• elizabethpeterson922

For tulips' sake

It turns out gardening is hard work. Like, really hard work.


Who knew? Yeah, I know, I know, everyone knows. Let's just say I am typing this blog with aching, grimy, scratched up fingers. Not to mention my aching back.


But let's talk about tulip boxes.


A friend who lives in a lovely house and maintains a spectacular garden near one of Finland's national forests (yes, Tina, I am talking about you) told me recently about the time she came home from the Netherlands with 120 tulip bulbs. She planted them all dutifully in October, and then the following spring three tulips appeared. Three tulips. Out of 120. That means rodents and deer ate 117 of her tulips.


I have heard a lot about how much rodents and deer love to snack on tulips. I have heard a commensurate amount of talk about chicken wire.


So this weekend we went to the local gardening store, and we bought one round of 1 cm chicken wire, one round of .5 cm chicken wire, some wire cutters, and a package of zip ties. Oh, and we bought 90 tulip bulbs and 60 crocus bulbs.



It is possible that we overdid it.


It turns out that building wire cages out of chicken wire is quite a time-consuming task and really messes up your hands.


It turns out that finding a good place to bury chicken wire cages in our garden is quite a challenging task. The earth in our yard is full of stones, tree roots, sandy soil, claggy soil, and when it starts to rain ... oh good grief, what a mess! I don't think I have ever been so dirty in my life. I literally washed myself off with a garden hose after all was said and done.


Here is a photo of one of our wire cages. This one is about 60 centimeters square. We planted 10 iris bulbs in it.
















After the bulbs were in place, we covered them with additional soil and then put a chicken wire "lid" on top, which we secured into place with zip ties. (Side note: I don't like zip ties. I constantly thread them in the wrong direction, and I find that I can't stop thinking about the January 6, 2021, attacks on the US Capitol the entire time I use them. Not a nice memory.)


This entire contraption was then covered up with autumn leaves and a thin layer of soil.



Repeat three times in different locations in the yard, while fending off differing amounts of mud and rain.


At one point, when I was covered with mud and it was only moderately raining, our neighbor, Gunilla-Britt, came along the lane and greeted me. When I showed her our chicken-wire boxes, she nodded benevolently and said, "It might work." She planted her tulips last weekend, as it turns out. Her garden is enviable. She has lived here her entire life, and she lives here all the time. Our ambitions for our garden are probably more than a weekend every now and again can afford us.


This weekend's efforts:
Number of chicken wire cages built: 3
Number of iris bulbs planted: 10
Number of crocus bulbs planted: 50
Number of tulip bulbs planted: 22

That means we have 70 tulip bulbs and 10 crocus bulbs to go. Let's see if we can muster the energy to go find a place to bury them. At the moment, it is difficult to believe that our spring flowers will be worth all this trouble. Not to mention that even if the cages are rodent proof, we still have the deer to deal with after any sprouts appear.

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