flowers

Podcast: Fall Bulbs - Jim Hole's Top 5 Tips

Are you wondering about planting fall bulbs but couldn't make it out to one of Jim's FREE talks? Well, you're in luck! Jim Hole has recorded a fall bulb podcast on the Hole's Radio Network, available here.

In this episode of the Hole's Radio Network, Jim Hole chats with Brad Walker—the reluctant gardener—about the top 5 things everybody needs to know about fall bulbs: from the right way to plant them, to the right time, and some secrets on what makes them bloom.

Play it below or download it by clicking here and, when you're done checking it out, please let us know what you think (by replying in the comments below). Also, let us know if you'd like to see more podcasts or video tutorials in the future.

Planting Garlic and Irises in the Fall

Not everyone thinks of September as the time to plant things (most people are too busy harvesting their vegetable gardens), but for spring flowering bulbs, September and October are THE time to get things into the ground.

Irises are one of the fall bulbs that benefit from being planted first thing in September and we have some great new varieties available. Here are a few of our favourites on our shelves right now.

"Blue Suede Shoes" is a rich, gorgeously coloured, blue bearded iris. Blue flowers are hard to come by whether they are annuals or perennials, so to have a bulb that will come back in blue year-after-year is a pure delight.

As a bonus, this is a particularly fragrant iris and will rebloom as well. What more can you ask for? These blue suede shoes will leave you dancing with joy.

Another reblooming bearded iris, "Ancient Echoes" has some beautiful fiery colours. These flowers will add some striking contrast to your garden and will visually pop-out from quite a distance. Great for front yards if your goal is to get the neighborhood's attention!

Finally, a bit more of an elegant bearded iris, this "Bountiful Harvest" variety will also rebloom, making it ideal for cutflowers. Great for a more graceful style, consider this one if you like to have a classically beautiful garden.

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Fall is also a great time to plant garlic.

"Duganski" is a new variety for us this year, and it is fiery! Featuring purple stripes, it has a mellow aftertaste and is a great variety to plant if you like to cook with garlic a lot.

"German Hardneck" is another variety with a milder taste. If you like roasted garlic fresh out of the oven, this is THE garlic variety to use and plant as it roasts beautifully.

Finally, we also have "Elephant Garlic." While this is technically a member of the leek family, you'd never know it as it looks just like a very large garlic bulb and can be used in the same way. It is especially good raw because of its mild garlic taste... so if you're looking to make a pesto, tapenade, bruschetta, or salad, this is definitely a good variety to consider.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas are a beautifully blooming garden classic. The long-stemmed sprays of ruffled blossoms produce an irresistible perfume scent, and can either be trained onto a plant support to create an impressive column of fragrant, summer colour, or cut for a wonderful bouquet.

Growing sweet peas couldn’t be easier. Sweet peas thrive in cool temperatures, so Alberta is an ideal place for growing them. You can plant them outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked in spring. Before sowing,  sweet pea seeds can be soaked in tepid water to rehydrate them. It helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn't essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost.

These pea-like flowers grow in many lovely colours and are suitable for an annual border, a woodland garden, and a trellis or arch.

Here are a few of our favourite varieties:

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April In Paris -  is a perfect match of intoxicating fragrance, lovely form, captivating colour, and the most intense perfume of any Sweet Pea variety.

The large ruffled blossoms are a soft primrose cream, tinted at the edges in dark lilac that deepens and increases with age.

These strong-growing vines produce heavy sets of long-stemmed flowers that beg to be cut for heavenly scented bouquets.


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Jewels of Albion - This custom-blended colour palette of especially fragrant antique varieties offers both beautiful cool shades and plants with significantly more heat tolerance than other Sweet Pea varieties.

You'll have succession in bloom with "Flora Norton" (pastel blue), "Lord Nelson" (deep blue), "Mrs. Collier" (creamy-white), "Lady Grisel Hamilton" (pastel lavender) and "Captain of the Blues" (mauve-blue).

This lovely perfumed mix blooms on strong climbing vines that easily cover a trellis or fence.


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Saltwater Taffy Swirls - These charming novelty Sweet Peas will delight flower lovers with their unusual patterned blossoms. 

Each large flower is uniquely "flaked", showing finely rippled veins of colour that swirl throughout the pastel background of the petals.

This blended mix consists of blue, maroon, chocolate, burnt orange, crimson red, and rich purple swirled flowers all from the same packet.

A handful of these long blooming, intricately marked blooms makes delightful softly-scented centerpiece bouquets.


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Royal Wedding - These long-stemmed, softly frilled sweet peas come down the garden isle decked out in glorious pure white blossoms, four to six on each long stem, all with lovely ruffled petals.

This premier award-winning variety is imported from England because it has outstanding form and garden performance and carries an enchanting fragrance reminiscent of jasmine and orange blossoms.

You'll enjoy Royal Wedding's beauty and enticing pefume indoors and out over a long season of bloom.


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Cupani's Original - This is an especially strong blooming strain of this heat-tolerant treasured heirloom. It's ancestry can be traced to the first wild sweet peas from Sicily named for Father Francis Cupani, the Italian monk who discovered and sent them back to England in the 17th century.

These intensely perfumed, beautifully bicoloured flowers have petals of deep maroon-purple and orchid-violet. The fragrance of these classic simple blossoms truly wafts in the air, delighting every passerby.


Gladiolus, gladioli!

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When I was growing up on the farm, Mom always planted a single row of gladioli in her vegetable patch. She just loved the beautiful flowers and would often head out to the garden in the summer and gather up a bunch of gladioli stalks to stick straight into a tall, clear, glass vase. The large flowers set on the tall straight spikes were always spectacular and looked incredible all on their own, without the addition of any other flowers or greenery. 

I was always amazed that these little brown corms could grow so quickly and produce such tall, magnificent spikes in such short order. Gladiolus grows best in rich, loamy soil and we had plenty of them by our old farmhouse.

For 2015, it’s exciting to see so many wonderful gladioli varieties available to plant in our yards. Everything from purples, blues and greens, to colourful mixed varieties like "Tutti Frutti", "Tropical Blend" or "Chocolate & Banana Blend".

If you haven’t planted gladiolus before, give it a try. It is unsurpassed as an outstanding cutflower for summer weddings, backyard BBQs, or simply to liven-up the kitchen or livingroom. And don’t be afraid to put a row in your vegetable patch if you have the space. Just remember to place the row of glads to the east side of the patch so that the tall spikes don’t block the sunlight for the vegetables.

The north to south row on the east side of the garden always worked out great in Mom’s garden.

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~Jim Hole

p.s. There are still a few spots left for my tomato workshop on Saturday, April 18th. You can sign up by clicking here or using the button below.

 


Popular Poppies

When it comes to describing poppies “popular” is an understatement. The Poppy family includes a gigantic selection of species, and are native to many parts of the world, including Central and Southern Europe, China, India, and other parts of Asia. The flowers are attractive to pollinators like honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. As an added bonus, the home gardener can choose from almost any colour in the rainbow, including black. 

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Since poppies produce seeds so effortlessly, ensuring a continuous supply is easy. Once the flower is finished blooming, each poppy provides hundreds of seeds you can use the following year to keep your garden colourful without spending extra money.


Whether you want large blousy blooms, small delicate dwarf varieties, or elegant flowers that will make a statement, there is always a poppy to suit! Here are a few varieties you might enjoy:

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Hungarian Breadseed Poppy (Papaver spp.) – Baking with poppy seeds is a centuries old tradition. If you’re looking to harvest seeds from your poppies, the Hungarian Breadseed is a great choice.


Hungarian Breadseed flowers will bloom in spring and early summer, and then drop their petals to form fat seed capsule pods. Once the pods get brown and hard, they can cracked open to remove a surprising number of blue-black seeds you can use in your breads, cakes, or muffins.


But seeds aren’t the only thing this poppy is good for. This heirloom strain also has beautiful white or pale lavender-pink petals with contrasting dark centres, perfect for planting in rock gardens, windowsill planters, or in containers on your patio or deck.


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Oriental Brilliant Scarlet Poppy (Papaver orientale) - Oriental poppies are the most striking of the perennial poppies. With eye-catching cup-shaped flowers, textured like crêpe paper, these flowers are guaranteed to be the focal point in your garden this summer. 


The plant's huge flowers can grow up to 6 inches across on stems up to 4 feet tall! It’s no wonder these poppies are a favourite subject with so many artists and gardeners alike.


Once planted, they require no special care and will last for many years. Their original vibrant red-orange colour is still the most popular for growing, though oriental poppies come in a variety of colours that will match or blend any garden’s color scheme.


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California Orange Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) - California poppies are a perfect choice for hot, dry areas but will grow almost anywhere without a fuss. These golden-orange poppies are perfect for covering a neglected or hard-to-cultivate area, or for a memorable display in a large garden space. 


California poppies boast a single, cup-shaped bloom that, in the wild, range from clear yellow to golden orange through to bronze. The flowers close at night and open as the sun touches them each morning.


These annuals are easy-to-grow and drought-tolerant, providing a carefree spring carpet of bloom in all climate zones. 


With such ease and simplicity, poppies are a welcome plant to all gardens. Once a gardener includes poppies in their garden, they will find it hard to remember a time without them!

 

The Time to Plant Begonias is Now!

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If you've got a shady spot in your garden, begonias are a great flowers to consider. 

Begonias come in 2 distinctly different types: fibrous or tuberous. Fibrous begonias are small, compact plants with small flowers. The seeds for those will be planted in the greenhouse near the end of this month.

Tuberous begonias, on the other hand, are showy, large-flowered plants and we're planting our own begonias tubers here in the greenhouse right now. Tuberous begonias were also one of my mother's favourite flowers.

If you'd like to start your own tuberous begonias, now is the time to visit us. Come in and browse our selection of begonia tubers, and bring home some of your favourites.

Generally, we recommend starting tuberous begonias indoors 12-14 weeks before you plan on transplanting them outside. This means that February is the ideal time to be planting them inside for them to be ready in the spring.

When starting your begonias inside, heat and light are essential. My father used to start our begonias in the house on top of the hot water register beside a south window. He added an 8 foot fluorescent light that was on 24 hours a day. These days, I recommend a heating mat and some full spectrum grow lights (sold here in the greenhouse).

This heat and light will allow your the begonias to grow thick and vigorously before the spring. They will be a sight to see in your garden, and—if given plenty of light now—will survive in even the shadiest of spots in the summer.


~Jim Hole

p.s. An updated, complete list of all of our organic, heirloom, and/or non-GMO seeds is now available on our website. Click here to see it and to start planning your garden.

Growing Bulbs in Alberta and Picking the Right Bulbs for Your Garden

There is a myth that growing bulbs in Alberta is difficult.  

Well, I am Dutch, and I love bulbs, and I have successfully grown almost every type of bulb that I can lay my hands on, right here in Albertasometimes even growing tulips between my strawberries!

So growing bulbs in Alberta is definitely do-able and at Hole's, I get to choose from an amazing collection. My brother-in-law is the owner of one of the largest tulip growing businesses in the world and—while visiting Alberta from the Netherlands last year—he was so excited to find many of the world's rarest and most unique bulbs right here at Hole's Greenhouse.

But how to pick the right bulbs for your garden?

Well, I always have some early flowering crocuses planted near my front entrance, where I will see them every time I leave the house. As soon as the snow melts, the crocuses peep out of the ground with their delicate flowers, announcing the arrival of spring.

An added bonus is that crocusses will naturalize. That means that you only plant them once and they will come back every year with more.

Making it Pop

I find that bulbs have the biggest visual impact if you plant them in groups and in combination with another kind of bulb or with a perennial that flowers at the same time.

Power Combos

One of my favourite combinations for early colour is to plant the bright yellow dwarf narcissus along with the true blue star flowers of the Scillas. Both bulbs will naturalize and this combination works even in a shady garden.

Planted in between your hostas, they will put on a show before your hostas emerge and, later, the large leaves of the hostas will cover up the bulbs as the scillas and narcissus go dormant for the summer.

Timing is Key

Another trick is to find combinations of plants that flower at the same time. Sometimes that is just a matter of trial-and-error or sometimes it is just good luck.

One year I found a great combination, when I planted early purple tulips between my "Fire Cracker" moss phlox  (a ground cover smothered in vibrant fuchsia-pink flowers) and in between my Blue Fescue grass with its fine blue leaves.

Check the Package 

I always look on the package of the bulbs if they are early, mid, or late spring flowering. I find the early and mid-spring flowering bulbs especially interesting, because they flower at a time when not much else does.

Experiment!

This fall I'm going to try a combination of soft yellow "Peach Melba" tulips with a pink trim and flashes of green. In between the tulips, I'm then going to place some with light blue Puschkinias with clusters of star-like light blue flowers. It looks like a marvellous combination to me.  I am not sure if the timing will be right, but it is exciting to try.

I will let you know how it worked out in spring. The beautiful thing about bulbs is that, even if a combination doesn't work out, they're easy to move around.

 

BONUS: Book a landscaping design consultation with Maria Beers this fall and we will give you a FREE $25 gift certificate for our Glasshouse Bistro.