Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring is for rodents

Back when we lived in Connecticut, when I was in high school, there was a church on the corner on the main road through town which had a lawn that sloped rather steeply down to the street. In the spring, the lawn was covered in crocuses. I didn't think that much of them at the time, but as I've gotten older, I remember that lawn and the beautiful early spring flowers, and I wish I could have crocuses like that. Especially here in Seattle, where it seems like dreary, dreary, wet, gray, dreary winter will go on forever.

Bulbs generally do well in our climate. An hour or two north of here, tulips are a huge industry, and in the spring you can drive up there to enjoy them--if you can stand the hordes of people doing the same. Even in the city, tulips and especially daffodils abound, and in the early days of spring, you might even spot some crocuses.

So, back in November, I planted 100 crocus bulbs along the edge of our lawn. I was very pleased with myself, since my gardening urge does not always extend to actually planting anything. I looked at my little strip of dirt and looked forward to crocuses in the spring.

I saw my first squirrel about 1/2 an hour later. I'm surprised it took that long, frankly. By the next day, there were holes all over the little strip, and half-eaten bulbs strewn around. I took a deep breath, and thought, "OK, 100 bulbs. Surely some of them will make it to spring?" I figure the squirrels took at least half of them, maybe as many as 75, by the end of the first week.

In January there was a warm spell, and some of the bulbs began to sprout. Little green shoots poked out of the ground. The squirrels were grateful for the help finding them. I counted another dozen dug up and gone.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, some more shoots, ones that managed to survive the squirrels' further depredations. I started to see two or three tiny buds. A smidge of purple peaked out.

Then it hailed. The smidge of purple turned to battered purple petals on the ground.

Finally, finally, yesterday, I got my single crocus. Yes, single. 100 bulbs, one flower:

The picture doesn't do justice to the beautiful deep purple. The sun was so bright yesterday, as if spring might come after all. I had to take pictures.

Good thing I did, because by this morning, a squirrel had eaten it.