Let’s Talk Tulips

Author: Meera, November 11, 2017

A jolt of color can energize dreary surroundings. Imagine seeing a pot of searing-red or brilliant yellow tulips in full bloom in a window box or in your garden when little else is blooming in early spring.

 

 

These Kaufmannia tulips make a bold statement wherever they are planted

These Kaufmannia tulips make a bold statement wherever they are planted

 

 

Right now, many garden centers, DIY nurseries, online plant retailers, and seed catalogs feature tulips bulbs for sale. Fall is the time to plant them for spring blooms.

 

 

The standard tulip is an excellent cut flower. It offers consistent pure color in a single layer of petals. A double tulip possesses two petal layers and provide lush color grouped together with other tulips or in a cut-flower arrangement.

 

 

Kaufmanniana tulips are short in height with pointed petals. In bright sunlight the tulip bloom will open wide to lie almost flat making them the perfect bulb to grow in a rock garden.

 

 

Parrot tulips come in a variety of colors and have ruffled petals. These beauties grow fast (stalks bend a bit more than the standard tulip because of the weight of the bloom), and are multi-colored. See, http://www.hollandbulbfarms.com/items.asp?cat=Parrot-Tulips&Cc=TULIPPARROT

 

 

Pique assiette mosaic adorns this garden step

Inspired by parrot tulips years ago, I made this pique assiette mosaic on the step up into my garden

 

 

Fringed tulips feature a bloom edge that resembles fringe. The edges have also been described as frilly or ragged. Nevertheless, these are beautiful grouped together in an arrangement or simply enjoyed in a bed in the garden or a pot on the patio.

 

 

A bi-colored tulip surprises with a two-color bloom–perhaps an orange with a purple base. Prinses Irene is a beautiful specimen of this type of tulip.To see an image, check out https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/211402-product.html

 

 

Rembrandt tulips are striped and tall and stand out anywhere they’re planted. Today’s version of this tulip is a non-viral variety (a virus is what originally caused the striping element of the standard tulip.

 

 

Emperor tulips feature bold color, large delicate blooms, and variable height. Although Emperor is the common name, these tulips also are known as Fosteriana tulips. They came from a wild mountainous species found in Central Asia. See, http://www.tulipworld.com/Fall-Planted-Bulbs/Tulips/Fosteriana-Tulip/Red-Emperor-Tulip.aspx

 

 

As its name implies, the Lily-flowering tulips in bloom have the appearance of lilies. The bloom looks like a star-shaped cup. Although color choices are limited, the hue is rich–for example, a fiery red with yellow-tinged edges of the Aladdin type. See, https://www.tulips.com/product/aladdin/lily-flowering-tulips

 

 

pots with tulips poking up-web

 

 

There are many more types of tulips–those I’ve mentioned are only a few. Now is the time to search your garden centers for the tulips you want blooming in your spring garden. There are many to choose from so if you don’t find what you’re looking for at your local nursery, check seed catalogs or online nurseries that can ship bulbs directly to you.

 

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about gardening topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries. Interspersed throughout the book are tips on growing plants, keeping bees and chickens, and delicious farm-to-table recipes and, of course, there’s a cozy mystery to solve.

 

 

A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides are all available from traditional bookstores everywhere and online. Click on the URL for more information:   http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

 

 

When a couple is killed at a local winery after renewing their wedding vows, ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie launches a personal investigation of her own. The victims are her good friend Paola Varela and Paola’s husband Jake Winston.  Jake was a good-looking, a town flirt, and someone who’d had an affair that had ended tragically. Was he finally getting a karmic payback from an incensed husband or boyfriend? Or, was Paola the intended target?

 

 

 

This new novel is available Sept. 26, 2017

Murders at a winery draw  ex-cop Abigail Mackenzie into action

 

 

 

Also see, http://tinyurl.com/yd7pz7af

 

The second novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series comes out September 27, 2016

A New Age cult takes over a local nudist lodge and an ex-member is found dead

 

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French Lavender–A Favorite of Pollinators

Author: Meera, March 1, 2017

It’s bare-root season, a special time of the year for me. I like to visit local nurseries and check out the new offerings of heirloom roses, fruit trees, berries, herbs, and flowers. No matter which nursery I visit, I always seem to spot the lavender first.

 

 

Honeybees love lavender

Honeybees love lavender

 

 

After we moved to the Henny Penny Farmette, we put in lots of French lavender. But after a few years, the stalks have grown old and woody.

 

Recently, on a visit to a nearby nursery, we purchased twenty one-gallon plants of French Lavender, an upright perennial that we’ve discovered blooms almost all year long in our Bay Area climate.

 

 

Pots of lavender await planting

One-gallon pots of lavender await planting

 

 

 

 

Now, they are hardening off in my garden until I get around to planting them.

 

 

The word “dentata” means toothed and a closer examination of the foliage reveals fringed indentations.

 

 

This aromatic, shrub has been around for centuries. Valued for its ornamental and medicinal properties, it also is used for soil erosion control. Once established, the lavender is drought tolerant.

 

 

Many gardeners love this lavender for its gray-green leaves. When other flowering plants in the garden have finished their blooming cycle, this lavender keeps producing tall spikes of bright purple florets.

 

 

Not as brilliant in color as the English or Spanish lavender, the French lavender is lovely grouped together in a single area where its flower stalks can sway in the wind. Our honeybees and other pollinators love it.

 

 

 

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If you are a fan of cozy mysteries and love farmette topics like gardening of heirloom vegetables, herbs, and fruits as well as keeping chickens and bees, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing.

 

 

The first book in the Henny Penny Farmette series, Kensington Books 2015

The debut novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series sold out its first printing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides a cozy mystery to solve, these books mix in delicious recipes, farming and gardening tips, facts about keeping bees and chickens, and morsels of farm wisdom.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

COMING SOON– Sept. 2017, the third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

The second cozy mystery in the series

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With the official start of summer a few days away, I find myself leaving my computer and the scene I’m writing on my third novel to take a break in the garden. Alive with honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, the garden is perfect place for a respite and a cup of tea.

 

 

 

Honeybees love lavender

Honeybees love to forage on all types of blooming lavender.

 

 

Quite like a potager garden that includes flowers, herbs, trees, vegetables, berries, and grapes, mine also includes a patch of corn.

 

 

Climbing roses can be seen growing behind the corn

Climbing Sally Holmes roses with trusses of ivory blooms grow behind the 4-foot-tall corn.

 

 

Embroidered around the edges of the garden, there are climbing roses, fruit trees, and lots of lavender. Along the rows of lavender, there are peach trees with fruit the size of softballs and five pomegranate trees, laden with blooms and new fruit.

 

 

 

Ripe pomegranates have a leathery outer skin, membranes thicker than oranges, but sweet, juicy seeds inside

The pomegranates aren’t quite this large yet, but the trees have so much fruit, they’ll have to be thinned.

 

 

 

As I meander, I discover the trees of red and yellow plums have begun to drop their ripe fruit. I’ve got to make those plums into jelly or jam and ditto on the apricots.

 

 

Ripe apricots can hang on the tree only so long before they drop

Ripe apricots hang on the tree only so long before they drop.

 

 

 

But that work will have to wait until my late afternoon tea break. My novel won’t write itself. Still, the time I spend in the garden revitalizes my spirit and refreshes my brain cells, enabling me to return to the computer and the scene I’m writing with renewed vision and vigor.

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about gardening, keeping bees, raising chickens, and creating delicious recipes, check out my novels from Kensington Publishing.

 

 

First book in Meera Lester's Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries

First book in Meera Lester’s Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries

 

 

 

The Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, Walmart, and other online and traditional bookstores everywhere. Available in hardcover, Kindle, and mass market paperback formats.

 

 

 

Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Oct. 1, 2016

Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Oct. 1, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you’re looking for something that gives dense cover with green leaves and has prolific flower production, think about planting some bougainvillea vines. After my husband recently picked up four bougainvilleas in gallon-pots from our local nursery where the plants were on sale, we planted them around the front porch.

 

 

 

Bougainvillea add splashes of vibrant color to any garden or patio

Bougainvillea plants add splashes of vibrant color to any garden or patio

 

 

When you buy them in pots during spring and summer, you can pick bract color. The nearly inconspicuous blooms are surrounded by large, vibrantly colored bracts. Color choice ranges from red, orange, pink, fuchsia, deep purple, and white.

 

You’ll need to protect these evergreen shrubby vines where frost is expected. They’ll benefit from being moved to a warm wall. In fact, bougainvillea will thrive in the warmest parts of the garden. That said, they may even need a little shade protection in extremely hot areas.

 

Since the roots aren’t interwoven tightly in a root ball, you’ll want to plant them with care or slice the sides of your plastic gallon pot a half-dozen times, fold back, and plant pot and all in the planting hole.

 

Spring and summer are the best times to fertilize. Prune to renew the plant in the spring after the danger of frost is over. Many bougainvillea plants are tall growing varieties but you can also find some considered low- to medium-growing shrubs. These vines are show-stoppers with curb appeal and an even better value when you get them discounted at your local plant nursery.

 

 

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