Spring Bulbs: To Plant or not to Plant?

River of Hyacinth FlowerThat is the question. The answer: it’s complicated.  I’m perusing the Fall Netherland Bulb Company catalog this morning.  It arrived about a month ago, far too early to take it seriously.  Now that fall approaches, I’m giving it a second glance.  Years ago I planted several bulb varieties from Costco. Either I made the beginners mistake of planting them all upside down, or they didn’t like our soil.  Not a single one came up!  Perhaps a squirrel dug them up behind my back, but I never saw evidence of that.

I know many bulbs need frost first, then a proper thaw to get them going.  Was it foolish to assume that bulbs sold in our town would actually grow in our temperate climate?

One year a friend gave me a pot of paper white Narcissus.  Once the plant was spent indoors, I transplanted the bulbs outside.  Do you know what happened?  Nothing.

As I gaze lovingly at the ‘Tulip Fat Tuesday Blend,’ I can picture the purple and yellow blooms scattered all over my yard. Further on, they’ve dedicated a page to  ‘Darwin Hybrids’, including Tulip Beauty of Spring. The petals remind me of a fresh peach.

The most intoxicating of all bulbs are the Hyacinth. Their scent makes me giddy. I received my first Hyacinth as a Christmas present from Mom. I grew it indoors in a glass jar. I still remember the beginning of the transformation and that incredible smell when it bloomed. Planting something with evocative memories isn’t always a good thing. Tied up with the memory of that flowering bulb are things I would like to leave in the past.

So, to plant or not to plant? The icon on the cover says “Bulbs: dig, drop,done.™”  They don’t know the half of it.

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Blue Jacket’, exactly as I remember mine.