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 Festival of Flowers will 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.
Susanne Woodell, Historic Gardens Manager, 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.
She 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.”