|grape hyacinths, lily and scilla|
It takes no small amount of hope to take a gnarly knob of a bulb, stick it in the ground and hope for a daffodil in the spring...but I find bulbs, especially in their first seasons, fairly foolproof. There are all manner of bulbs to choose from - early spring bloomers like crocus, grape hyacinth and scilla. Later spring bloomers follow - plants like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Alliums and lilies take up the slack for early summer. Planting bulbs is really a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck in a small amount of space.
The old rule holds true - try to plant bulbs three times deep as they are tall, and make sure you put the root end down - that's the hairy end. Bulbs can be planted now through ground freeze, but the earlier you plant them (to a point) the sooner they can make a root system to carry them through the winter. Bulbs are alive whether they are dormant or not, so try to store them away from a lot of heat or frost. If you have to hold them for any length of time, try putting them in the refrigerator where they will be kept cold not freezing.
Forcing bulbs is fun for anyone who has an extra fridge - pot them up now and set them in the fridge for a couple months. Pull them out and slowly acclimatize them to the warm temperatures and you can have blooms for the late winter. For those of you in a condo missing the garden experience, try forcing some paperwhite narcissus or amaryllis - they take no cool temperatures and can be forced on a windowsill or table. Forced hardy bloomers can be planted outside when spring weather begins to break.
Sage Advice finally got its first bulb shipment and is offering a small selection of varieties at the Oakland County Flea Market on Sundays. Not sure of the prices yet but they will be reasonable and you can buy one or twenty, bag 'em yourself. The flea market is located in the Farmers Market facility on Pontiac Lake Rd. just west of Telegraph in Waterford. Call me, Margaret, at 248-622-6527 for more information or directions.