In his introduction to Katherine White’s collection of her New Yorker garden columns, Onward and Upwards in the Garden, E.B White wrote with equal measures of fondness and bemusement of the elaborate rituals his wife would undertake during the annual bulb planting.
As the years went by and age over took her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion–the small, hunched over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there wold be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting here with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.
And so it is. I may now use Excel spreadsheets for the plotting but the ritual continues through the years. This year I am finishing a bit late, though here in the pacific northwest our bulb planting window continues into December.
Not for the fist time I was seduced by the big warehouse bulb companies and their low prices. (They’re low for a reason!) I had found a collection that sounded good. The name alone should have raised a red flag but I ordered the BEN’S DIRTY DOZEN GRAB BAG thinking it would contain what was described on various pages. After much planning and noting a great deal of information about each selection I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that only one cultivar of the twelve described was included. All the rest were different colors, flower types and bloom times. Back to the computer, but it was raining anyway. Fortunately I also ordered from the ever reliable Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Park Seeds, who seems now to be associated with Jackson and Perkins.
Our days are quite short now, and the storms blow through with some regularity. I, too, hunch over beds and pots in a wintry wind to plant next spring’s glory, but I feel to be in good company. I have joined the exclusive group of little old ladies “calmly plotting the resurrection”.