Friday, December 22, 2006

Planting Bulbs in Pots in Southern California

When we lived in Edmonton, Canada, every autumn I would add bulbs to my front yard flower display. Since we moved to California in 1985, I have planted tulip and other bulbs to bloom in our spring.

Yes, we do have seasons here. When we lived in Canada, I always wondered what out-to-lunch person put the start of winter on the shortest day of the year. Maybe the person or the committee (such decisions being made by either despots or a committee) lived here. Our winter season begins when there is a touch of frost or we can see our breath when we go out in the morning, or when it begins to rain for days and days. In the Los Angeles area, the rains are most often in January and February. Two years ago, though, they started in October and didn't let up until April. The year before that, when Cate and Jim were freezing outdoors on their April wedding day, and it had been trying to sprinkle us all with rain, the rains didn't even begin until March and lasted around six or seven weeks, through the wedding date. But I digress from spring flowers.

The annual flowers that most of North America plant in the spring are fall and wintertime flowers here. All around there have been pansies and ranunculus for months. Some people even have a few roses blooming now. That is their last bloom of the year as right after the old year ends and before the end of February, gardeners here know to cut back their rose bushes for a great springtime bloom.

Today, the shortest day of the year, is an excellent day to plant bulbs and rhizomes. Why? I have had my tulips in the bottom crisper of the fridge since September or early October. That tricks them into thinking they are chilling underground just like in the Netherlands and Canada in the autumn. Heck, I throw all my bulbs and rhizomes in together as they are sold together. I do know that they don't all need chilling. I'm just not sure which ones benefit from chilling besides tulips, and they don't seem to mind being chilled with the tulips.

It is an emergency! If I haven't planted the bulbs by now, they must go in today! The bottom crisper is needed desperately when we are putting food in the fridge for Christmas. Dana has been chilling rum balls already. I want to make rolled cookies with the boys. The dough will have to be chilled. That doesn't even mention all of the food that we ordinarily put in the fridge and need more of when we have more people here. Also, on the weekend, we will pick up the fresh turkey. He will have to have his own fridge space. We do have a small beverage fridge (a wine chiller that accommodates many non-alcoholic beverages along with a few alcoholic ones at our home), but we essentially have only one fridge for food. Hence, out with the bulbs!

I put tulips and some unidentified small bulbs in two of my pots. Note to self. You never remember what these bulbs are even if you recognized them easily when you purchased them. Write the bulb type on the plastic bag, or tick the box provided for the purpose, even if you will feel silly at the time. I promise myself, I won't remember what they are at planting time.

Some large, also unidentified bulbs went into the ground in the front garden. Also, there were identified irises, which I knew, but wonder if I would, despite decades of gardening, if they hadn't had labels. The aging brain plays nasty memory tricks, or I should say, unmemory (my new word) tricks. I find myself hopefully reciting the alphabet, still silently. I hope I never get to the point where I am reciting it out loud, but if I do, I'm sure the other oldsters will cut me some slack, knowing they do something similar, but keep it silent.

Now I just have to keep Don from "helpfully" going out and weed-whacking off the shoots along with the invading English ivy. If you ever have a new garden to plant, please, oh please have mercy on those of us who must garden after you in that space. We are forever fighting those invaders you put in to cover the swath of dirt you wanted green as soon and as cheaply as possible. I am, however, fervently glad that nobody used that barbed and tenacious asparagus fern on this property.

And so, now, my front garden needs some careful weeding and a few more annuals to cover bare spots. With some sunny days after Christmas and before the rains come, I should be able to spruce it up. Oh, and did I mention that I did have to wait until around eleven in the morning to garden in my shirt sleeves? Hope you aren't reading in a frosy or dank climate. I'm sorry if you are. Come on down!



Blogger Junosmom said...

It's unseasonably warm here in KY, but that's about to change. And I am heading north, so it'll be even colder. I was born to live in someplace like CA, even if I have to trick bulbs.

2:06 PM  

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