Favorite stories about bulbs?

Michael Mace michaelcmace@gmail.com
Fri, 21 Jan 2011 23:08:21 PST
Like many of us, I have a fair number of bulb-related books at home.  I was
paging through them the other day, looking for some information, when I
realized that there are basically two types of bulb books.  One is the
reference book, which focuses on giving information about various bulb
species.  These books are usually great resources, especially if they have


The other type of bulb book is something we don't have a name for, but I'll
call it a narrative because it usually tells a story.  A bulb narrative is
more about finding and growing bulbs than about classifying them.  Even if
it gives information on various bulb species, it's usually focused on the
experiences the author has had with them.  Although the reference books are
very useful, I find it's these narrative books that stick with me the most,
and they're the ones I'll happily go back to and re-read again.


Two examples:


Louise Beebe Wilder's "Adventures with Hardy Bulbs" is entertaining because
she honestly did think of bulb growing as an adventure.  When she writes
about bulbs they aren't just plants, they are personalities.  Some are nice
personalities; some are evil.  But they are never boring, and her endless
fascination with them is infectious.


The second example is Janis Ruksans' "Buried Treasures."  This book has been
mentioned on this list a couple of times, but in case you missed it, Ruksans
is a Latvian bulb collector who has wandered all over the former Soviet bloc
looking for bulbs.  He has a remarkable talent for getting into and out of
difficult spots, both geographically and politically, and this book
summarizes his travels.  A typical chapter goes something like this:  

                1. Drive up hazardous dirt road into mountains looking for
rare bulb.  

                2. Find bulb.

                3. Nearly get shot by nervous border guard who thinks he is
a terrorist.

                4. Bribe border guard.

                5. Go out to dinner and drinking with border guard.

                6. Repeat process the next day.


I'd be terrified to travel with the guy, but it makes for fun reading.  And
like Wilder's book, what makes the story work is the author's complete,
over-the-top obsession with bulbs.


Does anyone else agree with me about bulb narrative books, and if so, what
are your favorites?  I'd like to find some more books to read.



San Jose, CA

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