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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tulip Ruminations

Here in southern PA, the tulips have already gone by. It’s sad. You study catalogs, choose bulbs, dig and plant, crawling around on your old, creaking knees for hours making certain they are comfortably bedded down. Then, in they appear, bloom, and in less than a week, their glorious moment is past. This year, three record breaking days of 90 degree heat finished them off in record time.

Daffodils last a bit longer, and there is quite a selection of these nowadays, ones that come early, ones that bloom late, ones with ruffles, ones in pink and white as well as yellow. What’s more, squirrels don’t think daffodils are quite as yummy as tulips, so the bulbs—and the flowers—are more likely to survive. (Bob Cat has done a good job of young squirrel crunching, but he isn’t as hungry as he used to be.) Our apple tree, too, flowered and dropped in record time. I hope the pollinators had a chance to do their job and make us some apples. The bloom lasted such a short time that I never found an instant to go and stand under the tree and catch the scent, or listen to the busy humming over my head, and contemplate the miracle of flower and fruit upon which life on our little planet depends.

Think I’ve learned my lesson about tulips. They were once the sole property of aristocratic gardens, and maybe that’s how it should still be. Corporations and Outlet Malls can bring in troops of gardeners and plant annuals over the bulb’s heads way faster than I can. Better for this home gardener to plant perennial native plants that bush and straggle, but which do bloom and feed the local pollinators for a respectable amount of time. Better for this home gardener to raise a few veggies, tomatoes, salad and herbs in pots on the patio, and eat from home rather than what came in on the truck From Heaven Knows Where, sprayed with Heaven Knows What.