The true confessions of a bulb-o-maniac

#409 in a series of true experiences in real estate
November 2002, Hills Newspapers

I’m having the best time with a garden game I made up. Like squirrels hide acorns, I’ve been hiding bulbs, burying them a few at a time in different spots all over the garden.

I haven’t done this, planted in this way, before because it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that I’ve taken bulb planting much too seriously. What I used to do was pore over the bulb catalogs, marking and listing and totaling the costs, usually many times over. Too many fantastic choices, and far too much worry over where I would find room for them. Some years I didn’t order anything, the process, the decisions were so hard.

Always in my mind was the knowledge that my order, my box of bulbs, would very likely be shipped to me at the wrong time. It would be dark and wet and cold outside, and I would not want to go out there to find places for my treasure.

But something changed for me when, a couple of Christmases ago, a friend gifted me with a bag of anemones. It was late for bulb planting, and it was indeed wet and cold in the garden, but I had to plant them. I couldn’t not. So I found a spot and put them in, and because the bulbs are small and the holes don’t have to be very deep, I was done with my task in a trice.

And when they bloomed, not long afterward, in gray February when the view outside my kitchen window is dull, those red, purplish blue, and white flowers completely thrilled me. They were so simply wonderful that I determined to plant more.

I didn’t want to go back to my old ways. I didn’t want that old bad feeling of dread, of a chore that must be done. So I was careful this time – at least at the start. I ordered more anemones, but only 2 bags, 4 dozen, plus 12 daffodils, an old favorite of mine named Geranium. And I asked that they be shipped to me early.

I was glad to see them when they came. It was still summer, still gardening weather. I took the bulbs with me and walked along the paths looking for likely spots. With my trowel, I tried out the density of the dirt. If it was dry and rock hard, I moved on. When I found it possibly diggible, I probed a little deeper.

I looked for little corners, spots near the edge of the paths so that when the flowers bloom, I can get up close to them, see their faces, without stepping into mud. I didn’t mark them. I thought that would be part of the fun. Once they’re underground, I can’t tell what’s there, won’t know until they poke out their tops, and then I’ll be surprised.

I easily found fine spots for the anemones, but the best one for the daffodils, inside a decayed tree stump. The thought of their white petals and deep orange cups bright inside that tree stump made me quite satisfied.

Then one day I was in Costco where I saw racks of bulbs. Thinking how easily I’d planted my earlier acquisitions, I chose some more. This time I brought home 100 orange ranunculus. I was feeling so confident that I took them with me and went directly into the garden after arriving home. I was sure that I could find a home for them.

In fact, it was a little harder to find a spot than it was for the other bulbs because there were so many, and I did, I’m sure, end up planting them far too close together. But, oh well, they’re in, they’ll probably do fine, and I’ll get to see 100 orange ranunculus!

I was feeling pretty jaunty and smug. The change in my attitude had been only slight and yet, so very large. By some miracle, I’d become able to plant bulbs without twitch or worry. I’d just gone right out there and taken care of them.

That’s when I went on the Internet and kinda lost my mind. This time I ordered 4 lilies, 60 cerise-and-white anemones, 50 ixia, 15 homeria and – the price was so good, they were so pretty in the photo, I couldn’t resist – a jumbo bag of 100 Sundial narcissus. I punched in my credit card number and clicked the submit button.

Uh oh, I thought right afterward. What have I done? Where will I house all those bulbs, especially 100 narcissus Sundial? The lilies won’t be a problem, nor the homeria, and I think I can play my game with the rest.

Placing the narcissus however will be more difficult. They are larger bulbs requiring larger holes, and they don’t like summer water, so I can’t place them in my flower beds. Wow, 100 are a lot of narcissus.

After lengthy consideration and much walking around looking for potential spots, I decide they must stay together, like a big family, in an unused bed at the top of the garden. The weather is still fair, and the ground rather soft. Remarkably, I actually get out my garden fork to turn over the soil in the chosen bed. I even add amendments and fertilizer, turn it over again. I’m very impressed at my pre-preparation.

The shipment is left on my doorstep, a sizeable box, which I bring into the kitchen table to open. Inside are labeled mesh bags, out from which loose bulb skins float. Back in the box they go, and so that I cannot ignore my responsibilities, I leave the box square in the middle of the table.

But not for long. The big bed is waiting and ready. I plant every bulb. It took a bit of time to make the hundred holes, and maybe I didn’t dig them deep enough. Just in case, I added some potting soil on top.

And now I can’t wait till spring when small batches of flowers will surprise me as I turn a corner, appearing seemingly from nowhere. Just imagine, the loudest of all, one hundred yellow Sundial narcissus in a single family group.

This entry was posted in Home Life & Home Maintenance. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: