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Crocus vernus Aqua

This week, I would like to direct your attention to a few of our newest Crocuses. But first: some practical notifications and tips.

Dahlia Fleurel, 1 flower is enough to fill up an entire vase.

Last week, I visited the garden of one of our enthusiastic flower bulb fans in the area. The father of the house had given his daughter a new chore: planting the Dahlia bulbs. The tubers were a foot apart, the cut off bits of the stem facing upwards at soil level, toes pointing down, it all sounded right, but in March?! What a pancake (the literal translation of a useful Dutch name for a beloved idiot). Don’t tell anyone, but this guy was my brother. And if his tubers get just one frosty night in April, they’ll surely die. Please, please read the instructions before planting your flower bulbs. They’re there for a reason, and we try to make them as clear as possible, so that even if you have no experience at all with a certain type of flower, you’ll still be able to succeed.

Flowers from our own garden… Dahlias.

When it comes to the planting window of Dahlias, we used to be taught that it should not be done before Ice Saints, which ends on May 14th. (For anyone not from Europe reading this: Ice Saints are several Saints which are ‘celebrated’ on the days leading up to May 14. There is lots of different folklore about them to be found across various European countries. The date was probably chosen because this is or was seen as the last period of the year that could have one of those random brief, but intense, cold spells.) After Ice Saints, the chance of night frost should be basically zero. But climate changed, and today’s softer climate allows Dahlias to be planted as soon as at the end of April and the beginning of May. If you want to do that, be sure to still check the 14-day weather expectations, because you never know what happens. If temperatures remain steadily above 0, your Dahlias should be safe.

Dahlia Sefton Silvertop changes colour when she is in bloom. She changes from a light pink to a darker pink, to end up with another slightly darker, but just as beautiful colour of pink.

Another thing you can do with your Dahlias is getting them to grow a little bit earlier. You can do this with Begonias as well. If you do this, you may be able to get them to bloom in your garden up to a month sooner, and they won’t be done a month earlier, if that’s what your worried about: they’ll still work just as long as when you don’t do this. Dahlias and Begonias just keep producing new flowers until the weather simply becomes too cold.

Getting these flowers to grow earlier is easier than it may sound to you right now. For Dahlias, all you need is one of those plastic pots with holes in the bottom. Throw in a hand full of moist soil and put the Dahlia in there with her toes down. Cover the Dahlia up with more moist soil until just the stem is sticking out above the soil. Place the pot in a spot that gets a lot of sunlight, like a shed, a conservatory, or an orangery, but the cold spot in the hall next to the back door will do as well. After about a week or two, you’ll be able to see the tubers make green sprouts. As soon as the risk of night frost is completely gone, you can move the tubers from their little pots to the garden. Because they have already started making roots, they will be in bloom much sooner!

Begonia Lace Picotee Pink

Begonias like a slightly warmer temperature than Dahlias when you are getting them to root before planting them. If you don’t have anything like a conservatory or an orangery, the best place to put them is the windowsill. It should be no problem space-wise, as the Begonia can be planted in a much smaller plastic pot than the Dahlia. You should also wait a bit longer than the Dahlia before moving the Begonia to the garden, as she grows better when temperatures are already looking up a little bit. If you want to put your Begonias on a terrace, try planting her in the right pot straight away. This will save you the trouble of moving her. And don’t let the Begonia grow above ground like you did with the Dahlia: plant her about a centimeter underneath the soil and keep the soil just slightly moist.

Zantedeschias, Lilies, and other summer-blooming flower bulbs can be planted right after you’ve received them. This week, flower bulb growers are starting to plant these varieties as well, as these flowers just need a bit longer to reach their full potential. Besides that, especially Lilies just like it better to be planted, Lilies are a bit like perennials when it comes to that. We do pack Lilies in soil and keep them cool as long as they’re in our warehouse, but for you it is best to plant them as soon as you’ve received them.

Nerine Lipstick, another one of those flower bulbs that make for excellent vases around the house.

I think I’m done about the Dahlias and Begonias now, which means we can move on to the Crocuses, even though I’m out of space to really get into the story, probably. More to come next week. Something else did happen this week, though. We attended a funeral of our uncle Kees, or he wasn’t an uncle, you never know. He was the friend of my Aunt Doortje, who was widowed years ago, a very nice aunt, one of those delightful elderly ladies that always want to know everything about your children. She was married to my father’s brother, but when that uncle passed away, she started a new relationship with, you guessed it, Uncle Kees, who therefore technically isn’t my uncle but he kind of is. They got another 11 years together and were always together when attending family events. Uncle Kees had a car and he liked nothing better than driving around his girlfriend Doortje, which is why they visited often, even though an hour away is usually a lot of travelling for the 75- and up crowd. They were still able to drive everywhere, and if he had not passed, Kees would have probably driven Doortje over this year as well, at 97 years of age, going 65 km per hour at an 80 road. You still see them sometimes, those 90-year-old men that already avoid all the highways but still get everywhere. I’ll probably be like that too when I’m that age.

Dahlia Islander, a wild one that will give you endless flowers to pick and put in your house.

That reminds me of Mr Deeg de Jager. I think I was about 16 when I met him. We already had a large collection of Daffodils at our house by this time, and Mr Deeg de Jager was one of our loyal visitors every spring. He was an icon in the Daffodil world, you were hard pressed to find someone who knew more about Daffodils than he did. He used to live in Schoorl, about 8 kilometers from our house, and he must have been 102 when he still visited us. He drove himself over in his Opel Kadett and when it was time to leave, he’d ask me to reverse his car off our driveway and put it on the road facing the right direction, because he was only comfortable driving straight ahead. The car was parked into my mother’s rosehip bush and when I watched him leave after turning that car, I saw him slowly make his way to Schoorl, never shifting out of the first gear shift. I think you could’ve passed him by in a mobility scooter.

Anyways. That was the story about Uncle Kees.

Kind regards,

Carlos van der Veek

PS: Advice of the week: you saw it on the photos: flowers! Cut flowers from your garden and give them to your friends and family. Nothing is as nice as giving flowers, and I would know, I do it all the time. Live your life!

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