A Fun Family Tradition from the Anker Family

Aaron Anker displays his Bulb Cake, ready for “baking.”

A crocus-filled “bulb cake” is an easy way to share the pleasures of gardening with kids. Here’s how to make one, by the creative mother who invented it, our good customer Debra Anker of Fredricksburg, Virgina:

“When my son was three and my daughter one, we moved from Fresno back to Oregon. I was happy to get back into a climate that could sustain crocus and tulips, but since we were renting at first, I didn’t want to plant anything in the ground. So I bought a redwood window-box planter, potting soil, and about twelve Crocus tommasinianus, and one afternoon in October Aaron and I made a “bulb cake” together. I think I came up with that name as I was trying to explain to him how we were planting the crocuses: first we put in a layer of soil, then he placed the bulbs, and then we covered them up, like layers in a cake.

When we eventually bought a house, the Bulb Cake moved with us. It was always the first thing to bloom in the spring, we never watered it all summer, and it increased steadily.

The Bulb Cake after a season in the oven.

couple of years ago we moved to Virginia and my parents drove the Bulb Cake out to us. Aaron, who is now twelve, re-potted it last fall with fresh dirt and some more tommies, although many from the original planting are still in there as well.

“The Bulb Cake is a fun project to do with little kids, but its real benefit is the lasting interest our kids have shown toward plants and the environment in general. Bulbs are easier than seeds, because of their size. There are no stems to break, their shapes, feel, and the magic of slowly growing out of the ground make them a wonderful teaching tool. Now when it’s bulb planting time in the garden, I always get help!”

We’d only add that bulbs planted in containers are more vulnerable to winter’s low temperatures — since they’re not protected by the great insulating blanket of the earth — and other potential problems such as hungry rodents. Learn more at our Bulbs in Pots page — but please don’t be daunted by it! A bulb cake really can be child’s play.