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It’s Bedtime for Tulip Bulbs

In Our Gardens 11/23/12

Written By Leeann Donnelly

gardener planting bulbsWe pause now from our holiday postings to bring you a mini-preview of things to come this Spring.

In our region, November is the time to plant springtime bulbs. And that’s exactly what Biltmore’s Walled Garden crew did earlier this month, spending many hours on hands and knees tucking tulip bulbs into the ground for their long winter’s naps. They’ll need the rest – the tulips, we mean – because they have a show to put on.  (Not that our hard-working crew doesn’t need the rest, of course!)

When April arrives, our annual Biltmore Blooms event (formerly known as Festival of Flowers) will already be underway. The bulbs currently in the ground will transform themselves into bright green stems and showy petals in coordinated hues of pink and dark purple; and yellow, orange and light purple.

Estate-wide, the horticulture team planted around 96,000 bulbs. They dug thousands of 6-inch deep holes and dropped between eight and six bulbs into each one to ensure three or four weeks of bloom time.

Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture, suggests if you’re planting tulip bulbs in your garden at home, wait until the soil’s temperature drops to below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Arrange them so their pointy sides are facing up.

 He also advises that bulbs in the ground often serve as a subterranean buffet for critters like voles. If you have problems with these tiny rodents, add a little gravel to each hole to keep them from tunneling toward your bulbs.

Extra tidbit in the name of Trivial Pursuit:  What do Biltmore gardeners talk about while planting tulip bulbs? Any number of things, says Travis Murray, Walled Garden Crew Leader. The day we took these photos, the topic was “Favorite 1980s Horror Movies.”

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