Tuesday, October 03, 2006
My obsession with bulbs
It has always been so. Before I even started my first garden, I was fascinated by the thought of buying and planting little round things in the fall that would burst forth into colorful life the next spring. Over the years, I’ve been known to spend $300 or better on tulip, lily, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs—as well as miscellaneous other types. Usually, friends are the yearly recipients of my insane overbuying.
Do people plant as many bulbs as they used to? I tend to see them more in public plantings than in private gardens these days. (At one time, I tried to synchronize our whole street in tulips, but we used containers and had a hard winter, so most didn’t come up and that was the end of that.) Although I see no evidence in the media that planting spring-flowering bulbs is any less popular, I’m also not seeing as many bulbs each spring, at least not in Western New York. People here find it difficult to accept the fact that tulips are not really perennials, and when their first crop fails to return in force the next year, rather than plant new ones they decide not to bother. To me, the fact that tulips must be renewed is a good thing. It provides variety and negates the futile practice of letting ugly bulb foliage die back.
Some speculation on why bulbs may not be as popular as they used to be:
-no instant gratification here
-an increasing emphasis on low maintenance (bah!)
-more hardscaping and water gardens make less space for bulbs in quantity
Hmm. I’m not sure. They’ll always be one of my favorite aspects of gardening—which is why I have about 30-40 lily stalks dying back in my small courtyard right now.