Irene Virag's Garden Party

I'm Irene Virag -- a writer, a gardener, a cancer survivor. I think ideas are like plants. They need nurturing to grow. And gardeners share both. So welcome to my blog. It’s all about what’s happening in my garden and beyond.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Rare Treat

“Are you Jacques?” I asked.

“Yes,” the tall man standing near the Jacques Amand exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show answered.

Actually, as he explained later, he’s John Jacques Amand. There was just something about the way he was looking at the tapestry of bulbs that singled him out from the rest of the on-lookers. It was almost affectionate. And I liked his British accent. So I plunged right in and asked him how he got into the bulb business.

“My father was in bulbs,” he said. “I was dragged up in it.” But he was laughing. He could afford to. Jacques Amand of Westport, Connecticut and the United Kingdom is famous for rare and beautiful bulbs. Like the almost architecturally structured plants with fat sturdy stalks and white-striped leaves with curled edges that towered over minitature daffodils and yellow crocuses on the other side of the exhibit.

“Ah, the Drancunculus vulgaris,” he said. “Before long, it’s big red flowers will unfurl.” The dramatic Drancunculus, pictured at left, were just one of hundreds of knockout varieties of bulbs in the exhibit – everything from John’s personal favorite – Erythronium Pagoda, also known as dog's tooth violet, with yellow flowers that look like, well, a pagoda to wonderfully scented hyacinths and yellow muscari.

Not to mention species tulips (Tulipa ancilla is pictured here with spiky Rip Van Winkle daffodils) and lilies to die for. Just look at this shot of Triumphator.

The selection of Arisaema on display was both different and delightful. “They’re fascinating plants – some are only two inches tall, some like tortuosum get to be six feet,” he said.

The one in front of me was well on its way -- with a purple-edged olive green spathe and mottled snakeskin-like stems. The forcing process for these Jack-in-the-pulpit cousins and all the other bulbs in the exhibit began in England last fall, then the bulbs were shipped to the U.S. for planting in mid-December. And now they’re in the spotlight in a convention center in Philadelphia.

Clearly, there’s more to say about the extravaganza blooming this week at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The theme is “Legends of Ireland.” It’s enough to make Irish eyes smile – and mine too. Sure and I’ll be telling you more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the St.Fiacre garden at the show, I was so happy to see lettuce growing in front of the roses because that is what I do. I have very little sun in my yard so it is a necessity - something I always felt sort of apolgetic about. Now I don't.

3/04/2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger Gotta Garden said...

I really enjoyed reading your posts about the Philadelphia Flower Show. I'm going to tomorrow (my first time ever!) and can hardly wait! Now I know some things to look for!

3/06/2007 4:34 PM  

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