It's February, a wonderful time to start thinking about gardens, especially in the bad old days before Global Warming where the weather was dismal at this time of year.
My painfully large GoodReads list having thrown up <I>Green Thoughts</I> by Eleanor Perenyi, I find myself thinking of gardening, practice and theory. Despite my almost total lack of agreement with Ms. Perenyi on particular plants (I have no patience, for instance, for peonies, and while I also enjoy the smell of roses, I admit I'm significantly fonder of floribundias and 'old roses' than she is. We agree on the hideous overplanting of rhodendrons and azealas in this country, but that's only because I can't stand either one.
I am not a garden designer or landscaper in any way. I have always been a slapdash and random sort of gardener, finding plants I like, poking them in whereever I can fit them, and enjoying them while they last (though all too often likely to be shanghaied away from the garden by Pennsic Prep to find it ruined when I return.
Take my attitude toward bulbs. All right thinking gardeners plan out how many bulbs they want, purchase them from their favorite source (the merits of catalogs and local companies being hotly debated), and toddle out with a bag of bulbs and a trowel (or one of those bulb-planters) in the autumn at the appropriate time for each species in turn. They are rewarded in the spring by either lovely drifts of bloom or completely maddening failures-- either because the plants don't come up, or because they come up either in the wrong color/type or somewhere else, having been moved by helpful person or animal.
I, on the other hand, have never successfully remembered to plant bulbs before December. Instead, in the spring, when the displays at garden centers, groceries, and other such unsuitable places are rioting with forced bulbs beginning to bloom, I buy at least one potful. I used to start out with a hyacinth, since I can't resist what I consider a beautiful odor; but another denizen of our house can resist it just fine, especially when one bloom perfumes an entire 1200 sq. feet of house and there's no place to get away. (I still sneak some onto the property and put them outside where I can enjoy them.) Anyway, one pot of forced bulbs goes on to be two or three, which I struggle to keep watered. About the time their flowers dissolve, it becomes warm enough to go outside, and I find a place in the yard, grub up a hole, and stick my poor tired bulbs in. Emboldened by this, I then pick up a few more dying forced plants and tuck them in here and there, hopefully where I haven't already planted a perennial or other bulbs. Then, like a squirrel, I completely forget about them.
The result is, of course, that most of them don't come up at all, or come up in some bastardized type of themselves (I have one purple hyacinth that is trying to become a grape hyacinth, I swear), but those that do provide cheering surprises that make me feel rather proud of myself. This is not, of course, gardening. It's playing mud-pies with plants, and I have to admit I am unlikely to ever stop, because I lack the self-control to actually be organized to grow those plants I lust after in the bulb catalogs.