Do not disturb


Shhhh! Can’t you see me curled up on the sofa, with the DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging over my knee? In my right hand is a pencil, in my left hand is a stack of bulb catalogs, and on my lap is my notebook, in which I’m trying to figure out which of the $397 worth of spring bulbs I have marked off as “must haves” I really must not have after all.

It is so hard to make these decisions. I have a much harder time with bulbs than with seeds. When I order seeds, they seem so cheap (150 seeds for $3!) that it’s easier to keep my purchases to a manageable total. Plus I know from experience that I’m simply never going to get around to any seeds that need to be started indoors, which knocks out about three-quarters of those on offer straight away. But bulbs cost a lot, especially lily bulbs, which are my true love. No, actually, tulips are my true love. But naturally, it’s daffodils that I can count on to come up year after year. And then I get seduced by lesser-known bulbs. There’s one right now, an allium called ‘Hair,’ that’s calling my name. It has green flower heads with spiky, curly green threads hanging down all around it. No one would call it beautiful, but it is unique. The John Scheepers catalog describes it as looking “a little like an alien life form.” That’s a photo of it up above. I want it! But it’s $9.75 for 25 bulbs, so it becomes a question of, do I want it more than I want 12 “Renown” tulips, which are maroon with a blue and yellow star at the base?

So I’ll sit here on my sofa all weekend, watching the occasional Phillies game and trying to decide: the Fragrant Daffodil Mixture, or the Pastel Asian Lily Mixture? Which shade of tiny Iris reticulata can’t I live without? Should I get more ‘Angelique’ tulips, now that I’m down to just one of the 12 I planted eight years ago? And I’ll be asking myself: Why in the world would you even consider buying Dutch iris bulbs when you’ve bought them at least 20 times and never had a single damned one come up?

Because gardeners are optimists, remember? And to hand an optimist a stack of bulb catalogs is a dangerous thing.

Photo courtesy of John Scheepers, Inc.


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