Blog posts from March 2014

White Flowers: Sophisticated and Serene

Mar 30, 2014

I love spring. I love bulbs. I love watching my plants. Every day, usually multiple times per day, I go out to my garden and just stare. It's very zen. Observing even the tiniest bits of progress by each plant in their march towards emergance, new growth and blooms. It's always confused my neighbors. "What are you looking at?", they've always said as I stare at what is often bare soil. "My prized babies", I say.


Many people in Texas would say that it's just not worth planting tulips because they don't perennialize here. Psshaw, I say. They are glorious and worth every penny to re-plant each fall. I always select several colors that I want either to bloom together or in sequence. For this spring's display, I chose 'Passionale', a mid-season blooming purple triumph tulip to bloom first, along with 'Lightning Sun', a blazing orange mid-season blooming Darwin Hybrid. Purple was the first color to emerge in my garden, then along came orange. Purple and orange tulips together make a stunning combination. Paired with them were mid-season blooming white and orange 'Professor Einstein' daffodils.

Now that the purple tulips are fading and the orange will soon be finished, my later-season blooms are coming into play in white. White flowers create such a clean, sophisticated and fresh feel in the garden. A palette cleanser if you will between the vibrant bulb colors of early spring and the wild mix of roses and spring blooming perennials soon to come. Tulip 'Maureen', a white single late variety, candytuft (Iberis) a tough perennial, and my favorite late-blooming daffodil 'Thalia'. Assorted silver foliage plants, such as artemisia and lamb's ear make the perfect frame for the crisp white flowers.

Ah....white in the garden. It's like a breath of fresh air, wouldn't you say?

Honey Bee Swarm

Mar 29, 2014

Just found a beautiful honey bee swarm in my front garden (on my poor frozen rosemary).

Bee swarm halleck

Don't panic if you find a swarm in your yard - just leave it alone. They'll move on and are not aggressive.

Unfortunately, I do believe this is one of my hives that has decided to swarm. Swarming has become quite a challenge for beekeepers these days. Environmental pressures cause hives to swarm much more frequently. I've re-captured swarms of mine before, but generally, they just swarm again. It's very difficult these days to get a swarm to stay put once the queen has decided to leave.

If it's the hive I think it is, I was going to have to re-queen it anyway...I just wish she wasn't taking half the hive with her! A beautiful bummer.


Gardening No-No: Planting tulips in rows.

Mar 27, 2014

I've decided I have to start a blog series called "Gardening No-No". I'm witness to far, far too many hijackings of horticulture by those who obviously know not of what they do. First up in my series of "please don't do its" is THIS hot mess:

Tulip row

Don't do this.

Ok...really? And this is not an isolated incident. First off, don't plant tulips in rows. It's a Gardening No-No. Because LOOK AT IT. Next, please plant some color, like pansies or violas, on top or in front of your tulip bulbs. Or at least put down some mulch if you're not going to plant any color.

I assume that most people invest in tulips because they want them to look like this:

Tulip lightningsun

Do this: Tulip 'Lightning Sun' in my garden today

If that's what you want, then you're going to need to plant about 5x the tulip bulbs than you think you need. Always plant more than you think you need. Cluster them in clumps or large swaths for a more natural look.

Also, for anyone who isn't having a good tulip year....meaning they are blasting (blooming way too short), then the bottom line is you're probably not planting them deep enough. I've never had a bad tulip year in Dallas, or a bad year in any of the years I programmed all the display tuilps for the Dallas Arboretum. There are three main tricks to having beautiful tulips here in Texas:

1. You must purchase pre-vernalized (chilled) bulbs. Tulips require a vernalization to develop a flower bud. Most years, our soil never gets cold enough for long enough to acheive this chilling naturally. (This year, we got pretty chilly...I have 3 leftover tulips in the ground from last year that actually managed to bloom).

2. Don't plant them too early, or too late. If you're in N. Texas, that means optimal planting time is in December. Usually after Thansksgiving, but before the end of December. My "golden window" is right around the week of Christmas. Plant in January and you risk blasting or overall poor bloom vigor.

3. You must plant them DEEP.  3-4" is not deep enough. I plant mine a good 8" deep, sometimes 10" deep. They always bloom perfectly and on time. This is probably where most people slip up with tulips in warm climates.

Cocktail Gardening: First Day of Spring Spritzer

Mar 20, 2014

Ok, I don't know if this beverage actually qualifies as a "spritzer", but it sounded good in the title. To celebrate the first day of spring, we gals here at HH headquarters decided to partake of a bit of sunshine in a glass.


Photo by Nikki Rosen. Cocktail mixing and styling by Leslie Halleck .We're professionals.

On a whim, we through together  ice, 1.5 oz. homemade limoncello (complements of my BBFF Jimmy Turner's meyer lemon tree, of which I'm now in custody), a couple of splashes of club soda, some fresh lemon slices and a sprig of mint from the garden. Simple and refreshing. Perfect for this first and most beautiful day of spring. Cheers!

Tulips are Blooming!

Mar 17, 2014

The tulips are blooming! It's seemed like such a cold icky's nice to finally see blooms emerging in the garden.

Tulip passionale

Tulip 'Passionale' is putting on a nice show right now. This mid-season triumph tulip is a reliable performer in my garden. When I don't plant early blooming varieties, it's usually the first to show color for me. As you can see, I plant my tulips in large clumps, never in rows. You want to create a natural feel with bulbs so clump them in groups for best show and effect.

I have some orange parrot tulips coming along, as well as some late blooming types; 'Lightening Sun' and 'Mauraeen" will start blooming soon.

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