Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dividing bulbs in the green

It's sad but true - if it's blooming and beautiful in someone else's garden it's probably too late to plant it in your garden. Like these sweet peas I cut this morning...

They are filling my house with the sweet smell of early summer. I have a small bunch by my bed, and when I wake up at 3 a.m. their soft sweet fragrance lulls me back to sleep. They will give up in the mid-summer heat, but right now they are fabulous.  I plant them in the fall as our winters are mild. They pout all winter, I have to protect them from snails and slugs and birds. They look awful. And them one day they zoom up to the top of their wire cages and fling great out armfulls of gorgeous scented flowers. 

Speaking of planting, bulb catalogues have been arriving. Have you noticed they come earlier every year? My favorites are John Scheepers and Van Engelen. Same company, different quantities. And as last year's daffodils in pots on the back steps have not died down yet, I am dividing in the green.

First dump the bulbs out - I use a big plastic tub so the potting soil doesn't get everywhere.

Then pull the bulbs apart, being careful not to rip off the roots or the still green tops.

When you're done each bulb should look something like this:

Now plant them in a sunny spot. The rule of thumb for planting bulbs is that they should be three times as deep as the diameter of the bulb. No one seems to know whether the top or the bottom of the bulb should be three times as deep. After all these years of gardening I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference - they seem to grow no mater what I do to them. Oh, roots down and leaves up please. And wait for the leaves to wither completely before you remove them - they should come off with a gentle tug. If they don't, wait. Those green leaves are feeding the bulb so it can bloom next year.

When you're done, reward yourself by cutting some roses. Put them where you'll see them as you dash around during the day. And smell them. It only takes a few minutes to cut some flowers, and it's a lot more fun than unloading the dishwasher. Or changing the laundry. Those will be there later, the flowers may not. Treat yourself - you deserve it.

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