But first, let’s can the BS. The Ithaca Journal informs me that:
It is possible to have three months of spring bulbs in our climate, from late February or early March through the end of May. The season starts out with winter aconites and snowdrops, followed by glory-of-the-snow, bulbous Iris reticulata, crocuses, Siberian squill, Puschkinia, Anemone blanda, and early Narcissus.
Right. Late February? I’m lucky to have a couple of unhappy-looking snowdrops by late March. And in Ithaca, I’m pretty sure, it might even be worse. Of course, who knows what might bloom and die under the snow in February.
The bulb propaganda has begun. Right on schedule, we are being guaranteed “months of spring color,” though I’ve noticed that most of the articles are now much more honest about how many years tulips will bloom. As regular GR readers should know, I am already there. No need to coax me. Just show me some pretty pictures and my credit card is at the ready. But I go into it with my eyes open, always putting the bulbs where they won’t cause disruption later in the season.
One thing that bulb catalogs invariably do is show huge swaths and rivers of densely packed color. Although I know that many people do have large properties where they could plant hundreds of same-color bulbs, it’s not all that practical. Better to mix the small ones in with ground cover, where their foliage can disappear after they’ve bloomed. Large bulbs like hybrid tulips can work in densely packed groupings where they can be shoveled out and replaced with other plants later. I’m not sure I’d want to do that with a twenty-foot-long swath.
Another thing that is very au courant is the planned bulb mixture, or the companion mixtures of perennials and bulbs. I am not certain how I feel about this. I’ve bought mixes in the past, and though the plants were good performers, sometimes there was a bit too long of a lag between when the different colors bloomed. My issue with companion plantings is that though the bulbs will be ready to go, the perennials will take time to mature. So there’s another lag. It’s all kind of a crapshoot, but I’m open to the concept.
One thing that bulb vendors do that I absolutely love is that they always find some unusual variety I’ve never seen. This year, I’m very excited about some hyacinths (strictly for forcing) from Brent & Becky’s and Old House Gardens, two of which are shown here (from top, B&B’s Raphael and Isabelle. I also love OHG’s Madame Sophie and Double Chestnut, but one can’t use their images).
That’s the way to sucker me in. Never mind the mixtures and the companions; show me some weird cultivars, charge double for them, and I’m there.