Anticipation: On Planting Tulips

I’ve been working in the front yard a bit lately. It’s going to be a long time before it really starts to look the way I want it to, but baby steps are pretty much all I can afford to take. I have been on a bit of a plant binge of late, though. I bought a bunch of different plants from the Men’s Garden Club’s booth at the Sonoma County Fair, where I worked over the summer. I’ve also been making it a point to buy a plant or two every couple of weeks, whenever we make a trip to Home Depot. In my last trip to HD, I bought a couple of packages of bulbs that I thought would compliment my short-term plans for the front yard.

In the past, I’ve bought bulbs and then didn’t get them planted in time, and they wound up mouldering in the garage. A couple of those finally did get planted in pots in the backyard, long after the appropriate time, with a little hope that maybe these old bulbs would produce anyway. Some did. Some didn’t. Lesson learned.

This year, though, I had a specific plan about where I wanted to put some bulbs, so I was confident that they wouldn’t go to waste.

Two impulse buys at Home Depot over the weekend.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, our front yard is an ugly, rocky, weedy mess. I’ve been trying to put in an hour or two every couple of days, but at this rate it’s going to take ages to really see any progress. But, I’m still working. My method these days is to pick a small spot, and work on getting rid of the rocks and weeds and amending the clay… erm… soil to make it more plant-friendly. One such spot is the little strip along side the walkway leading to the front door. I spent a couple of hours turning over several inches of soil, pulling out the rocks (which are buried several inches deep in some cases) and working in some humus. One a couple of previous Home Depot trips, I bought several colors of pansies, which I’ve finally planted. They seem pretty happy, if a bit snail/slug nibbled.

Yesterday, I worked a bit behind the pansy area, and made a clear space for the five hyacinth bulbs.

Pansies and Chocolate Chip plant

Another spot is the flower bed underneath the living room window. Originally, this had leggy bushes that were too tall for the space and blocked the windows. Over the summer, Eric was kind enough to pull those out for me, and I bought several smaller plants that I hope will make an attractive view.

Starting to look promising

I’ve placed two dwarf butterfly bushes on either side of the window, with the hope that they’ll get a bit taller and attract all kinds of pretty butterflies to my yard. Already I’ve seen a couple land on the flowers! In the middle is a small single rose with a lovely pink/peach blossom. The idea is that it will grow and fill in the space a bit more over the years, but never really get too tall.

Behind the rose, close to the window is a lovely millet plant with spears already covered with seeds. I was pleasantly surprised that it produced yet another spear after I’d planted it, and I hope it continues to do so all through the autumn. I think it would make a lovely screen for the lower part of the house there, and maybe even attract birds.

In the other spaces, I’ve places geraniums and an alstroemeria that was not doing very well in another part of the yard. All three are cherry red/pink and with luck will fill in nicely.

But there’s still a lot open space and since tending this bed will be easier than starting new rock- and weed-free zones in the front yard, I keep finding more things to plant here and having more ideas. Plus, it’s going to take years for all these plants to really get this space looking good, so what’s the harm in planting a couple of tulip bulbs in the meantime?

To prepare the space for the bulbs, I dug down about 6 inches or so, making sure to pull out any roots or rocks I found. I tried to stir up the soil as best as I could, but our ground has so much clay, it’s difficult to really work it.

Look at all that clay!

To give the bulbs something a bit softer than clay to root into, I dropped a handful of humus into the bottom of the holes, making a nice soft cushion for the bulbs to rest in. Technically, tulips are supposed to be planted about 6 inches down, but since I’m planning to heavily mulch this area once I’m done planting, I figure I have a couple of inches to play with in regards to the actual bulb placement.

A nice bed of potting soil and humus.

Then I firmly placed each bulb on its little cushion, to make sure it seated nicely.

Like Little Miss Muffet on her tuffet

I tossed in another handful of humus on top, and then filled in the hole using layers of existing soil and potting soil.

Covering with more soil and humus

Now comes the hard part: waiting. I want to see my pretty little tulips now!


2 thoughts on “Anticipation: On Planting Tulips

  1. I love the anticipation of tulips. Put the last of mine in last week – just had to get one more package from Western Farm (love their selection & prices) to add to those dug and saved in the fridge from last year. And now for the rains!!


  2. Pingback: Winter yard « a full plate

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