Every year in October, just like many of my fellow gardeners, I succumb to bulb fever. "Do they come back or do you have to plant them again every year?" asked Mr. Mouse. "Well, theoretically, they come back. But there's the squirrels, and our clay soil gets just a little bit too wet for their liking. Better be safe then sorry." I replied.
Then, in early November, the package arrived, and Thursday last week I finally decided it was time. I always try something new, and buy a few of my favorites. I order from John Scheepers Dutch Flower Bulbs. I've found my success is slightly better with their bulbs, which are grown in Holland, than with bulbs from the local and very expensive bulb vendors. As for the shipping, the bulbs don't weigh more than a liter bottle of water, so bulbs from Holland seem to me a better investment than water from Fiji.
I always try to get as many native bulbs as possible, and this year, my special splurge were some Erythronium pagoda (Trout lily). These are, according to Brent and Becky's Bulbs " A vigorous hybrid between native american species E. tuolumense x E. revolutum". It sounded intriguing.
I was quite taken aback when I saw the size of the bulbs.
They were easily two inches long. So, does that mean I have to dig a 6 inch hole into the dry clay? Well, I'm lucky to have my trusted Hori Hori, and I did buy the carbon steel version, which is recommended for clay (even though it will rust if you're not careful). I dug a hole and eased in my new treasure.
And then I repeated the procedure. Again. And again. And again. I realized that I'm lucky the bulb bug had not affected me that much, it's possible to plant 75 bulbs in the clay, but 300 or 500 would have been a challenge for me.
But with less then 100, it's possible to enjoy the songs of the birds, smell of the earth and the vision of good things to come. Here's what I got.
Fritilaria meleagris, a European Fritilaria that was stunning last spring.
The Erythronium pagoda hybrid.
Brodiaea ixioides Starlight, a native also known as Tritileia which I already bought last year. I enjoyed the yellow flower clusters which opened in late May, and appreciated that nobody confused this Tritileia with Agapanthus.
A mixed bag of the native Colochortus (Mariposa lily). They are having a hard time here, and I get maybe 1 plant for every 10 bulbs I put in, but when they do succeed, they are stunning. They seem to be better in containers, so I'm setting a few aside. Also Colochortus 'Golden Orb', which was amazing last year in a container.
Finally, I bought a small back of Brodiaea Pink Diamond. I've been fairly successful with Brodiaea Ida-maia, and I'm hopeful these will look good in the pink-themed area near the Christmas fountain.
And that's what bulb planting is all about for me. I dream of the flowers and how they fit in with the annuals and shrubs. I visualize the beauty, and how much I'll enjoy watching the unfolding of the first blossoms. For a while, I forget about other troubles and think about what matters to me.