I have a lot of flower memories, but some of my most vivid ones include images of blooms springing miraculously from unassuming bulbs and tubers. The Black Dragon lily, for instance, that my mother nurtured into a Little-Shop-of-Horrors-enormous specimen that won a blue ribbon from the Garden Club of Virginia. Or the spidery pink surprise lilies she divided from plants that belonged to my grandmother. Or the yellow daffodils that pop up around my parents’ house every year, including the five-inch-wide Chromacolor variety first hybridized by the gifted daffodil savant Bill Pannill just a few blocks up the road from us in my tiny Virginia hometown.
But mostly I think about Mom’s peonies, and a research trip I took with her to bring back new varieties for her collection when I was in high school. At a time when most teenagers rebel, I willingly and enthusiastically jumped in the car with her and drove an ungodly number of hours to Delaware to tour the gardens at Winterthur. The bulbs we brought home two decades ago still inspire awe, and if I’m lucky enough to visit my parents in the springtime, I haul big fragrant buckets of the cut blooms back to Charleston—a locale far too humid for their sensitive temperaments.
This year, like my mom, I’m on the hunt for new and interesting things to try that will flourish here, and I was excited to learn about a mail-order source called Plantgem that just began shipping bulbs to the South for fall planting. Newcomers in the garden space, they carry all manner of interesting options. “We wanted to make the unicorns—the flowers and shades that we could only find at our favorite florists but don’t find in traditional greenhouses or resellers,” says cofounder Julie Carson. And now is the perfect time to order for planting in this region. “In the South,” Carson says, “you want to plant our bulbs from late October through December, or when the soil cools off to about sixty degrees.”
I first plan to order and force a few of the below Amaryllis Neon bulbs and delightful Amaryllis Doublet bulbs indoors in anticipation of the holidays—I love that both offer a departure from conventional looks.
But mainly I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt and let the following Ranunculus La Belle White Picotee Corms, Ranunculus Black Amandine Corms, Muscari Pink Sunrise, Tulip Queensland, and Mini Triandura Thalia Daffodils do their thing.
My Mom is planning to try the below Peony Kirinmaru. I am very jealous, but maybe I can bring home a bloom or two come this spring or next when they are established and thriving.