YOU NEVER see the wild Tulipa linifolia for sale (though its slender scarlet blooms are beautiful) so I think that was the beginning of the trouble. Seeing it for sale at a bulb store on River Road, I got five bulbs for a dollar, which was modest enough a purchase, surely.
Nearby was T. acuminata, another small tulip that has very narrow twisted petals of yellow and red -- many gardeners would not like it, but people who like out of the way things would. Another dollar.
Also on hand was the yellow garlic, Allim moly, which has yellow clusters 10 inches high in late spring. It is nothing much, but every spring for years now I think, if I see it blooming, now why didn't I get a few of those. The bulbs are 8 cents each, so I got 10. The trouble with so many of these small bulbs is you run out of money or enthusiasm in the fall, when you should plant them, but in the spring, when they bloom, you cannot do anything about your oversight until the next fall, when again we put it off. That is why so many delightful things are rare. Eight cents a bulb is not, by today's standards, very much money.
Everybody likes white Roman hyacinths, and virtually anybody can grow them in pots, about five bulbs to a 6 or 8-inch bulb pan.
The pots are brought indoors in December and set in a cool sunny place, and they are in flower in a few days. I think they like a few weeks of chilling, though they are far less particular than daffodils or tulips, which are much more difficult to manage, chiefly because they will not stand much heat when you bring the pots inside.
Usually I am spared the temptation of Roman hyacinths, because I do not like the looks of the bulbs. This year I bought 10 for $5, an outrageous price, of course, but I liked the looks of the bulbs.
The Roman hyacinths, which bloom so early and which have numerous spikes of flowers from each bulb, have bulbs a third the size of Dutch hyacinths, so do not be alarmed when you see small bulbs, or think they are undersized.
A favorite crocus of mine is the one called "Golden Bunch," or C. ancyrensis. It produces only small bulbs, so do not be hesistant or say to yourself, "Well, they will never do anything."
I got 50 of them for $4. There is hardly a crocus alive that has not tempted me, and usually I succumb.
This particular crocus is so early, so golden-orange and so free-blooming that it is a special favorite, though I cannot imagine anybody being disappointed in any crocus on the market.
Fortunately I do not need daffodils (as I was saying to myself at the store) when behold, there was a box full of "Tahiti." There is no way I am able to resist this fat double flower of red and yellow, any more than I could ever resist "Ceylon," its parent. It was 45 cents apiece, and I got five. It is one of the good double daffodils raised by the late Lionel Richardson, the Irish breeder.
Now "Baby Moon" is a very late-blooming small jonquil, two or three blooms on a stem perhaps seven inches high, and intensely fragrant. It is a Dutch-raised daffodil, and an wineglass full of the blooms on a desk will make you think you were born in the right century, after all. Ten bulbs were $1.80, and, again, do not be put off by the tiny size of the bulbs. They bloom their heads off, and are great for a sunny strip between the drive and the garage, or in some sunny wasted space-near a gate post.
The nodding late-blooming white "Thalia" with two or three blooms on a stem is a daffodil useful for cutting, and it can be beautiful, though I have mixed feelings about it, since it lacks high quality. But I had a patch of it for years and it never once got basal rot, and no matter what the season, it always bloomed well. At 45 cents each, I bought two bulbs for old time's sake.
I do not know the cluster-flowered yellow poetaz daffodil, "Canarybird," so I bought two, for 82 cents. At one point I grew several of these yellow poetaz and liked them very much for cutting. They all like sunny warm spots, not some bleak corner.
"Double Event" is a many-petaled white daffodil, less mop-headed than most; in fact, it is one of the most beautiful of all the doubles. I bought one for 45 cents. The little double cluster-flowered "Earlicheer" is fragrant, and looks as if it belonged under a Victorian glass dome. I bought two, for $1.10.
Also I got three bulbs of "Actaea," a white late-blooming poet's daffodil, for $1.35. It is not very exciting, as far as I am concerned, but I know there will be the day when most of the daffodils are past, and I will admire it.
The works came to $22.62. Outrageous. And of course worth every nickel.