Sunday, May 15, 2016

My First Scary Bulb Sale

Yesterday morning, the nearby public garden had its first ever Bag'O'Bulbs sale, where, if you showed up at a certain gate with grocery bags, you could get freshly dug tulip bulbs for $10 a bag.

The whole shebang began at 8 AM, which means I was there promptly at 8, eagerly clutching a bag and a Hamilton (maybe in a few years it will be a Hamilton/Mott/Truth/Anthony/Stanton/Paul, because apparently it's just too much to actually put a woman on the front of the bill, so instead they'll try to appease us with five women on the back, where they belong, amIright, fellas?) and wearing multiple layers of clothing, because it's May, so of course it's 30 degrees outside!

Gracious, that was a mess of a paragraph, wasn't it?  Ah, well.  I meant every word.  I really was there at 8.

I was joined by a host of fellow gardeners, and I, along with one other family from my church, probably brought the average age down by four decades.  This made me think, not for the first time, that I was made to be an old person; I mean, I love to garden and talk about birds, I am always cold, and I can pinch a penny until it screams for mercy.

Now that my stereotyping is done for the day, I can tell you about the actual event, which was a little bit of a fiasco.  I felt bad for the director of the whole thing, as he seemed to realize that it was not going that well and even went so far as to say multiple times, "Keep in mind this is our first year, and the first year of any event is always a learning experience, so this will only get better and better each year."

Their method in this inaugural year was to have us pay our money, shuffle into a small area just inside the gate, and wait for twenty minutes.  Then, an employee would drive up in a gator with a trailer attached, which was piled high with freshly-dug tulips.  At that point, The Frenzy would ensue.

You know those photos and videos you've seen of Black Friday hordes swarming through stores, hunting for marked down electronics they probably won't even use in a year?  It was kind of like that.  Or maybe sharks circling prey.  I like that analogy better, as it tickles me to think of these gardeners as predators.

I watched two big, full trailers come, be mobbed by grasping tulip junkies, and five minutes later go, depleted.  The third trailer just happened to pull up and stop right in front of me, so I filled my bag as quickly as I could lest someone cut me with their AARP card, and left.

In addition to his pseudo-apology, the director had some other interesting information, such as his suggestion to perhaps come later in the morning next year:  "I've been to these bulb sales at other gardens, and everyone lines up as soon as it opens, thinking that if they come later, they won't get any.  Well, folks, we have 47,000 tulips bulbs we're digging up today, so I promise, there will be bulbs for you to buy, even if you walk in at 10 AM."

I asked him what they've done with the bulbs in years past, since this was the sale's first year, and he told me they've always been composted, to which I audibly gasped and clutched my heart.  He also said that they can't simply give the bulbs away, but have to charge money because they're a public institution.  He was also very careful to instruct everyone there to plant their bulbs that weekend, NOT to store them over the summer until fall planting, and explained why.  Feel free to google this, because I'm sure not explaining it to you.

It really didn't feel like I'd gotten that many bulbs, but when I opened up the bag that afternoon, I counted out 65 BULBS.  For $10!

Atticus got to help me plant all 65 late yesterday because of some choices he made earlier in the week.  There's just nothing like manual labor for behavioral adjustment, is there?

I have no idea what colors these will be next spring, only that they'll be a mix, like what we saw when we were at the garden two weeks ago.  I'm sure by then I'll have completely forgotten any of this ever happened, so what a pleasant surprise it will all be!  I do have plans on being at next year's bulb sale, except next year I'll arrive later, and wear more armor.  I can't wait!


  1. I love bulbs for that reason - they are such a lovely surprise, long after I've forgotten the dastardly hard labor that it took to get them in the ground.

    65 bulbs is a lot of bulbs to plant. Atticus must have chosen quite badly earlier in the week.

    I am amazed to hear about the frenzy at the bulb event.

  2. Really all that's left to do is bring over some Dutch letters and enjoy ourselves.


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