Patience & a healthy dose of optimism are part of a gardeners’ tool kit says Derrick Daly, head gardener at Inn by the Sea, as he looks forward to a proliferation of color from spring bulbs.
Gardeners are the ultimate optimists says Derrick Daly who oversees the coastal landscape at Maine’s Inn by the Sea. “We plan, we dig, we plant and then we wait….and wait until hopefully, magic happens! You just have to have faith.” Patience and faith that the future will bring great things are all part of the growers’ ethos. Gardeners plant for the same or next season, but often landscapes aren’t realized for years, or, as in the case of trees, are planned for the next generation to enjoy.
Bulbs in particular speak to gardeners’ perennial optimism according to Daly. Bulbs are planted in the fall with the hope that six months into the future all your work will be rewarded with spring blooms. “You have to believe that your garden will persevere against harsh winters or hungry wildlife. After a long New England winter your soul is starved for fresh life and color. Bulbs are usually the first to push new growth through late snows, ending with an explosion of color that light up spring days!” says Daly.
Thousands of Darwin hybrid tulip bulbs are planted every autumn in the seaside planters at Inn by the Sea with fingers crossed for a show of color in May. In southern Maine Tulips and daffodils should be planted late in October when the soil temperature has cooled, or about 6 weeks before the ground freezes, according to Daly. Tulips should be planted about 6-8 inches down, with good sun and in soil with adequate drainage. Darwin hybrid bulbs tend to bloom a little later but often have larger blooms, so well worth the extra work. Daly mixes Daffodils, Frilillana Imperius and Globe Master Alliums with annual flowers throughout the Inn’s auxiliary gardens.
Daly suggests augmenting bulbs with annual plants. Blooms from bulbs can be cut back when finished, but their foliage should be allowed to die naturally to absorb energy for the following season. As bulb foliage decays, the annuals will fill in to create continuous color. Daly uses a colorful palette with a mixture of Pansies, Violas, different varieties of Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Snap Dragons and Sunscape daisies.
“You just have to keep the faith that that all your work in planting that tiny seed or bulb will one day grow into something magical,” says Daly.
Derrick Daly gives complimentary garden tours every Thursday at 10AM during the growing season at Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine 04107. www.innbythesea.com 207.799.3134.