The spiral

When I last touched base here, we were the proud owners of about 120 free tulip bulbs that we scored from the local community college. I felt virtuously thrifty, empowered by the luck of receiving a well-timed email, and I thought that was enough about gardening until fall when we would need to plant them.

Apparently not.

The gardeners handing out the bulbs recommended that we dry them on newspaper completely, find a cool, dark place to store them until Halloween, and then plant them deep in the ground. Or you could skip all the drying and storing, and just plant them now, about 8-12″ down in the dirt.

I’m not sure how it all started, but I’m going to blame the weather. It’s been cool and rainy, rainy and cool here forever. So cold that we had to turn on the furnace in June because it was 63 degrees in the house. Frigid for swimming (the pool wouldn’t even open on time because of the chill), but actually kind of perfect for planting bulbs.

The trouble, you see, was that we didn’t have a place prepped for planting them. I wanted to place them across the front of the house, but it was going to take a lot of work to transform that rocky, weedy nightmare into anything resembling a flowerbed.

My internal monologue went a little something like this:

But if we plant these bulbs now, we wouldn’t have to do all that other nonsense and then plant them later.

Yeah, but man, that’s a lot of work cutting out the extra grass and adding in soil across the front of the house.

Well, you’ll either do it now when it’s cool or later on this fall. Who knows if you’ll have time later on?

Yeah, but so much work… (whimper).

But you won’t waste the free bulbs AND you’ll get the flowerbed fixed now AND you won’t have to worry about it in the fall AND you’ll have tulips next spring.

Okay, okay. But I’m not cooking dinner.

Deal. I’ll order pizza.

We rounded up the kids, bought mulch and dirt, and started digging and digging. The result? A normal-looking flowerbed across the front.

front flowerbed

Underneath all that mulch is about 80 bulbs, hopefully tucked down in the soil deep enough to keep the squirrels from eating them all. In the spring, we’ll either have a dazzling display of tulips or fat squirrels the size of possums falling out of the trees. Hard to say which way it’ll go.

We realized we couldn’t just plant bulbs, so we raided the pansies and geraniums that my daughter E planted in containers to start the bed. I added in some sedum that was languishing on the side of our house. It’s sparse, I know, but so much better than what was there before (which was nothing).

We had some bulbs left, so we dropped those in the wee small bed by the street light, where my husband S had planted some Japanese irises the year before. Throw in a couple of pansies and a clematis from the backyard that was barely clinging to the fence and you’ve got yourself a nifty little accent near the sidewalk.

streetlight flowerbed

Since the front yard looked so nice, we then cleaned up the horrible flowerbed by the front door. Trust me, it’s an improvement from last year. Mulch makes everything look better. I moved one of E’s planters there as well.

frontdoor flowerbed

Realizing that I was well down into a gardening/yard-clearing/flowerbed-sprucing spiral, I decided to hit the backyard and clean up the weeds back there. I tore out old edging that wasn’t edging anything anymore. I split hostas and sedum and transplanted them.

Today, I’m tackling the last bed on the side of our garage with the big puffy purple irises. They’re overgrown and need to be split up. I might even plant some of them in the front yard. Someone stop me, I don’t even recognize myself.

I may as well do this now because: 1) I’ll never get in this groove again and 2) my back is about thisclose to crying “Uncle!” and giving out completely.

See what free can do?

About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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12 Responses to The spiral

  1. mtetar says:

    All thanks to God for giving you and your family the strength to put the free to use by planting them. The beautiful blooming will be soon. Be A Blessing because you’re Blessed. Mtetar

  2. 1. Your gardens look great!
    2. Yes, mulch is a gardener’s best friend…keeps the moisture in, the weeds out and you’re right: makes everything prettier.
    3. My internal monologues sound a lot like your internal monologues. Perhaps our split personalities are related…:)

    • 1. Thanks — it’s only taken about 10 years to get to this point. 🙂
      2. I firmly believe mulch is like concealer for the garden — hides all those dark circles and wrinkles…
      3. I’m so glad to know that someone else has the internal monologues like mine! I’ve got Lazy Joanie and Industrious Joanie monologuing in my head 24/7, it seems. The lazy side never wants to do anything except maybe read or knit or watch TV. She whines A LOT! The industrious side is horribly persistent and hard to ignore. Ordering pizza is about the only thing they agree on…

      (By the way — love the numbered list! Made me smile!)

  3. Pat Kovach says:

    Do you need some hostas to fill in? Just asking since you are in a gardening mood.

    • I really should try hostas out front again. I put them in the wee little flowerbed by the street light a couple years ago, but I think they got too much sun and fried to a yellow crisp by July. The house might shade them enough in the afternoons as the sun really beats down….

      Have you been splitting hostas at your place? If you have extra, I’ll take ’em (because who doesn’t like free plants!), but I can’na guarantee their survival….

    • Pat says:

      I will contact you when I start spitting plants. I have others that you might want too. Some sun loving plants.

  4. Wooo man! Score! Gardens are a lot of work. I hear some talk about it being rewarding and all that junk, lol. Sometimes it is when you can muster up some motivation to do it. Your beds look good. And when those tulips bloom that’s going to look fantastic. I do hope you will share the view when they come up. -Nizzy

    • Oh my gosh — that’s exactly how I think about gardening! So many people talk about how spiritual and calming it is, but usually all I see is a bunch of work. I guess it makes a huge difference if you can actually GROW something. 🙂

      It’s such a long time to wait to see if we get any tulips out of this whole “free bulb” experience. Seriously though, I’m terrified that I’ve just fed an army of squirrels and chipmunks for the next few years….

  5. Pingback: Gardening 2013 | Creatively Motivated's Blog

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