pameladean: (Libellula julia)
[personal profile] pameladean
Several weeks ago, when it was warm and forecast to stay that way for at least another week, my email box filled up with tempting offers from seed and bulb companies. I held out and held out and suddenly succumbed to a batch of white tulips, a batch of red ones, and, apparently, two lily bulbs. The price was very good indeed. As time went by I wondered briefly from time to time where the bulbs were, but the events of November have generally been so horrifying and distracting that I never wondered long enough to recheck my email to track the package after I got a notification that the order had shipped.

It arrived over the weekend. I put it on the coffee table in despair and did my weekend things. This morning I was awakened by the second tree service I got in touch with, letting me know that Cory would be over in a little while. I put on a random assortment of clothing; fortunately I'd taken my medication already, but I hadn't had any tea. Cory was very pleasant and gave me an estimate of slightly over a thousand dollars for the work. I made some sound about this and he assumed I was relieved that it wasn't more. He explained that it wasn't more because the trimming was mostly very straightforward except for the Chinese elm.

Anyway, this was all very daunting and awful, though hardly on a par with other daunting and awful events recently. If all I had to worry about was paying to trim the trees, I'd be much happier. In any case, it was a lovely day, not all that warm, but warmer than it's going to be and quite sunny. I didn't think the ground was frozen yet. It lacked that hard lumpy texture, and bare patches of earth were just muddy. So after the nice tree man left, and after the tea and the acetaminophen for a nagging headache, and after putting in some laundry and despairing of everything (which happens at least once a day at the moment) and getting over it, I collected gardening gloves and a shovel and the bulbs and went outside.

In palmier days I got most of my bulbs from White Flower Farm. White Flower Farm will practically send you the history of planting methods plus the current extremely detailed recommendation, a little separate sheet for each type of bulb. Park Seed (which was apparently subsumed by Jackson and Perkins at some point when I wasn't looking) sent a sheet with basic instructions for each major category of bulb. White Flower Farm also labels its bags. Park Seed/whoever probably does too if they are not heavily discounted and made up into lots to be got rid of before it's too late, but these basically said how many bulbs each bag contained and where they came from (Holland). I think one of them did say it had tulips, and what kind they were, and another indicated that what was in it would have red flowers. The bag of what I think were lily bulbs was quite innocent of any description.

I found some places in the front yard where nothing appeared to be growing, dug some holes one by one, put in three to five tulip bulbs per hole with a fine disregard for how far apart the bulbs were supposed to be, slid the lump of damp soil from the shovel back in place, and stomped things down. Where they were nearby I scuffed fallen maple leaves over the stomped earth. Then I dug an individual hole for each lily bulb and filled it back up and scuffed leaves over them too. It may be that I am only feeding the mice and squirrels. They don't eat lilies, but they are quite capable of digging them up just to say Ewwww.

I guess we'll see. I have no idea what anything will be like come spring.

When I made the order, I thought of the line "busily planning for the resurrection," which I mistakenly associated with Iris Murdoch's husband's essay about looking after her when she had dementia. When I told [ profile] elisem I had ordered bulbs, she quoted the line more accurately and attributed it to E.B. White. A quick search on her phone proved her correct. It's possible that Iris Murdoch's husband referred to that line in his essay, but just as possible that I misfiled the scene in my head.


Date: 2016-11-21 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have some lilies in my quilt-sized patio. Each year I rejoice when they thrust up stalks, which bloom right around the first of June.

Date: 2016-11-22 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lilies are glorious. And I love the anticipation as they grow and make their also-glorious buds. What color are yours?

Date: 2016-11-22 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
White. I think they started from one bulb--now I usually get about six plants. So lovely!

Date: 2016-11-22 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, excellent! I put some white lilies in the back and they got shaded out after a few years, but a scale from one of the bulbs got into my crocus bulbs in the same order, and now in the front yard I have four volunteer stalks of just gorgeous white recurving lilies with brilliant yellow and red stamens. They are thriving better than some lilies whose spot I carefully picked out.


Date: 2016-11-22 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, those sound so lovely!

Date: 2016-11-22 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If feasible, we should try to exchange lily photos when our respective ones bloom next year. Mine also bloom in June, but usually mid- to late-month.


Date: 2016-11-22 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Excellent idea!

Date: 2016-11-22 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I remember my mom ordering things from White Flower Farms. I thought the name was elegant and English-sounding. "Quite innocent of any description" is a hilarious phrase :D

Maybe if the squirrels dig them up, they'll plant them again. They may have Ideas about garden design.

Date: 2016-11-22 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
White Flower Farm is very pricey, but they do the thing thoroughly and their plants are of excellent caliber. When we bought this house, there were several garden arrangements with plant tags from local nurseries, but the plants and their distribution were obviously copied from WFF's catalog. This struck me as very sensible. Only the wild rose thrived in the long run, though.

My squirrels seem more determined to let me know that the food provided is not satisfactory, but they won't have much chance to do anything because it's snowing, so one can hope. I could hardly complain if they did move bulbs around, since my planting methods were so haphazard.

I am happy that you like my phrasing! I was so puzzled by the packaging. I think perhaps it was done in a hurry.


Date: 2016-11-25 01:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My (gift certificate) bulbs from White Flower Farm were nicely labeled, but they shipped them to me in late September, when the temperatures were still in the eighties and they would have bloomed in October if I'd planted them "immediately" as they recommended. They're still sitting in a dark cold closet, fortunately not yet sprouted, while I try to find time to plant them now that we finally had frost two weeks ago. WFF don't understand Zone 6 much.

Your bulb planting method sounds like my grandmother's, my parents', and mine.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Date: 2016-11-22 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Looking forward to new blooms in the Spring garden always provides reassuring moments during Winter's dreary days. I hope Park Seed/Who? provides better bulbs than labeling, and your front yard is brighter and more beautiful this coming Spring.

Just a caution: Squirrels are Evil creatures. They will zero in on your new bulbs, if they figure it will unduly distress you. So be sure to play it cool near the newly planted bulbs. Evil Squirrels and their minions may be watching.

Date: 2016-11-22 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The bulbs looked good, very plump and large, no mold or shrivelling or anything of that kind. I imagine they were just in a hurry to get them out the door and skipped some of their usual packing steps.

Squirrels are always watching! But who are their minions? I had no idea!


Date: 2016-11-29 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahhh, of course you had no idea, dear sweet Pamela. Evil Devious Squirrel Minions are veritable ninjas of the urban wildlife world. Masters and Mistresses of disguise and mis-direction!

That blue jay flitting by in a blur of feathers may be one of the nefarious hordes. Perhaps the bunny under the bush is taking bribes from some Squirrel Snatch-Thief. Or that garden gnome in your neighbor's yard ... He looks suspiciously disreputable to me.

Date: 2016-11-22 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Surprise bulbs! I hope they all bloom in the spring, to your delight.

I hope the squirrels leave them alone. Unrepentant little vandals, are squirrels.

They don't always destroy bulbs. Sometimes they just dig them up from one spot and bury them in another. I'm quite convinced that's why I have crocuses, and one confused daffodil, that come up in my rose bed every sprint.

Date: 2016-11-22 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mine don't seem to go in for garden design much, sadly. I put crocuses in the rose bed on purpose, though, and often can't recall exactly what I did, so if there were extras I wouldn't notice. A single confused daffodil would catch my eye, certainly. And you wouldn't be likely to mistake a daffodil for a crocus bulb even if it was packed wrong, so squirrels do seem like the most likely culprit.

I'll report on how the bulbs did in the spring.


Date: 2016-11-22 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, I love that "calmly plotting for the resurrection" line. I hadn't remembered the attribution.

I used to love ordering from White Flower Farms back when I had a yard and garden. These days I garden indoors and live vicariously through others. Your posts are always so lovely. I hope that the critters don't eat your bulbs and that you have a wonderful spring.

Date: 2016-11-24 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
WFF sells indoor plants too! But they sure aren't cheap.

Thank you for the good wishes. I'll report in spring and even try to post some photos.



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