4000 bulbs

That’s my answer for anyone who might wonder why I haven’t posted in a few days. 4000 bulbs, give or take. Planted. Mostly. Still planting… Over the last couple of weeks, Gail and Tricia and I have tried hard to get all 3686 bulbs that we ordered along with the few hundred tulips we saved from last spring placed and in the ground before we let the volunteers take a much deserved winter break. We’re also trying to stay a step ahead of the weather – something wicked this way comes next week, according to forecasters… One of the hardest parts of rushing to get the bulbs in is having to make way for them by taking out plants that are still blooming. (We plant tulips in the same slots as our annuals.) In a perfect scenario, frost would have done the dirty work for us. But this year there are still bees and butterflies working the African blue basil, dahlias and zinnias. Every plant that came out broke our hearts a tiny bit so we left as much as we could, especially in the Rose Garden.

The physical act of planting is also not easy (except wherever the ground was loosened by taking annuals out). The volunteers did the lion’s share, down on all fours in the bulb hunchback – my least favorite yoga pose. And we have all cheered ourselves up as we stretched and arched our backs back into proper alignment that the promise of a spectacular spring is worth a  few hours of discomfort. I watched everyone get the same glazed look on their face as they cast ahead to the days when tulips like Blue Spectacle, Golden Artist, and Akebono bloom in concert. When unearthly earthy Fritillaria persica dangle deep purple-black bells on 2′ stems in the Rose Garden, and Allium Pinball Wizard lights up the North Garden. We planted more varieties of muscari and scilla, endless crocus, and are trying brodiaea, pushkinia, and a tiny oxalis that hasn’t been gone in yet because we can’t make up our minds where we’d love to see it more – the Rock Garden or the Rose?

Bulb planting takes a kind of blind faith and strong constitution that I believe must be unique to gardeners as a species. Bulbs are the ultimate in delayed gratification, dormant proof of gardeners’ collective optimism because they give absolutely no hint of what’s to come. We can only hope as they go in that they’ll spring out again in some more fabulous form. And our fingers have to stay crossed that this year that the squirrels and deer find plenty of other things to eat…

Have you started planting bulbs in your garden yet? Are you pinning your hopes for spring on anything new?