Spring Forward

Spring in the middle of a heatwave? Yes, I’m thinking about next spring. Regardless of the heat, now is the time to consider bulbs to order for Fall planting. It’s perfect timing when you think about it. Firstly, the intense heat is keeping one indoors so, might as well address the bulb order.

In picking up the bulb catalogs now, I have the luxury of time to peruse the pages to ensure my favorites are available and check out new introductions. It permits a thoughtful selection keeping in mind color schemes and bloom times to get the most of the spring bulb season.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to tulips. There are so many choices of color, forms and varieties – its such fun selecting. I generally think about a color scheme – nothing rigid. A loose blend of shades that go together or complement/counterpoint well with a bit of surprise thrown in. This year, I went with my regular mainstays and added several new ones. I cut out the pictures and laid them out randomly ( that’s how way they get planted anyway) to see the effect. Of course they will not all bloom at the same time but this visual gives me a rough idea that it’ll work. Anything jarring will be noticed and rejected right away. It’s a lovely activity of dreaming and planning in the cool comfort of air-conditioning.

It’s easier selecting daffodils, alliums, fritillaria and such. The biggest obstacle is my budget. I covet certain bulbs like F. imperialis both lutea and rubra maximus and would love to order a great many but can only permit myself a handful. So be it. A few of them will still look impressive. However, when it comes to the alliums, few will not do. A few hundreds are required in the meadow so I stick with Purple Sensation and Summer Drummer which are beautiful and less costly. One day, after I win the lottery, I’ll include Globemaster and others. I don’t have any complaints about having to compromise – there are so many great choices that one way or other, a suitable selection can always be made.

Bulb growing is not an easy industry. For that matter, growing anything is not easy. I’m quite content with what I can afford and careful to factor in all expenses when deciding a realistic budget. I’m always happy to forgo designer anything for plants. And art supplies.

This year, I’m not adding any more crocus, ornithogalum, hyscinthoide and other minor bulbs. I want to see how the ones already in place continue to perform. It’s necessary to make periodic assessments.

While I believe there’s no such thing as having too many bulbs, it’s just wasteful to keep adding bulbs without allowing those that naturalize easily to do their thing.

By ordering bulbs now, one has the best chance to ensure their choices are not sold out. It always surprises me how fast certain varieties get bought up. Even when I think I’m relatively early, I’ve sometimes been too late to grab popular choices.

In the process of selecting bulbs, the mind is wholeheartedly in spring season – a very pleasant place to be when its blazing hot outside, A little side bonus of advance planning.

Once ordered, I’m free to enjoy the summer without that pending task. The order gets charged only at the time of shipping which is scheduled according to the right planting time for your zone. Pretty convenient.

Happy spring planning!

Note: Ordering now means ordering from bulb houses – you get the largest selections and best prices. Large quantities can be ordered wholesale. Buying bulbs later on from local nurseries is just fine if you’re buying only a few bulbs and not looking for a big choice. I usually get my amaryllis and paperwhites for holiday decorations and hyacinths for forcing from my local nursery. Often, I go again towards the end of the season and snap up the remnants for potting up and getting an early start on the spring show.

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

 

Friends With Benefits

Did the title grab your attention? I thought so.

This past week, my garden was enriched by a bunch of plants given to me by various friends. First, I received a couple of plants as a hostess gift from Marco. He’d dug up these special gems from his own rather exceptional garden. Alchemilla erythropoda and Aruncus aethusifolius – two miniature gems to beguile the side path of my garden.

Earlier in July, I was asked to identify a ‘mystery’ plant that had suddenly cropped up in numbers in friend Pat’s garden. They turned out to be the native orchid Galearis. This too is a diminutive plant. Pat offered me some of these and being the greedy gardener that I am, I readily accepted. After consulting with my orchid expert friend Bill, it was decided that the orchids are best transplanted after the flowers had finished blooming. That happened last week. Perfect additions to my native plant collection in the ‘meadow’.

On my morning walk last Friday, I stopped to chat with a neighbor who was working in her pretty garden. Suzy was dividing her Siberian irises. She generously suggested I take some and once again, I accepted with shameless alacrity. A few of my own irises have mysteriously disappeared over the years so I’m particularly pleased to get this gift.

Finally, my friend Julie offered me her Calycanthus as she is selling her house and that shrub was bought some years ago when we were having a splendid day together at a rare plant sale. She has been given unlimited visiting rights to check on her beloved plant.

Yesterday, all the gifts were planted in my garden. They will hopefully thrive and enhance it. In addition, they and so many others like them, will be endearing reminders of memorable moments, special relationships and bonds. For garden and gardener, it is win-win all the way. The very stuff that sweetens life.

Note:

I’m very pleased to be in this show. Hope you will visit!

Here are my ‘friendly benefits’:

Alchemilla erythropoda – potted up for now. Will be planted in ground in the fall.

Aruncus aethusifolius – also temporarily in a pot.

Irises

Calycanthus

So many ferns from John!

A gift from the past – Bianca rose from Henriette

Ornamental raspberry – also from Marco many moons ago.

So many ferns from John!

(c) 2017 Shobha Vanchiswar