Emerging Bulbs and Weather Woes

The weather forecasters say it’s too early to cry “drought”, but it’s shaping up to be a dry, warm winter.

San Jose’s climate is semi-arid averaging a mere 15 inches (38 cm) a year. Most of our rain falls between October and March.  As we head into mid-February, there isn’t a drop in the forecast. It’s also been unseasonably warm.

Weather Report February 2018

Source: San Jose Mercury News The black dots represent record highs and lows for that date. As you can see we’re near or over those records.

It might seem uncharitable objecting to a series of warm, clear days when it would otherwise be cold and windy, but after a year of brutal wildfires, these conditions do not bode well for the months ahead. We shall see.

Garden patio potted plants

Garden patio steps: cyclamen, azalea, succulents (in pots), New Zealand flax and anemone in the background

This morning I spotted a self-seeded tomato that has already shot up in one of the planting beds.  I wouldn’t normally plant tomatoes before April. It’s all a bit surreal.

The daffodils (narcissus) are coming up. I can’t think of a more cheerful flower, breaking ground with their strong, green stems, then unfolding their yellow perfection.

daffodil budding

Daffodil just before opening

lemon yellow daffodil

Lemon yellow daffodil

Daffodil 'Ice Follies'

Daffodil ‘Ice Follies’

I love A.A. Milne’s poem When We Were Young:

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

I play a little game with myself in November. I buy a few bags of bulbs, then plant them in random pots, beds and corners of the garden and forget about them. I’ve learned over the years what grows well (daffodils, iris, Calendula, hyacinth and freesia) and what to skip (tulips). Daffodils survive because they’re toxic to squirrels. They leave them planted deep in the ground. The freesia do an amazing job spreading each year, producing bigger and more productive plants each season.

I added to my hyacinth bulbs last year and they’re coming up in succession instead of all at once. They’re intoxicating.

Orientalis hyacinth Pink Pearl

Orientalis hyacinth Pink Pearl

Orientalis hyacinth

Orientalis hyacinth in full bloom

Orientalis Hyacinth 'Aida'

Any day now, this Orientalis Hyacinth ‘Aida’ well emerge in purple splendor

A year ago I planted Ranunculus. The name comes from the Late Latin term for “little frog”. I had mixed success. They are so pretty, that I gave it another go. The first year, the squirrels kept digging them up and tossing them on the deck. They were interesting enough to unearth, apparently, but not good enough to eat. Last fall I planted them after filling one of my Earthboxes with cyclamen and (name escapes me) a white trailing plant. That did the trick and they’re all up in beautiful, leafy plants.

Emerging Ranunculus

Emerging Ranunculus

My trusty guide when trying to remember when to capitalize the plants name (daffodils, no, Ranunculus, yes). Source: When should you capitalize plant names

20 thoughts on “Emerging Bulbs and Weather Woes

  1. Bunnies eat our tulips bulbs like your squirrels. But put the bulbs in pots and they leave them alone. Love the warm weather – but like you, really hope for some rain – SOON!!


  2. Beautiful bulbs coming up in your garden. I read somewhere that bulbs are ‘the ultimate drought- hardy plant’ and I like the ones that multiply under the ground. Not tulips because they are supposed to be lifted. We have dry weather here too: only 20 ml (1.5in) so far this year and Jan was 3.8 degrees above average. Temps in the high 30s C every day.


  3. Oh, hyacinths… one of my most favourite smells and impossible to achieve here unless you’re prepared to keep them in the fridge all winter and enjoy the shortest possible lifespan in a pot in an airconditioned house. Same with all bulbs except, strangely Amaryllis/hippeastrums, which love our winters. My most favourite of all used to be the fabulously-scented paper-whites, grown en masse in a glass bowl on gravel for the most wonderful perfume when you got home after a long day at work.


  4. It’s dryer and warmer here than it should be as well. So not good. Your garden looks so wonderful. Mine is crying for attention that I’m hoping to give it this weekend. Put my daughter on notice that we will play at home this weekend. Mostly anyway. We’ve been cooped up so long that outside sounds really good right now.


  5. I love that you have freesias in your garden – so often it seems they are overlooked in favour of the slightly flashier flowers – but oh, their scent! There is something just truly springlike in that scent ……… I keep saying I must plant some, even in a tub, but so far I haven’t….. I hope you get a little rain soon! PS Do you get lots of snails in your flax? It’s a favourite breeding ground for them here.


  6. A lovely glimpse of Spring thank you Alys – all our emerging plants are covered in snow at the moment but the sun has come out this morning so some of them might get a touch of warmth today.


  7. Enjoy your garden while you can, Alys. I’m so pleased you have some fragrances as well as colour.

    Fragrance is one thing lacking in my garden. Unless I put my nose in the apple blossom.


  8. Please allow me to send you some rain… I’m sick of it here… all the spring bulbs are in peril of drowning and I’m wondering whether my recently planted garlic is simply going to rot in the ground. Still, it’s lovely to see your flowers in the garden. Here people often grow hyacinths in pots indoors (where I find the scent cloying) and we mainly see freesias as cut flowers, but I prefer them both outdoors, where their scent of is delightful.


  9. I get excited when our daffodils come up, but it usually is premature. We will have some warm February or March days that make us think Spring is here, then comes a big snow. Your garden is lovely. Sending some rain dances your way. xo


  10. I had no idea that daffodils were toxic to squirrels and I didn’t realize that daffodils could be white; I learn something new every time you feature the garden 🙂 I’ll have to try some bulbs here next fall! Even with the threat of drought, I would gladly trade you our weather. We’re back in a deep freeze and rush hour could be treacherous this afternoon with all the snow today.


  11. I absolutely ADORE your idea of planting a bunch of random bulbs and surprising yourself in the spring — just as I wish I’d known you years ago so you could have stopped me from the futility of planting so many tulips. At least the squirrels were plump and happy which is something, I guess. But as beautiful as the warm sunshine and early spring may be, I join you in hoping for a cooler, rainy pattern in the weeks ahead. Thank you once again for drawing out my inner bee with the beauty of your garden. 🙂


  12. I love your garden surprises, Alys! Thank you for sharing a glorious bit of Springtime splendor. I really hope that gentle rains will visit California very soon. I truly wish that we could share our Midwest precipitation with you. It has snowed several times here this week. Today alone eight inches have fallen upon my garden, with about four more inches expected to fall. We are getting our average February snow total all in one day! Snowflakes will fall again on Saturday and Sunday. ❄️❄️ Only thirty-nine more days until Spring arrives here!
    Wishing you happy days in your garden, sweet Alys!🌸


  13. To grow freesias and cyclamens!!! Your garden is a treasure. I remember seeing hillsides of cyclamens in Greece–the perfect climate apparently. I used to buy them for house plants, but they need a little cooler temps than available in my warm little home! I hope they all bloom gloriously.


  14. Hello there ‘soon-to-be-roomie’ !! ❤ Look at things growing! It's pretty amazing. Now in Sydney, I see how the constant heat really beats things down. Even the palms are brown here and there. But I guess they get enough rain (a Mediterranean climate we've been told) to keep things growing. Hyacinths are so gorgeously scented! Beautiful to have them in your garden. I could try them, but the bulbs won't winter. So it means digging them up and saving them in sawdust of peat moss over winter. Sorry to hear about the consistant heat. I'm not used to it one bit. We've been going out, then in, out, then in….breaking up our exposure to the heat. Our little tour today made a brief stop at Bondi beach. Cooking hot out, but lost of sun bathers and beer drinkers. It's for the young!! I was melting of course as we weren't wearing beach appropriate clothing. Hope you'll see some rain before too long. The critters need it too! xoxo Toodles noodles K


  15. It’s all so beautiful now! In the spring, I always promise myself that I’m going to plant more bulbs come fall . . . then fall comes and I am so burned out on gardening, I don’t do it. But it certainly is a gift that keeps on giving. And I guess spring gardening is the route to go in your part of the world since it’ll be too hot and dry for much to survive later in the year?


  16. Lovely spring flowers Alys! It just goes to show that daffodils and other bulbs don’t need cold winters to flower. I wish I could send you some rain. We have had such a wet and grey winter here. One sunny day has been forecast for next week though so I am keeping my fingers crossed!


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