HELEN LANG: Plant your bulbs now for that spring lift

This morning the first flyer advertising bulbs arrived but no mention of snowdrops

This morning (Sept. 26), the first flyer advertising bulbs arrived.

There were beautiful pictures of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus but not one picture nor mention of snowdrops.

To me this is a terrible oversight. Those first snowdrops were always such a joy, such a promise of spring, so thrilling. How could they be forgotten?

I remember when the first green foliage appeared followed soon by delicate stems carrying those welcome white buds. It was usually mid-February, and my heart soared as visions appeared: spring is just around the corner.

Of course spring was still more than a month away but those snowdrops were the first sign that it was really coming. I had planted two different varieties, one with the usual pendent white blossoms and the others whose white flower petals were edged with green. Lovely! Now, just when the garden is gasping its last, along comes this promise of spring, a bulb catalogue. I have already bought tulip bulbs and anemone corms to take up to my brother and picture them flowering alongside his driveway.

He couldn’t care less I realize, but they would look lovely anyway and he might even enjoy them in spite of his gloomy attitude. He has crippling arthritis, and an illness right now, so no wonder he isn’t singing and dancing in the street. But by spring he should be happier and maybe the glowing anemone colours will give his spirits a lift.

Now I need some for myself. I have the daffodil bulbs from last year waiting to be planted and the tulip bulbs are still in the pots from last spring. I just planted petunias on top.

This will be fun but I’ll have to watch myself as I tend to go overboard when it comes to bulbs and I have only a few pots to fill.

I intend to buy crocus, probably yellow, as they are the brightest and most like sunshine,  and perhaps a few red tulips and a few blue hyacinths as their perfume is so lovely. That is all I intend to buy, but when I’m at the nursery who knows what could happen?

I know. I’ll leave my credit card at home and take a limited amount of cash with me. That should do it!

Maybe some of you would like to plant bulbs that will bloom inside in January or February when the winds outside blow hard and cold and a breath of spring would be especially welcome.

You will need small pots, soil and a cool, dark place to keep them for several months while they make roots.

I’ll put mine inside a black plastic bag out on the floor of the balcony. I’ll weigh the bag down with something heavy so the whole thing  doesn’t fly away in a winter storm, wrapping itself (still carrying the pots) around some innocent passer-by who’d be sure to think the sky was falling.

If you have a shed, or an unheated garage and a cupboard to put them in, that would be ideal.

Water the pots well before storing them and check every month to make sure the soil doesn’t completely dry out. Maybe it would be a good idea to put a mark on the calendar as a reminder.

No offence meant! It’s a hint for myself, really!

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.



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