Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Do all good things come to those who wait? Is it really better late than never? Yes! Especially when it comes to planting bulbs.
Over the past 2 weeks I have been deluged, ok not exactly, but have received several comments of surprise from passersby as I plant bulbs in my client’s gardens.
In one densely populated neighborhood, where the garden abuts a well traveled sidewalk I was quite the subject of discussion between 2 walking friends. The planting area is framed by a stone retaining wall and is at waist level. I was diligently digging, placing, amending and back filling without so much as standing erect while I moved along the wall. I could hear the women wonder aloud as to what I was doing. When I stood and turned to exclaim I was planting bulbs one said to the other, ‘I told you.’ The doubter was sure it was too late. Similar questions were asked as I made my way throughout other gardens. Why would anyone think it was too late?
Now is the perfect time. As long as the ground can be worked holes can be dug. In fact most old time bulb planters claim the best time to plant is AFTER the first mild frost. My theory is that once the average daily temperature is in the 40s with evenings at freezing then is a wonderful time of the year, for bulb planting, that is. Don’t fret if we have the unusual 50 to 60 degree days, the bulbs will not suffer. Alternatively planting too soon may fool the bulb to think it’s time to sprout.
True, the selection of bulbs may not be at its optimum best, nevertheless many are on sale to make way for Christmas trimmings. If you are new to bulb planting this will give you a way to experiment without breaking your bank. Beware! It can be addicting.
Just what does this have with ‘Family Traditions’? The thought occurred to me when conversing with a client. She was excited as her daughter was flying in from Colorado for Thanksgiving break. This would be their first in Maine. Extended family members were coming from other locals to have a ‘Maine Thanksgiving’. Not sure if they expected snow or to go over the river and through the woods but she wanted to do something special. A tradition. Having a bag of 50 Narcissus and a jumbo bag of Muscari, Grape Hyacinth, I suggested ‘why not plant bulbs?’ Besides I was tired, cold yet still wanted to create a special spring for my new client and her new home. A few instructions and hand-on training and she was psyched. Perfect! So different with undertones of a long held tradition.
Some families may opt for an energetic game of touch football; others prefer to nap in through football as the television stream endless NFL games. Personally, I always applaud those who volunteer at a soup kitchen. I even know one family that go to bed early only to wake before midnight to start their holiday shopping. It is not unusual to have more than one tradition, something that becomes as much as a part of the day as Turkey and Stuffing.
So what If your family is not athletic, would rather rub sandpaper on a fresh sunburn then approach the mall or box stores on ‘Black Friday’, yet still would like to have some out of door time together. Planting bulbs is a perfect event. One can dig, others can place, someone can be in charge of incorporating the bulb food, don’t forget the critter repellent, next backfilling and then watering. An assembly line of assorted people, ages and skill sets. Just imagine the photo opportunities. This may be the only tradition that will result in as much anticipation after the main event as sliced turkey sandwiches.
I cannot wait until speaking w/my client to see how her new tradition was received. She had a strong feeling that it would give the college students another reason to look forward to a late spring visit to the coast of Maine. To relish in the fruits of their labor. Perhaps she will freeze some Turkey Soup to make its premier during their visits. A reminder that good things do come to those who wait.
KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. KCB can also be found at the awesome Finishing Touches website
KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
November 22, 2011