My first-ever order from Old House Gardens arrived today, lovingly packed and with a hand-written note on the invoice. They are a small company that specializes in rare and heirloom bulbs based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, not very far from where I spent my teenage years and where my parents still live. I got two types of tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) and some pink rain lilies (Zephyranthes grandiflora). The former I have long loved and in fact once grew successfully as a child in Germany - probably with a healthy dose of beginner's luck - and the latter have caught my attention a bit more recently during my trips to India, where they are among the more common garden bulbs and often seem to thrive on neglect. Hopefully I will be able to repeat my early successes with the tuberoses and the rain lilies will be as happy with me as they are in front yards and in pots on roof terraces in India. Most of the bulbs from Old House Gardens do not come cheap but I hope that the quality will be higher than what one sees in stores around here. Besides, a lot of their offerings are just so tantalizing. I am already pondering whether I will have to have some of those double hyacinths, dagger-petaled Ottoman-style tulips, and oh-so-pretty jonquils and tazettas come fall, even if they cost several times as much as their more ordinary cousins available at the big-box stores or local garden center.
My order from Old House Gardens, with the planting instructions and catalog that were included in the package
In other news, the first bud of the curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) opened today. The fragrance is not as strong as that of its more ornamental cousin the orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata) and decidedly spicier, with a hint of the aroma of the leaves which are one of the distinctive flavorings of South Indian cooking.
Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) in bloom
Now back to my research, which at the moment consists to a large extent of reading historic Persian and Sanskrit horticultural manuals. They are great fun for someone in love with both plants and the languages and cultures of South Asia and the Middle East as I am, but they also make me want to grow every plant I read about... Just where could I put a little saffron plot... and where the damask roses, and the blue waterlilies, and those myriad kinds of jasmine...