A: Right now is the perfect time. Most people wait until the end of flowering, but just as they are coming up out of the ground is better. To get more flowers next year, a bulb needs to produce flowers and maybe seeds right now, and then it must store carbohydrates in the bulb for next year. We want the flowers, but we don't want the seeds to develop, so when the flowers are done, cut off the flower stalk to prevent any seeds from growing. Don't cut off any leaves until they have turned yellow and never tie them together. Fertilize with a high middle number fertilizer, such as a 15-30-15 or a 10-20-10. By fertilizing when the leaves are coming up, you give the plant the most time to grow and store food for next year. If you wait until after it is done blooming, there is much less time for the leaves to produce carbohydrates for next year's food supply.
Jeff Rugg, Creators Syndicate
Brighten your corner
Q: We are rehabbing an elegant old townhouse (1889). It's a row house, and the only windows are on the front and back. The dining room is very dark, so we are looking for ways to brighten it up that work with the Victorian atmosphere of the house.
A: Of course, you will add new lighting fixtures, say, cove lighting if you have a cove ceiling. Or consider lighting up the entire ceiling. A couple of torcheres should do the trick. What's really good about a torchere is that the lamp itself virtually disappears. You see the light above you, but not the source.
At the same time, color all other major surfaces light: walls and floor. As your house is vintage, chances are you have a darkish hardwood floor. Cover it with a light area rug or room-sized rug. The Victorians had a thing for sisal, at least, in warm weather. In today's climate-controlled environments, a natural-colored wool sisal would be appropriate year around.
About the walls: Wallpaper is the right answer in a Victorian house. Just not the dark, heavy patterns that once gave wallpaper a bad name. Thanks to modern technology and inspired innovators like Ronald Redding, today's wallpapers can be metalized, glamorized and sparkling with silvered surfaces and finishes like sand, glass (from recycled auto windshield) and even real crystals.
We're not talking bling — these papers are as elegant and classic as, say, cashmere, silk and diamonds. In the room we show here, the wall wears “Cypress Gardens,” a 9x13.5-foot mural by the designer, who was inspired by an antique Chinese silk embroidery at York Wallcoverings in York, Pa.
For more information: ronreddingdesigns.com; yorkwall.com.
Rose Bennett Gilbert, Creators Syndicate