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Remembrance Garden Bulbs

Well, if you've been listening to, and more importantly, trusting, my advice not to put your Spring bulbs in the ground yet, congratulations! The right time to do so is finally here! You can safely bury those bulbs, twice as deep as their height, anytime from this weekend through Thanksgiving, without fear of them sprouting before Spring. Now if you didn't listen and prematurely planted your bulbs, relax, if we get a normal winter, your Springtime show will be just fine. Besides, there's nothing you can do about it now, even if the weather-guessers assure us that long warm spells are on the way. ...Except buy MORE bulbs, of course! I'm sure you've noticed that stores have heavily discounted their remaining stock.

Now, I was going to go into a lot of bulb planting detail at this point, but something came up. (You can get all those details better than I could tell ya at BULB dot com, anyway). Just as the correct planting time finally arrived, I received a package from the Netherlands that contained some very special bulbs. You may have heard that New York City's Battery Park Conservancy had commissioned Piet Oudolf, a landscape architect whose designs are known for their ability to elicit powerful emotions, to design a Garden of Remembrance down there by the waterfront, to honor the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. Although Dutch himself, Oudolf is much more known for working with dramatic perennials and large ornamental grasses, and not his nation's most famous export. But this is a very special garden, and that package I received contained samples of some of the Spring bulbs he has incorporated into this design.

It makes sense; after all: The site where the World Trade Towers once stood was founded by the Dutch in the 1600s, Oudouf himself is Dutch, and virtually all Spring bulbs come from Holland. But the fact that a Dutch landscape architect has chosen to feature Dutch-grown Spring bulbs for his Garden of Remembrance in a place named for cannons that were used centuries ago to help secure our Independence from Great Britain is really almost a coincidence; these choices have nothing to do with anyone or thing's history. Already planted at the site are 5,000 Crocus tommasinianus: Wind, snow and rain-proof, these gracefully tiny "tommies" are generally the first crocus to appear in Spring. There are also 500 bulbs each of the tulips 'Spring Green', a tall, elegant lily-flowered type, and 'Queen of Night', which I felt was the 'giveaway in the package' this tulip had to have been included because its dark red flowers appear black to the eye.

No, I was told, it was chosen for another reason, one that all tulip lovers can really appreciate; it's there because it's one of the few tulips that reliably returns year after year. All of these varieties, picked by a designer who generally doesn't use Spring bulbs, were chosen, of course, for their heights and colors, but also because they epitomize the spirit of hopefulness and renewal that Spring bulbs symbolize; they are stubborn survivors that are as close to being guaranteed to reliably return, year after year, as it gets. And this weekend is the perfect time to plant a few 'perennializers' of your own.

I've taken the liberty of posting the list of bulbs they sent with the package up on our web site. One of the greatest garden designers in the world has chosen these varieties for how they look and for what they mean, but mostly because there's the best possible chance you'll see them again and again every year. The rest, as they say is up to you.

Spring bulbs to be included in New York City's Battery Park "Garden of Remembrance"

Scientific Name Variety Name Type Color Height Blooms*
Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple' BOTANICAL CROCUS violet-rose 4" EARLY
Muscari 'Valerie Finnis' GRAPE HYACINTH porcelain-blue 6" MID
Scilla 'Mischtschenkoana' SPRING SQUILL porcelain blue 6" EARLY
Tulipa 'Shirley' TRIUMPH TULIP white, edged purple 20" LATE
Tulipa 'Queen of Night' SINGLE LATE TULIP deep maroon 24" LATE
Tulipa 'Turkestanica' BOTANICAL TULIP white, yellow 8" MID
Tulipa 'Spring Green' TULIP VIRIDIFLORA green, edged white 20" LATE
Hyacinthus 'Festival Pink' HYACINTH pink 10" EARLY
Narcissus 'Pipit' JONQUILLA DAFFODIL yellow, white 14" MID
Narcissus 'Recurvus' SMALL CUP DAFF white, yellow-orange cup 16" LATE

*Blooming time relative to other Spring bulbs; 'Early' are the first up; 'Late' are the last.

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