324 assorted flower bulbs are giving me dirty looks. This happens every bloody year.

These bulbs–and their forefathers–have been reminding me for maybe fifteen years that BUYING bulbs is only the first half of the battle.

The other half is PLANTING them, which I regard with only slightly more enthusiasm than a good dose of Ebola.

Bulb buying has become a traditional kick-off for my holiday season. Every year about this time I push the cart past a bulb display in the hardware store* and…stop.

Wow. 100 bulbs for just $12.99. That’s only…lemme see…THIRTEEN CENTS A BULB!! They have those hot-red-and-apricot, fringy-edged tulips that photograph so well! Skinny black tulips and dangly orange things! And just LOOK at these Dutch iris! And parrot tulips. They’ve got parrot tulips!

Thirty minutes later I walk out of the store with 324 bulbs, thrilled that I just saved myself at least $686.88** and I’m getting 324 new subjects for photography next spring. (I may have the largest collection of tulip closeups in the known universe).

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“I bought iris and tulips and daffodils and crocuses and something called a fritillaria and a fox lily and…” I blurble excitedly to Mom over the phone, and she sighs.

“Again? You got how many? Where are you going to plant that many bulbs?”

Plant? Uhm…and as memories of the previous years’ bulb fiascos flood back, it dawns on me that to get this whole flower-photography-in-spring thing going, somebody’s gotta actually PLANT these bulbs.

All–ulp–324 of ’em.

It sure as heck isn’t gonna be me. I am the Anti-Gardener.

My thumb isn’t black, it’s dead black with pustulent decaying pits of despair. I go into the backyard for exactly two reasons: To pick blueberries and to photograph the flowers.

If there is a hell on this earth, it involves weeding. And homicidal birds flying cover for the yellowjackets, pooping down the back of your shirt. Rabid racoons. Weird crawly things that bite. Dirt. Sunburn. Death from heatstroke. Sticking to yourself thanks to various and sundry wilderness fluids.

That’s why I may go without shoes, but I have a gardener. He works cheap and promises to continue keeping my yard tidy as long as I stay the hell out of it. Too bad that “works cheap” doesn’t mean “plant 324 bulbs.”

Last year I waited until December, when he wasn’t watching, and snuck into the yard with a shovel. I turned over great honkin’ clumps of mud, broke my nails on unexpected rocks, and dumped the bulbs into whatever hole presented itself.

I got wet and cold and filthy, ruined a perfectly good pair of bedroom slippers (don’t ask) and the gardener found out anyway. (Upended bark shards, graveyard mounds, and mud in the driveway appear to be dead giveaways.)

Do it again, he threatened, and you can just weed the flowerbeds yourself.

“Uhm, Mom? How about if you…”


So. All you wonderful gardeners out there, the ones who spout nonsensical idiocies like “Gardening is as close as you can get to heaven” and “I’m only happy when I’m puttering around in the garden:”

I’m about to make you very, very happy. And very close to heaven.

Come and plant a measly 324 bulbs in my yard and I will spring for pizza. TWO pizzas. I will make cookies. I will serve the beverage of your choice. In a really, really fancy glass. I will give you a piece of art for your wall. I will shine your shoes.

Send you chocolates. Take your picture. Write you a poem. If I ever have a firstborn male child, he’s yours.


*I am like THAT with hardware stores. Supermodels and Rodeo Drive ain’t got nuthin’ on me and Harbor Freight.

**Do the math: Assuming that 324 bulbs produce 324 flowers (a big assumption, in my case), and that a cut flower costs an average of $2.25 per stem in the store, my bulbs really have a street value of $729. Or if you stuck them in pots and wrapped foil around them for Mother’s Day, they’d be worth $5,180.76, a savings of $5,138.64. With that kinda money, I could buy a new kiln with a Digitry controller AND have it installed!



  1. Cynthia November 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    I once did that one, it’s around here someplace:

  2. sunny strapp November 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    and the tulips? But,…as long as you are cooking (or at least thinking cooking), ever tried baked bulbs with cheese sauce? They are just beautiful.
    I love pan fired Crocus. Thinly sliced with chives. mmmmmm
    Ah, yes. Holiday stress. That’s what makes the material go ’round.

    Hey I’m receiving a holiday poem inspiration.
    Twas the knight before Christmas, and all round the table, the King couldn’t do it and Lance wasn’t able,
    (please continue as you wish.)

  3. Cynthia November 19, 2010 at 10:53 am - Reply


    Well, if you must know, I’m working on a series of posts about–gasp–working on glass. Specifically, a three or four-parter about making murrini in the kiln. Hopefully I can get the first post up Monday or Tuesday, but with relatives, parties, work, holidays, getting the new car, all that, it’s been hard to squeeze in studio time AND writing about studio time.

    Anyway, another short post today, then back to glass.

  4. sunny strapp November 19, 2010 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Are out there a-planting?

    Hiding will get you no where.


  5. Jayne Cornelis November 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    I would gladly plant everyone of them for you…Did you want to pay the flight??? Could that be part of the deal? Think about it. Wonderful plants for pics which would then maybe turn into wonderful glass ideas…Don’t ya just love how things go on a roll?

  6. gary November 15, 2010 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Spring for a round trip on the Empire Builder and you’re on!

  7. Foxlily November 15, 2010 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Funny post! And so true. That’s why I’ve dug up my garden, sowed grass, and surrendered! Good luck with that fox lily!

  8. Jacqui November 15, 2010 at 12:39 am - Reply

    WOW I could have written this blog post!!!

    I loive every kind of bulb flower and compulsively buy some every autumn – sadly not tulips where i live in Australia isnt cold enough 🙁 then fail to plant them (no gardener for me 🙁 … yet) (on my wish list)

    Hardware stores and stationary/art stores are like dealers to me and I avoid them as much as possible….

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