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Show #08/7108. Designing And Care Of Daffodils

Summary of Show

Gibbs Gardens
Gibbs Gardens was recently named one of the best daffodil destinations in the world by Flower Magazine. Jim Gibbs has been planting daffodils for over 20 years, and now has amassed over 20 million daffodils across a 50-acre outdoor cathedral designed for the sole purpose of letting their stark beauty be enjoyed in a special way.
For More Information Click here

Different Categories Of Daffodils
Daffodils are in the genus narcissus, the common names are daffodils and jonquils. But the divisions would be the trumpet divisions, which are the large cup, and the small cup. Then the double daffodils, like Tahiti which has a beautiful, beautiful double flower, and it has a strong, sturdy stem to it. Then tazettas, which have several blooms on one stem and they're all scented.
For More Information Click here

Daffodils Naturalize
NATURALIZE and come back year after year. They started in 1985 planting daffodils. Now remember, those first daffodils have divided into hundreds, then hundreds into thousands. So they keeps going. Now they have over 20 million daffodils. And all are naturalizing.
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Different Seasons Of Bloom
Eric notes that one thing that we need to keep in mind when thinking about planting daffodils is the DIFFERENT SEASONS that they bloom. What a lot of people may not know is that they offer a full range of almost three months of potential bloom. Talk us through the different bloom stages of daffodils and how you think about incorporating that into design. Well there are the early blooming daffodils that bloom for two weeks.
For More Information Click here

Designing With Bulbs
Eric’s garden is very, very small so when he thinks about bulbs in his garden, they tend to be just little splashes of color. And to be honest, he doesn't really think that much about how to DESIGN WITH BULBS on any kind of scale? But when visiting Gibbs Gardens he thinks the most amazing thing about the way that Jim has designed this is the fact it looks completely natural, like one could have chanced upon this, it's the way that Mother Nature would've just evolved with that plant. Eric would like for Jim to talk us through the way he thinks about it and kind of the process of designing with bulbs on a larger scale. Jim says that with a larger scale, you have to design to the topography.
For More Information Click here

Contrasting Colors
Notice here too you want CONTRASTING COLORS like the yellows, and next to it something else. It would be very boring if it was all yellow. So think about daffodils and their colors and contrasts. But notice the sweeping curves. What he does is pick one area to be early, but may have three varieties of early. So when they all finish blooming, the next group would be early-mid, and that way the next group would be mid. Plant your earlies in the back. You want them to bloom first so you don't have spent flowers in front.
For More Information Click here

The Soil
And let's start by talking about THE SOIL, which is very important for bulbs. Jim says for daffodils you want a soil that has a pH of between six and seven. 6.5 Is perfect. If it's acidic, it's going to be below seven, and if it's alkaline, it's above seven. You don't want to get it too alkaline, so conduct pH tests on it. It needs to be about 6.5 to do well. So the first thing to do is a pH test on your soil to check it. The next thing you want to do is begin to think about the bed that you're going to prepare to plant the daffodils or tulips or pansies in. Now when you think about that, you want to have good drainage. So it's better to work the soil up and mound it slightly in the middle so the water drains on both sides.
For More Information Click here

Companion Plants
Once you get your curves in place and decide where to plant the daffodils, you can begin to mix in COMPANION PLANTS such as pansies. Pansies do great with daffodils, as do tulips and Quince, a flowering shrub, which blooms early. Forsythia and spirea are other great companion plans for daffodil gardens because they bloom at the same time. But here too we want to think about designing and planting daffodils and tulips for different heights.
For More Information Click here

Cut Flowers
Jim adds, as gardeners, we love bringing nature inside the house. And CUT FLOWERS are one of the things that is exciting about the way we interact with the garden throughout the year. Eric thinks many people may not know that bulbs, specifically daffodils and tulips, really do make great cut flowers. Jim wholeheartedly agrees, they're the best. People love daffodils for cut flowers as well as tulips because they give you a long time to bloom in the house if you just cut them properly.
For More Information Click here

Maintenance Concerns
Eric would like to make one further point. Jim, you've been planting daffodils at Gibbs Garden for over 40 years and they look more and more amazing every single year. Eric would like for Jim to talk about any of the MAINTENANCE CONCERNS that there might be with daffodils. Let's start with fertility. Is there anything one should do from the standpoint of just making sure that they get the nutrition they need? If you want more blooms, it's better to use a fertilizer that's low in nitrogen and low in phosphorus, high in potassium.
For More Information Click here

Deer
But DEER will not ever touch daffodils. The reason is the calcium oxalate that's in the sap of the daffodil causing a poison to develop in there. So when the deer eat into the daffodil, they will never touch a daffodil again.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Power Planter
Earth Augers for Drills | Power Planter

Plant List

 

Show #08/7108. Designing And Care Of Daffodils

Transcript Of Show

In this episode GardenSMART celebrates the ultimate harbinger of spring and one of the most reliable perennials in the garden. For many gardeners spring starts when the daffodils bloom, regardless of what the calendar says. They signal the end of the long cold winter and the rebirth of the garden. They're a symbol of hope and joy.

There's perhaps no finer place on earth to enjoy the humble daffodil than Gibbs Gardens. Gibbs Gardens was recently named one of the best daffodil destinations in the world by Flower Magazine. Jim Gibbs has been planting daffodils for over 20 years, and now has amassed over 20 million daffodils across a 50-acre outdoor cathedral designed for the sole purpose of letting their stark beauty be enjoyed in a special way. Jim is a brilliant horticulturalist and an expert garden designer and in this episode he unlocks the secrets to designing with daffodils and having success in your garden growing this amazing bulb.

Eric welcomes Jim Gibbs back to GardenSMART. Thanks so much for joining us. Jim says it's nice to see Eric once again.

We're talking about daffodils and Gibbs Gardens is known for, among many things, being one of the most impressive daffodil displays in the world. It's rated top 10 and unquestionably the finest daffodil display in the United States of America, which draws out many, many patrons every year. It's unbelievable. It reminds Eric of being in Holland. Jim tells Eric they've been working on this for over 40 years, so it's a big, big garden, 50 acres. And when you think of 50 acres of gardens they had to do it in stages because it was so large.

Eric would first like to talk about the DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF DAFFODILS. To many newer gardeners, we think of daffodils as bulbs that provide these nice yellow flowers, but there's a lot of different intricacies and diversity in the category of daffodils. As we're looking at the category, what are the different options? Let's break it down into different divisions of daffodils and how to start thinking about it as a category of plant.

Jim explains - Daffodils are in the genus narcissus, the common names are daffodils and jonquils. But the divisions would be the trumpet divisions, which are the large cup, and the small cup. Then the double daffodils, like Tahiti which has a beautiful, beautiful double flower, and it has a strong, sturdy stem to it. Then tazettas, which have several blooms on one stem and they're all scented. And they are very, very popular. For some reason, in nature, they seem to bloom late. They're in the late category of blooms. Next are the hoop petticoat daffodils, and the split corona daffodils. Those are the main groups of daffodils. But there are hybrid daffodils in between all of these.

Daffodils are a perennial bulb and many of them do a great job of naturalizing. Eric wonders what are some of the varieties or categories that are the best naturalizers in Jim's experience? Jim replies that the daffodils at Gibbs Gardens are all naturalizers because if you plant a daffodil, you want it to divide - one bulb becomes two, the two, four it's a progression that goes on and on and on. If you had to plant all new daffodils every year, imagine digging all those new holes, planting those daffodils, and then the repeat cost of them would be prohibitive. So they're always looking for daffodils that are going to NATURALIZE and come back year after year. They started in 1985 planting daffodils. Now remember, those first daffodils have divided into hundreds, then hundreds into thousands. So they keeps going. Now they have over 20 million daffodils. And all are naturalizing. So Jim recommends to everybody, don't pick a daffodil like King Alfred. It's a big, beautiful flower. When you see it in a nursery, you're going to want to pick that one, but it'll only bloom one or two times, and then you have to replant everything. So make sure they are naturalizing or perennial daffodils, meaning they come back year after year after year and divide every year.

Eric notes that one thing that we need to keep in mind when thinking about planting daffodils is the DIFFERENT SEASONS that they bloom. What a lot of people may not know is that they offer a full range of almost three months of potential bloom. Talk us through the different bloom stages of daffodils and how you think about incorporating that into design. Well there are the early blooming daffodils that bloom for two weeks. When they finish blooming, they go out of bloom, then the early-mids come into bloom for two weeks. When they go out of bloom, the mid-season daffodils come in for two weeks, then those go out of bloom and the mid-lates come into bloom for two weeks. And finally, the late blooming, which seem to all be fragrant, come into bloom for two weeks. Thus one can have 10 weeks of color.

If you want to have a nice little flower garden, make sure you get the early, the early-mid, the mid, the mid-late and late, meaning you'll have all 10 weeks. If you don't do that, you could just choose all mids but then you would only have two weeks of color.

Eric notes it really, really is a great season extender. There are not that many things that are this impressive this time of year, and a plant category like daffodils gives you two and a half months of really, really high impact bloom, just by planning it out from the early to the late season bloomers. It is well worth the extra effort.

Eric’s garden is very, very small so when he thinks about bulbs in his garden, they tend to be just little splashes of color. And to be honest, he doesn't really think that much about how to DESIGN WITH BULBS on any kind of scale? But when visiting Gibbs Gardens he thinks the most amazing thing about the way that Jim has designed this is the fact it looks completely natural, like one could have chanced upon this, it's the way that Mother Nature would've just evolved with that plant. Eric would like for Jim to talk us through the way he thinks about it and kind of the process of designing with bulbs on a larger scale. Jim says that with a larger scale, you have to design to the topography. Study your topography, look at the angles of the land. Most important, look at the vertical and the horizontal areas. Make sure that you think about sunlight. All daffodils will grow in full sun. One wants to think about what trees you are going to leave, what trees do you remove? You want to select older trees that are high-branched so the light gets into the daffodil flowers. And as you do that, you want to think about the curves. Everything in nature is curved or linear, so he always works with a serpentine curve, and those can go on for 100, 150 or 200 feet. And then at the end he does an interlocking S curve to start another serpentine curve. If you look at nature here, Jim studied the land and decided he wanted to designate 50 acres of the 376 acres of land at Gibbs Gardens and say, "This is going to be the daffodil garden," knowing it would take many years to design it. When one gets into the edge of trees, you're beginning to get into shade. There are only two daffodils that will grow in that area. You have to select early and early-mid daffodils to make sure that they finish their light requirements, so they can bloom the next year, before the trees leaf out. They've got to store food in the bulb. So all around this area, you'll see trees surrounding it, Jim has only early and early-mid daffodils. Everything else can be any daffodil. Eric comments that's why it's so important that we know what we're planting. As Jim said, they will perform under trees, but only select earlies for that application. Jim concurs early and early-mid only.

Eric wonders, as Jim is thinking about design and thinking about using earlies through late bloomers, how does he incorporate all of those into a broader design? What's your thought process? The first thing Jim does is know that the early bloomers are going to bloom for two weeks, then go out of bloom. He designates a vertical element of the garden, like you see these large sweeps following the curves of the land. Notice here too you want CONTRASTING COLORS like the yellows, and next to it something else. It would be very boring if it was all yellow. So think about daffodils and their colors and contrasts. But notice the sweeping curves. What he does is pick one area to be early, but may have three varieties of early. So when they all finish blooming, the next group would be early-mid, and that way the next group would be mid. Plant your earlies in the back. You want them to bloom first so you don't have spent flowers in front. So you start with the earlies in the back, and the next row forward would be the mids, and the next next would be the lates so you always have blooms in front of you. Eric mentions that's something that we can apply even to the very smallest gardens. As you're thinking about incorporating daffodils, it is one of the most spectacular cool-season flowers that we can put into the garden, regardless of the size of your garden. Then think in terms of the earlies at the back, all the way to the lates in the front. It's not something he has previously considered, but it makes so much sense.

One of the things Eric loves about visiting beautiful gardens is that it inspires him to take something amazing that he's seen and try to translate it in a smaller way into his own garden. There's just so much that we can learn, it's why public gardens are so important and an amazing educational resource. Seeing these enormous drifts of daffodils has Eric excited about finding some areas of his garden where he can really, really create some dynamic shows of color and really start incorporating these cool-season bulbs into his garden, which are not well represented right now.

For the home gardener, let's start all the way at the beginning. What do we need to be thinking about if we want to put in a dynamic bulb display? And let's start by talking about THE SOIL, which is very important for bulbs. Jim says for daffodils you want a soil that has a pH of between six and seven. 6.5 Is perfect. If it's acidic, it's going to be below seven, and if it's alkaline, it's above seven. You don't want to get it too alkaline, so conduct pH tests on it. It needs to be about 6.5 to do well. So the first thing to do is a pH test on your soil to check it. The next thing you want to do is begin to think about the bed that you're going to prepare to plant the daffodils or tulips or pansies in. Now when you think about that, you want to have good drainage. So it's better to work the soil up and mound it slightly in the middle so the water drains on both sides. After you do that, you want to think about mixing in some topsoil, some sand and compost, then mix them all together, work them into the existing clay. It’s easier to plant daffodils and tulips when the ground isn't compacted. Eric agrees compacted soil can be very problematic with bulbs and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they don't like soggy soil. If you don't have good drainage, you're going to definitely have problems growing daffodils, tulips, many of the bulbs that we really like to plant spring time of year. Jim agrees, without good drainage, they're going to die. All the bulbs will rot. Eric wonders what are the best sites for daffodils, tulips and for the bulbs that we may want to plant? Jim feels if planting daffodils where there's some tree borders, you want to use only early and early-mid daffodils. The reason is they've got to have time to have the green foliage turn yellow or brown. When we see yellow, there's enough food nourishment in that bulb to produce a bloom for the next year. It's very important to never cut the green foliage. Some people cut it, if we do it won't bloom the next year.

Eric would next like to talk about the way that we think about, in smaller plantings, using drifts of color and incorporating earlies, mids, lates and possibly even incorporating those into beds that could have other bulbs like tulips represented. Jim says all of the daffodils are planted in curves or drifts. Once you get your curves in place and decide where to plant the daffodils, you can begin to mix in COMPANION PLANTS such as pansies. Pansies do great with daffodils, as do tulips and Quince, a flowering shrub, which blooms early. Forsythia and spirea are other great companion plans for daffodil gardens because they bloom at the same time. But here too we want to think about designing and planting daffodils and tulips for different heights. Tulips have both, taller stems and shorter stems. It's better to have depth in the bed, and if the base has pansies they can provide that wonderful depth of bloom. So think about your bed. It can be small or large, but still get a little curve to it. That will make them show up better. Just a straight line of tulips or daffodils or pansies is not very appealing. Eric loves the way that Jim has incorporated all of these different heights, thus adding depth by adding pansies or some low growing plants that are also blooming at the same time. That also extends the season of interest for that bed. Especially if space is limited, we're trying to get as much out of that little area as we possibly can. So think of bulbs, use the S-curve beds, think about different heights. Also consider how to get the longest growing season of interest out of a bed. Consider everything from the earlies all the way through to the lates. Buy doing that we will have composed a design that's going to last for months. And, Jim adds when we add the tulips we can add another six weeks.

So you've extended the season to now 13 weeks of color. Nothing can be better. And with daffodils, remember you've got all the trumpets. Some are large cup, some are small cup. Some of them have bright orange trumpets, whereas some of them have pink, apricot or white, even different colors. And, Jim points out a bed that has large tulip heads and small ones. Eric comments in the world of daffodils, there really is a lot more diversity than a lot of us were aware, especially when we come here and we see just the incredible breadth of what's available. Incorporating as many of those as we can into design just makes the bed that much more interesting and that much more fun.

Jim adds, as gardeners, we love bringing nature inside the house. And CUT FLOWERS are one of the things that is exciting about the way we interact with the garden throughout the year. Eric thinks many people may not know that bulbs, specifically daffodils and tulips, really do make great cut flowers. Jim wholeheartedly agrees, they're the best. People love daffodils for cut flowers as well as tulips because they give you a long time to bloom in the house if you just cut them properly. Eric would like for Jim to talk about some of the considerations that we might have from a standpoint of success using bulbs as cut flowers. What Jim finds is that most people do not realize you do not cut a daffodil or tulip up higher. You have to snap it at the base. If you snap it where it's white, this will keep the sap inside the stem. Daffodils and tulips draw water and nutrients up from the white part up into the stem. If you cut it with a pair of pruners, it drains all the water out. So the life expectancy in a vase is shortened by probably half the period of time. So it's real good to go all the way to the base and snap it plus you're going to have a long stem. Next put those in a vase for about three hours. Leave them there. Give them time to soak up the water that's in the vase. After about three hours one can make a cut because they've taken up enough water to last for 10 days in the vase. The sap has calcium oxalate in it, which forms these little small bundles of crystals. And those crystals are what help lock the sap in long enough to take up more water. Eric mentions that calcium oxalate basically acts as a toxin for other cut flowers too. So it is important when we're using daffodils in combination with other flowers to give them that time on their own in a vase so that they're drawing up new water. Because otherwise they'll basically shorten the life the other plants that we're using in that arrangement. It will kill the flowers that are already in the vase because we've got to condition them first. If you put daffodils in right away all that poison goes into the water that the other flowers are drawing up. And using bulbs as cut flowers really underscores the importance of thinking about the way we plant the garden. By using the full spectrum of earlies to lates, and then incorporating things like tulips that have a different bloom cycle we really can gain three, maybe three-plus months of wonderful cut flowers for the interior of our home. Jim points out all the different shapes of flowers. For example, tulips, look at the double, it looks like a peony. Even when you've got a pair of tulips with all the shapes and forms when you put them in a vase, they're beautiful together. So you want to mix them up.

Eric would like to make one further point. Jim, you've been planting daffodils at Gibbs Garden for over 40 years and they look more and more amazing every single year. Eric would like for Jim to talk about any of the MAINTENANCE CONCERNS that there might be with daffodils. Let's start with fertility. Is there anything one should do from the standpoint of just making sure that they get the nutrition they need? If you want more blooms, it's better to use a fertilizer that's low in nitrogen and low in phosphorus, high in potassium. So 10-10-20 is a good fertilizer to apply. Put that on in December when the little buds are coming out of the bulb, but barely noticeable. One can simply go through with a lime spreader and spread the fertilizer over the area.

Eric would like to talk about insect and disease pressure. Is there anything that is trying to attack our daffodils throughout the year? Jim feels the daffodil is the lowest maintenance plant you can ever plant. They absolutely are wonderful and daffodils have no requirements. They divide on their own, they're perennial, so they're easy to grow. They're sort of taking care of themselves maintenance-wise.

Tulips, on the other hand - Our summers in the south are too hot, they cannot go through a summer, so they won't bloom the next year. Jim pulls them up and throws them away. Tulips, you have to spray with a deer repellent. Deer love tulips. If it rains a lot, you do it once a week. If it doesn't, once every two weeks. So that's a lot of maintenance.

But DEER will not ever touch daffodils. The reason is the calcium oxalate that's in the sap of the daffodil is causing a poison to develop in there. So when the deer eat into the daffodil, they will never touch a daffodil again. So you have no problems with deer. Finding a category of plants like daffodils that the deer don't want to eat and require almost no maintenance, Jim doesn’t think there is a more perfect plant.

Eric thanks Jim, what an amazing day. Every time we visit we learn so much. Jim’s commitment to highlighting great garden plants in a way that creates an emotional response and inspires all has always impressed him and keeps him coming back to his garden season after season. And the Gibbs Gardens daffodils are second to none. It's always a treat to come walk the lanes of your garden and to see the splendor of these millions of daffodils is amazing. Thank you. Jim responds, Eric you're a great horticulturalist. Every time you visit we talk and he learns something from you too. Eric thanks Jim, that means a lot coming from him.

 

LINKS:

Gibbs Gardens
World-Class Garden | North GA Destinations | Gibbs Gardens

Power Planter
Earth Augers for Drills | Power Planter

Plant List


   
 
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