Buried Treasure

Image by Couleur – Pixabay

One of the greatest joys in gardening is to take something that looks dry, brown and almost dead, and bury it in the earth. Seeds and bulbs don’t look like much but their shrivelled appearance is deceptive. Each little seed and bulb is a powerhouse of energy, just waiting for the right conditions to burst forth with life. It is quite miraculous that something that appears so lifeless can produce a flower of exquisite beauty.

Image by Capri23auto – Pixabay

I have come to really appreciate the value of bulbs in the garden. After finding the right spot, you can just bury them and forget about them – well almost. Bulbs do appreciate some water occasionally, but year after year they erupt from the soil to produce an amazing display of colour.  I like to think of them as buried treasure – the kind of treasure that keeps on giving.

For many years now I have enjoyed planting bulbs, either straight into the garden or sometimes in pots. Spring bulbs, especially daffodils, dutch iris, ranunculi and tulips, are some of my favourites, but I also love the lilies that bloom during Summer. Some bulbs can be evergreen, such as agapanthus, which is quite useful as it provides a visual reminder of where they have been planted.  

Every new house has the potential for buried treasure. You can never be sure what beauties might be laying dormant beneath the soil until one day you notice the tell-tale sign of a green shoot slowly breaking through the surface. A bulb! But what kind? Solving this puzzle will take some time and patience. Do you know how many bulbs have long thin strappy green leaves? Quite a few, so you have to wait until it flowers to be certain.

When we lived out west, we discovered some bulbs in our garden which had these beautiful red and white striped flowers. I had never seen them before but after some research figured out they were called hippeastrums. I thought they were just beautiful so when we moved house (again!), I made sure that I dug some up to take to the next place. I never actually got around to planting them into the next garden so they languished in pots for quite some time. However they proved to be incredibly tolerant.

While we moved around from rental to rental in Toowoomba, the hippeastrums remained back out west with Paul. They survived in the pots but I don’t think they ever flowered. They probably didn’t get quite enough attention. Plants need to be pretty tough to survive hot, dry, windy weather. When we finally moved to The Last Stop, I was reunited with all the plants that I had left behind, including the hippeastrums. And with some regular TLC, they have flowered again. So exciting! 

Some calla lilies also joined the hippeastrums in the journey to Toowoomba. They have been surviving in pots too and have also been remarkably tolerant. I was a little worried whether they had even survived but amazingly they flowered last Summer. This year I thought they might enjoy a fresh pot and they are just starting to emerge. 

My bulb collection also includes the regular kind of lilies too. I have had a white one in a pot for a few years and this year I have added some yellow ones which are just starting to grow. Unlike the hippeastrums and callas, these lilies sport numerous leaves growing out of a tall stem. I think I will be waiting a while for the yellow ones to flower though.

The discovery of buried treasure has continued here at The Last Stop. When we moved here just over a year ago, it was very dry and the garden had been quite neglected. There were a few clumps of evergreen bulbs, a few lavender bushes, some flowering shrubs and a number of trees. It wasn’t until earlier this year, after some good rain, that a sparse clump of long thin strappy green leaves appeared in a patch of ground that had looked quite bare. Again, I didn’t know what they were…yet. Then a flower spike appeared. Exciting! I watched and waited and then waited some more. It was another hippeastrum – this time, a red one. Some people call them Christmas Lilies.

Bulbs are an important feature of the floral displays at the Carnival of Flowers. I am always impressed by the way the gardeners get all the tulips to flower at the same time. It is very inspiring, but it requires planning ahead. It is so easy to get all excited about planting spring bulbs and forget that in order to get flowers in Spring you need to plant the bulbs in Autumn. If I want tulips, daffodils and dutch iris flowering in my garden next Spring, I need to start thinking about it now.

The plan is to eventually find a permanent spot somewhere in the garden for my potted bulbs. As mine have shown, they are very hardy, very tolerant of neglect and can survive in pots for quite a long time. If you have never grown bulbs before, you might like to try some in a pot. They are great for small courtyard gardens and add a splash of colour.  

Happy Gardening!

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