Bulbs Shining Bright, Year After Year


These bulbs are so bright, I gotta wear shades! The bulbs I am actually referring to aren’t the light-up variety, they are tulip bulbs, the blooming variety. The tulip is a brightly colored, upright spring flower. My favorites are the reddish orange group that has been making my corner cheery for 22 years.

dads tulips

Witness April 2016 and the healthy Holland-induced bulbs that give life to my corner, 22 years after they were planted.

My dad, never trained as a master gardener-- but a well-read gardening hobbyist-- gave me the foolproof way to plant bulbs AND make them last. On travels to Holland with my mom, the two would pick out their favorite tulips and order them to be sent directly from Holland to the U.S. The process was great fun as they got to see a vast number of tulips in bloom and choose their favorites based on color, size, and blooming dates. My dad had a green thumb, so I entrusted him with teaching me the how-to’s of planting bulbs.

We worked together….He had a special concoction, the notes of which I’ve been trying to find, but that garden file is two decades old, so I’m basing this on our sketchy memories.

After digging a nice hole in the dirt, Dad had me mix a little sand, a little peat moss, and stir in some rich soil in a little pail. We then sprinkled the mix into the base of the hole for the bulbs—about 5 inches deep. The bulbs are placed on top of that mix with their points facing up—to help find the sun. He was a big believer of bulb booster (little pellets used to fertilize), so we sprinkled that on over the bulbs before covering them up with the loose dirt. The rest is history!

tulip closeup

Here is a great video I watched on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/colorblends. Julie Harrison has great tips on how to plant 100 bulbs in less than 30 minutes.

I’ve planted bulbs at my house over the years, but am just realizing that the longevity of the tulips I planted under Dad’s instruction must be either HIS magic or the fact that they came from Holland. I have never gotten my own shipment from abroad, but am contemplating doing so. DutchGrown.com ships its bulbs in the fall., but recommend that one places an order as far in advance as possible to secure availability on specific varieties. Tulip bulbs are shipped out starting in September. The natural rhythm of tulips is that they root in the fall, hibernate in the winter, and begin to emerge in the springtime.


tulip field

Travelers wanting to see tulips in full bloom have to plan their Dutch travel in April and May. After the fields of color are allowed to flower, they then bloom out completely allowing their leaves to photosynthesize from the sun and return that energy to the bulb. Those bulbs are then harvested (watch a farm video on Youtube that shows the process—it is fascinating!) Tractorspotter has several videos on Youtube on tulip harvesting—the bulbs are plowed, washed, washed again, dried, sorted by machine, sorted by hand, packaged…I had no idea!

There was a recent shout-out to my parents on Facebook from the buyers of our childhood home…thanking them for the lovely springtime splash of color that they look forward to each April. The bright red tulips that were planted as bulbs by my dad nearly 40 years ago look as good as they did their first year against the faded wooden fence that lined our driveway.

Tulips are a bulb that is planted in the fall so that they can freeze and remain dormant for spring blooming. They are popular flowers that work well in a May Day basket, a nice offering to neighbors on May 1st.


Curb appeal…these 12 tulips and the matching #12 address numbers from Letter2word can be moved along the fence--to pep up the fence, add curb appeal, and help passer’s by find the right house!

The month of April is waning, so enjoy your May Day! Plan ahead and order some bulbs now, then reserve time this fall to plant your bulbs and reap the harvest for many, many years to come!

 “April is the promise that May is bound to keep.”

                                      Hal Borland, nature journalist and author


By: Ann K. Nicknish, The Blogging Word Girl (BWG)

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