Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Squirrel Watching

Tulip Van Eijk

I  have just planted 90 pink Van Eijk tulips that I expect will flower sometime in April. Thirty of the bulbs face off on either side of the path that curves through the garden. Another thirty mingle with  eight purple alium behind the little pond to the left of the garage door; keeping a promise I made to myself last month. Or was it the month before. Or the month before that.

The garage, by the way, looks nothing like a garage. With its turquoise door flanked by tall, divided-light windows (which you cannot see from any distance in summer, hidden as they are by the mock orange on one side and the wisteria on the other). The one-story brick structure resembles a cottage. As one (particularly odd) visitor once asked, "Is that where your mother lives?" 

It is a pleasant spot to plant a stand of flowers.  

Sprinkled on top of the tulips are handfuls of crocus, a flower I don't particularly care for. It seems rather nervy to even call them flowers. These puny spots of color were inserted medicinally, as they appear early in the year, when the brain needs a spot of cheer, even one so pathetically meager as this.  

There are also eight pink hyacinth, which I rather actively dislike. They are so ... florid. So garish with their squat bodies and candy-colored, tightly-curled petals. Like a band of square-bodied old ladies with too-tight permanent waves. They smell rather nice, however; as long as there aren't too many of them, which can be sickening. I hid them behind the azalea so the scent will blow about sending a bit of sweetness into the air.  (Grape hyacinths, while rather pretty and also headily scented, require a certain amount of gymnastic ability--or at least the ability to bend over--to sniff. Unless they're planted on top of a wall, which I do not happen to have).
Flaming Purissimas

Planted closer to the house is a clutch of Flaming Purissimas tulips. These are said to be early bloomers, bearing white flowers tinged with green and pink and yellow. These should emerge in March, around the same time as the hyacinth and the few daffodils that always seem to survive even when I yank the lank and yellowing foliage after they bloom.

I am feeling extremely self-congratulatory about this project, not that I have any reason to be. The bulbs were among the last available at Home Depot and Costco, deliberation didn't take long.  And there was no calculating the perfect planting date -- the bulbs have been sitting on the basement steps for the past month, waiting for me to ready myself.  Motivated only by fear of a frost -- or at least a snap of bitter cold that will make the effort extremely unpleasant, I marched forth this morning clutching my shovel.

That the effort was as easy as it turned out to be also had nothing to do with any planning or foresight. Since most of the outdoor plants are tropicals that are brought in for the winter, there are clear swaths of ground to be dug for the bulbs. And 25+ years of turning and amending that soil for the summer (Ha! "Amending". That really sounds like I DO something). Anyway, the earth turns easily, the bulbs are plopped in and covered.

And the waiting for spring begins. Let's see how many bulbs survive the squirrels.

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