A few weeks ago, as I drove my mom to the airport after a long weekend visit she says to me, “now don’t forget, October is when you plant your bulbs.” What?? I had no idea what she was talking about. Oh! The daffodils and lilies and tulips and crocus and all the flowers that spring up in…yep, spring — you actually have to plant those? Ah, go figure. Last spring — our first in this house and this city — I do remember feeling totally excited about all the yellow popping up everywhere. And then a few tulips came, and then it was time for purple — and I saw iris and hyacinth sprouting — a few around my yard, and lots and lots of them around the yards of my neighbors. This was just before the lilac trees bloomed and spring started to smell like heaven. Oh yes, it all comes back to me now as I recall how colorfully that marked our transition to spring. It seemed like each week something new was sprouting up and it felt a little bit like Christmas.
“But I don’t remember where in my yard the tulips are…or the daffodils, or the iris,” I said. ”Oh, but you know where things aren’t,” she said, and proceeded to gently give me, from her memory, a visual tour of some quite barren spots in this jungle yard of mine.
So, one day, in the October mist , Orlis and I headed to the garden store to buy ourselves some bulbs. He demanded hyacinth and demanded even more strongly that they be purple, and I also packed a dozen or so tulip bulbs in a brown bag. At the suggestion of the kind woman working, we took several handfuls of bone meal too and headed home for digging.
Locating a prime strip of neglected dirt along the driveway, we hoed, dug, dropped, bone-mealed, covered up, and watered like we knew what we were doing. Hands were muddy, feet were soaked — it was a success in every way.
And I must say, I do like this bulb planting idea. I like that the bulbs themselves look like little shallots — you’d never guess the beauty and bounty they hold within. I like that the strip of dirt adjacent to the driveway looked exactly the same after we were finished as it did before we started. In fact, if either of us had any secret-keeping abilities, we could have kept it from his Daddy all winter long, and one day he would have come home with Orlis’ purple flowers blooming and wondered what kind of magic we had made. I like that, collectively, we good people of the earth have somehow figured out that spring won’t really be spring unless we think about it in the fall, and give it a head-start. I like that, too, we’ve figured out that some well-timed color in the grey of March, the wet of April, and the sogginess of May is a boon to the psyche. Mostly, though, I like that we have to wait awhile. Planting a seed – knowing it’s in there doing its thing, but having to wait 6 or 7 months to see the flower — well, my goodness, it’s almost like being pregnant.