Gardening Nana: Bulb Planting Time
By Nancy Craig
Boys like to dig in the dirt; my great nephews had the best time when living on the farm where they had their very own digging hole, just for the fun of it. Last month they helped me plant mums at the farm on their great grandpa’s patio. Max at eight years old is much stronger at digging than his Nana, I had a hard time keeping up with him, then Eli at six years old, tries to keep up with his brother and again Nana had to move fast to keep them interested. After all, we were planting flowers when it is much more fun to just dig!
Next we will do a different kind of digging as we plant bulbs and dig up bulbs – plant bulbs for spring flowering and dig up bulbs like cannas to store inside over the winter. When I think of spring bulbs, I remember my days in Holland and the joys of seeing the famous Keukenhof garden where the Dutch bulb growers show off the amazing spring flowerbeds in a park like setting. This October they will be planting “over more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.”
We won’t be planting on that scale! Besides getting inspiration from gardens around the world I love the book, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, which like the title suggests shows how to combine all kinds of plants from trees to bulbs. Also, see her web site (www.tracylive.com) for lots of interesting garden info.
What’s a Dibber Bulb Planter?
A “dibber” is a pointed hand tool that you use to poke a hole in the ground to plant bulbs. I actually have never used mine and don’t think it is the best tool for the boys to use, it looks like a weapon! I have worn out a few other traditional style bulb planters, which only make one hole at a time, but have decided that a spade or shovel works better and easier for the boys to use. Since we plant the bulbs in drifts or at least groups of three the single bulb digger isn’t fast enough!
Along my front walk, I have several grape hyacinths and daffodils and the boys and I are going to plant some Fritillaria Imperialis ‘Aurora’ bulbs. This flower is called the imperial crown but they look like carrots hanging down from pineapple leaves. It is also called “The Big Stinker,” since it has “skunky” odor that repels rodents. The first time I planted some I thought it meant it would keep moles & voles away from my gardens but it just means that the unpleasant smell keeps the rodents from eating the bulbs. Oh well, one can dream.
Just remember to plant the bulbs with the pointy end up! Cg
Nancy’s love of flower gardening intensified while living in Holland and was perfected with Master Gardener courses.