The Conservatory's horticulture staff, along with much appreciated help from volunteers, is already preparing for next spring's Sunken Garden Flower Show. Like most of the Sunken Garden shows, we begin planning nearly a year in advance. In this case all of our bulbs for the 2009 sping show were ordered this past summer. Over 10,000 spring bulbs, including tulips, hyacinth, and narcissus, have arrived in the past few weeks and are being diligently potted up by staff and volunteers. The bulbs are planted in our "recycled" potting mix (this consists of the old rootballs and used potting media that have been ground up and pasteurized to kill any pathogens).
Once potted up, the bulbs are watered in and placed in our walk-in cooler. Here they are receive a cooling treatment that basically mimics the natural winter dormancy that the bulbs require to produce flowers. The pots remain lined up on shelves until specific times next spring when they are moved to our greenhouses and warmed to induce new gowth. This allows us to recreate the ephemeral beauty of spring in the Sunken Garden by the end of March--long before most of us Minnesotans see it in our gardens at home.