Like Elizabeth and a lot of our commentators, I have a problem. A bulb problem. I know it’s a problem because I wind up with huge gaps in my front border as soon as the spring bulbs are done. And even the most promiscuous dahlia purchases cannot hide the tracks of my tulips.
But I’m not a sloppy bulbaholic. Like a wino who won’t go near a bottle of Absolut, I’m disciplined about the terms of my addiction. I’m a tulip and lily person. Everything else is just …drinking.
Since I can hardly stuff another lily in my yard, fall is all about tulips. I ordered an admirably controlled 350 this year. I have the 250 that aren’t waiting for the dahlias to be lifted–we just had our first frost this week–already planted.
Again, I’m disciplined (though I’m sure AA has a field day with this kind of ratiocination): I only experiment with the non-tulip bulbs once I’m confident that all the tulips will get in the ground.
Then, I tend to make a Panic in Needle Park-style last-minute order to Brent & Becky’s–right before my Thanksgiving frozen ground deadline–just to be able to say to myself that I’m not completely hooked, if I continue to experiment with other highs.
Today, for example, I ordered a 100 of something called ornithogalum nutans, because in pictures, it is the most amazing color–a minty grey-green. Plus, silly cheap. I also ordered 50 white Spanish hyacinths for a tough shady spot.
Previous years’ flings include allium ‘Purple Sensation’–wildly successful. Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant,’ the biggest thrill possible from a tiny flower, an absolutely mind-blowing purple color in the dead post-winter ground. Orange fritillaria imperialus–overblown, absurd, and kind of great for it.
Other experiments leave me cold. All daffodils, even ‘Thalia’, which I love in pictures, make me yawn in my city yard. Daffodils, in my opinion, belong in a natural landscape. Dutch hyacinths–too top-heavy and ridiculous for words. Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’–very, very pretty, for a much subtler sensibility than mine.
But the tulips…orange and purple and tomato red and yellow in fringes and doubles and lily shapes and big bowls…oh my God, so unspeakably exciting. It’s going to take a truckload of housebound amaryllis just to keep me functioning until spring.