Tag Archives: when to plant bulbs

Singing the Bulbs to Sleep

It has been a perfect fall so far, full of crisp apples and cider, pumpkin muffins, and of course lots to do in the garden.

For vegetables, I planted Romaine and Bibb lettuce in early September, along with radish and spinach seeds. All but the spinach are thriving and the tomatoes are still going strong. My peppers have also finally hit their stride in the cool days and chilly nights; there are four big Bells at last count and three Anaheims getting started: chili weather is here!

I’ve also been working on bulbs. I did a row of Allium along the back of the pond garden; I thought my little helpers would enjoy (picking the petals off) the big purple balls in the summertime. I added a semi-circle of red-and-yellow tulips, planted with rodent-resistant daffodils, around my little white bench. My little Rose has been helping me tuck the remaining daffodil bulbs around all of our decorative trees.

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Rose has been a bit confused by the process. She likes the bulbs and their papery skins, and she likes the game of hiding them in the dirt, but she then once they’re covered she’s ready to dig them out like any good game of peekaboo. I’ve had to explain to her that the bulbs are sleeping now, all through the winter, and they won’t wake up until spring when they’ll turn into beautiful flowers. She wasn’t crazy about that explanation until we sang them all lullabies, patting the dirt where the bulbs sleep. I’m hoping that extra effort will guarantee a full garden come spring.

Meanwhile, the daisies, now interspersed with a flaming red seedum, have just begun to open their white petals for one of my favorite sights of fall.

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Dutch Influence

For the last two years, I’ve made a handful of trips to Europe for work, and I’ve carefully coordinated it so that I’ve had layovers in Amsterdam. I’ve spent all of one rainy night actually touring the beautiful city, and would love to someday spend several days soaking up the rich architecture, scenic canals and incredible art, but my layovers have been motivated by one purpose only: tulip bulbs.

Schipol Airport in Amsterdam has a number of shops that showcase the variety of uniquely shaped (ruffled and pointed!) and colored (green strips! dark black!) bulbs available in the Netherlands, with a few bags approved for import to the United States (be sure to carefully check the labels to avoid a big problem in customs). On my first trip I was feeling generous, and brought home tulip bulbs for my mom and brother. The last two trips I kept my carry-on fairly empty for plenty of flowers all for selfish me.

These imports from the Netherlands clearly state they have the required U.S. health certificate, making them safe for import to the United States.

Once home, I stretched my bulbs out as far as I could, hoping to have my pointed, green and red striped beauties peek their heads out of the dirt all over the yard in the spring … which they did … which I finally realized looked ridiculous.

Up close, this tulip is majestic; from a distance, this single flower seemed oddly placed.

This year, alas, I will have no new Dutch bulbs to plant. But that’s ok, I’ve realized, because this is the year I’m going to give my exotic beauties some local company. This is the year, I have declared, for going overboard on bulbs.

And I mean seriously overboard.

In addition to more traditional red tulips, which I feel will make the more exotic varieties better stand out, I have plans for couple other new additions. The biggest addition I’m planning to make is lots of daffodils.

This luscious tulip will look even more unique once surrounded by its more sedately traditional solid red peers.

The biggest single lesson I learned last year is that I am not the only local tulip lover. I have had major competition from the squirrels who found the holes dug for tulips to be easy access points for placing their acorns (and snacking on my bulbs). I learned courtesy of the American Daffodil Society that squirrels will not eat daffodils, and that frequent placement of these cheery beauties may help prevent squirrels from bothering other bulbs (of course, it may not. I guess we’ll see).

This blog was prompted by a flier this morning for my local nursery’s early bulb sale. I hope to have an update for you within the next few weeks, as we get deeper into September, about my bulb activities, and a few additional lessons learned from years past.

You won’t be alone for long, little tulip bulb – you’ll find plenty of company this year from a wide variety of bulb-based flowers!