|Frost-tinged Echinacea 'Merlot'|
We had our first frost this week which reminded me it was time to finish planting bulbs, a task fraught with obstacles on the plot of land I garden in the Pocono Mountains. I started off quite excited and with a well thought-out plan. I ordered my bulbs from White Flower Farms, a family-owned mail-order nursery located in northwestern Connecticut. The bulbs arrived in beautiful condition; very healthy. I received one hundred of their 'Weatherproof Daffodil Mixture,' fifty mixed crocuses, a dozen Allium 'Globemaster,' and a dozen each of three varieties of tulips in their World Series: 'World Peace,' 'World's Fire,' and 'World's Favorite.' I adore those names. I never planted tulips before because of the deer in our area, but I love them and thought I would give them a try and use a 'smelly' spray to help them survive.
|The end of the Marigolds.|
I decided to plant the tulips in the triangular bed at the entrance to our property, en masse to create a drift. At this spot I have self-seeded cleome surrounded by butterfly magnets: phlox, milkweed, liatris, and purple cone flower. I pulled out the spent cleome from the middle of the bed and began to dig. Here was my first problem. I needed to plant the top of the tulip bulbs 6 - 8 inches deep and 5 - 6 inches apart. I wanted to dig out the area, place the bulbs in the bottom, then cover them with soil. Sounds simple enough, and so much easier than planting the bulbs individually, wouldn't you agree? I dug down 4 or 5 inches and hit rock. Welcome to the Poconos, Pamela! Fortunately for me I have a trusty helper. I called H.H. who took over the spade. He quickly realized there was no way to get any deeper without a pickaxe.
|H.H. removed the rocks with a pickaxe.|
|These are the rocks that came out of that small hole.|
Eventually, I was able to place the bulbs in the prepared bed.
At this point I made a huge mistake. I should have covered the bulbs with chicken wire or a similar barrier. I didn't. I covered the bulbs with the soil I had removed, sprinkled organic bone meal over the top, and watered the bulbs in. Finally, I added a layer of wood bark mulch. I felt quite pleased with myself with a job well done! Or so I thought.
|Bee balm Monarda seeds for the birds.|
I planted the crocus bulbs around the edge of the tulip bed.
|Sedum 'Autum Joy' looking pretty with a coat of frost.|
The next day, I went out with my camera to record the first frost. I made a shocking discovery. There were holes all over my tulip bed.
|The holes were very obvious in the frosted mulch.|
I dug down into one of the holes and of course I couldn't find a bulb. The bulbs are now in the winter storage place of a squirrel, or chipmunk, or other rodent. I don't think they removed any of the crocus bulbs, but maybe they did. H.H. was very comforting, as always, even though he did most of the grunt work. He said he was sure the animal didn't remove all the bulbs and we would see some tulips come spring. Bless him! I filled in the holes and decided to plant allium on top of the remaining(?) tulips. Alliums are in the onion family and disliked by animals. The alliums I planted there were some I saved from the previous year (I didn't plant them when I became ill) so I'm not sure they will flower, but at least they may act as a deterrent.
I didn't have so much trouble with the daffodil planting job. I want to see a profusion of spring daffs. on either side of the short path leading to our front door. My mother-in-law planted some there many years ago and we remember them fondly, but somehow a landscaper removed them. When I took over the landscaping, I planned on replacing the daffodils, but never got around to it until now. Again H.H. helped me dig the beds. They didn't have to be so deep and there were no rocks, just roots from an ancient maple tree that we removed several years ago. I used the same method as with the tulips.
I didn't need to add a wire mesh because the poisonous daffodils bulbs are usually ignored by squirrels. When they were covered with soil, fertilized, and watered I felt some satisfaction. I haven't mulched these beds yet. When the ground is frozen I will covered them with evergreen branches to stop the thawing and freezing process.
|I'm anticipating a beautiful show of daffodils in the spring.|
It's too wet to plant bulbs today, and I still have the alliums to do. I'm going to place them in existing beds around clumps of phlox and daylilies which should hide their ugly foliage during summer.
|Agastache 'Blue Fortune' -- more seeds for the birds.|
|The catalpa trees are beginning to shed their leaves.|
Have you planted bulbs this year? Mine were a lot of work, but I believe they will pay me back in the spring. At least the daffodils will.
|There's still some color in the top field.|
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