First Blush of Spring

First Blush of Spring
By Pat Jurgens

Who isn’t thrilled by the first flowers of Spring? Green shoots rising from the warming earth, along with the hope, the excitement of new life emerging, the warm season returning. Daffodils in bright yellow frocks, their perfume lingering in the fresh morning air, tulips in their colorful reds and yellows and mixed rainbow hues. Snowdrop, crocus, pansy, violets, hyacinth and iris – even non-gardeners know them all.
These are the flowers we remember from childhood. Violets were picked from cracks in the sidewalk for a May basket. Snowdrops bloomed through the last snow cover. Crocuses were the first bulbs in the garden to show their lavender blue heads. But now comes the reckoning for those of us who did not plant bulbs last Fall. We will have to be content with views of our neighbors’ gardens or visit a grocery or garden shop for a potted plant to enjoy indoors.

So this is the time to get on the Web and prepare for next Spring. Seriously. It is not too soon. Peruse the many offerings on the Internet, or order catalogs to pore over. Bulbs should be ordered by early Summer, so that suppliers can mail them to your locale at the appropriate time for Fall planting. Garden companies take all the worry out of when to plant, as they give the customer specific timing instructions.
Catalogue suggestions:

www.johnscheepers.com
My personal favorite, and a company with a longstanding reputation of excellence. Started in 1908 by a young Dutchman in the U.S.

www.vanengelen.com
Sister company to John Scheepers, for wholesale purchases of large quantities of bulbs at reasonable prices.

www.brecks.com
Large, established U.S. importer of Dutch bulbs with strong company presence in Holland. Lifetime plant guarantee.

www.dutchgardens.com
Century-old company founded in Holland. Most bulbs grown in the Northern Sand District of NW Holland coast.

www.michiganbulb.com
Well-known discount bulb company. Both positive and negative reviews.

http://habj.net/bulbs.html
Holland America Bulb Farm in Woodland, Wash. Home of Woodland Tulip Festival.

Planting is a simple process, requiring only that you get down on your knees and dig a hole for each bulb. If that is problematic, engage a grandchild or young neighbor to help.
Before the bulbs arrive next Fall, plan where your bed of bulbs will be located and prepare the soil. It should be well drained but not sandy. Buy a metal bulb planter to make things easier.

1. Dig the hole, remembering the general rule is making it three times as deep as the bulb. Follow supplier’s instructions. If you’re planting many bulbs, it’s easier to dig a trench.
2. Add a high-phosphate fertilizer 5-10-5 or “bone meal.” Mix the fertilizer with some soil in the hole.
3. Place bulb in ground, roots down.
4. Cover with soil, no air pockets.
5. Water thoroughly, adding soil as needed.

Next Spring you’ll be rewarded when the shoots start sprouting, flowers start blooming and their lovely scent fills the air.

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