Saturday, April 30, 2016

SPRING & Tulip Time have arrived!

Gardeners and homeowners in Southeastern Wisconsin hunger for spring flowering bulbs to appear during April; this hunger can be appeased only when sunny days in April warm the soil and air, creating an ideal environment for tulips (and other bulbs we planted last autumn) to emerge. 
Initially the tulips’ strap-like leaves emerge.  Next, we watch patiently awaiting some pointed buds to appear; we wait… and we wait.

The deer and rabbits are also waiting for tulips to emerge; the genus Tulipa is a crowd favorite for deer and rabbits, who will unmercifully munch on foliage and buds, even before blooms have opened.  Commercially produced deer and rabbit repellants are available at garden centers, with mixed reviews on their effectiveness.  
Some gardeners sprinkle bits of human hair (from a recent haircut) around tulip clusters; sprinkling bottled hot sauce around the foliage also can serve as a deterrent.

As you can see from the park-bench-tulip-patch photo I snapped at a botanical garden, tulips planted in large masses create a dramatic splash of color in the spring garden.   
This small cluster of tulip buds shows the status of tulips growing in my yard—still tightly closed due to our cold days and nights during April

Although a few April days provided spectacular weather, most days were snowy, cold, damp, misty, windy or cloudy.   In addition, during the evening of April 25 this area experienced a WWP (Weird Weather Phenomenon!)  All occurred within a five minute time frame:  wind, heavy rainfall, sunshine, an intense rainbow AND hailstones which measured 1-1/2” in diameter!    (I even took pictures of the hailstones, since I never before witnessed such large hail—it was a bizarre April day in Wisconsin!) 
Thankfully, most tulips were still closed during this storm so none were damaged.  The next time I am impatiently awaiting the opening of our tulip blossoms, I might look to the skies to see if another WWP is headed our way! 

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture