Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I just noticed the similarity between the cover layouts for my favorite Bulb book and my favorite bulb catalogue

Brent and Becky's catalog came a couple of weeks ago, but fortunately I put it aside for a snowy day. Today certainly qualified. I like Brent and Becky's for a lot of reasons. I've known the principals for....well a long time, and like them. They used to do bulb talks at Behnke's many many years ago in the first incarnation of their business, which, as I recall, was bought out by somebody or other, ala Heronswood.... . It might have been White Flower Farm. It was. There was, I think, some sort of non-competitive agreement and after whatever period of time, the Daffodil Mart was reborn as Brent and Becky's Bulbs.

They're located in Gloucester Virgina, not far, relatively speaking, from Williamsburg and from another Nursery I like, Mobjack. Mobjack is a wholesale grower of, primarily, woody plants with some perennials and grasses. They had for years a spectacular selection of Hydrangeas, mopheads and lacecaps. Apparently the re-blooming selections have ruined the market for the traditional cultivars, or at least taken the lion's share of it. They are great growers, still with a broad and interesting selection of plants....great Wisterias and Camellias.

Anyway, back to B & B; they have wonderful trial gardens that date back generations, give great workshops, and carry a good variety of bulbs. Brad observes that they aren't always in the vanguard with new varieties, but my take is that they are careful to vet newcomers, only handling what they deem worthy. I like their inventory because they always  have some new things, some classics that haven't been available for a while, and a deep selection of good mainsteam bulbs. I also like their refreshing treatment of Hedychium, a genus I find to contain many selections completely root hardy in USDA Zone 7. The only Hedychium I've ever lost here is H. coronarium, and that not to cold but because it likes water and couldn't handle our sand. Even that lived three years though.

And Scott Ogden's book Garden Bulbs for the South, is one of my favorite garden books. Really. Where so much horticultural literature is derivative, this book is obviously the result of personal experience. We've all looked up a new plant in 5 or 6 references and read basically the same paragraph 5 or 6 times. Won't happen here. And there are general discussions of the various taxa at a fairly sophisticated level. I never felt I understood Crinums until I read this book.Plus, he addresses the Pinewoods Lily, Alophia purpurea, a plant I have coveted for many years but was unable to locate. Hey, Arrowhead Alpines has it this year. Hot damn!

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