Bulb Crazy

Bulbs in box 2019-10-010

I did it again. Last spring, in a fit of gardening fervor brought on by the first flowers of the season, I put in an order for more spring bulbs, to be delivered in the fall. With my yard full of crocuses, glory of the snow, and miniature irises—and not much else—it was easy to see where those new bulbs should be planted.

Now it’s October, and I just received delivery. Yes, my box of bulbs arrived just ahead of our first snowstorm of the season. Now I have to plant them. Today.

What was I thinking?

Iris @DBG LAH 3

At this point, I can’t recall what I ordered, much less where I intended them to go. Plus, I have no idea where my existing bulbs are. Their foliage has long dried and blown away. Worse, various perennials now sprawl over the same spaces.

Why did I think I’d remember? Why didn’t I take more photos when everything was in bloom? Why didn’t I make notes of where these are to go? Why haven’t I learned from my past mistakes? Why aren’t I more organized?


Narcissus_Daffodil_DBG-CO_LAH_5923I have to plead temporary insanity, brought on by the appearance of flowers after months of cold and snow. Winter here lasts a long time, and I include these early bloomers in my garden specifically to raise my winter-dampened, garden-deprived spirits. Often, the taller plants—tete-a-tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, for example—are crushed by late spring snowstorms, cutting short their display, but the years that doesn’t happen make all the effort worthwhile.

It’s too late to go back and record the information I now need, but I can resolve to do better in the future. To that end…

  • I will dig the holes, drop in the bulbs, and take photos before I cover them up again.*
  • I will label said photos with the type of bulb in them.
  • I will mark the planted areas with little plastic markers, such as I use in my veggie beds.
  • I will add a link to this post to my March calendar.
  • And finally, I will add a weekly calendar entry to take photos, starting in March and running through May. Why so many? Different bulbs bloom at different times. Also, it might snow that week, and I need the flowers to be showing. Plus I procrastinate.

Hopefully, I’ll be writing a bright and cheery post next October about how I did all these things, and how well it all worked out. However, it’s good to know that even if I get it all wrong, many garden mistakes can be corrected.

Chionodoxa_Glory-of-the-snow_DBG-CO_LAH_5834Unlike with established trees and shrubs, it is easy to dig up bulbs and move them. And while I’d rather not do that while they’re actively growing and blooming, I can easily wait until the foliage is mostly dried, and do it then. Nothing says you can only plant spring blooming bulbs in the fall. After all, most of the time I leave them in the ground year after year, only dividing the crowded clumps or moving plants out of the way when I redesign a planting area.

It could be worse. The first year we lived in this house, I was so desperate for flowers that I ordered hundreds of bulbs, which then had to be planted. By me. By hand. It was weeks before I could stand up straight again. Now that our landscaping is mostly completed (is a garden ever truly done?) I only bought a few dozen bulbs, which will be easily buried with my auger drill bit. I do eventually learn from my mistakes!

* By the way, unless a soil test has shown you have a phosphorus deficiency, do not add bone meal to your planting hole. Most soils in the U.S. have plenty already, and too much phosphorus can be toxic.

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