Sunday, September 18, 2011


or In Which We Are Surprised Once Again

Bulbs, all  in a swath

At this point I'm pretty well used to being surprised by the fall-blooming crocuses.  They'll still be a surprise when they bloom, but an expected one, if that makes sense, an "Oh, yeah, that surprise" kind of thing.  Lately, however, they've outdone themselves.  They've already startled me, and they haven't even put up buds yet—in fact, they probably won't for another month or so.  But I have them on the brain, as this is the perfect time to plant them (although later works too), and apparently that's all it takes.

With the vague memory of thinking last fall, "I must plant a larger swath of fall-blooming crocuses next year," I headed out to one of my favorite nurseries yesterday to purchase bulbs.  I came away with two bags each of C. speciosus and sativus, 40 bulbs in all—not enough for a huge swath, but enough to make a showing in my small garden.

Then I got them home, and surprise! I don't know where I'm going to put them, because surprise! the fall garden doesn't really have room for anything as large as a swath.  Besides, on the garden map with all the bulbs' locations pencilled in, I never marked the fall bloomers, and surprise! I don't remember where they're already planted.  Since they don't put out leaves until after flowering, there's really no way to find out where they are until surprise! they start to bloom.  Probably at some point last year, leaving the crocuses' location as an enjoyable surprise for this year seemed like a good idea.  (Hey, thanks a lot, last year's self!)  Either that, or I just forgot.

So now I'm left with a lot of questions (and 40 bulbs):  I wonder why I didn't figure out where to put them before going to the nursery?  I wonder where to find room for 40 bulbs, or for anything, all in a swath?  I wonder where they could possibly get enough sunshine, where a sun-loving plant isn't already growing?  I wonder whether I should put them in the most sensible place, or if I should assume that that's where I planted last year's batch?  I wonder how this is going to pan out?  I wonder what I was thinking?

Oh, the satisfaction.  Because this is what we all love so much about gardening, really.

The wonderment.


  1. Surprise! I did the same thing too! lol I have bulbs I purchased, and more bulbs on the way that I ordered, and surprise! have no idea where to put them! But the promise of blooms in the spring is just irresistible.

  2. Stacy - If I were you, I would throw caution to the wind and plant the swath of your dreams, then deal with the consequences afterwards.

  3. I, too, go back and forth in my attempt to figure out where to put something new. Funny...I always find a spot. I also like the wonderment...

  4. Wonderment, surprise and a sprinkling of satisfaction. Perfect. (You could always plant them in a pot and transplant them out when they've finished - and you know where last years ended up).

  5. Holley, the great thing is that as soon as the bulbs start to bloom we'll forget about the difficulties getting them planted. We'll probably be wondering why we didn't buy more...

    b-a-g, I love the way your mind works. Some things are just worth the consequences.

    Michelle, my mom used to say that you can always put one more thing in a suitcase--and then she realized that if that were true, no one would ever need more than one suitcase. I still think you can always put one more thing in a garden but I suppose it could actually reach a saturation point one of these days.

    Dave, it's amazing--I've had all this adventure and haven't even done anything yet.
    Ooh, great idea about the pots. Thank you!

  6. Stacy, you've encapsulated all the difficulties I have with planting bulbs. Add to that slicing through them with a spade, when doing other planting... SO I tend to put them in pots...

  7. Janet, pots are beginning to sound more and more like a good idea. I do like having spring bulbs to fill in the empty spaces after the perennials get their late-winter trimming, though, even if that does mean getting irritated with their leaves for weeks in May.

  8. Most of my bulbs are in pots, except the really big ones, Watsonias and March lilies and Dietes and Chasmanthe are swathing away! They have claimed half of the paths too (planted too close, my fault, but who knew they'd grow quite THAT big?!)