Friday, October 9, 2009

New Fall Bulbs: An Inventory

The bulbs are here! The bulbs are here! A box containing my first ever online bulb order arrived in the mail this week. As much as I wanted to start planting, bad weather kept me out of the garden. The rain didn't keep me out of the garden centre, however. As a result, I'm up to my ankle in bulbs of the garden centre and online variety and I'm ready to dig. I am determined not to repeat mistakes of the past, i.e. forgetting what I plant the minute I put it in the dirt. So here's an inventory of bulbs for future reference.

Daffodil "Ice Follies"
I tried "Ice Follies" for the first time last year, planting several large groupings in the community garden. They performed admirably producing plenty of long-lasting blooms. I love daffodils for their early flowers. I love them more because squirrels don't touch them. I'll be adding 26 bulbs to the front-yard garden.

Iris danfordiae
I planted a small group of these miniature iris in the front garden last fall. They were the earliest flowers to bloom this past spring. The flowers are an intense yellow and seem to last forever. On the down side, they bloom once and then take several years before blooming again. Garden websites recommend planting a few new bulbs every year so that you always have some blooming while the bulbs multiply in the earth. I have taken that advice to heart and will be adding 80 bulbs.

Dwarf Iris "Cantab"
The catalogue had me at "vivid, cobalt blue petals." 48 bulbs.

Drumstick Allium, A. caeruleum
Alliums of all sorts make me swoon. Mainly it's the price. Purchasing some of the real giants like "Globemaster" or "Gladiator" requires a small mortgage. Thankfully, the drumstick alliums are very reasonably priced. They will add some nice height and a jolt of reddish-purple to the May garden. 20 bulbs.

Daffodil "Minnow"
These two-tone daffodils grow only 10" tall. They are also supposed to be very fragrant. 36 bulbs.

Daffodil "New Baby"
Like the "Minnow," the "New Baby" won't grow taller than 10". Both daffodil varieties carry multiple blooms on each stem. 24 bulbs.

Daffodil "Tete-a-Tete"
I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to buy even more daffodils. The Tete-a-Tete's simply called out to me. Anytime I see a "great for naturalizing" sign I go a little nuts. Tete-a-tete are described as extra-early and also carry multiple blooms per stem. I'll be adding 50 to the garden.

Tulip Saxatilis
Why, oh, why do I grow tulips? They are an invitation to grief. Grief of the squirrel variety to be precise. But tulips are so beautiful it would be crazy not to try, right? Saxatilis is a miniature tulip. It is a species tulip that is supposed to be long-lived in the garden with the capacity to spread into a nice big clump. 18 bulbs.

Tulip "Little Beauty"
Another dwarf species tulip. Another "great for naturalizing" selection. I'm adding 18 bulbs.

Tulip "Turkestanica"
The BBC's Plant Finder website places "Turkestanica" in a category for experienced gardeners. Should I be worried? Probably. 18 bulbs.

Long Stemmed Red Tulips
This is the classic, tall red flower I expect to see when I hear the word "tulip." I have 18 bulbs that I will likely divide into groups of six.

Tulip "White Clouds"
Tall with ivory white petals. Again, I have 18 bulbs that I will divide into smaller groups. On top of all the tulips and all the other bulbs above, I also have 300 muscari bulbs to plant. This is easily the single-biggest bulb purchase I have ever made. I always like to justify my binge-buying by reminding myself that I don't splurge anywhere else. I also consider it a personal wellness purchase. After four long-months of winter, there is nothing better to recharge my batteries than springtime blooms.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Growing Garlic: Attempt #2

My previous attempt at growing garlic was a complete and total bust. Last fall I took some grocery-store variety garlic cloves and stuck them in the ground. I was so happy when they sprouted. Alas, it was not meant to be. The garlic produced just a sad little single bulb that resembled a sad little onion.

The temporary defeat was not enough to deter me from trying again. So this year, I got serious. Very serious. Grocery story garlic obviously wasn't going to cut it so I placed an order for a hardneck garlic called Music. When it arrived I was astounded by the size of the cloves. They are truly giants.

I have a terrible habit of planting things will-nilly, wherever there's a spot available. It hasn't served me especially well. So this year I'm going with rows...plain old straight lines. And not only that, I brought out a measuring tape and measured precisely the distance between cloves. Surely the garlic will appreciate that.

I gave each planting hole a little sprinkle of blood and bone meal in hopes of giving the roots a running start. I think I've done everything right but it will be the spring of 2010 before I know for sure. Still, I think there's a garlic harvest in my future.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Apples, Rainbows, and a Face in the Clouds

Today was supposed to be about apples...and it was, but it didn't end quite as expected. I am indifferent to apples for 11 months of the year. During apple picking season though, there is nothing I like better. Empires and Spartans were up for grabs today at a "U-Pick" orchard outside the city. I ate three apples before I even started to think about filling my bag. There is no beating the crispness of an apple right off the tree.

But apple picking (and the requisite side-trip to find the perfect pumpkin) is about much more than good apples. It's about building great memories. When I was a kid, my family would go apple picking every fall. There was something very special about riding out to the orchard on a wagon pulled by a tractor and stuffing our faces in the field. It was always a good day.

Those are the kinds of memories I want for my little sprout. Cozy and comforting. It was a good day despite the rain that fell...sometimes poured...intermittently through the afternoon. As we headed home, the skies began to clear and the sun came out. A perfect rainbow appeared over the highway. It was the perfect ending to the day. I got my camera out to capture the rainbow but I captured so much more.

Do you see it? I haven't fiddled with it in any way. It came straight off my camera and onto this blog. I think this picture is awesome. The rainbow is cool but the cloud formation is way cooler. It was there for a few minutes before dissipating.

Soon after taking these photos I arrived home to learn that a dear family friend had passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was a friend of my parents and one of the people responsible for some of my happiest childhood memories. When I was very little he would lift me up to a chandelier in my parent's home. I would run my hands through the crystal prisms. They made a beautiful, fairy-like, tinkling sound, all the while casting crazy rainbows that appeared to bounce all over the walls. That's right...crazy, dancing rainbows.

I'm trying not to attach any meaning to this confluence of photos and bad news. It's just what happened, right? Still, it's interesting how a day about apples led to a day about rainbows, a disappearing face in the clouds and indelible memories of a truly wonderful person. You'll be missed.