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Fresh flowers and potted plants are great gift ideas all year round, but for a birthday that falls in the fall, consider a gift that comes with the promise of a beautiful spring surprise- flower bulbs. October is the perfect month to plant a handful of spring-flowering bulbs in the ground for the positive anticipation of good things to come. Rather than a bouquet of cut flowers for an autumn birthday, choose one of the varieties described below or mix up a few different ones for a gift that requires a little delayed, but no less satisfying, gratification.
Harbingers of spring, the tiny cup-shaped crocus is one of the first flowers to emerge through the snow and cold to warm you with the promise of spring. Their tiny white, purple or yellow petals push through the soil before it has fully thawed and open up to reveal bright orange stamens. These highly-prized parts produce the spice saffron, but whether you choose to harvest them or simply enjoy the beautiful blooms, these flowers are priceless. The foliage of the crocus looks like tiny leaves of grass and will fade after blooming, only to go dormant and re-bloom the following spring. Available as small, dry blubs (called corms) from late September until November, plant them about 3-5 inches deep with their pointier ends sticking up.
Sweet smelling and stout, these bell-shaped flowers hang down on thick, short stems that push their way up around April each year. Available in soft lavender and pastel pink or white, these fragrant flowers form from bulbs that are planted 4-6 inches deep in the fall. Hyacinth bulbs are a great choice for “forcing,” bulbs- getting them to bloom inside out of season. Pick some up this month and place them in a small glass filled half-full with pebbles or small gravel and topped off with water. Place it in a sunny window and watch it bloom over the next few weeks if you just can’t wait until spring to fill your house with their fabulous fragrance.
The queen of the spring-flowering bulbs, Turkish sultans and Dutch traders build and lost fortunes over this tall and stately bloom. Fortunately, you can get them this time of year for around a dollar a bulb at your local florist or garden center. In a wide array of colors and shapes, the choices of tulips are staggering and a a single planting of one solid color can be quite striking as well. Plant these teardrop shaped bulbs pointy end up about 6 inches deep.
Treat an October birthday to a treat they can look forward to all winter long with these fabulous bulbs.