|This single, late tulip, “El Nino” positively glows in the sun.|
I probably need to be planting flower bulbs right now, but I’m not. The last few falls I haven’t planted any tulip bulbs, no crocuses, no nothing. I have my reasons (cough *excuses*), listed here:
• My city garden is hard as heck to dig. I have tree roots I must sever through, making digging in my garden at any time a miserably arduous experience. My country garden, on the other hand, is chock full of rocks, sometimes I encounter giant boulders I can’t do anything about.
• Squirrels sometimes dig up the tulip and crocus bulbs, which is heartbreaking/annoying.
• The expense. It’s hard to justify shelling out for tulip bulbs when they might become high priced squirrel food. Bulbs aren’t super cheap at any time.
|Enchanting, dark, double, late tulip “Black Hero”.|
• The remorse of Shiny Tulip Package Syndrome: I get all excited by the flower pictures on the packages, then get busy with fall’s exigencies and the bulb packs sit on the counter drying up. Which leads to guilt, which lead to future reluctance to buy in case it happens again. (see point above, expense)
• It’s frighteningly easy to forget where you’ve planted bulbs. I can’t remember where the tulips that are already in the garden are planted, so I worry I may spear one if I start to dig.
With all these reasons NOT to plant bulbs, why do I have the urge to plant bulbs this year? I am an impatient gardener, and bulbs are not for the impatient. Impatient gardeners have enough problems putting out bedding plants from 6 packs, (which always look a bit mingy when you first plant them), but they do fill out, and there’s something there that you can see. Bulbs, on the other hand are buried completely. They are underground, mysteriously sprouting and growing roots. At least that’s what we are told. We have to believe it’s true. If we’re lucky we have a wonderful surprise in the spring, a reward for our act of faith.
|Lily flowered tulips—one of my faves—this one is “Jazz”.|
Flower bulbs are all about delayed gratification—the faith that one day this little dried looking pointy thing will become an exquisite flower. It’s hard to be patient about delayed gratification of joy. Planting bulbs is commitment, a leap of faith. What’s more, let’s point out the really awful truth here: when you plant a bulb you have no guarantee you’re even going to be around to see it bloom in spring. Anything could happen between now and then. I’m old enough now to know how true this is.
When you plant a tree you exercise the same act of faith. You likely aren’t going to see the tree in its maturity, (unless you spent a good deal of your childhood planting trees, not a bad idea, actually. Get out there, kids!) But you plant the tree in spite of that. It’s the same with bulbs. You plant, and have faith you will see the flowers. Bulbs do bring guaranteed joy, in time. It works that way. That’s why I really must plant them this year. It’s a little gift to the future: a gift to myself, to my neighbours. And to a few squirrels.