The time to plant tulip, iris, and hyacinth bulbs is past in much of the country, but spring planting is right around the corner. Gladiolas, tuberoses, and dalias will be ready to add to your garden, and virtually thumbing through garden catalogs online is a great way to beat the winter blues.
This past fall I ordered from Old House Gardens, the well-known, well-loved and very favorably reviewed mail order bulb company. The reason they merit mention here is because they specialize in antique, heirloom and endangered bulbs. The variety of their flowering bulbs is amazing, and they give you a run down of where and when the bulb was originally planted. Some of their bulbs are from lines that started as early as the 1200’s, though the most antique selections tend have the most limited availability.
If you want a unique garden, as well as one that preserves old lines of flowers, heirloom bulbs are the way to go. And to learn more about human beings’ connection with flowers, read the “Tulip” chapter of Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire for enlightenment.