Newspaper Columns

Keith Hansen, Smith County Extension Agent, writes a column each week which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.  http://www.tylerpaper.com/TP-Gardening

Keith HansenKeith Hansen’s blog

 The link above is to Keith’s blog which includes his column and other gardening news and tips.

Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph each week.

December 18th column

Narcissus ‘Galilee’

Look what I found blooming already!  Narcissus ‘Galilee’ is one of theDSCN3665 older varieties of narcissus known as Paperwhites.   During the Victorian era, people would force them to bloom inside their houses during winter.  Of course you know how our grandparents and great grandparents were—-nothing was just tossed.  They planted the bulbs outside and many if not most kept growing and multiplying.  Developed in Israel as the name implies, they are a bit more tolerant of severe weather than the oldest form brought into the country in the early 1800’s.

Paperwhites are the earliest of the tazettas to bloom, often as early as late November, but most often in December.  This one is just opening and will have several very sweet smelling flowers in a few days. The flowers are so sweet that they can be overpowering.  I remember my grandma had them in multitudes outside her gate and the smell was lovely.  I tried bringing some inside and we couldn’t stand the cloyingly sweet fragrance.  I think seeing a flower of any kind in winter is delightful.

These narcissuses begin blooming when the foliage is barely out of the ground and the first stems are only about 8-10 inches high.  The leaves never grow as high as other later blooming narcissus, in fact if it bloomed when they do, no one would even notice it.  I think Galilee insists on being noticed and is the first to bloom on purpose just for that reason.

Begin watching for now other varieties will begin blooming from now through spring.  Aren’t bulbs miraculous?  You plant an old ugly scaly knob of a thing and when it’s time, up grows a beautiful flower and lovely green leaves right when you least expect it.  Of all the plants I have, I cherish my bulbs most of all.  Little bits of sunshine and joy to engage our attention away from the cold dreary winter days.  I love how you can pass bulbs on to others and even folks with the brownest thumbs can grow them.

I hope you have many bulbs to keep you happy, to make you smile, and to bring inside to brighten your world.  Be sure to share them with others, because digging them will just make them spread faster.

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