Tulips Arrange Themselves


I have a love affair with tulips. There are a lot of reasons. One is probably because I can’t grow them. My soil is far too wet–and even if it weren’t, it’s a battle around here with deer and the heartbreaking idea that I had waited for my tulips to bloom, only to have them eaten just as they were about to open is not worth it–not when every bulb requires stabbing my heavy wet clay with a heavy steel trowel just to get that bulb in the ground.

So I buy a few bunches now and again and get my fix that way. I love that they continue to grow in the vase, changing their look.


These tulips may not look so different in this different vase but they have been trimmed up substantially. This is what’s come off,


So, now, newly refreshed, they’ll be able to grow–and ideally open up a little further–and provide a little cheer in this unusual time.

Spring’s Trying


Despite the snow a few days ago–and despite the fact that it can snow here for another 6 weeks or so–spring is doing its best to cheer us up.


The rose foliage is fairly far along for this time of year. Traditional planting for bare root roses–and pruning of traditional types–would be about the first week of April.


This is a crabapple leafing out. All the fruit from last season hasn’t even been consumed by returning migratory birds yet.


This is the bud of a dwarf Korean lilac. This usually blooms for me at the end of May. It seems as if it will be earlier this year.


Finally this is my weeping cherry. It normally blooms before the crabapple. This year, who knows? It is always gorgeous when it does bloom.

Spring clearly is trying to help keep our spirits up!

Spring’s Progress


On Friday these little bulbs were just green shoots on top of a stereo. You may remember that this is where I had a pink bulb and a white one in full color.

I also mentioned that I had brought 2 more up from the basement that had been started just a month ago.


Here they are. They are already showing evidence of blooming in 4 weeks time. You may wonder how this can be, when the original bulbs took 8-9 weeks.

Two reasons. First these bulbs, although they weren’t planted, have been in the same cool spot as the others so they have been chilled for the same amount of time.

Next, we are closer to spring (even though spring comes in July in my climate–we’re still closer now than we were in November). And all plants, even bulbs, can tell that. So once they are given a signal to wake up, they do so more quickly than they do in November.


My “white” amaryllis continues to be interesting. It’s probably more interesting than a plain white one would have been. So that turned into a gift, I suppose.

Next week I will be out of state. It will be interesting to see what the flowers of the south are doing.

A Taste of Spring


Remember these?


Here they are, in their full glory.

(Please disregard the background. It’s a Civil War artifact that belongs to the Spoiler. It was his family’s).


And here are the next two, coming along right behind them. Spring bulbs in the dead of winter require a little planning. These were started Thanksgiving weekend (the last weekend of November for my non-United States readers).

Once I saw the above 2 coming along so nicely (the first photo), I started 2 more–roughly the last weekend in December as I recall. And as soon as these two bloomers finish up, I will start 2 more (I only have 6 forcing vases, so I kind of stagger the starting 2 at a time).

But this is the perfect time for all of these to start blooming. It’s when it’s the coldest here and when we are likely to have the most snow. It’s a full month before any of the flower shows start. It doesn’t get any better than this for me.

Oh, and did I mention hyacinths are fragrant? Ah, spring!

I’ve Been Had!


Remember this amaryllis photo from Monday? Good. Notice it, and then I will go on to discuss the topic of this post.

I give a very popular lecture called “Trade Secrets: A Gardener’s Guide to Getting the Best Plants. ” In the lecture, I basically talk about 3 things–how plants are developed and marketed; why new and crazy cultivars aren’t necessarily always the best plants for the garden (particularly in the first year or two of release); and what to look for when selecting plants at the garden center.

One of my pieces of advice on that third topic is never–unless you need a plant in immediate bloom for a party or some event–buy a plant in full bloom.

I do suggest that you look for a hint of color so that you can be sure you’re getting the proper color you want because tags do get shuffled about, particularly in the craziness of spring buying.

But then there’s THIS problem:bulbs. This year I decided that I would buy only 1 amaryllis–a white one.


As you can see from the flower, this isn’t white amaryllis. At best, if I am lucky, it will be red and white. Sigh. Right now, it seems to be coral and white. This isn’t a cultivar that I am familiar with. Perhaps somehow I got a new cross.

This isn’t the first bulb issue I have ever had in my life, and it’s even more disappointing when you plant the bulbs in the fall and wait 6-8 months, only to have something completely different come up in the spring.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, this is no problem at all. All flowers are beautiful. And of course there are much bigger things to worry about in the country and the world.

So I will enjoy my amaryllis surprise and try for white again next year.