Oh, I ache. My back aches. My thighs ache. Even my fingers ache. Even so, I have an undeniable feeling of accomplishment, having planted approximately 370 bulbs in our garden this weekend. Just 30 to go.
Rather than solid blocks of single bulbs, I mixed together an equal number of Tulips and Daffodils in a bucket. The hope is that a 1:1 ratio will protect the Tulips from rabbits by mixing them with the toxic daffodils.
One of the mixes included 2 early Tulips (‘Couleur Cardinal’ and ‘Princess Irene’) with one later-blooming Lily Tulip (‘Ballerina’). These are combined with ‘Hawera’ Daffodils, which should bloom with the early Tulips. (Incidentally, you can see above that I replaced the pavers that make the Driveway Border a raised bed and filled in with topsoil.)
The second mix consisted of 2 mid-season Tulips (‘Helmar’ and ‘Parade’) and the Daffodils ‘Sailboat’ and ‘Pheasant’s Eye’. The overall color scheme is orange-red for the Tulips and yellow-white for the Daffodils.
I scattered handfuls of bulbs to give it a more random, natural look. Luckily, the soil was soft and moist – I’ve had years where it felt like digging in concrete.
One thing about the random scattering of a mix of bulbs is that with different size bulbs in the same bucket, I noticed a tendency to grab handfuls of the smaller Daffodils first. So I sometimes cheated by changing out some of the bulbs after tossing. I would also nudge bulbs further apart here and there. I refer to this approach as “enhanced randomness”.
I started planting on Saturday, and sure enough on Sunday morning there were little squirrel excavations. I think only a couple of Tulips were lost.
The squirrels seemed to really appreciate the soft, fresh topsoil. So before the end of the day I covered a large area with short lengths of metal edging, which I seem to have about a million of. Then I weighed them down with bricks. Take that, squirrels!
In some spots I used chicken wire to deter the squirrels. I should be able to remove all the anti-rodent defenses once the soil freezes.
Today is Columbus Day, or Indigenous Peoples’ Day if you prefer, and I’m lucky enough to have the day off. So I can figure out where to put those last 30 bulbs and also apply ice packs as needed.
You might think that after today I will be completely done with bulb planting. Only thing is, I just ordered 100 Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii) to plant on the other side of the new driveway. It seemed like the right thing to do. These are just little bulbs, shouldn’t take any time at all.
Wow—that was a lot of work! I’m sure it’s going to be stunning come spring and worth all the aches! Personally I don’t do much with bulbs, preferring perennials and flowering shrubs. I’ve found in the past that the squirrels watch me plant bulbs and then dig them up when I leave!
True enough, and it takes additional efforts to deter the squirrels, so it can all get a bit exhausting.
Wow! Hurray for your getting the job done pronto! I haven’t had issues with bulbs being dug up (knock on wood!) and I’m wondering if that’s because all of my beds have a layer of wood mulch on them? Perhaps that’s a bit of a deterrent and the squirrels feel that it’s not worth the trouble if there are easier pickings elsewhere.
The wood mulch could be a deterrent, sure. Or maybe you just have lazy squirrels.
You cracked me up with the ‘enhanced randomness’. I always admire you bulb planting mania. I can rarely get that going. Now would be a perfect time here too.
It is a sort of mania. I really can’t help myself.
I’m sitting here chuckling at the volume of bulbs you have planted. I did two containers and thought I was doing well. You go! 🙂
I get a little obsessed with bulbs.
I’ve had good luck mixing crushed oyster shells in soil around bulbs to deter rodents. It’s sold in feed stores as chicken grit. It also works against slugs on surface of soil.
Thanks for the tip, I may try that.
I sympathise with your back, soon I’ll be feeling the same, my bulb order has just arrived so I must get planting too. You will have a fantastic display next spring, it will all be worth it!
That’s what I’m hoping!
Crazy squirrels! Amazing how they are so quick to find the bulbs. Can’t wait to see the glorious randomness when they are all blooming
I wonder if they can smell the tulips in the ground, or they just instinctively dig in disturbed earth.
That should keep the squirrels from digging for sure.
That’s dedication. Epsom salt in a hot bath and a stiff drink might get you ready for the Glory-in-the-Snows.
Or skip the bath and just go for the drink.
like childbirth, the pain will soon be forgotton but the beauty will last and last
That’s a nice way to put it. Fortunately I have never had to go through childbirth, but maybe this makes up for it.
I agree with the above comments, all the pain will subside when you see those lovely tulips growing. I know you buy most of your bulbs, but do you dig up some from last year?
Only the ones in containers, which I’m not doing this year. The ones in the ground will stay put for the foreseeable future.
That’s an impressive amount of bulb planting. Two words: heating pad.
I always wonder: when do you use a heating pad and when do you use an ice pack?
Alternate, 20 minutes of each. One to comfort ( heat) one to reduce swelling ( cold) . I mix ibuprofen gel with mentholated rub ( Vick) Just before I go to bed. Bliss!
That’s helpful, thanks. All except for the Vick’s – hate the smell.
I can imagine your aches. Seeing them in bloom in the spring will be AWESOME!
That’s the plan!
Pheasants eye and Ballerina are my favourite spring bulbs. Hopefully given the anti squirrel measures you’re in for a great display
I planted Pheasant’s Eye after seeing it in bloom at Lurie Garden.
They are scented too
I ache just reading about what you’ve done! And I also cheer you on in the eternal battle with the critters. I don’t know that gardeners ever win that battle, but every little victory feels good.
Right now we’re trying to trap some squirrels living in the walls of our house!
No wonder you are sore and tired! Holy cats, that’s a lot of bulbs. Good luck with the squirrels and rabbits.
I’ll need it!
Oh….I feel your pain, that is a LOT of bulbs! Can’t wait to see them in spring. I’m loving enhanced randomness! Good luck with the remaining 130 bulbs.xxx
Got the 130 planted, but then ordered another 100. But that’s all, I promise!
Haha — I just did this too yesterday and am also feeling the pain. Can’t wait to see the after pictures of enhanced randomness. Very cool!
Can’t wait to see it either – just 6 months until April!
Wow, you are prolific with your planting! I thought I had a lot of bulbs with about 60 to get in the ground. I’m only about halfway done. I’m vowing to cut back next year. Fall planting and gardening seems like such a chore as the garden goes to sleep. That’s a great idea to put the chicken wire on top–I use it around some of my plants to keep the rabbits out. Sometimes I plant lava rocks around the bulbs and plants, too, to keep the chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits away. The rabbits always seem to find a way in.
Rabbits are the spawn of the Devil. But you can always focus on Daffodils, Snowdrops, and other critter-resistant bulbs.
A great job done Jason. And I like the idea of mixing the daffs and tulips together…. wonder if it might deter mice too. I shall try it anyway. Hope your squirrel deterring measures work.
Keeping my fingers crossed.
I’m always impressed by how hard you gardeners work, physically, but I’m equally impressed by how much knowledge you have, and how much planning goes into the development of these beds. As for anti-squirrel measures, I used to mix capsaicin with bird seed to deter the critters. Chili pepper doesn’t bother birds, but squirrels despise it. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work in the garden, too.
The capsaicin can work except it has to be reapplied after every rainfall.
Phooey. I hadn’t thought about that.
Squirrels dig that deeply?!
They’re very determined.
I feel your pain. Although over the weekend I planted almost 200 bulbs, only 20 of them were daffodils; the rest were smaller, such as 25 Hyacinthoides hispanica, 50 snowdrops, and 100 Anemone blanda which of course are teensy. My biggest gripe was that I couldn’t put most of them where I originally planned to, because exterior repairs that were scheduled for early Sept now can’t be done untiil April. The best laid plans…..
That is frustrating! Well, you’ll just have to plant up that area next fall.