What Was Tulip Mania?

While debates continue to rage about the precise details and magnitude of what became dubbed Tulip Mania, the term refers to the astronomic rise and collapse of tulip prices between 1633 and 1637 in the Netherlands.

Starting around the mid 1500’s botanical finds were the equivalent of today’s latest gadgetry. Instead of lining up all night outside a box store for the new smart phone or what-have-you, buyers lined the docks waiting for a glimpse of an incoming ship loaded down with flora wonders from afar.

As tulips gained popularity investors became interested and prices sky rocketed. Forty tulip bulbs were recorded as selling for 100,000 guilders at a time when skilled craftsmen were earning around 300 guilders a year. In other words forty tulip bulbs sold for the equivalent of over 333 years of wages and this at a time when living into your late forties was a remarkable feat, especially given that between 1635-37 there was an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Holland.

And it wasn’t just the people who were battling disease. So were the tulip bulbs. Ironically, unbeknownst at the time, it was a virus that caused certain tulips to develop the unusual two-toned streaky patterns that were so coveted by growers and buyers alike.

Just before the collapse, one tulip bulb Semper Augustus featured red and white streaked petals and carried a price tag of 10,000 guilders for a single bulb!

As is the way of things, it was likely greed that became Tulip Mania’s undoing. When buyers refused to show up at the annual bulb auction, panic ensued and prices plummeted. Though it should be said that it is not known if buyers were turned off by the inflated prices or if they were simply staying away out of fear of catching the bubonic plague. Whatever the reason, tulip mania came to a crashing halt.

I am sure those left holding the bag of bulbs in the aftermath felt cheated, but at least they had the bulbs. When the stock market crashes you are left with a pile of worthless paper, or these days, mere marks on a screen. When the tulip market crashed the bulbs could still be buried in the ground like treasure and reward the grower with a stunning springtime show year after year.

As those who love a garden know, there is no greater wealth than that.

Spring flowers in park

Do Petunias Need Fertilizer? The Answer May Surprise You!

Adding a few scoops of slow release fertilizer to our petunia pots and baskets is a necessary rite of spring planting…right? Wrong!

I always thought having a mass of blooms meant adding copious amounts of fertilizer. Many nurseries-and purveyors of fertilizer-will suggest you add both a slow release granule fertilizer as well as a liquid feed with every other watering.

All that changed when I met a local gentleman who is famous for his ridiculously healthy petunia baskets. How much fertilizer does he use? None. Notta. Goose egg. Zilch. Zero. As in no fertilizer at all!

He simply pots the petunias up in potting soil (he uses Sunshine Mix) and makes sure they receive adequate watering. That’s it!

The results speak for themselves…

2012 Progress Garden Tour 167.JPG

Terry Fraser with one of his many hanging baskets of wave petunias


This isn’t to say fertilizer will hurt your petunias…just that it isn’t necessary.

With the money saved you can buy more petunias!


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12 Orange Flowers and Plants That Will Grow On You

Spring has only just begun where I live, but I recently made a trip south where I saw orange in almost every flower bed and planter. It was the new pink, purple, blue…well, it was the new everything.

Here is a video I took of just one of the “hedges of orange” I spotted on my travels.



One thing is for certain; if use orange in your spring containers they will make a seamless transition into fall. Or maybe the above display will be replaced with soft pink and purple for fall, just to mess with our minds. I like it. Change is good. And the color is surprisingly stunning. I say surprising because I have always leaned more towards the pink and purple spectrum when it comes to flowers, but this year, sheep that I am, I will probably be adding the color orange to at least some of my containers.

The planting in the video was built around the orange tulips and offset by primroses, pansies and coral bells with a dab of silver dusty miller. Having a color theme can simplify your shopping, but it can also make things a bit of a challenge. Especially if you try to go with all perennials.

When I was first starting out I planned an entire perennial bed in yellows and blues using a dozen different plants. It was gorgeous. In my head. The reality was less than breathtaking. It wasn’t even gasp worthy. Maybe sneeze worthy. But a very small one.  Just choo without the ah preceding it. You get the idea. What happened-or didn’t happen-was that I hadn’t taken the blooming periods of each perennial into consideration. I ended up with a few yellow blooms launching themselves in May, a couple blue ones opening in July and a few more yellow ones blossoming in August and so forth. None were long lasting. Each one seemed to die out before the next one began and none of them amounted to much on their own, let alone a dazzling color scheme. It can be done (visit any botanical garden) but it takes careful planning and a bit of cooperation from Mother Nature. Heavy handed use of dependable annuals for filler is always a good idea.


In this mixture, only the tulip blooms are fleeting. The coral bells are perennial but the orange color comes from its foliage not its blooms. What a stroke of genius! Orange color without waiting or worrying for the bloom. The pansies and primroses will bloom all season long.

When the tulips finish it will be interesting to see what happens next with the display. I might have to fly back just to see!


12 Flowers and Foliage Picks that Come in Shades of Orange

candyman calendula veseys

1.      Calendula Candyman Calendula officinalis double orange blooms on sturdy stems with edible orange petals you can sprinkle in summer salads or use to make homemade beauty products. What more can you ask for? An annual that blooms all summer long atop 12 inch (30 cm) stems. Seeds can be purchased through Veseys.

cropped coral bell

2.     Coral bells Heuchera ‘Marmalade’ Grown for its orange hued foliage this variety of Coral bells also produces spikes of reddish brown flowers in the summer. A hardy, long lasting perennial, it can grow to a height of one foot (30 cm) with a spread (width) of 3 feet (1 meter). Does well in either full sun or part shade.

veseys crocosmia.jpg

3.     Crocosmia Prince of Orange is a fairly tender bulb that I believe is only available in North America from Veseys  If you are looking for a dash of different this could be the orange that does it for you. Very upright and flashy, it attracts hummingbirds by the dozens. Hardy from Zone 5. Blooms mid to late summer and achieves heights of 2 – 3 feet (61 cm – 1 meter).

maverick orange geranium veseys

4.     Geranium Maverick Orange Pelargonium hortorum is a stunning annual geranium that sets gorgeous orange blooms atop deep green foliage. Grows to approximately 18 inches (46 cm) tall and blooms all season long. Seeds are available from Veseys.

Marigold flowers in a pot seedling spring

5.     Marigold Tagetes You can’t talk about orange flowers without mentioning the marigold. There are more marigolds sold as bedding plants in North America than any other flower. It wouldn’t be summer without their dependable long lasting cheerful annual blossoms. They are beloved in flower beds but also appreciated in vegetable gardens where they both attract and deter the right sort of insects and nematodes. While they also come in yellow and white, orange is the most popular and widely available. For tall varieties choose African marigolds Tagetes erecta or for shorter displays look for French marigolds Tagetes patula that will provide a small but very full compact display for edging the fronts of beds and containers. If you want marigold blossoms that taste as good as they look plant a few Tagetes tenuifolia for adding to salads and sandwiches.

mexican torch wcs

6.     Mexican Torch also called Mexican Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia is a robust annual that soars to heights of 6 feet (2 meters) with a 2 foot (61 cm) spread (width) and is covered with brilliant orange flowers all summer long. Plant this heat loving plant outside when soil is warm or start indoors then transplant once all danger of frost has passed. Available from West Coast Seeds


7.     Milkweed or Butterfly Bush Ascleipas tuberosa  A perennial with a long bloom period lasting from June to August. This is the only plant the monarch butterfly will lay its eggs on so is essential to their survival. Hardy to Zone 3. Will bloom in second year and thereafter. Reaches heights of 3 feet (one meter) with a 2 foot (61 cm) spread (width).


8.     Nasturtium Another edible flower this annual will bloom all summer long. Seeds and plants are widely available in shades of red, yellow and, of course, orange! Two or three seeds popped in a pot will absolutely fill it before season’s end. A very economical and stunning addition to containers and gardens. And salads.

cropped pansy

9.     Pansies Some pansy seed packets are marketed as orange but come out more yellow or red. Your safest bet is to visit a nursery and choose a shade of orange you like from the pansies being sold as bedding plants.

African Sunset Petunia Veseys.jpg

10.     African Sunset Multiflora Petunia is the first orange petunia available from seed. Always a dependable annual just one petunia fills and spills a medium sized container. Available from Veseys.

fantasia swiss chard

11.     Swiss Chard Fantasia This is actually a vegetable not a flower but that just makes it better. The brilliant orange stalks will lend color to your containers all season long and you can eat them…leaves, stalks and all for a nutrition packed boost. Available from Veseys


12.     Irene Parrot Tulip If you are smitten with the tulips you saw in the border you will be interested in Irene Parrot Tulips available from West Coast Seeds You will need to plan ahead and plant them in the fall and be prepared to put up with some unsightly foliage for the summer and fall, or try hiding them behind a robust clump of petunias or such. Some gardeners go so far as to lift the bulbs and transfer to a pot where they can while away the summer days in an obscure corner of the yard, while storing up nutrients in for next spring. In the fall plant the bulbs back in the bed and the whole show can start again!

These are just a few of a vast array of orange blossoming or foliage plants available. A wander through your local nursery will unearth lots and lots of choices. And, of course, Swiss Chard isn’t the only vegetable available in orange. Try adding some orange peppers or if you have lots of room even a pumpkin!

A Bug Munching Plant

Pitcher Plants includes several varieties of carnivorous plants that are cleverly designed to trap insects.

The rim of the pitcher shaped leaf becomes slippery with dew or nectar, causing insects to slide into its tubular cavity. The waxy inside of the leaf make it impossible for the insects to climb back out and they end up drowning in the plant’s digestive fluids. Pitcher Plants then obtain necessary nutrients by slowly absorbing the decaying bodies.

Nepenthes tropical carnivore plant



Carnivorous plants grow in soil too poor to provide any sustenance, which is why the plants have evolved to rely on insects for food instead.

The Pitcher Plant Sarracenia purpurea is the official flower of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.

Sarracenia. Exotic flower

Pitcher Plant Sarracenia purpurea






What are the Provincial and Territorial Flowers of Canada?

Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Official Flowers listed alphabetically first by Province and then by Territory. Includes the year the flower was officially adopted.


wild rose isolated

Alberta – The Wild Rose

Adopted in 1930





Dogwood (Cornus florida)



British Columbia – The Pacific Dogwood

Adopted in 1956




Spring flowers cutleaf anemone




Manitoba – Prairie Crocus

Adopted in 1906






Viola flowers



New Brunswick – Purple Violet

Adopted in 1936





Pitcher Plant


Newfoundland and Labrador – Pitcher Plant

Adopted in 1954








Nova Scotia – Mayflower Trailing Arbutus

Adopted in 1901






Trillium, Official Flower of Province of Ontario, Canada


Ontario – White Trillium

Adopted in 1937






lady slipper trio



Prince Edward Island – Pink Lady Slipper Cypripedium reginae

Adopted in 1947








Flower of Iris 7



Quebec – the Blue Flag (native Iris) replaced the white lily as the provincial flower in 1999








Wild lily (Lilium pensylvanicum) 8



Saskatchewan – Western Red Lily

Adopted in 1941










Northwest Territories – Mountain Avens

Adopted in 1957





Saxifrage flowers on the ground in the garden



Nunavut Territory – Purple Saxifraga

Adopted in 2000







Yukon Territory – Fireweed

Adopted in 1957







Colorful Canada map with provinces and capital cities

You Can Make Your Own Rose Water…It’s SO Easy!

A pair of female hands holding a  mortar grinding rose petals

You can make your own rose water by simply covering pesticide-free rose petals with pure water and using a pestle or blunt edged wooden spoon to mash them up. Let the concoction sit for a few hours on your counter or on a sunny windowsill and then strain and bottle. The more water you use the more diluted the final product will be; the more petals you use the more rose infused. It’s not rocket science so don’t overthink it. A couple handfuls of rose petals and half a cup of water is a good ratio. Store in the fridge and use within a couple weeks. Natural is always so simple!


Use the water to gently clean your face before bed or as a soothing stress reducing additive to your bathwater.



A Penny for Your Lily


When I was at Canada Blooms (a horticulture trade show in Toronto, Ontario Canada) a few years ago a propieter of lilies gave me this bit of trivia…

Drop a penny in your planting hole when you plant your lily bulbs and deer will no longer eat your lilies! Apparently the copper in the penny taints the taste and keeps deer moving instead of munching.

Very easy and cool idea…the only problem is Canada stopped using pennies on February 4th, 2013. If you live in Canada and are penniless, try dropping other sources of copper in the hole instead. Pieces of pipe or wire should work just as well.

Deer in a cage

And if copper in the hole doesn’t work a tightly woven eight foot fence will!