In my own garden, the double snowdrops have finally popped up through the mud (it's been raining - a lot), and just yesterday the first one opened fully. These doubles haven't multiplied like I'd like, so I think this fall I will just have to get some more of them. Some singles, too. They're the first things to bloom around here, so more would be nice.
The book is a classic among gardeners. The author is, too. And I've had The Little Bulbs by Elizabeth Lawrence gathering dust on my bookshelf for too long. Since my little bulbs are coming up and preparing to bloom, I figured now was a good time to dust it off and read it.
In case you haven't heard of Elizabeth Lawrence, she was a gardener living in North Carolina and wrote several books on gardening, as well as a weekly column in the Charlotte Observer from 1957-1971. The Little Bulbs is not the first book by Ms. Lawrence that I've ever read.
A year or so ago, I read Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters, in which she recounts her years of correspondence with Katherine White, wife of author E.B. White (Charlotte's Web). As one who had pen pals from a young age and has continued to this day, I thought I'd love this book. I didn't. I became bored with it about halfway through and while I continued reading it past the point of boredom, I don't think I ever finished it.
But The Little Bulbs is good. I've not finished it yet, but I don't think that will be a problem this time. In this one, she starts by discussing the little bulbs in a garden - those first harbingers of spring, both literally and figuratively. (Yes, there's a flower called Harbinger of Spring!) She then takes us through the rest of the botanical year and tells us about each season's little bulbs.
I imagine the next spot of color I'll see will be from the crocuses, although the daffodils on the south side of the house just might beat them to the punch. They're standing tall, with pregnant buds about to burst forth with the ugliest daffodils I've ever seen.
Yes, I'm talking about those 'Repletes' that I've vowed to dig up and just throw away for the last three years. They're way photogenic though and maybe that's why I let them stay. Either that, or I get busy and forget about them until spring rolls around again.
There are other daffodils here though -
- 'Rip van Winkle'
- 'Golden Bells'
- 'Baby Moon'
- 'Pink Charm'
- 'Lemon Beauty
- Poet's Daffodil
I like every one of those.
I see the Dutch Iris starting to make an appearance, too, as are the tulips and some of the alliums. The only spring bulbs I don't see yet are the large Dutch hyacinths, of whick I've got three or four different kinds. But the grassy foliage of the tiny grape hyacinth clusters has been up for weeks. No flower buds yet, but it's early.
Back to the book...
Written in 1957, the information is still pretty accurate and relevant. Ms. Lawrence mentions her friend from Ohio - Mr. Krippendorf - quite often and relays his accounting of blooms where he lives. From the times he reports blooms from those things that are familiar to me, I knew he lived in a different part of Ohio than I do.
When I researched it, I was right - he lived near Cincinnati, which is a zone warmer than here. Mr. Krippendorf's home and woods of which he often speaks are now part of the Cincinnati Nature Center. Mom, Kara and I are taking two days in April to go to Cincinnati for the Flower Show and a visit to Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. Maybe we'll swing by Mr. Krippendorf's place, too.
In The Little Bulbs, Elizabeth Lawrence and I got off to a good start straight away. In the preface, she writes:
"It is not enough to grow plants; really to know them one must get to know how they grow elsewhere. To learn this it is necessary to create a correspondence with other gardeners, and to cultivate it as diligently as the garden itself. From putting together the experiences of gardeners in different places, a conception of plants begins to form. Gardening, reading about gardening, and writing about gardening are all one; no one can garden alone."
Wouldn't she have been a great garden blogger?