Something New Under the Sun

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

There are many joys in gardening. One is that you can always learn more, you never know enough, and you never need be bored. So in early January, when I called up the Des Moines Botanical Center’s website, I traveled the link to their events section, and scrolled down to “learn on Saturday” a series of classes they are hosting each Saturday through March.

My first class was on January 29–all about aliums. I have been raising a number of alium cultivars for 30 years. So what’s there to learn? I never imagined the types, colors, heights and bloom times available in this genera. I kept the handout, and had Bob read it to me. As the fall catalogs come along this summer, I will compare this list to those listed in the catalogs. It was one of the most valuable classes I’ve ever taken.

Scented geraniums was the next class of interest to me. Although I am somewhat familiar with them, I have not bothered to raise them. This class consisted of three main topics–how to grow scented geraniums, how to craft with them, and how to cook with them. The “how to” session on growing them was of utmost interest; the craft and cooking sessions were less so. After the class, a number of samples were available for sale. I came home with a cultivar called “Orange Fizz.” It is very fragrant. I don’t know what color it will be when it blooms, but foliage and not flowers is the main focus with these plants. Geraniums are their common name, although botanically they are pelargoniums. Saturday (Feb. 12) is the official scented geranium sale; the strawberry and coconut varieties sound promising.

And as I stated in my last entry, the hyacinths came along as scheduled. The first to flower was a new group named Ibis. I had no idea what color they would be,  but my wife, Beth, said they were pink. How do they compare to my old favorite, pink fondant? Beth was not really sure.

Yesterday I brought forth the fondant, as they were also flowering. Beth informed me that the Ibis were just a shade lighter than the fondant. Those Braille Dymo tape labels came in handy. In my man cave, a pot of purple crocus are blooming. At least I think they are purple. There are seven flowers so far–all purple according to Beth. On other occasions, I have forced purple crocus, only to be told that a few of them aren’t purple after all.

The seeds are all labeled and sorted. COME ON SPRING!!

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