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Oakland's Gardens to the Rescue

by Sara Henderson, Director of Gardens

The weekend rescue team (l-r) Will Duncan, Allison Duncan, Caroline Riggins, Renee Watkins, Darryl Riggins, Tori Simmons, Cooper Sanchez and Tom Fullilove. (not pictured Caryn Sena)

The weekend rescue team (l-r) Will Duncan, Allison Duncan, Caroline Riggins, Renee Watkins, Darryl Riggins, Tori Simmons, Cooper Sanchez and Tom Fullilove. (not pictured Caryn Sena)

This weekend’s bulb rescue was a great success. We had 11 dedicated volunteers digging for Oakland, including two from the Georgia Daffodil Society. Our friends at Hills and Dales Estate were also digging with us, and were a great help by sharing bulbs.
By the end of the afternoon, we acquired quite a collection! We rescued hundreds (possibly thousands) of daffodils, including a number of heirloom varieties not previously found in Oakland Cemetery’s gardens, including some heirloom iris, many Lycoris squamigera (Naked Ladies), and Japanese maples. 

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Narcissus flies were discovered during digging. As a protective measure, the flies have evolved to look much like bees. The flies attack a host bulb by hollowing out the center of the bulb, destroying the flower. This is a very serious, though not unusual, pest of daffodils that we have not had at Oakland and want to avoid having. It doesn’t mean the bulbs must be destroyed, but we can’t replant immediately as we usually do. We will have to dry the daffodil bulbs and store them for planting this fall. 
Narcissus fly

Narcissus fly

Drying will kill the larva that gets into the bulbs, but drying is tedious work that takes about four weeks, followed by storage in a dry area until they are replanted.  
While the rainy April weather presents a challenge, our gardens team is already hard at work finding a solution.
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