Early Bulb Gets the Bloom
There would be no comely crocus, iris, or daffodil if not for the homely bulb. These swollen underground packages are young buds bundled with their own supply of nutrients. Just dig a hole and drop them in. Come spring you'll have a chorus of blooms—from the familiar turban of the tulip to the exotic 36-inch spire of the foxtail lily (Eremurus himalaicus) shown at left. Most bulbs originated in mountainous regions, particularly of the Middle East and Mediterranean, and flower only after an extended stay in the cool earth. Planted in the coming fall weeks, these hardy parcels will patiently pass the winter until spring's warmth triggers their growth, some early in the season, some later. Chosen for their varied bloom times, a well-choreographed cast of bulbs will perform all season long.