I can feel it in the air. Just today I noticed that a few more green bits had forced their way above the soil surface outside. Spring will be here soon and for some of you it has already arrived. In the meantime, these flowers have been helping me through. Their colourful, long lasting blooms have been a nice respite from the dreary monochromatic gloom of winter.
Although the blooms are not quite fully opened, I could not resist posting a picture of my Fritillaria michailowski in bloom just this morning. I’m really excited about this plant! It’s the one I was most concerned about at planting time, so I figure it’s all smooth sailing from here… at least where the fall bulbs are concerned.
I planted the bulbs back in the late fall and placed the pot in our unheated, south-facing covered porch, aka “The Greenhouse.” Fritillaria michailowski is a cold tolerant flower from Turkey that likes very well draining soil and sun. I opted to grow these in a pot rather than in the ground because I was concerned that they would be lost in our empty backyard given their diminutive size (about 4″). We seem to have inherited soil that is on the loamy side of sandy, which is a pretty excellent texture for bulb growing. If you’ve got heavier soil, I’d suggest going with pots.
I’m considering transferring the bulbs to the backyard garden later this year once it is up and running and the beds have been defined.
Growing in Pots
I used a commercially prepared cactus soil and topped it off with a gravel mulch. The gravel I used is leftover from a freshwater aquarium that I shut down and sold off a few years back.
The pot (6.5″ deep) is made of something like a soft terracotta and is meant to look like stone. I bought it for $5 at a used items store and drilled holes in the bottom for drainage using a masonry bit.
I purchased the bulbs from Garden Import, but I no longer recall how much they cost. There were five bulbs in the package at planting time, but only four came up so you can see this growing experiment wasn’t a total success. Regardless, four out of five gorgeous, healthy plants is good enough in my book.
This is it. This is when it begins. It’s there now, but you have to look for it.
Be a detective. Turn your attention way down to the ground. Can you see it?
Today you might have to crouch down low or look up high to get a glimpse, but within just a few weeks it will all be happening so fast all around you, you will wish for it to slow down just a bit so you can catch your breath.
Last fall we bought $80 in bulbs and planted them literally days before the first snowfall.
I set some of the smaller bulbs aside to plant in pots, as I worried that they would be lost in a yard that is still so blank. Together, Davin and I planted the pots and placed them in our very cold, but covered, south-facing, unheated porch (what we optimistically refer to as “the greenhouse“) and watered them on occasion.
Today the first of those bulbs bloomed!
Our new place has a cold, south-facing, window-filled mudroom. It was the porch at one time and still has the original stone window-ledge, window, brick facade, concrete floor, and functional doorbell. It’s not a very functional living space, but it makes a perfect cold greenhouse!
Since before the move, my poor plants have been suffering through weeks of neglect and life in less-than-ideal conditions. They’ve spent the last 10 days or so sitting in boxes; some getting too much light and others not enough. Several were in the cold room that shouldn’t have been, while others were baking in the heat without adequate water. A few were even stuck in the basement without any light or water at all! I haven’t lost anything completely, but I’ve come close and just about nothing looks like it did before we began the moving process.
I knew from the moment we saw the place that that mudroom would become my personal greenhouse. Last night, I finally had a chance to do a cursory setup of the plants along with a good watering and some pruning back of dead and broken branches. Hopefully the plants will bounce back from the abuse they’ve suffered. In the meantime, my friend Barry gifted me five new oxalis plants and a potted Scilla peruviana. Barry grows his in his cold greenhouse and I’m hoping mine will be just as happy in my setup.
When I went in there this morning to check on the plants, I was shocked and happily surprised by how earthy and greenhouse-like the room smelled. When those really cold, miserable days of winter start to get me down, I can putter around inside my little greenhouse, touch some greenery and smell fresh soil. This move is turning out to be better than I had imagined!