About a week and a half ago I noticed that a few of my bulbs in my garden had begun to break through the soil surface- so I took this photo. The bizarre warm temperatures we've been experiencing here in Chicago this winter has tricked them and they've begun to sprout.
Gardeners in the suburbs and Indiana had been reporting the same thing on the Gardenweb forums and I just saw a post on the CL garden forum from a person in Long Island who has Hyacinth bulbs breaking.
It got me curious so I called the U of I Extension number and spoke to Nancy Pollard. She seemed a little surprise to hear that I had bulbs sprouting in Chicago already.
I asked what course of action she would recommend and she said that mulching would be an option to help protect them when winter finally arrives for good. But with mulching there is the possibility that you could do damage . You see the growth we have now is being fueled by the bulb's reserves that it collected during the last growing season. If you mulch or cover the bulbs to protect any green growth now, you're prohibiting the bulb for collecting energy for the next growing season.
If these bulbs continue to grow and start to flower and then winter finally arrives they will suffer damage that we'll notice in the '08 growing season. If your bulbs are sprouting now it's better to just let them be because they're strong enough to survive cold temperatures when they finally get there. Chances are that they'll flower in Spring but if there are any negative effects it will most likely be little to no blooms in a year.
Nancy Pollard recommends to just let nature take it course and hope for better luck next year.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory is located right next to Lincoln Park Zoo and is an oasis in the middle of the city. It was constructed in stages between 1890 and 1895 to showcase exotic plants and to grow plants that were needed for the park. Jospeh L. Silsbee
in collaboration with architect M.E Bell built the Conservatory at a time when
people were fascinated with plants, insects and their classification.
Take a walk in either of the four houses; The Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House and Show House and be transported to another time when
these plants were not easily available to the public in retail. To really appreciate the setting and plants put yourself in the shoes of someone from the era as you walk through and wonder about the exotic locales the plants originate from.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory's lush interior is one of my favorite places in the city to take a break from our winters. Admission to the Conservatory is free and it's open from 9am-5pm. In the summer it may be busy because of it's
proximity to the Lincoln Park Zoo but it's never so busy that your enjoyment
of it will be an issue. My favorite times as early in the morning or early afternoon when most of the people you'll encounter will be the occasional nanny pushing a stroller.
It's easily accessible by CTA if you ride the #151 or #156 bus. If you take the #22 or #36 it's a short walk east of Clark and it's near North Michigan Avenue's popular spots like the Water Tower Mall.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
2391 N. Stockton Dr
Chicago, IL 60614