Monday, November 23, 2015

A Taste For the Exotic: A Holiday Giveaway with Longfield Gardens

From my earliest days as an honest-to-goodness gardener, I've been fascinated with unusual bulbs. Tulips and daffodils are nice, of course, but those quirky ones that you can't find just anywhere always grab my attention.

I've grown quite a few tropical bulbs over the years, in summer and winter, depending on availability, including Scilla peruviana. It's an unusual one, but not so much as its cousin, Scilla madeirensis, commonly known as Giant Madeiran Squill, which until now has not been available to the general public. If you wanted to see it, you either had to view it at a botanical garden or in its native environment.

Found on the Portuguese islands of Madeira, off the coast of northern Africa in the Atlantic, this beautiful and rare species of hyacinth is only hardy to Zones 9-10. It is easily grown in containers as a houseplant and is now being propagated commercially in Israel. Longfield Gardens sent one to me in a kit a couple of weeks ago so I could grow it for myself.

Everything I needed was contained in the kit: a birch bark container,
potting medium, a nice-sized bulb that was already showing signs
of growth, and some decorative Spanish moss to top it off.

I've grown bulbs from Longfield Gardens before
and they've always been some of the biggest
and healthiest bulbs I've ever seen.

All I needed to do was pot it up and water it, which didn't take me more than a couple of minutes. (Instructions for planting are found on the website.)

The bulb itself is somewhat pretty, foretelling the bloom color. It will first produce strappy foliage, sometimes freckled, and it should begin flowering in about 4-6 weeks - maybe in time for Christmas or New Year's!

Planting and care of Scilla madeirensis is similar to that of amaryllis.

Longfield Gardens' photos show its bloom to be a beautiful shade of lavender blue. Bulbs typically begin to bloom at a relatively young age (around four years), and hopefully I'll see some offsets form as it matures over the next few years.

The flower stalk has a bottlebrush silhouette that will
reach about 15" in height.
Photo of Scilla madeirensis courtesy of Longfield Gardens)


Would you like to grow one too? Longfield Gardens has graciously allowed me to give a gift kit away to one of my readers. All you need to do to enter to win is to leave a comment to this blog post, telling me the most exotic flower or bulb that you've ever grown. If you've never grown anything you consider to be exotic, then tell me what you've always wanted to try, but haven't just yet.

Be sure to provide a way for me to contact you, should you be the lucky winner. (You can include your email address by spelling out "at" and "dot" to avoid spambots.)

At midnight on Black Friday, November 27th, I'll randomly pick a winner and contact you so that I can get an address for shipping. Longfield Gardens will then send you a gift kit in time for holiday planting. Good luck!


UPDATE: Congratulations to Louise Hartwig, whose comment was picked by as the winner of the giveaway. Thank you to all who entered! If you still want to grow this great bulb, you can purchase it here.

Photo of Scilla madeirensis courtesy of Longfield Gardens
Further reading about Scilla madeirensis:

I received a complimentary kit to grow Scilla madeirensis for the purposes of introducing this unusual bulb to my readers. I agreed to do this at the request of Longfield Gardens because I've had good experiences in the past with bulbs I've received from them and I can recommend them because of those experiences. The free kit was the only compensation I received for writing this blog post.

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