Bulbs, Beautiful Bulbs

Though I spent more time in the state of Florida than I have in any state I’ve lived in I have to tell you that one of the things I most missed was bulbs, beautiful bulbs. I was born in New York City so while I lived in Florida for a prolonged time I actually began my life in a place that experienced seasons and even as a young person looked so forward to the Spring when all the bulbs began to send little green shoots forth as the winter loosed its grip on our neighborhood. This blog is designed to help those, just like I was when I first came to our Asheville Bed and Breakfast Inn, who have never bought bulbs or planted the little things but have an appreciation of the end product.

Here goes:

1. Everyone loves a bargain. Bargains are a good thing but not when the bargain involves a soft, discolored, moldy or diseased looking bulb.
Look only for healthy, large for type bulbs that are firm and fine. Your flowers will be too and that, after all, is the point. Besides, really too much work to start with a faulty bulb that will produce bad results.

2. You will note as you read the packaging on your bulb that they fair best in the sun. Now, you may think that this seriously restricts your location choices but put on your thinking cap… Shaded yards are largely from dense foliage and when most of these bulbs bloom that will not yet be a problem. Some of the bulbs enjoy a bit of shade as well. e.g. Snowdrops and Trillium.

3. If you live in zones lower than six it is likely best you do not wait longer than mid November to plant. The soil will kill you to dig and it starts coming too close to freezing early in the morning. No sense in making a tedious job worse. If you live in a warm climate you can purchase pre-chilled bulbs or you can chill your own for 6 weeks (however the frig space to do this is intense and if you only have one refrigerator you may want to forgo this option because there will be no room for your food. You will then plant in very early Spring.

4. Last year, after owning our North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inn for 11 years we found this handy,dandy auger at a local nursery. Frankly, it was a bit pricy and I stood in the nursery holding it and debating. Then I reviewed the number of bulbs I had purchased and closed the deal with myself as I walked it to the register and paid my knees thanking me every step of the way. Plant the bulb with pointed side up. On some bulbs this demarcation is very evident and on others, much less so. Do not stress over this or ever make it a reason not to plant. If you plant the thing upside down it will take longer to emerge from the soil but it will come up as it tracks to the sun.

5. A bulb is planted at about 3 times it’s diameter. Using your auger hollow out your hole to the appropriate depth. Also, you do not have to just dig one hole for one bulb. Bulbs, like most flowers, look best in groupings. So, if you are up for that look, make an area to hold 10-15 bulbs (or more) and it will look so pretty. Rather than line them up like marching soldiers you can achieve a more natural and casual look by just a “toss in” strategy. Before you place the bulbs in the hole it is good to put some bone meal, blood meal or some superphosphate in the soil too as this encourages the root growth that will support this plant in spring.

6. Replace the dirt over the bulb and water both to encourage a good start and also to allow any air spaces to be closed keeping the bulbs safe and secure in their place. If you have rodents or deer and have had trouble getting these creatures not to dig your bulbs up…Discourage them with a bit of red pepper flakes to make your bulbs less attractive to their consumption. Fair is fair. They didn’t spend hours planting them. You did!
After the initial watering unless you get no rain whatsoever and are experiencing arrid conditions it will not be necessary to continue watering them.
You may want to mark the bulb space planted if the spot you choose to locate your bulbs is not their dedicated space. This will help you not to inadvertently disturb them if you are planting other things a bit later.

Now for the very best part. The most excellent part of all. As I mentioned earlier in this piece, I lived in Florida with all that lovely sunshine for a very long time. So particularly for me, winter can seem long, brooding, dark, dank and lastly feel like it will go on forever.
It is such a simple but exquisite luxury after the seemingly endless winter gray to go out one fine day and see right before your eyes a field of beautiful riotous colored flowers raising their faces toward heaven.

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

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