Summer Flowering Bulbs
Planting bulbs has got to be one of the garden’s most hopeful tasks. You put something dried, wrinkled, and dead-looking into the ground. You have an image in your mind, a flower future tease sort of thing, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe, as with these bluebells, you’ll plant a few, look away for a year or three, and find them everywhere. Maybe some creature will come along and dig up your carefully planted treasure, and there’s not a single thing you can do about it. Maybe you will have purchased a yellow lily which turned out to be red. You just can’t know.
Sometimes, as in life, your efforts result in something dark and mysterious, wholly unexpected, thanks to the law of unintended consequences. Sometimes you must bow your head in the face of the universe having its way with you. Sometimes you’ve got dirt under your fingernails.
Sometimes the smallest thing can be so poignant. Tiny flowers bravely launching themselves into the savage world in a way that puts us to shame. Tulips are fearless, facing the hardest of times. We’ve had sun, rain, and sleet this week, all while these little flowers were in bloom, and they’re none the worse for wear.
As further testament to the tough persistence of life, here’s a tulip growing in a path, placed there by a squirrel who uprooted it from a more sensible spot. Plus, it’s spotted with blue wood stain that I accidentally spattered when staining a raised bed I had built so that I can argue with the deer over who gets the fresh salad. And it’s still a flower with attitude, despite the mistreatment.
All this I thought about as I dug and buried and patted and watered. All this and more. Even Beppo got into the act, leaving his footprints and a dose of uric acid fertilizer in the freshly turned dirt of an anemone bed. Those future anemones will be launched into the world by cat pee, if they survive. But even if we know where we came from, we can’t know what we’ll become.
Standing in the cool damp evening with the scent of woodsmoke on the breeze, I saw for the first time what I had envisioned so many years ago, hopefully digging in the sandy soil of my garden, and I was glad to be here.
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