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Tommies to the Rescue

by Tovah Martin

For all our color-starved neighbors and friends, Tommies are the cure. They need only the slightest hope of sun, and whammo! They are popping up and performing. Some snow might greet them, but a dusting is fine. Tommies soldier on. At first, they look like a few courageous sprigs of grass are breaking ground, but that’s really the foliage of the Tommies being brave. Then come the buds, like a series of little lavender candles just a few inches above ground. And then they pop open in sun, like a carpet of bright stars baring orange pistils and stamens in honor of spring.

 

Tommies Translated to your Space

Tommies are totally adaptable. Got a bare space where nothing else will grow? Tuck in your Tommies. They make any grassy area work hard. Hell strips, sharp inclines, skirts around your trees and shrubs—they can all do more than just sit around looking brown. Harness those spaces for an early pop of color. Tommies pop even from a distance. Tiny though they are individually, they make loud group statement.

Bee Generous

Here’s a flower that is going to delight the earliest flying pollinators. Your neighborhood bees will be so grateful. Basically, you are serving up an appetizer for their first flight from the hive in spring. They need some sustenance, and your Tommies are ready to deliver. You can plant them where other perennials will ultimately spread their leaves later in spring; you can place them along the edge of perennial borders that will fill in. Sometimes small is the answer for making a difference. And the more Tommies you plant, the happier your winged clients are going to be. Your message to nature: The café is open.

 

Barely Contained

There’s another trick you can try at home – forcing Tommies is a snap. When you are planting crocus outdoors, save a few bulbs for forcing. Tuck a little container planted with Tommies into the refrigerator for a month or so and then bring your goodies out into a cool, sunny room. You’ll have a windowsill filled with the earliest possible dose of spring. Long before your Tommies are romping around outside, you’ve got a sneak peek indoors. And it won’t be long until your crocus are breaking ground in the garden. Tommies will keep you going while spring is still revving up.

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