Gardening meets Econ 101

Leo A. Martin
Mon, 01 Oct 2012 10:22:18 PDT
Boyce suggested tulips as gateway drugs to bulb gardening - easy, big,
beautiful, recognized everywhere. He also suggested they are easy to grow.

I have another perspective. My relatives in Wisconsin, and many other
people I have met over the years, dread the idea of gardening with tulips.
They're too frustrating.

My relatives all had the experience of planting tulips, only to find
squirrels had dug and eaten every bulb within a week. The ones available
at most garden centers and via mass mail order are not easy to keep going
from year to year in most climates and rarely bloom more than once. I have
been at big Midwestern garden shows in Milwaukee and Chicago where
representatives from large bulb companies give tulip demonstrations, and
they always mentioned that hybrid tulips should be thought of as annuals.

Much of the land mass of the USA is not suitable for growing
large-flowered tulips except as annuals. The species have a wider range
but many people don't want the smaller flowers.

Rather than tulips, I would suggest giving children a climate-appropriate
narcissus bulb. Mammals won't eat them; they return and multiply reliably
with almost no care; they also have showy flowers; and there are species
or cultivars that can be grown successfully everywhere in the continental
48 states. (I don't have enough information about Hawaii and Alaska,
though I suspect there are Narcissus that do well there.)

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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