A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Monday, April 11, 2005

Spring has sprung!

I've been sick for two weeks, first with the flu, then with bronchitis. While I was confined to bed, spring arrived. It was perfect planting and transplanting weather, rain then warm then rain then warm. Of course Springhill delivered my plants right before I became ill and in the teeth of a late snowstorm. So, except for the Japanese fern I managed to get into the ground before I could no longer get out of bed, the plants are lining my window sills and the roots are staying cool in the basement. I planted the fern, by the way close to the hellebores which were a complete bust. One never made it through the winter, one is dying even as we speak and none of them bloomed.

I couldn't work in the gardens, but I could look at them. I took a mental inventory for the fall. Bulbs. I need more bulbs. I got out of the habit of planting bulbs every fall. At my last house, I always planted a minimum of 100 bulbs each fall. After ten years, that's 1000 bulbs which I know sounds impressive but reality was very different. First of all, they were spread out in beds scattered around a 50' by 150' lot. Second of all, they didn't all bloom at the same time. Third of all, not all of them survived every year. The tulips especially died off in huge numbers. That's another thing I learned at the Home Gardeners' School. The reason tulips don't last is due to their origins in Afghanistan and Turkey where the summers are dry. Our summers are too wet for the bulbs. The only solution is to dig them up every summer and replant them every fall. I am much too lazy for that. And lastly, the squirrels ate quite a few of the bulbs after I planted them until I finally figured out how to stop them after I moved to my current house.

Making up for all that, were the bulbs that multiplied. At my last house it was the grape hyacinths. I wasn't a huge fan of them until I noticed they had filled the beds and spread out into the lawn. My front lawn didn't get mowed until May so I could enjoy them. At this house, it is the crocuses. When I first planted them, they looked pretty pathetic but ten years later they have become big bunches of color. I lost a lot of bulbs, especially crocuses and daffodils when my front yard was dug up in 2002 to replace the sewer line to the street. I never replaced the bulbs. This fall, my mission is to finally remedy that.

My first heirloom bulb, the Rip Van Winkle daffodil, has bloomed. I noticed today that the Thalia daffodils are ready to bloom also.


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