Tag: 2014

A Few More Words About Amaryllis…

A Few More Words About Amaryllis…


Library Christmas Tree_0017

It will be difficult to give you anything less than an exuberant description of the Garden Club’s annual holiday meeting. The various committees outdid themselves with beautiful blue and silver décor, potted amaryllis, the delightful scent of fresh greens, and a table laden with everything from berries to petit fours. The living room had an overflow crowd listening and watching while Ward Wilson created stunning arrangements in less than five minutes. Each arrangement was made utilizing ordinary objects: coffee cups, a cake stand, grocery store items (apples, pine cones, small poinsettias) and branches and greens from the yard.

Once again our thanks to Elaine Allen for taking pictures [epa-album id=”7034″ show_title=”false” display=”excerpt”]

We hope those who purchased the live greens were inspired by Deb Cullen and the speaker into some beautiful swags and creations. If you will send me pictures of your work we would be thrilled to post them on our web site for the benefit of our other members. Mail to: gcnews@gcoprf.org

I missed out on getting one of the amaryllis bulb kits to go along with the charming children’s book Amy and the Amaryllis by Roberta Raymond. In my quest to find a source for a bulb kit I learned some interesting facts. The following is an adult version and undoubtedly too much information for children: Did you know that in 1753 the botanist, Carl Linnaeus, created the name Amaryllis belladonna now commonly known as Naked Lady or belladonna lily for what botanists thought was the South African plant grown in gardens. The cultivar we recognize at the holidays as amaryllis has been hybridized for over a century, belongs to the genus Hippeastrum and was originally from South America. For a time South African and South American plants were placed in the same genus. The Amaryllis belladonna has a solid flower stem while the genus Hippeastrum has a hollow stem, otherwise the flowers look similar. Botanists have argued over the nomenclature since the early 19th century and finally in 1987 the 14th International Botanical Congress settled that the scientific name of the genus belongs to Amaryllis l., the South African Amaryllis belladonna. Nevertheless, the common name amaryllis is used for bulbs from South America that bloom for the holidays.

The Hippeastrum are valued for their large blooms indoors in the winter in the northern hemisphere. The bulbs are relatively expensive but can be successfully brought back to bloom every year after a dormancy period. The larger the bulb the more flowers it will produce. The largest bulbs are 14” – 16” in circumference at harvest and produce three or more flower stems (scapes) with four to six flowers each. The common sizes are 10”-12” in diameter, have two stems with four to six flowers. Some bloom at the same time and others wait several weeks between blooms. The Netherlands produce the Royal Dutch hybrids that may bloom from eight to twelve weeks in the pots. The Dutch are usually the earliest to bloom. The holiday bulbs bloom four to six weeks after being potted. Most cultivars of Hippeastrum come from the Dutch and South African sources but are now produced in Texas, California, Japan, Brazil and Australia and other countries. The genus Hippeastrum contains some ninety species and over 600 cultivars including exotics that have thin, spider like petals.

If you purchased a blooming amaryllis, to enjoy it for the maximum amount of time, keep the plant in diffuse light and cool temperatures (60˚F) and barely moist. Do not get the part of the bulb that sticks out of the soil wet. Cut the flower stalks near the top after the bloom dies to prevent seeds from forming. When the stem dies cut it near the bulb, but be careful to not injure the leaves.

In late winter your amaryllis is in growth phase. Your main objective is to encourage leaf production to help the bulb for the next year’s flowers. Move the plant to the sunniest location possible, a south facing window, or greenhouse, fertilize it monthly, and don’t let the soil dry completely.

After danger of frost (May) if possible, plant your bulbs in the ground for the summer in a sunny location which will help the plant produce more leaves and grow larger. Put a small handful of bone meal in each hole. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks or use a slow release fertilizer.

In October (mid-August if you want the bulb to bloom at the holidays) carefully dig up the bulbs being careful of the brittle roots. Or if left in the pot, stop watering the bulb. Put the plants in a cool, dark place 50˚-60˚F (basement?) and let the leaves die, cut off the leaves and repot the bulb in fresh potting soil. The bulb should be planted in a pot only about an inch larger than the bulb. It likes to be cozy. Plant the bulb with 1/3 of the bulb out of the soil. Move it to a dark spot for its resting phase. Watch the bulb every week and after about eight to ten weeks you will see the tip of the new flower stalk emerging. Now it is time to place the plant in a sunny, warm location to stimulate root growth. After the first flower stalk blooms, move the plant to a location with low light and cooler temperatures to preserve the flower.

Purportedly you can keep your Hippeastrum (or if you prefer amaryllis) indefinitely with the right amount of growth and dormancy conditions. Provided with the right conditions, the bulb will get larger and multiply itself. You may get a gigantic bulb that produces three stalks and many flowers. A good return on your investment.

Happy Holidays Everyone

Seasonal Decor featured for December 3 meeting

Seasonal Decor featured for December 3 meeting

large snowflakeFour or five good reasons to come to Garden Club OPRF’S December 3, meeting at Cheney Mansion (220 N. Euclid, Oak Park):

1. ” FROZEN” in miniature:  Susan Milojevic lead the troops Tuesday in transforming Cheney Mansion’s entry hall and library into a vision of ice and snow in glistening blue, silver and white.  Very pretty.  You will want to see it.   Festivities  begin at noon with food and sales; 1:00 demonstration and raffle.

2.  FRESH GREENS for decorating your door, mantle, table or whatever your imagination can dream up.  Deb Cullen will again provide us with the favorite choices of the last two years such as:  magnolia tips; silver bell Eucalyptus; mixed green bunches; incense cedar; white pine tips; traditional deluxe swags with cones.  Prices will range from $7 to $10 a bunch.  Arrive at noon for best selection!

3.IMG_3279    AMARYLLIS:   Amaryllis pre-planted; Amaryllis bulb kits; Amy and the Amaryllis book with book signing by the author Roberta Raymond.   Purchase a book and a bulb and get  a young friend started on the gardening path or buy yourself a blooming plant.

4. SEASONAL DESIGNS:   Welcome the changing seasons indoors with elements cut from your landscape (or the greens from the Garden Club Ways and Means sale)  combined with decorative pieces to create long lasting floral arrangements for your home.  Garden Club welcomes landscape architect  and designer, Ward Wilson to instruct the audience in how to create fantastic seasonal décor.  Bring cash for raffle tickets ($5 for 6 chances).  Maybe you will be one of the lucky winners.

5.   FOOD AND UGLY SWEATERS!  There are  always good things to eat at our meetings but even more so for the December festivities.  Here is your opportunity to appear in an ugly holiday sweater to add to the good times.


November meeting: Fall Designs from the Market

November meeting: Fall Designs from the Market

Garden Club had a large and enthusiastic crowd for our November 5 program: “Fall Designs from the Market.”

Rapt audience Photo by Elaine Allen
Rapt audience
Photo by Elaine Allen

Gabriela Soltys of Mariano’s events department introduced our guest speaker: Joe, manager of the Western Springs floral department.

Joe impressed us with a variety of arrangements of gorgeous fall-colored flowers, including mums, roses, hypericum and sunflowers, all of which are available at Mariano’s. Joe demonstrated the techniques for hand-tying bouquets: a simple and effective method for smaller arrangements, easy to make at home with supplies on hand. Leafshine spray and baling wire from the craft store, and mercury glass containers from the dollar store are additional handy items for these arrangements.

Hand tied bouquet Photo by Elaine Allen
Hand tied bouquet
Photo by Elaine Allen

Joe also showed us how to bend flexible calla lilies into a graded, circular arrangement in a fish bowl: simple but elegant. His larger and more elaborate pieces: oasis-based flowers and vegetables, and a large “Wow factor” arrangement, arrived fully assembled.

For most of us, the best part of the program was Joe’s account of how he became involved in the floral business. The motherly ladies in the group entreated him to tell us the whole story.

Photo by Elaine Allen
Photo by Elaine Allen

In a nutshell, Joe worked part-time in various departments of the store while studying for his degree in civil engineering. As new Mariano’s stores opened, his opportunities and experience expanded so that he rotated through all the departments and at several locations. During his occasional floral department assignments he enjoyed learning about the flowers and experimenting. But his big life-changing moment occurred unexpectedly. While working at the Park Ridge store near O’Hare Airport, an important speaker arrived for a hotel convention, so the event planners required an impressively large display for the stage. Of course, this had to be done on a moment’s notice, for that evening, with just the flowers at hand. Joe was alone in the department, but devised an ingenious strategy for arranging layers of smaller bouquets into an elaborate display. The customers were very pleased, and Joe realized his true calling.

At the end of our November meeting, all of Joe’s arrangements were raffled off to smiling garden clubbers.

a "Wow" arrangement Photo by Elaine Allen
“Wow” flowers
Photo by Elaine Allen

The creative, resourceful and (mostly) frugal garden club ladies will enjoy the convenience of finding a wide variety flowers and supplies at Mariano’s while grocery shopping. All of our Thanksgiving table displays will be stunning!

Hope to see everyone at our December 3 meeting at 12:30 PM  at Cheney Mansion for Ward Wilson:  “Dynamic Seasonal Décor.”


11/ 5/ 2014 Garden Club Meeting @ Cheney Mansion

11/ 5/ 2014 Garden Club Meeting @ Cheney Mansion

Dear Members;
Just a reminder!
Our next meeting and program is November 5th at Cheney Mansion. Meeting at 12:30 and our program featuring fall & Thanksgiving décor ideas presented by Mariano’s will begin at 1:00.
The centerpieces etc. will be raffle prizes. 6 tickets for $5 so bring a few bucks.  As always there will be refreshments prior to the meeting. Come nosh & gab and get a few décor ideas before the holiday hectics begin.
Hope to see you then.
Sue Milojevic
V.P. programs