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Zantedeschia Calla Lilies

Exotic South African Bulbs

Gardeners who have a Naked Lady, Lucifer, Green Goddess or Red Hot Poker know how easy it is to be seduced by South African bulbs. They are hardy to 10 degrees so they don’t freeze, they love full hot sun which many have in the summer; and they multiply so you can fill areas in your garden quickly. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to their bright colors and they stay in bloom for long periods of time.

The history of the South African bulb trade is closely linked to the history of the world.  Early civilizations – Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, early European explorers – made money by trading flower bulbs. Today in the Northwest you can buy them at garden shows, farmers markets or grocery stores. You can order them from the convenience of your home on-line or by phone, which is much easier than taking a boat around the world.

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Video on how to plant crocosmia bulbs: http://www.howtogardenvideos.com/planting-crocosmia-bulbs/

The early history of the South African bulb trade is vague. We don’t know whether the Egyptians, Greeks or Romans acquired South African bulbs first, nor do we know whether they did so by land or by sea – but they had them. Sea-going voyages from Europe to the Far East included a stop at the Cape of Good Hope, not only to stock up on food, but to collect bulbs from the area.

Early bulb traders became wealthy selling bulbs to royalty, wealthy merchants, schools and churches. The DNA of some bulbs in royal, botanical and church gardens can be traced to original stock in South Africa.

The Portuguese were the first explorers to travel to South Africa, followed by the Spanish. They found a country filled with unusual and exotic flower bulbs that were easy to transport home and grew easily in their climate. When the Dutch and English discovered South African bulbs, they assumed that they needed to be grown indoors in a conservatory or greenhouse in northern climates.

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Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa

The story goes that an English farmer had a small glass greenhouse with many exotic plants including Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) inside. He took all the containers outside to clean the greenhouse and accidently left one plant outside for the winter. It survived. Now we know that South African bulbs can survive English, Dutch and Northwest winters. It took only 150 years to figure it out. The moral of the story: In gardening don’t believe anything anyone tells you or anything you read in a book. Plants break rules.

There are hundreds of South African bulbs that grow wonderfully in Northwest gardens. They can be divided or planted year-round, but I prefer to do it anytime they are not in bloom. They do not grow well in cold shade or in excessively damp soil, because they need to dry out. South African bulbs in containers should be placed where they will remain dry for the winter. They will rot before they freeze. They are winter hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and need at least three hours of sun a day and good drainage to be happy.

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Yolanda Vanveen is the moderator of the Garden Naturally Group on Facebook.  This picture was taken in 2006 at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa.

http://www.howtogardenvideos.com/how-to-make-a-butterfly-garden-2/

The best organic food is what’s grown closest to you. Use this website http://www.localharvest.org/ to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.localharvest.org%2F&h=4fdea

 

RT @RichLouv A great report on the public health benefits of trees (and to the kids who plant them) from Canopy http://bit.ly/iheSPL

Increasingly tree plantings and urban forestry programs are used not only for aesthetic and environmental reasons but also to provide health benefits to urban and suburban communities. The public health benefits of trees are direct and indirect. Direct benefits include clean air, clean water, protection form harmful UV rays, and the positive psychological effects associated with the proximity of natural environments. Indirect benefits include a more active lifestyle linked to increased outdoor activity. A growing body of local, national and international research suggests that a lack of near proximity to nature may be associated with numerous deleterious conditions such as asthma, childhood obesity, and childhood diabetes. Nice article! Plant a tree today!

by Yolanda Vanveen, Moderator Garden Naturally Group

Dainty daffodils ready to bloom but snowstorm predicted-Create a greenhouse over the top of them and they should be safe!

While the Midwest and East Coast has had a wicked winter with snow covering the ground most of the season, the Pacific NW has enjoyed a mild winter with a little bit of snow at Thanksgiving but rain ever since.  Until today. Snow storm predicted for the next few days with a few inches of accumulation.

It is the end of February and my snowdrops are in bloom and my daffodils are about to pop! It is going to get down to twenty degrees they say so these precautions may not help but worth the effort so you don’t lose your precious blooms!

Snowdrops in bloom in February in the Pacific Northwest. When a late snowstorm hits you can save them by covering them with recycled materials or even a sheet!~

The goal is to create a mini greenhouse with anything you have around the house.   It could be as simple as placing some sticks in the garden beds and covering them  with plastic so that all is kept dry and away from the snow.  A sheet will even help tremendously.

Some people say to make sure they are wet but I have found the opposite. Cut flowers can handle cold temperatures if they are dry much better than wet.  If covered in water, they turn in to ice cubes.

Creating cloches with recycled items is the best way to save them and it is easy to do:

1.  Wash out a juice or milk container:

______________________________________________________________________________________________2.  Cut the top off of the container:

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3.  Cover flower buds with cloche (glass bowl, recycled juice or milk container):

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4.  You can use plastic and glass bowls as well:

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5.  Look through your recycle bin and garbage-plastic containers can be used to cover short blooms like snowflakes-

For added protection you can always cover the beds with a sheet or plastic tarp so that they are protected by two layers-the cloches and the cover.  If it gets down to twenty degrees for a long period of time, it may not be enough to save them from freezing but it is worth the effort!   Happy winter gardening!!


  1. Missed #schoolgardenchat but enjoyed going over all of the great links and reposting!  Lots of information! Thanks everyone for caring!~Yolanda Vanveen, Moderator, Garden Naturally Group
    In the photo: Supa Fresh Youth Farmers build an urban farm on Tigard Tualatin, Oregon School District land. Launched in May 2010, they hope to continue training underserved teens in workforce skills, entrepreneurship, organic sustainable agriculture, nutrition and life skills.
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    Here are some tweets with links that are great resources and references:
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    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow

    @Cocoxochitl @SG Gardens are a vital learning platform that bring kids outdoors. They will learn to care about nature#schoolgardenchat
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening

    RT @SGWeekly: @GKWheeler School Garden Lessons, Activities and Curriculahttp://takeme.to/vfkWw #schoolgardenchat
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    Jared Finkelstein
    JTFinkelstein Jared Finkelstein


    Have links to some research on benefits of school gardens on our website http://tinyurl.com/4mykle6 #schoolgardenchat
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening


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    Katie Flickinger
    GardenHoard Katie Flickinger


    RT @GreenPreferred: Several schools in Flagstaff, AZ grow them & donate the food to local shelters and pantries #schoolgardenchat
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    BrianaMarie
    BrianaMarie BrianaMarie


    @deltagardener i can share a link to some things we use here in Calif http://bit.ly/guVqOh #schoolgardenchat
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    Mary Kosta
    marygkosta Mary Kosta


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    George Pessin
    SGWeekly George Pessin
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening


    @EdenMaker have schools use Local community papers to run Wish List adds so Companies/Volunteers can support it’s free#schoolgardenchat
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    Burpee Home Gardens
    BurpeeHG Burpee Home Gardens


    “Starting a school garden” video by the Home & Garden Information Center at the U of Md. Ext. http://bit.ly/eG6Dza #schoolgardenchat
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    Jared Finkelstein
    JTFinkelstein Jared Finkelstein


    Here are some garden fundraising ideas and grant sourceshttp://tinyurl.com/4slvkxg #schoolgardenchat
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    Debra Hempe
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    George Pessin
    SGWeekly George Pessin


    Clickable Map of Master Gardeners by statehttp://www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/index.htm #schoolgardenchat
    Jared Finkelstein
    JTFinkelstein Jared Finkelstein


    BTW we are garden builders here are examples of what we buildhttp://tinyurl.com/4vco3dy #schoolgardenchat\________________________________________________________________
    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow


    Q4 Leadership in school gardens is more important than money. U can garden on the cheap, but someone must lead program!#schoolgardenchat
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening


    __________________________________________________________________________________
    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow


    You can lead a school garden even if ur kid does not attend the particular school. Hve time? volunteer. #schoolgardenchat
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    Paisley Rae
    paisleyrae Paisley Rae


    “I’m @marygkosta here’s a school garden north of 60http://tinyurl.com/4el7cuw #schoolgardenchat” // This is SO cool!
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    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow

    @katycopsey If you have pavement, you can plant in containers. Not an issue. Problem is apathy #schoolgardenchat
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening


    RT @BurpeeHG: You bet! Weve just announced our winners to the “I Can Grow” Youth Garden Award http://bit.ly/i0GfAi#schoolgardenchat
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    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow


    Before I go, earmark this url http://livestre.am/1bZg it is Mud Baron interview on my GardenWorldREport.com show!#schoolgardenchat
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    Manure Tea Gardening
    GreenSoil Manure Tea Gardening


    In cities rooftop grdns w raised beds work We did Harlem Childrens Zone in NYC see gallery http://tinyurl.com/4vco3dy#schoolgardenchat
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    Shirley Bovshow
    EdenMaker Shirley Bovshow

    Before I go: Make a plan, gather committed passionate people and get ready to ask 4 sponsorship help. Be relentless!#schoolgardenchat
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    George Pessin
    SGWeekly George Pessin


    RT @BurpeeHG: Check out our “I Can Grow” Guide for Educatorshttp://bit.ly/ezwM86 Written in partnership with NGA#schoolgarden
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    Burpee Home Gardens
    BurpeeHG Burpee Home Gardens


    We call the motivations to veg. garden “The Four E’s” in our “I Can Grow” initiative 4 E’s here –>http://bit.ly/fhG6CW #schoolgardenchat
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    SupaFresh Youth Farm
    SupaFreshYFarm SupaFresh Youth Farm

    What an alert when our Educational Materials post? Sign up here http://bit.ly/ezwM86 #schoolgardenchat
    ___________________________________________________________________________________
    Burpee Home Gardens
    BurpeeHG Burpee Home Gardens


    We saw many applications for “sensory” gardens & “fragrance” & “memory” gardens. Edibles great but not the end-all#schoolgardenchat
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    SupaFresh Youth Farm
    SupaFreshYFarm SupaFresh Youth Farm



    RT @SGWeekly Thank you @cocoxochitl for your school garden awesomeness. Vote now peepshttp://shortyawards.com/Cocoxochitl #schoolgardenchat
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    Mud Baron
    Cocoxochitl Mud Baron


    The list of projects that benefit grow every day.http://schoolgardencoop.tumblr.com/ Vancouver, Boulder, Milagro Allegro #schoolgardenchat
    _____________________________________________________________________________________
    George Pessin
    SGWeekly George Pessin


    Thank you @BurpeeHG: Pls follow us on our journey this spring with our 5 winning schools! http://on.fb.me/dnRfuw #schoolgardenchat
    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    SupaFresh Youth Farm
    SupaFreshYFarm SupaFresh Youth Farm


    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    Jared Finkelstein
    JTFinkelstein Jared Finkelstein


    Here is link again with benefits of gardens including dealing with behavioral issues http://tinyurl.com/25qazgc #schoolgardenchat
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    Francesca Dobbyn
    FrancescaBG Francesca Dobbyn


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    Jared Finkelstein
    JTFinkelstein Jared Finkelstein


    I saw a published estimate that between 15-20 percent of schools in US have some sort of garden #schoolgardenchat
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    I am sure that within twenty years that percentage will be much larger! Something to look forward to in the future.  Thanks everyone involved with #schoolgardenchat!  There were many more posts with great information.  Go to #schoolgardenchat on Twitter.com for a full transcript.  Keep gardening naturally at school, at the office, in the community  and at home!
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A dozen roses and a box of chocolates are the traditional Valentines Day gifts.  What most consumers don’t realize is that ninety percent of flowers in the  United States are imported.  They are covered in chemicals  banned from this country and are not tested because there are no regulations.

This Valentines Day give your honey a gift that keeps on growing and blooming for more than a few days.  At the same time you are supporting domestic companies and that is sustainable. You  can feel good about it because you are showing your love for our planet  on Valentines Day by giving naturally.

Here are ten sustainable Valentines Day gifts that are sure to delight the special people in your life:

1.  Colorful Cyclamen

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2.  Bird Houses and Bird Feeders

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3.  Cactus

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4.  Lucky Bamboo

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5.  Flower Seeds

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6.  Honey Gift Basket  (Photo courtesy of giftbasketsofvermont.com)

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7.  Garden Tools

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8.  Herb Seeds

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9.  Miniature Roses

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10.   Orchids

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11.  Pansy Violets

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12.   Summer blooming bulbs and plants

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13.  Books with flower pictures and poetry

“You & No Other – Whispers of Love” from Amazon by E. Elizabeth Tenerelli

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14.  Vegetable Seeds

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15.   Solar Lighting

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16.  Chocolate  Truffles-Not  harvested in the woods but  the chocolate kind because chocolate is actually very good for your heart and your brain and let’s face it, Valentines would not be Valentines without the chocolate!

The packaging may not be sustainable but the items are better choices for Valentines Day. They are sure to bring a smile to your sweetheart’s face! Keep gardening naturally!

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