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Sunday, July 11, 2010
Out In The Twilight Zone .... The Great Bulb Experiment!
When I first joined the gardening website world there was one thing that just blew me away. There are gardeners out there who go to (what I would consider) extraordinary lengths to grow plants not at all suited to their garden's particular location or climate.
When I found out about these gardeners, I honestly thought they were right out there ... in the Twilight Zone. (Those of us of a certain age will know exactly what that means. For those who don't ... it's to do with an old TV Show all about weird stuff! ... and not about vampires or werewolves!)
There are gardeners who plant tree ferns in areas that get inches of snow and lots and lots of frost.
These poor old tree ferns have to be radically trimmed, wear hats and get wrapped in plastic!!!
Their garden must surely look so strange at these times of the year with these freaky caterpillar-looking shapes all over the place!
There are gardeners who grow plants in greenhouses lined in bubble wrap and/or aluminium foil with heaters blazing away for hours on end. Seeds are raised on heated trays in heated greenhouses ... such vast amounts of energy used just to get seeds to germinate. I have to admit I was completely unaware that these things happened.
In my part of the world ... and now I'm speaking from my somewhat limited experience as a serious gardener ... most gardeners here grow plants that are fairly well suited to the climate, weather conditions and the type of soil.
Of course we don't get snow, hail or frost here ... although, included in the list of horrid conditions we do get, are the endless days of relentless sun-baking. But I've never seen a gardener covering their plants with umbrellas or sloshing sunscreen all over them.
Although we do grow some plants in sunshade-covered greenhouses or in pots under patio roofs for protection, I don't consider that very strange ... I would however consider it very odd if we enclosed our greenhouses and added air-conditioning!!! This would be the comparable action to heating greenhouses ... wouldn't it?
Our approach tends to be - choose plants that are suited to the conditions, prepare the garden bed, fertilize when needed and use pest treatment if necessary. But aside from watering them and maybe having a general conversation with them, plants don't receive extraordinary, out-of-the-ordinary attention once they're in the ground or pot. If they die ... oh well ... try something else better suited! If they thrive ... fantastic ... and we'll water them and feed them to keep them going.
Well ... I've now been infected with the 'let's-try-something-completely-out-there' gardening disease! I completely blame fellow online gardeners and bloggers ... yes it's all your fault! This year I purchased bulbs that are far more suited to the more temperate/cooler areas of our great country. They were labelled in the catalogue as 'Hot Climate Bulbs' ... so I ridiculously decided to put MY money where THEIR mouth was!
I am pretty convinced that didn't really mean my particular hot part of Oz ... but muggins here waded in hook, line and sinker.
Anyway ... my bulbs arrived on March 1st, which is the first day of our Autumn, and ... after a rather strange conversation with a person at the online nursery that sent these ... I promptly placed them in my downstairs fridge until our Winter had begun. Yes ... occasionally I would open the fridge door and have a little chat ... well I had reached the depths of weirdness anyway by purchasing them in the first place, so it didn't seem that out of place!
Strangely, some of the bulbs began to sprout in the fridge by the beginning of June ... our first Winter month ... so I got them out and planted them up. I had to read instructions about how to plant them ... having had absolutely no experience with these plants whatsoever!!!
OK ... so how has the experiment gone so far? ... I can hear you all asking!
WEEK 1: we have lift-off!
WEEK 2: still reaching for the sky!
WEEK 3: everything's taken off! Think the poor Hyacinths need staking however!
Ah ... but what about those Jonquils I hear you ask! Well the container of Chincherinchees and Jonquils came out of the fridge about a week and a half ago and here they are ..... un-be-liev-able!!
To top all this off ... before I went off on my visit to see my boys and grandchildren, another package of Asiatic bulbs arrived. All I had time to do was to open the plastic bags and leave them on a shelf in my Greenhouse Garden. This is what happened while I was away ...