I just finished planting 241 assorted allium, narcissus, tulip, garlic and crocus bulbs. Counting the 50-plus bulbs I planted a week or so ago I have invested almost 300 bulbs into the “winter garden bank” and am hoping for a spectacular rate of return in the spring.
I started off meticulously filling out plant markers with the variety and number of bulbs planted and then, as always, I quickly grew bored, abandoned the markers and started stashing the bulbs willy nilly wherever creativity struck. I went from librarian to squirrel in about 90 seconds.
I told myself I would remember what I had put where, but when I finished I realized I had already forgotten, and it had only been mere minutes, not months.
There was no hope of recalling what I had put where by the time spring rolled around.
I have no idea how the squirrels do it.
Ever the optimist, I decided it would be like planning my own Easter egg hunt months in advance. Forgetting just made it all the more magical.
What fun it would be in the spring to search the garden and find all these gorgeous surprises emerging!
When I finished planting all those bulbs I was pretty proud of myself-and a little bit cringey and embarrassed over how much money I had spent. Then I came across some bulb planting counts on a gardening forum I follow.
You think 300 bulbs is noteworthy or extravagant?
Turns out my effort was mere child’s play. Just a hiccough in the botanical world.
One hardy gardener was preparing to head out after a stiff cup of coffee to plant 800 bulbs. Another stated they had just finished planting a thousand. The game of one upmanship came to a screeching halt when a third gardener weighed in and said he was half way through planting 8,000 bulbs.
I briefly contemplated bolstering my own apparently pathetic bulb inventory but decided instead to settle for telling Darcy what a thrifty wife he had.
What I lacked in bulb volume, I made up for in enthusiasm.
In fact, I was so enthusiastic, I knowingly planned to risk my life for the sake of some brief botanical beauty.
About three years ago I was planting some hyacinth bulbs in a pot for an Easter display when I started to feel a tad tingly. Planting the bulbs was exciting, I can’t deny it, but the tingling far outweighed the usual happy-to-be-planting sensations.
By the time I finished my sowing, my neck and chest were crazy itchy. When I went to the washroom to wash my hands, I was greeted by a spotted version of myself in the mirror. Hives spread across my chest, up my neck and into my face.
Even my legs and feet were tingly.
I took a couple antihistamines and tried to stay calm. I had read somewhere that if you are having an allergic reaction, panicking is only going to pump the allergen into your bloodstream more quickly, speeding up your demise.
Of course, being told to stay calm so you can thwart death, or at least die more slowly, is sort of like telling someone who is getting on a horse for the first time not to be nervous because a horse will sense their fear and it won’t end well. And you don’t mean for the horse.
Fortunately (and obviously since I am here to write this) the reaction did not worsen. Or at least not enough to kill me.
Before this happened, I had no idea that a reaction to hyacinth bulbs was even possible.
Despite this encounter gone wrong, I still ordered a bag of hyacinth bulbs. I loved how they paired with the cream and orange daffodils I wanted.
I told myself I’d be careful. It wasn’t as if I was going to lick the bulbs or anything. So long as I wore gloves this time, everything would be fine.
And of course I’d remember where I planted them, so I wouldn’t accidentally touch one while digging around in the soil with bare hands next year.
No you won’t, said a wiser version of me. You will absolutely, most definitely, forget.
And hadn’t I read that allergies worsen with every exposure? What might cause a mere case of the hives and tingles this time, might kill the next. Was it really worth taking the chance?
I looked at the picture of the daffodils and hyacinths.
My answer was yes. And then maybe. The more I thought about it, the more the garden became a game of Russian roulette instead of the peaceful sanctuary I craved.
I didn’t plant the hyacinths. Albeit reluctantly, common sense prevailed. The cream and orange daffodils will just have to bloom next spring without the beautiful blue hyacinths, but (hopefully) with me still standing. Or kneeling, as is my most common garden pose.
If anyone out there wants a small bag of ‘The Sky is Blue’ hyacinth bulbs, let me know!
So long as you’re not allergic to them of course.