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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Sep 25

Rising out of the Ashes

Posted on September 25, 2015 at 9:59 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

For those who read last week's blog, there was a question if our summer home would survive the Valley fire storm. We learned this past Sunday that, as I suspected, the cantilevered deck acted as a flue and we are now left with a mountain of ashes—yet the front yard was untouched.

The good news is the fire did not take many of the beautiful oak trees around us. And, come spring, no matter how bleak the immediate landscape may look, the daffodils that were planted several years ago will rise from out of the ashes. Buried deep within the soil, these hardy bulbs were covered with several inches of protective insulated earth.

Bulbs. They are hardy and grow effortlessly. They provide amazing color. They easily fill vacant spots in any garden. They consume very little water and require minimal care. Additionally, the cost is relatively inexpensive for the number of bulbs needed to fill an area or to provide accent color for your favorite decorative pot on the deck or patio. The best part is the spring-flowering bulbs are now available at your favorite nursery!

Muscari with Tete-a-tete daffodils
 Muscari with Tete-a-Tete daffodils
The charts for planting bulbs are simple to follow. Some bulbs such as Muscari only need to be set 2-3 inches below grade. This little bulb sends up beautiful grape-clustered flowers in the spring. Deer and rodents do not touch them. They prefer some shade but will also thrive in full sun. They range in color from purple to blue to white. Plus they naturalize! You can plant these bulbs right over the top of daffodil bulbs, which require planting to a depth twice as deep as the height of the bulb. For example, a 2-inch daffodil bulb will need to be covered by 4 inches of soil—so altogether you'll need to dig a hole 6 inches deep. Plant with the tip pointing up and the flat side down. Can you just see a wave of yellow King Alfred daffodils gently swaying over a sea of blue or purple Muscari! Wow, what a vision!

Tulips are another favorite fall-planting bulb. They require a bit more handling as they should be refrigerated at least a few weeks before planting. Most tulip bulbs prefer being planted in a 10-inch deep hole, but check the label first as smaller tulips may only need a 6-inch hole. Tulips do not have a long lifespan, so check varieties before purchase. Some, such as Darwin hybrid, will come back for several years before fading out. And often they regenerate with new bulbs. The trick for longevity of these Darwin hybrids is to plant to recommended depth; remove faded flowers before they set seed; allow leaves to yellow before removing them; fertilize lightly in spring and fall; and lastly, do not water them during the summer months while they are dormant!

And speaking of fertilizers, all bulbs will benefit from bone meal in the plant hole before setting the bulbs and covering. Make certain there is good drainage, and then, come spring, sit back and enjoy the show!


Mary Weinberg
September 25, 2015 at 10:54 AM
Charlene, I'm so sorry to hear about your family cabin. Last week's blog was a lovely tribute, and I know how hard this must be for you. As always, I enjoy your wonderful blogs and your ability to combine the personal with the practical each week. Best to you and your family.
Charlene Burgi
September 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Thank you for your kind words, Mary. They are greatly appreciated right now!

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