I just purchased approximately 18,000 fall bulbs, I don’t live in a castle so no, they’re not for me. Fortunately, as the buyer for all my garden clients, I can pick all my favourites and watch them come up in gardens around the city.

May I recommend you purchase and commit to planting as many bulbs as you can find and get in the ground this year? Allow me to explain that I choose to call these little flaky balls of potential ‘Bulbalicious bountiful joy bucks’ because they’ll earn you compound joy as interest. May I also recommend that you plant with wild colourful abandon because what may seem gaudy at the end of a hot, bright summer will truly be balm to your snow blasted eyeballs come spring. We need cheerful in spring and those sedately subtle white daffodils you purchased will not bring you the kind of smiles and squeaks that flaming orange and pink and blue and fuchsia combined, can and will.

Sure, sure, you say – but WHAT ABOUT THE SQUIRRELS???

yes, the squirrels have more time than you do and a much keener sense of smell but we’re (usually) smarter so I recommend…

  • Plant often & plant more! I believe the very best way to stump a squirrel is to plant a few hundred bulbs rather than 10 or 15 (if squirrels eat 5 out of 10 tulips it will be disheartening, if they eat 5 out of 50 or 100, it won’t be noticed)
  • Go deep or stay home – following the instructions on the packaging is nice but not accurate as the bulbs are packaged in Holland which has a milder climate and apparently milder squirrels. I know we all cheat a little just to get the job over with, and just who takes a measuring stick out into the garden anyway? Squirrels will only dig in loose soil and not for long, so dig deep.
  • Get sneaky & cover your tracks; leaving a trail of papery bulb casings is a map to your buried treasure combine it with freshly turned soil it’s a flashing scent beacon to fur fiends. Tamp the soil down with your boot (prevents frost from heaving them up to the surface too) and water well after to dilute scent signals.
  • Fritillaria, Alliums, Daffodils, Muscari and Eranthis are less appetizing and wonderful bulb choices if you can’t bear the thought of tulips disappearing – I find many of these bulbs come back more reliably
  • Blood, Bone & Hen – it’s fertilizer, not voodoo – a good idea for the health of your soil overall, also rumoured to be somewhat effective at ‘cloaking’ your bulbs. Acti-sol is my favourite organic manure but there are plenty of other options.

The main problem with planting bulbs is it occurs at a time of year when we are done with the garden and ready to curl up with a good book in front of a fire, carve pumpkins, drink spiced cider – anything but planting something that is completely invisible – BUT – your delayed gratification is repaid with compound interest come spring when each fresh bloom confirms that life will again come to the garden – and after this year, we could all use some extra joy !