While Lois Hole has moved on from gardening to become lieutenant governor of Alberta, her wisdom about a wide variety of bulbs is captured and augmented by her son and daughter-in-law...
While Lois Hole has moved on from gardening to become lieutenant governor of Alberta, her wisdom about a wide variety of bulbs is captured and augmented by her son and daughter-in-law in this colorful little handbook.
Jim and Valerie Hole spent four years researching the book, sorting out the nomenclature of alliums, and studying all the shapes and shades of daffodils.
The result is a book filled with color photos, knowledgeable advice and a folksy tone, no doubt set by Lois as she spurred them on with her stories of growing bulbs for decades, refining her choices, learning by trial-and-error. The book is full of her experience and advice.
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Right off, the reader is set straight on the main challenge with bulbs: They need perfect drainage and will rot away in heavy soil. All the basics about depth of planting, fertilizing, watering and arrangement are here, but you can find that information in most bulb books.
What distinguishes this volume are the strong and knowledgeable opinions that come through clearly.
How to choose from the hundreds of daffodils offered in nurseries and catalogs each autumn? Preferred cultivars are starred, chosen because they’re especially fragrant, long-blooming or distinctive in color or shape.
In the tulip section, there is a list of species tulips that naturalize easily and bloom dependably each spring, plus a convenient chart showing the sequence of tulip bloom, from the earliest small greigii type to the late and voluptuous Rembrandts.
In the past few years, bulb catalogs have begun offering a much wider range of unusual small bulbs, and the Holes go far beyond the usual daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to cover the new and the unexpected.
You’ll find information on a host of minor bulbs like snowdrops, squill and muscari, as well as chionodoxas (Lois’ favorite rock-garden bulb), puschkinias and alocasia (elephant ears), which I didn’t even know was a bulb until I read this book.