Dallas Arboretum Staff, Seasonal Gardeners Plant Bulbs for Southwest's Largest Floral Festival

The hard work of up to 30 seasonal gardeners will result in the Dallas Blooms floral festival

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The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden's horticultural staff are laying out and planting more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs throughout the 66-acre garden.

"This time of year you get to enjoy what we call the bones of the garden," Dallas Arboretum Vice President of Gardens Dave Forehand said.

According to the Dallas Arboretum, the hard work of up to 30 seasonal gardeners will result in the Dallas Blooms floral festival, themed "America the Beautiful," which debuts Feb. 20 and runs through April 11. 

During the winter, planting bulbs is an integral part of the gardening cycle that results in the beautiful spring floral displays, the Dallas Arboretum said.

It takes 65 Arboretum staff members 11,560 hours to plant the bulbs from Abbott Ipco.

"We kinda joke that it's Dallas' dirtiest job," Forehand said, watching seasonal workers digging in the dirt. "But it turns into the most beautiful event once these bulbs sprout, and grow, and bloom."

The Dallas Arboretum said the horticulture team begins by amending the soil and removing existing fall plants, adding compost, broadcasting bone meal bulb fertilizer with a hand spreader, and adding blood meal to keep away squirrels and birds.

Staff plants the bulbs in staggered rows, spaced three to six inches apart, depending on the type of bulb. Other spring-blooming annuals and perennials, such as pansies, are planted four inches down from the bulbs so the beds appear fuller and burst with splashes of different colors.

"The types of spring-blooming bulbs being planted include a wide variety of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, in addition to 100,000 pansies, violas and thousands of other spring-blooming annuals and perennials," Forehand said. "Remember that you don't have to fertilize or water as much in the winter, but you will need to more in spring because as the sun begins to warm and dry, the bulbs will grow more quickly. Watering before a freeze insulates the plant and saves it from freezing, so always water, if a freeze is predicted. Pansies, kale and poppies survive a freeze so you don't have to cover them."

"Bulbs need to be chilled in a paper bag stored in a refrigerator for four to six weeks before planting, and soil temperatures need to be 50 degrees or lower when planting the bulbs to ensure the tulips don't bloom too early," Forehand said. "So they're just waiting for their time. I guess that's what we're all doing, too."

Like the bulbs, we are all waiting for our time to come out of quarantine and brighter days ahead.

"Just waiting for things to be different, when we can all go back to enjoying our 'bloom time', I guess," Forehand said.

From now through Jan. 15, visitors can witness bulb planting throughout the gardens.

NBC 5's Noelle Walker contributed to this report.

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