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The Heirloom Flower Garden

The Heirloom Flower Garden
Rediscovering and Designing 
with Classic Ornamentals
by Jo Ann Gardner
Chelsea Green, 2001

While many other books on heirloom gardens focus on design elements, this is a very gardening-oriented title, written from one gardener to another explaining how to grow and landscape with heirloom plants. 

"I have grown nearly every plant I describe," notes the author, Jo Ann Gardner. "Like many others, I struggle and try to learn from my mistakes. I have grappled with all the problems that ordinary gardeners experience from seed germination failure to 'where can I stick this plant?' 

"I hope that my efforts to act as a friendly guide to growing and landscaping with heirloom plants (helped by other gardeners' experience and comments along the way) will encourage a new generation of readers to continue to grow and celebrate our floral heritage." 

Gardner (nice aptonym) uses these pages to organize and define the world of heirloom plants that she's discovered, and to make that world accessible to ordinary backyard gardeners. 

From her home on Cape Breton Island, where she and her husband operate a small, horse-powered farm specializing in dairy, fruit, and herb products, Gardner has written several gardening books, including Herbs in Bloom, Living with Herbs, and The Old-Fashioned Fruit Garden. The first edition of The Heirloom Flower Garden was published in 1992. 

This new edition offers more emphasis on preserving heirloom varieties, with detailed sections on growing and propogation along with an expanded landscaping section. The heart of the book, however, is still the 93 plant portraits which offer historical information on each plant and instructions on how it is grown. 

Heirloom plants, as defined here, are those introduced into American gardens between 1600 and 1950. "Although there are a fine new plant introductions... they have not been around long enough for us to care about them in the same way we care about older types," Gardner explains. "It will take decades before they, too, assume the mantle of 'heirloom'."

The Heirloom Flower Garden:
Rediscovering and Designing With Classic Ornamentals

Growing Hyacinth

The usual way to propogate Hyacinth bulbs is to dig them up in the early summer after their leaves have yellowed, and cut a half-inch-deep criss-cross through the basal plate; replant the bulbs, and by the following fall they should have produced bulblets where the original bulb was cut. Pull these off, replant them in a cold frame for the winter, and leave them there for several seasons before planting them in the garden.


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