maryland flower photographer Patty Hankins at Beautiful Flower Pictures posts a group of daffodil photos.

* Janet is The Queen of Seaford in Seaford, Virginia. She posts about a miniature daffodil.

* Naomi Sachs in New York writes about the American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days program on her Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog.

* Moosey is in a category all her own. A pioneer in garden blogging, she was sharing online stories from Moosey's Country Garden in New Zealand before the word blog was invented. She posts about the ultimate challenge with daffodils--deciding which varieties to buy.

Thanks to all the bloggers for sharing their work!

Can't get enough?

First Daffodils 2010 is a blog where people from all over the world send photos of the first sightings of daffodils in their towns. Order a daffodil note cube there too.

If you can't attend the National Show this year, check out the American Daffodil Society website for answers to all your daffodil questions. Join the American Daffodil Society and a daffodil society near you.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

A passion for Narcissus 'Passionale'

Narcissus 'Passionale' (click photo to enlarge)
Photo courtesy of DaffSeek and Carlos van der Veek

In his weekly Earthman columns Henry Mitchell, famed writer for the Washington Post, made gardens sound like magical places whose creation was within our grasp.

He cast a spell over me, and all my gardening choices were ruled by his preferences. I love daffodils and soaked up his opinions on the subject.

Here's what he had to say about Narcissus 'Passionale' in his column called Daffodil Time:

There is a pink-crowned white flower, 'Passionale', which is, not to split hairs about it, supremely beautiful. ... I hope any gardener will try at least a few of the most beautiful sorts, like 'Passionale'. Even one bulb.

Ever the obedient reader, I bought 20 'Passionale' bulbs and planted them in front of my house. He was, of course, absolutely right. If I could have only one garden book it would be the collection of his columns, The Essential Earthman.

Henry Mitchell became ill and lingered painfully for many months. He died in 1993, planting daffodils with a neighbor. I'm sad Henry Mitchell is not here to attend the National Convention of the American Daffodil Society in Murphys, California next week. I'd love to know which daffodils he would find "supremely beautiful" these days.

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