Sunday, October 15, 2006

Buying Flower Bulbs

Every springtime, which here can be in February, I like to have the flowers from bulbs that I grew up with. I read somewhere that people long for the places and experiences they had when they were young the older they get. That would be me.

For the twenty-one years I have lived in California, I have bought tulip bulbs. I remember when I lived in Edmonton, our friend Mark Wilson, a biologist, said I was like a squirrel every autumn, burying my bulbs. There, though, I didn't have to replace the ones from the previous year. They reliably rebloomed. For seven years, I was always adding to the next spring's display. Here, I don't get even a second year's bloom and have to buy new bulbs every year. I grow the tulips in pots by the front door in our southern California home. The flowers last about ten days and then I have to put in bedding plants. I enjoy them so much.

Where I came from in British Columbia, there were people who came out from Holland after World War II. There was a large display of tulips, complete with a windmill, near the hospital. Also, when I was a small child, we lived on a fruit ranch which during the period just before the first Great War, had been planted in bulbs for flowers to be shipped to Vancouver for sale. The British owner at that time went off to join the fight and never returned, so the plants by the time of my childhood were blooming in beds surrounded by grasses and weeds such as burdock. My mother always cut many flowers from the abandoned beds to bring indoors to cheer our drafty rented home during the wet spring months. When we moved to our own home, that stopped and she and dad planted their own flower garden. So I grew up with spring flowers.

I have always also loved irises. There were some in my parents' garden. They are hardier here than the tulips and they do rebloom, so the ones that I bought today will be added to the ones I have already planted here in our past three years of ownership. If we get a hot spell in the spring, they don't last long. One benefit of a rainy spring is longer-blooming irises.

Today, I also bought hyacinths. I only got three because even in a pot, they last only a week and if we get hot weather, they are just out for a few days before wilting. Still, I love their fragrance and will have some by our front door. Mine are purple this year.

Lastly, I bought one more Calla lily bulb. They are so regal and fragrant! They also don't last very long if the weather turns hot. They look and last best with raindrops on them. It will come up again and again. I have one already beside our fountain. I'll have to dig out a spot for this new one, likely in the same area so I can keep it watered easily.

Whatever the weather in early 2007, for a few days at least, I will have flowers blooming from bulbs and corms. For now, they are chilling in the crisper in the bottom of the refrigerator to give them the cold they need to bloom. That's why I can't plant them in the fall like I used to do. I will plant them just before Christmas because we need the crisper space for food during that season when our family expands. Planting them out in pots will give us back refrigerator space. It will also give me the pleasure of renewal and remembrance.


Blogger Junosmom said...

Hyacinths are my favorite, but I like cannas, too. Here, you have to dig up all the cannas or they freeze, which is why I don't have cannas.

5:33 PM  

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