My gardening friend, Diane was going to get a huge surprise when I finally connected with her. I had plans to take the whole bag of all of them, we'd sort out and throw away the moldy ones, the flat and deflated ones that couldn't take the heat of the store and used up all their resources and died, leaving us all the firm and undiseased or damaged ones to divide equally. I knew I'd give her the largest ones (if she'd let me, but as many as there were, I knew we'd both get large ones) and then we'd mix them up on her table and start counting them out between us.
Her week had been as chaotic as mine. Mine was just the chaos of home right now with Squire being out of commission with work and just the drama of life up here in Fairy Holler. Her's was more the seasonal stress in an office environment.
I finally hooked up with her at the end of the week, and we set a definite date to sort and share. I informed Squire where I'd be going Friday morning, and I set the stuffed and heavy bag of bulbs on the balcony off son's bedroom to stay chilled until Friday just under the eaves of the house so rains wouldn't wet and freeze them until then.
So Friday I rolled out of a warm bed covered with two dawgs, two cats and the sun peeking a little bit thru the window, and got myself together and informed Squire that I was off. Grabbed the HEAVY bag of bulbs off the balcony, called Diane to give her a warning in case she wanted to hide, and headed towards her house which is 14 miles away.
The day was bright, and I decided to grab a sweet iced tea at a neat little affordable burger stand before going to her house, stopped at the bank and did my Friday business on the way to get my tea, and then hooked around to her house. I had decided to leave the dawgs at home with Squire, which would be my undoing later on......
When she answered the door, she almost fell out when she saw the size of my cat bag and that it was literally crammed and packed FULL of bags of bulbs. I laughed at her amazement and knew we were about to have ourselves a ball sorting and chatting over the booty. She has this little terrier that is a real pistol, Abby is her name. Looks like a miniature terrier/grey hound that has quite a piss and vinegar attitude that I love. And she adores me. Leaps up and down in ecstatic pleasure to see me until "Aunt Maddie" picks her up, and she promptly tries to give me the tongue and kiss me. It's hilarious and cute. Before she would even give me the "wee wee of joy" that some younger dogs do when someone they really like turn up. Not this time though. We went thru our rituals of greetings, I picked her up and she tried to kiss me before I finally put her little butt down so we could get started.
I was having way more fun than I should have, but we quickly came to a nice conclusion that Diane had never had this many bulbs to plant before and it just tickled my garden bones to find this out. We laughed and started sorting the types, I remembered we needed to see what some of these were, and asked if she still had her Beauty from Bulbs from Sheepers (GREAT visual of almost every spring bulb you'd ever need or want) and of course she did. I decided to mark the bulbs she was getting if I could find them. (we found all but 'Pink Pride' narcissus, and there was two bags of unmarked tulip bulbs that we won't know who until they bloom in the spring. Doncha just LOVE surprises???)
One bag of De Caene anemone went to her. I have enough to surprise me if they germinate. We poured out bags of similar bulbs first and searched for moldy ones and flat, dry ones to toss. Abby was beyond curiosity. She'd go from sniffing the trash can to jumping up on my lap like a little dog/cat and then be off on her own adventures for a few moments before returning to see what we were still doing.
First things first were the little's. I knew the Iris reticulata's would be easy. There were more dried bulbs from these than anything else. Some tulips were moldy and rather than save them by dusting them, we just tossed 'em. It wasn't like we were going to miss 3-8 bulbs out of a few hundred...... As we located specific bulbs that had markings or remnants of the cardboard signage left (most of the bags were gone, so some of the bulbs were true mysteries) I hunted them up in the Sheepers bulb, and marked them for her. Then we divided them and moved on to the next batch.
None of the narcissus were bad. In fact, all of them were two and three nose bulbs, and whenever we had odd numbers, I automatically shoved them towards her. I knew I was facing a task to find an empty spot to put all of mine, whereas her and her yard would definitely benefit from all these bulbs come Spring time.
The largest amount of bulbs we had to share were the Dutch iris. I knew these bulbs from sight (along with all of them but the color of the tulips) and we had little normal sized Dutch iris bulbs, and then these HUGE ones. By the time we finished, it was time for her to get ready for work, and me to return home to decide where I'd plant all of my share.
Now we're two days later. We'd gotten some wonderful rain instead of snow or ice the other day, and the beds were soft and cold. I had definite idea's where to put crocus and small iris reticulata's, and Tarda daffs I decided I'd put under the black cherry tree in the shade bed in clumps. With the late hours I'd kept Saturday night, Squire had let me sleep way later than I realized until I finally dragged myself out and saw it was late afternoon. wow.........I was losing light! So after I did the dishes and helped him with starting the pot for his beef stew (he decided he wanted to show me how HE made beef stew, and I hafta tell ya, it was awesome!) I told him I was going outside while I still had light to try and plant as many bulbs as I could.
I snagged my new soft hat with the ear flaps, located the dark, micro fleece muffler to tie around my neck and after a few moments to discover a sweatshirt and undershirt wasn't going to be enough outside, I found a fleecy overshirt to throw on. Socks, couldn't find my shoes, so I grabbed sandals and then hunted for the new kitten, Maggie. This was to be a "family" moment, with me giving her an opportunity to be outside in the fresh air supervised and me keeping an eye on her. Since the mean ass little rat terrier, Peanut, from across the driveway had died Thursday, I new Maggie wouldn't be at risk of attack from him and I could take my eyes off her and get down to serious plantings.
The dawgs were waiting by the nook door when I came back inside to grab the overshirt,being psychic and knowing something was afoot, and I turned them loose to do their crazy games they play with each other, scooped up Maggie, and the bag of bulbs, and left the nook door slightly open in case she ran back to the nook deck and wanted back inside.
I then located my trowel that Mary Emma had given me (the wedge shaped one with the red handle), my neat dibble stick I found at the seed store in Knoxville for the little bulbs (cold soil meant achy fingers later, cutting my planting down drastically, I have been collecting really GOOD tools over the years) and my Sears trowel for the larger bulbs. Then I located the chair pad and my super padded bean shaped kneeling pad, and was all set.
Maggie was already running under the van, over to Jerry's old truck, under the still dead car beside my black cherry tree and shade garden on the concrete slab, and when I called her (I didn't want her in Jerry's yard) she actually came! Of course, Sugar and Sméagol also came when I called Maggie, which freaked her out, she triple puffed up her tail, causing me to almost choke myself with laughter, and she ran up the black cherry's huge trunk and discovered a perfect perch where she could look down on me while I was in the shade bed planting the little bulbs and the Tarda's.
The late afternoon's light was fading fast, but it wasn't so cold that I couldn't stand it. The fleecy shirt was just heavy enough with my sweatshirt to protect me, the chair cushion and the bean kneeler was just soft enough on my knees, and the micro fleece muffler was just right with the silly hat with the ear flaps. I was ready to do some serious planting. I could hear titterings of fairies hiding under the leaves as I knelt and got comfortable (it's probably the new hat.............)
I looked up above me and Maggie was perched on a stub of a branch I'd cut years before, and I could hear Sugar and Sméagol growling and thrashing thru leaves over somewhere in their dog games. To the north of me, just past my woods in the holler below, I started hearing other sounds. As I sorted the bulbs into types to dibble into the cold black soil, I realized what the sounds were. Wild turkeys! They were talking to each other before roosting and I was hearing them saying good night to each other. It was wonderful.
As I tucked little bulbs and tiny babies that had gotten knocked off, into the small dibble holes, I listened harder and started hearing the scoldings of tit-mice and finches, and knew someone had spotted the kitten. Then I looked up from my hovering over the soil to see that their scolding weren't just for Maggie, Pester's or Krusty the Kat was outside checking to see what all the hubbub was about, bub......
Before I could greet HIM, I saw another member of our feline kindle. Ol' Fat Waddles Himself, Polluxx aka Pudd was waddling towards us underneath the bare cherry tree. About the time he opened up his mouth to greet me, the dawgs came rip shit tear ass up, around and over him causing him to do a fat scramble and book off. Fastest I've seen him move since he got so fat. I actually dropped my dibble to laugh at him.
The light was stretching thin, and I moved to the north side of the bed where I'd finished the bed last year, and started searching for spots to tuck bulbs into. Moving leaves around to expose the black worm soil and composted leaves and chips from years back, I actually found the tips of my Woodstock hyacinths were peeking outa the bed. Bad hyacinths! Get back in there!! (this is the only problem with raised beds, as bulbs are warmer in the soils and tend to break sooner, but then, with our strange weather lately, it could just be that too........)
As I found little niches to tuck more bulbs into, something yellow caught my eye.......gather the tools, put the empties into a bag, where did I leave my sweet iced tea? Get the padded things, push up offa the ground, check on Maggie, who had slipped me and had gone down the tree and was racing thru the leaves like something possessed. She was loving it. Then I ambled over to the yellow I was seeing and was amazed to see the December joke......my yellow corydalis was still blooming! And not only that, but this past season was a very fertile one because I have six clumps growing!!!! WOW!!!! Little yellow britches were floating over the cut columbine-like leaves, and a new clump of greenish yellow ones that haven't opened up yet were on another stem just below. My eyes started looking for sprouts of corydalis, and sure enough, there was a seeded clump of them below in the washed soils that had hung up on the flood hump just beneath the wall. I'll lift them later. For now they're sheltered and I'll just let them grow larger. That's a share plantlet.
Since I was working to the next place to plant more bulbs, I walked on over to the Lady Jane magnolia with the raised well around her, and started gently moving leaves to clear area's to tuck the Pink Pride's. That was a job for the wedge, and I carefully plunged the blade into the loose, rich soil in case I came across the few bulbs I'd tucked in there last year when I made the planter for the shrub, and placed all of the narcissus everywhere. I also put the smaller Dutch iris bulbs and some Iris reticulata's underneath the shrubs limbs that are loaded with fuzzy little promises of next year's flowers.
I made a mental note to get a bag of bulb food granules off the shelves on the kitchen deck later on. The outside motion light had come on and I had taken the extra light forgranted, when I decided to check my watch. It was almost six. I had been going at it for almost two hours and I still had all those Dutch iris biggies to plant. They'd have to wait as I was starting to feel the chill of dampness and cold getting to me. I called Maggie, and was impressed that she came when I called her, but once again the dogs unsettled her, and she raced towards the NSSG to hide under the new deck.
Taking this opportunity, I told the dawgs to git in the house, and they complied reluctlantly. Sugar knows how to nose the door, and was already inside, but Smeagol is kinda an idiot about these things. He waited for me to open the door further for him before he'd go inside. I closed the door behind them and started calling Maggie. Once I cornered her, we went around the back of the house, as I searched for candidates to receive the iris bulbs. The downstairs laundry room door beckoned me, and I realized that son was on the computer in the dragon den, so I opened up the door and let Maggie go inside, and shut the door behind her, and I made my way up underneath the kitchen deck and to the western side yard.
A quick scan in the now almost darkness, showed me likely places to tuck them, but I want to make a whole patch of them. So I decided to wait another day when I could see where I was tucking them. The side porch swing was a perfect place to put the bag of bulbs with the trowel's and planters and pads, and I went on and got a bag of granular food and placed it next to the bulbs to remind me to feed these a little bit since they were planted so late.
The dawgs were waiting for me at the kitchen door as I ducked inside, and as I greeted them, Maggie popped up from the basement door and scrambled down the hallway in hot pursuit of the kitten toys that are everywhere just for her. Our house looks like we have a small child with the many rattling and noise making toys that are scattered about. On top of the microwave, a cactus was blooming red and white blossoms. How wonderful! The moisture from the stew and the humidifier made the air warm and wonderful, and reminded me it was colder outside than I had realized.
Squire got the rundown from me as I went to my fantastic bathroom faucet with the intense pressure that knocks dirt from underneath fingernails, got rid of all the black soil, and noticed in the mirror I was a walking leaf pile. But it sure felt good to get most of those bulbs into the ground. Now it's all up to the fairies to tuck them in deeper and coax them to show themselves to me come true spring. The rest will be planted another day. Tomorrow is calling for spits of rain, and despite that I'm known to plant and play in the gardens when it rains, this is WINTER rains, and I'm not about to ruin my garden chances with a bout of bronchitis or pneumonia. I've already lost a whole late spring and a whole summer as it is.
The last thing I thought about before going into the kitchen to get a bowl of hot beef stew that Squire had made was the next thing is start on the vinca major. I have real hopes to remove ALL of it by springtime. Wish me luck............
thanks for allowing me to share a moment with you. madgardener up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36