Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Just as promised, my order of pre-chilled bulbs from Brent & Becky's Bulbs arrived today: 50 Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler', 10 Narcissus 'Erlicheer', 10 Narcissus 'Avalanche', 10 Tulip 'Monsella', 10 Tulip 'Princess Irene' and 10 Hyacinth 'Carnegie'. It's not all that common for the Head Gardener and I to follow instructions ... we picture ourselves as free spirits, iconoclasts if you will, and we are thus frequently disinclined to cooperate with authority. However, when the instructions come from bulb gurus Brent and Becky, we are more than happy to do as suggested. PLANT NOW, they told us; within moments of finding the box outside the front gate, we were out back, hori-hori knife in hand, to commence with our efforts. Happily, the cold front doesn't arrive until tomorrow and the weather was conducive to getting these bulbs into the ground. It was a bit chilly and the gloomy skies were lightened only by thoughts of how lovely the blooms will be and the memory of talking bulbs with Brent at the Garden Writers' symposium back in September.
One of the things I learned from him that I hope will make me more successful in growing bulbs: many bulbs require DRY summer or winter dormancy. If they get too much rain when they're resting, they will not do well: even if they don't rot in the ground, they're unlikely to bloom. I kept that in mind when I was choosing locations for the bulbs I planted on Monday and those I planted today. My main consideration was to place them in areas that don't get flooded during episodes of torrential rain. This means no bulbs can be planted in the corner bed and the beds along the front curbs, though, dang it.
However, I did learn something interesting when I came inside for the day and began perusing the cultural instructions booklet that came with my bulbs.* According to the Heaths, daffodils and narcissus "are very happy when combined with other bulbs and perennials ... Perennials and other plants that bloom after the daffodils help ... use the available moisture during summer showers." So overplanting the bulbs with perennials or summer annuals not only hides the dying foliage which supplies nutrients to the bulb for next year's blooms, it protects the bulbs from getting too much moisture. Another advantage that I see to overplanting the bulbs is that the plants will protect the bulbs from being dug up by the Head Gardener because she's forgotten they were there!
*Yes, AFTER the actual planting of them. Is there another way to do it?