In fall, my fancy turns to bulbs

The tulip bulbs arrived this week, and once again I have high hopes for the spring. Maybe this year will be the year the vermin don’t eat the bulbs before there’s even a chance of seeing the blooms.

On the theory that they can only get to them if they’re planted in the ground, the plan is to protect them from the onslaught by planting them in big sturdy containers.

We have an old claw-foot bathtub that used to be stored in the tractor shed. Our son, who was and still is something of a pack rat, had brought it home from an old home that had been demolished.

olivia6-25 Page 4A.inddHe had planned to save it until the day he built a house of his own, but when that day came he changed his mind and bought a house.

So then, we dragged it out into the side yard and spray painted it copper. Then Fowler filled it with some good topsoil from the garden, and I planted it with pansies. Last year for summer it was filled with white caladiums, and this year it was filled with plants parched from the brutal heat of the sun.

Finally, I pulled the poor things up and gave them a decent burial.

When I return from visiting my Aunt Caroline in Raeford, N.C., I will plant pansies among the bulbs. Surely something will thrive.

A few years ago, when we were in Arlington, Va., there was a yard I fell in love with. They had planted white tulips bordered with white pansies, and it was beautiful.

I don’t think I’ll stick to the all-white pansy theme, as I love the purples with their bright little faces. So it will be a variation of the original.

There’s a big round planter on the edge of the driveway we placed on top of a flat stump. The mixed-color bulbs will go there. That must wait until I get home, because nowadays the scope of my planting projects shrinks a bit each year.

Anyone who has seen the wilderness of the roses next to the tractor shed can attest to that. They’re still alive, but desperately need to be pruned and readied for the winter.

It’s a shame they were so neglected this summer, but at least they survived it.

Hardly anything in the yard gets care after the produce starts coming in, as for a few months all the focus is on tomatoes, corn and beans.

Everything in the garden has come and gone except for the turnip greens. They’ll be out there for a while. But other matters now claim our attention.

For one thing, there’s a hay shortage. And it’s time to restock the hay barn for the horses. Because our end of the state has had drought and the other end of the state has suffered flooding, hay is scarce to nonexistent. So the hay hunt begins. And when hay is scarce, prices skyrocket. But that’s the way the market goes in a free enterprise system, which I think we still have.

We don’t have to worry about getting the grass mowed, as it appears to be mostly dead. So that’s a good thing and a bad thing.

I absolutely must get out there and weed and cut down all the dead stuff, then haul it away. Then we need to mulch everything.

Eventually every task will get done in its own time. It just takes longer than it used to. But for now, I will plant my bulbs in the firm belief that when spring comes they’ll bloom beautifully and fade slowly.

The hummingbirds will come back and the honey bees will thrive. All things are possible and garden miracles will happen, as they do each year.