Planting bulbs an affirmation of faith in the future

Planting bulbs an affirmation of faith in the future

Life & Style
Early flowering Darwin hybrid tulip All That Jazz, new this season from Tasmanian grower VDQ Bulbs, needs six to eight weeks refrigeration before planting in frost-free regions with mild winters.

Early flowering Darwin hybrid tulip All That Jazz, new this season from Tasmanian grower VDQ Bulbs, needs six to eight weeks refrigeration before planting in frost-free regions with mild winters.

Aa

When you bury them in the ground in autumn you subconsciously expect to be there to enjoy them when they emerge in spring.

Aa

Writer and gardener Eleanor Perenyi, in her book More Was Lost (1946), said planting bulbs was an affirmation of faith in the future.

When you bury them in the ground in autumn you subconsciously expect to be there to enjoy them when they emerge in spring.

She acknowledged that this was pure superstition and sadly she was right. Beyond the Carpathian Mountains in Poland, not far from her home in north-east Hungary, the guns of WWII were booming and she never saw her plantings come to maturity.

But I know exactly how she felt and every year when the spring bulb catalogues arrive, I feel the same.

This year I'm determined more than ever to plant bulbs, they are my own article of faith that the drought will break and that flowers will bloom in the spring again in our garden.

Also, it seems such a miracle that growers have bulbs to offer this summer, I feel it's my positive duty to support them and buy even more than usual. So handy when duty coincides with desire.

My shopping starts with tulips, which is quite irrational as tulips needn't be planted before May, whereas most spring bulbs must go in before Anzac Day or they might shoot.

But of all the spring bulbs tulips are the most stunningly beautiful, the principal ballerinas on the bulb stage and I like to choose them first, before tackling the supporting cast.

This year I'm determined more than ever to plant bulbs, they are my own article of faith that the drought will break and that flowers will bloom in the spring again in our garden. - Fiona Ogilvie

Being stars, tulips are naturally more picksome and demanding than the crocuses, daffodils and jonquils of the corps de ballet, though this depends largely on where you live.

They need a storage period of a temperature between two and 12 degrees, without this, they'll flower at ground level or not at all. In NSW their ideal destination is the Tablelands where they can chill out under a nice crispy frost. They also like alkaline soil.

Tulips fall into numerous, at times confusing, groups and their classifications - Darwins, Triumphs, Lily Flowered and so on - dictate whether they flower early, mid-season or late. Combined with the length and mildness of your winters, their classification also affects whether they need pre-chilling in your fridge crisper drawer and for how long. Grower's instructions should come with the bulbs, so be sure to follow them.

Living on the Tablelands I plant tulips straight into the garden, there are some compensations for our freezing winters, and by picking and choosing I can enjoy their flowers for six weeks.

You can keep tulips going indefinitely if you lift them when their leaves die, three to six weeks after flowering. Clean the bulbs thoroughly, dry somewhere cool and store, ideally at 18-21 degrees over summer.

Gardeners in southern NSW with dry summers can leave tulips in the ground where they'll last for several years. In summer rainfall regions, try planting under deciduous trees and shrubs.

For a wide selection of tulips, try Van Diemen Quality Bulbs, www.vdqbulbs.com.au; Tesselaar Plants and Bulbs, www.tesselaar.net.au; Vogelvry Bulbs & Flowers, www.vogelvry.com.au

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by