Land yields floral surprise in the dreary winter

PLANO — Art Hrvatin and Trish Price do all they can to live off the land. And sometimes, the land surprises them.

A couple of years ago, they purchased about 150 Asiatic lily bulbs and planted them at different depths in one area of their property.

“Once the flowers die and the leaves turn yellow, the bulbs usually get thrown out. So we bought about 150 of them for 50 cents apiece,” Hrvatin said. They proceeded to plant a dozen at a depth of 2 inches, a dozen at 3 inches and so on.

“In the fall, when we were cleaning up the dead mums and day lilies, we discovered two that didn’t bloom,” he said. “One sprouted around Halloween.”

That plant accidentally got “whacked” by Price.

“I was just sick,” she said.

The last bulb, planted at a depth of about 13 inches, sprouted in November. By January, because they covered it with an aquarium and put a heat lamp on it, the plant had several deep red blooms.

“We’ve never had one bloom at this time of the year,” Hrvatin said. “We’ve been told that we shouldn’t have any after August. Of course we’re pampering this one,” he said with a grin.

Price, who once worked as a landscape designer, grows everything from seed. With more than 700 tulips, daffodils and crocuses, Hrvatin said they wanted to have things that would come back each year. They also grow many of their own vegetables, and have won ribbons at the Sandwich Fair with their flowers and produce.

A retired union carpenter, Hrvatin renovated the corn crib into the home they now occupy. For the first time this winter, they have heated their home with a wood-burning furnace. The couple raises ducks, chickens and rabbits.

And this summer, they plan to erect a working windmill to pump their well water.

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