Sunday, March 25, 2012

Higgledy piggledy crocuses

photo, Dan Ryan

It's been ridiculously warm here—way too warm and way too early—so the crocuses in our Japanese maple grove Have waxed and waned far too quickly. Here they are in full bloom about a week ago. I planted thousands of crocuses in our yard about 8 years ago and each spring the show is more delightful that the previous year. For me a mass planting was serious business—I needed to plant tons of them because to me, more is more, and it's all about the drama. Well, isn't it?

Here's how I bought the bulbs "on the cheap," and how I planted them. For a few years at the very end of the gardening season (somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving) I'd buy vast amount of crocus bulbs that were dramatically marked down from places like Home Depot and Lowes. My feeling was that if the ground wasn't frozen, I could still plant spring bulbs! Surely it would have been nice to give the bulbs several weeks to set roots before the really cold weather set in, but as you can see they've done all right. So often, on cold autumn nights after work, I'd be out in the yard in the dark planting the all these bulbs. Obsessive, I know, but I had a vision of all these crocuses in bloom each spring and they haven't let me down once. I'd dig a big patch of soil and grass with my shovel, flip it up and over, plant anywhere from 3 to 12 bulbs, toss in some bulb booster granules, then flip the soil back on top. Then I'd stomp on the earth and push the soil back into place. I repeated that about a zillion times more until all the bulbs were planted, keeping in mind a sense of randomness that nature might plant—3 bulbs here, 6 bulbs there, nothing symmetrical, just all higgledy piggledy. The chippies and squirrels occasionally dig up bulbs and transplant them to different parts of the yard, and it's always a nice surprise to see a random purple blossom where I know I didn't plant them. Serendipity in the garden. 

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