Planting Spring Bulbs

 

Early bulbs are much smaller and will do well planted about 3-4” deep. Top dressing with an autumn mulch keeps the ground warmer allowing for root development before the deep cold of winter sets in. This insulating mulch also protects the bulbs from quick freezes and thaws that often occur in late winter.

A generous mix of bulbs are being incorporated into any existing garden.

As the days become longer and the daytime temperatures gradually rise, the bulbs will naturally begin to emerge and start the wonderful process of sequential blooming. Since the early spring bulbs are low growing and devoid of a lot of foliage, the first flush of flowers magically appears making the early spring garden abundant in a sea of blooms–creating a breathtaking picture that can last for several days of even weeks. When one group of bulbs start to fade, another grouping takes center stage quickly filling in any vacancies in the garden.

 

After flowering, it is important to give them a feeding of organic fertilizer and allow the foliage to die back gradually. Later bloomers like tulips and alliums along with emerging perennials will eventually camouflage the waning bulbs. By creating a design that promotes a progression of bulbs, the garden will never be without something in bloom.

In late April and early May, tulips the grand-dames of the garden lend flirt and fancy in an abundant array of colors and shapes. Species tulips are tiny in size often blooming along with daffodils which makes them less likely to be eaten by deer. To deter rodents from eating the bulbs, use a rodent repellant or add cayenne pepper or garlic flakes to the planting hole.

Spring bulbs in a sculpture garden.

Another trick is to spray bulbs (especially tulips) with a diluted solution of old fashioned liquid lysol and let the bulbs dry completely in the sun prior to planting, The offending critters are hindered by the smell and taste of this strong smelling cleaner. Another tip from a bulb importer is to plant them in the same hole as the allium. The strong onion odor of the allium helps to keep critters away as well.

The dynamic and vertical lines of flowering onions or Alliums continue the show into June- globe-like flower of the allium may be allowed to dry in the garden, which adds texture and interest to your perennial borders. There is a multitude of allium varieties in the market–from very low growing to impressive 4‘ varieties. Alliums add an elegance and dramatic verticality to the late May and early June garden Fragrant and dramatic lilies, “the wings of the garden” take flight in late June and July. You can find a multitude of different hybrids in dazzling colors and shapes in all of these species of bulbs.

An enchanting collection of peony-flowering tulips and late daffodils in a seaside garden.

To encourage your bulb garden to flourish, select a site that has well-drained soil. If the soil needs work, start by enriching the proposed area with good top soil or compost to a depth of about 6”. Bulbs do not like to be planted in area that is usually wet–so good drainage is essential when preparing your site for a bulb garden. Plant bulbs with the pointed side up adding a tablespoon or so of an organic fertilizer that contains rock phosphate, which will ensure proper root development.

It is especially important to plant the bulb to the proper depth which is about 3-4 times the bulb’s length. For example, a tulip which is about 2” long needs to be planted about 6-8” deep. The earlier bulbs are much smaller and will do well planted about 3-4” deep. Top dressing with an autumn mulch keeps the ground warmer allowing for root development before the deep cold of winter sets in. This insulating mulch also protects the bulbs from lifting when quick freezes and thaws occur in late winter. As the days become longer and the daytime temperatures get warmer, the bulbs will naturally begin to emerge and start the wonderful process of sequential blooming. When one group of bulbs start to fade, another grouping starts to take center stage and fills in any vacancies in the garden. Since the early spring bulbs are low growing and devoid of a lot of foliage, the flowers in full bloom appear as luscious masses of color–creating a breathtaking picture that can last for several days of even weeks.

After flowering, it is important to give your bulbs a feeding of organic fertilizer because this is the time they are storing food for next year’s blooms.

Always allow the foliage to gradually die back naturally. By late June most of the foliage has completely withered and can then be safely cut down. Later bloomers like tulips and alliums along with emerging perennials will eventually camouflage the waning bulbs.

By creating a design that promotes a progression of bulbs, the garden will never be without something in bloom. At present, bulb supplies are still plentiful and you can safely plant your bulb garden right up to Thanksgiving. A warm sunny afternoon in late October or early November is the perfect time to plant your spring garden–so don’t hesitate to get out there soon!

 

You’re never too young to learn how to plant bulbs for the family garden!

Autumn Considerations

Spring’s Instant Unexpected Color

Early Spring Perennials always provides some instant unexpected color for your
garden!

Usually in early April, somewhere between the waning blooms of daffodils and before
the massive display of May flowers, early bloomers such as candytuft, phlox subulata,
forget-me-nots and leopardsbane fill a nice spot in the garden. Subtle, petite and
unobtrusive, they can still make a commanding presence in soft spring-like tones
covering the otherwise barren ground with unexpected color. Even though they tend to
be fleeting, these delicate beauties deserve a special place in your perennial garden.
They are an exceptional addition to spring bulbs as the color complement and reinforce
each other.

Of special significance are the spring ephemerals such as Virginia bluebells, trillium,
mayapple, trout lily and bloodroot. They create little niches in the garden once the soil
start to warm, emerging from dormancy and flooding the garden with soft pastel colors.
Growing quickly, they burst almost overnight into flower, providing pollen and nectar for
an abundance of early insects such as bee, flies, and early bumblebees. After flowering
these plants quickly fade and form seed before gradually go dormant. Once dormant, it
is important to mark where they are in the garden and protect their roots from damage
during the busy gardening months of the summer.

With little encouragement, these early spring stalwarts will return and multiply each year
during a time when little else is blooming. They are the perfect companion to native
ferns and hostas.

Evergreens in the Winter Garden

snow1In Winter, when the landscape looks barren and devoid of life, evergreens really come alive, adding dramatic scale and balance. When most of the shrubs and perennials have wilted under mounds of snow, the elegance and majesty of evergreens add depth, volume and structure to the garden–providing the stability and bones to our otherwise empty landscapes.

A mature hedge of evergreens not only provides privacy but also a sense of enclosure and permanence at a time when the outside is not always very inviting and hospitable.

With a plethora of varieties to choose from, it is important to consider the overall shape and size the evergreen will become at maturity. A wonderful winter landscape can be created by mixing differing varieties of evergreens in terms of size, shape, texture and color. For instance, a tall blue spruce becomes more vivid and commanding when flanked by gold-toned evergreens — the contrast becomes striking and dynamic. This can also be true with subtle color shifts in evergreens — a long hedge of various chamaecyparis with contrasting colors and textures can be dramatic and beautiful in every season.

Consider the importance of including evergreens into your landscape especially this spring when shopping for new plantings. By looking at your landscape now, you may be pleasantly inspired to find places where evergreens will really enliven your winter garden next year.

Vibrant Japanese Maples

Japanese maples really come into full brilliance in late Autumn. As wonderful as they are during the spring and summer in terms of shapes and forms, with the transition of cooler weather in the Fall the leaves take a new and vibrant coloration that continues for many weeks.

As the green chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down, the red pigment of anthocyanin emerges pushing the foliage color into full intensity. Japanese maples tend to retain their leaves longer which makes them a real standout especially when surrounding trees have lost all their leaves.  

The Brilliance of Berries

Now that most of our flowers have finished and the leaves are falling in abundance, brilliant color can still abound with many different fall shrubs that produce wonderful colorful berries. The palette of these colors are almost endless, from dazzling reds, fiery oranges, gand lowing ambers to steel blues and astonishing purples. These amazing shrubs make the autumn garden glow in glorious colors which continue into early winter. As an added benefit, these nutritious berries provide food for many different species of birds at a time when little else is available.

A Plethoria of Spring Blooms

With September on the Horizon

Late summer is always a lull for gardeners–the heat and humidity makes it difficult to work outside, the enthusiasm of spring and summer has waned, and most of our gardening efforts are put into just keeping everything watered and alive.

But take heart, September is on the horizon with cooler temperatures and more consistent rainfall. This is an opportunity to get out into your garden with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm–think about adding some interesting fall perennials or you are really eager dig into a total renovation of your garden–the garden will become energized and triggered into blooming with perennials that come alive in the Fall.

asterSOME THINGS TO DO NOW
Add some new perennials for Autumn color—Asters, perennial mums, Anemone, golden rod, sedums and ornamental grasses will inject a freshness and vitality into the garden –allowing the garden to mirror the colors of the Autumn season. Fall bloomers can have a large commanding presence like Joe Pye weed, sanquisorba, anemone and ornamental grasses which provide a dramatic backdrip for the smaller stain-glass colors of fall favorites such as asters and mums.

dividePLAN ON A DIVISION DAY IN THE GARDEN
September is the ideal time to dig and divide your perennials. Overgrown and declining perennials need to be divided and replanted every 3-4 years. It is especially important to amend your soil with compost mixed with an organic slow-release fertilizer before they are replanted. Fresh soil amendments will provide the beneficial support of allowing the plants to send out strong new roots.

garden divisionCONSIDER A TOTAL RENOVATION OF YOUR GARDEN
Perhaps this is the year to think about doing some major renovation of your garden. Autumn is the best time for major work because the soil is warmer, weeds are less likely to be aggressive and rain is more prevalent. Plants that have gotten too large and ungainly detract from the overall look of the garden as they throw too much shade and consume a lot of precious space. By removing large and overgrown shrubs and perennials, a clean palette is created –giving the garden a more expansive feel. By opening and even extending the garden, a new energy is infused –making it possible for new and exciting plants to be planted.

Creating Screening in Your Garden

Consider screening in your garden…a mix of evergreens and flowering shrubs screens an unsightly view from the patio. A Japanese maple in the flaming colors of October creates a counterbalance to a walkway entrance — screening the house from a busy street. A pergola offers a way to funnel your vision into the perfect view. It is the ideal transition feature from one area of the garden to the next. A burgundy Japanese maple is the ultimate screen from a neighbor’s house. Sunlight filters through the branches to cast wonderful shadows in this courtyard garden. With the backdrop of mature trees — a gated brick wall makes a lovely exit from the garden.

Finding the Genius of the Place

Genius-001Gardens need a unifying theme—a central ideas that anchors the house with the surrounding landscape. A good garden design needs to reflect the personality and enhance the needs of the family in the overall design.

Genius-003The inherent beauty of an unplanted site can be daunting but with sensitivity and intuition an overall correct design sense emerges.

By remaining sensitive to the natural qualities and pervading spirit of the site, a strong link can be made between house and garden. For every landscape, there are certain areas that are significant. As well as areas that are undesirable needing to be screened or removed. With much thought and time a viable plan is developed that can be implemented immediately or as budget dictates.

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The backdrop of established trees, a rustic stone wall or simply the way the land slopes away from the house can be keys to how the rest of the garden needs to be shaped. The subtle nuances of a landscape gradually reveals itself and can be developed and enhanced over time.

Garden vignettes give the garden its personality which is both dynamic yet intimate.

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