Monday, November 10, 2008

Bulbs, Baby, Bulbs

I hope everyone knows that now is the time to plant bulbs in the ground if one yearns for the sight of those springtime jewels in the garden. Tulips, daffodils (Narcissus to the cognoscenti,) irises, alliums (ornamental onions in common parlance,) and a host of other major and minor bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers - the entire host too dizzingly many to enumerate here - need the winter chill for the flowers to form and bloom in the spring. The potted tulips and daffodils you see for sale in the spring have been "forced," that is, commercially chilled for them to flower.

Note: I will not go into the definitional differences in terminology here, but will be more than happy to hold forth on this topic or any others, if anyone wishes to write in the comment section and ask questions.

The above photo shows bulbs of Tulipa "White Marvel," (the larger bulbs with flaking skins) and Iris "Bronze Beauty" (the ones looking like shallots,) arranged on a moss bed, with a sprig head of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) blossom and fallen fall foliage from witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.) and Callery pear(Pyrus calleryana) trees. Pictures left and below are T. "White Marvel" and I. "Bronze Beauty," respectively.

One imagines those little parcels of energy, buried underground, taking their long cold nap. One can hardly wait for them to awaken in the thaw of spring.