Written by Tovah Martin
So secretly – while all this was going on – the refrigerator was having a life of its own. While the amaryllis were blooming on the windowsill and the bulbs in the ex-lawn were laying dormant under their six feet of snow (the plowmen cameth) – deep in the caverns of the frig – mystery was in the making.
Because wedged between the Stonyfield Farm Organic Low Fat Yogurt and the Olivia’s Organic Salad, bulbs were starting their engines. Planted in pots, elbowing out the granola, a winter’s worth of entertainment was waiting in the wings, sending down roots while it went through the pre-chilling cycle. Never has anything in the cooler received so many visits or caused so much conversation (which isn’t a good advertisement for my culinary abilities, I know).
|Tulipa pulchella ‘Tete a tete’|
In truth, the secret was out long ago. Everyone who knows me (except perhaps my nephew, but he’s an electrical engineer – if it doesn’t have a keyboard, he doesn’t compute), knows that my refrigerator is a wasteland for all practical purposes during early winter. While it’s being harnessed for bulb-prepping purposes, delving into the refrigerator can be depressing when your stomach is rumbling. But I ask you: who needs to eat when you’re being sustained by tulip anticipation?
Of course, you could have your bulbs and eat, too. You could just go and grab up some ‘Princes Irene’ tulips in the brown thumb section of the supermarket and suffer the humiliation at check out. But where’s the glory in that? And would you lose weight? This novel application for the refrigerator could be the revolutionary new diet system that will sweep the nation.
|Tulipa clusiana var stellata|
If so, the revolutionary diet is sort of short-lived because bulbs only monopolize the shelves for about 10 weeks. Then the tulips come out. So do the narcissus and ipheion. That’s when my true confessions segue smoothly from my refrigerator into the bedroom.
So the scene pans over to the bedroom. Think crisp white cotton sheer curtains, think a window so etched in frost that it sparkles. Think a warm cup of herbal tea. And put me into the picture, sunk deep into 100% Belgian linen antique monogrammed (okay, it’s someone else’s initials…but still) sheets immersed in the pages of T.C. Boyle’s Wild Child. But stir into the air the subtle scent of Narcissus ‘Falconet’ and N. ‘Martinette’ (why did I think this daffodil was appropriate?). Let’s see, how to describe the sensation? Try the redolence of rose spiced with a hint of cinnamon and an undertone of liqueur. Don’t for one heartbeat connect this scent with the stench that pours from a paperwhite. My home-brewed perfume-on-the-hoof is hauntingly sweet, but not cloying.
|Tulipa clusiana var stellata with Narcissus ‘Falconette’|
That’s the perfume. Now for the visuals. How about a whole bouquet of small mustard-colored blossoms accented by orange throats trumpeting in unison, if you can call that image up in late February. How about little species tulips like Tulipa pulchella ‘Tete a tete’ with ping pong ball-sized, double blossoms in deep garnet red. How about Tulipa clusiana var. stellata with long, candle-like, pink and cream blooms. I didn’t labor long or hard for these. I didn’t go out and chisel them from the cold, cruel, frozen soil. I just popped them out of the frig and onto my windowsill. I tell you, except for a few months of near starvation, it was a cinch.
|Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’|
|Photo courtesy of Kindra Clineff|
You’ve got to try this. How can I convince you to get with this program? This year, I’m experimenting with forcing Fritillaria meleagris. No refrigeration needed – for more details, please browse on over to my plant-profiling blog at plantswise. I could go on. But I’m going to drift off into my bedroom – the one with the narcissus fragrance floating in the air, the one with the species tulips gently arching by the window. I’m going to leave my computer now to let its screen slip away into sleep mode. And I’m going to let you boast all about the hyacinths, muscari, puschkinia, etc that you have happening right now…