Whether wide open, singing to a glorious, sunny sky or pursing lip-petals in a demure pout, tulips are delightful harbingers of spring.
My tulips, the teenagers of the flower world, refuse to get out of bed. I sacrificed knees and back to lavish exotic foods on them. Yet, they only lift a limp leaf or two.
Bloom? Too much trouble. Besides, why should they be bound by my expectations?
Each spring, I waited again. Again.
“Hey,” I yelled, “you’re supposed to be perennials!”
I stumbled over a “Do Not Disturb” sign erected by the tulip that had drawn the short straw.
One greenhouse declared tulips will faithfully bloom every spring … if I relocate to the Turkish Himalayas foothills. The fussy lovelies crave their native habitat’s hot, dry summers and extreme winters. Dutch growers have devoted 400 years to discovering ways to imitate these conditions. They have learned, as Mary Beth Breckenridge in the Chicago Tribune once suggested, to “think like a bulb.”
With all due respect to the Netherlands, I’d rather retain IQ points, thank you very much.
Only once have my tulips bloomed more than one season. Even then, contrary red ones, planted to border pink tulips, bloomed two weeks early. They formed a lovely circle … around dirt.
At least, the tardy pink tulips created a clump of color. For two days. Then, strong winds blew them flat.
Still, hopelessly in love with gardeners’ photos, I again fertilized and hoed. On my knees, I planted more bulbs.
The next morning, I peered outside at my perfect flower bed … only to meet squirrels’ chittery scorn. My efforts had supplied a Golden Corral buffet for little thieves.
Something inside me snapped. I dashed outside, yelling and swinging a hoe like a Mr. McGregor samurai. “Hi-yah!”
The squirrels escaped unhurt, laughing.
Rush hour drivers zooming past also enjoyed the show.
Why did they laugh? Just because I still wore my nightgown …
Once, though, I outwitted the squirrels, planting bulbs in a different bed. The following spring, these bloomed in glorious display.
For two days. Then deer devoured every last one.
Will I ever tiptoe through my own tulips?
When I talk Hubby into moving to the Himalayas.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do your tulips bloom every year?