Today I heard a talk about the history of bulbs in the garden. Through ancient Greek mythology, tales were told of bulbs springing to life after disaster, blooms rising up from the storm of defeat. As I sat there and waited to give my short report - specifically about daffodils - I could not help but agree with the historical musings. Yes, bulbs wait in the cold of winter, push through frozen ground, and amaze and delight us with their fortitude and color. Just when you think winter will never leave, that spring will never come, you look outside and dancing yellow faces are waving to you, beckoning you outside to welcome spring.
It's just so hard to wait. It's just so hard to face the cold of winter. You work, toil, fertilize, nurture...and then you wait. Uncertain and unsure about so much. Did I plant deeply enough? Did I order the right variety for my climate? Did I work and prepare the ground enough? Will the pests leave the bulbs alone long enough to burst through the outer shell and send green life out to the world? Will I see blooms? Will I smell the lingering aroma? Will my daffodils flourish?
Over the last four years, thousands of daffodils have been planted in my neighborhood to benefit research for specific causes. Every year more and more bulbs are planted. And every year, those of us who are diligent in the plantings, think about those bulbs this time of year.
We plan ahead.
This is the time to fertilize. Use a low-nitrogen all purpose fertilizer to stimulate bulb growth. Bulbs will grow underground until the temperature reaches 40 degrees.
This is the time to purchase new bulbs. Search for varieties that have proven successful in your climate. Choose a variety for naturalizing or one variety for mass planting. Groupings are showy!
This is the time to be preparing a new bed, free from tree roots and red clay. Not your favorite task, but as the temperature continues to drop, you will be glad you did the hard work when the weather was friendly. A man with a strong back sure comes in handy!
Admittedly, the most diligent gardener can experience failure. Improper planting, rodents, bad bulbs - these are just a few of the hazards always faced. But we plod on. We do everything in our power to make the blooming time one of success. And we hold on to hope. Hope that spring will surely come and bring with it the results of hard work, diligent effort, and the gifts of Creation for giving us a garden in which to play. Who would want to miss any of it?