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!

The Serendipity of Spring Bulbs

 

I never feel a perennial garden is complete without the addition of spring bulbs. The wonderful serendipitous quality of bulbs make the early spring garden truly come alive — a vivid reminder that we can bid adieu to the long cold and grey of winter.

Whether you are just a beginner or a more seasoned gardener nothing will feed your soul more than a fabulous display of spring bulbs. Planted en masse, the luscious colors, subtle fragrances and long blooming flowers creates a wonderful prelude for the unfolding spring season. A carefully selected collection of spring bulbs will provide a symphony of successive blooms that will enliven your garden with many months of amazing color and fragrance.

By incorporating a mix of early, middle and late blooming bulbs, you are ensured of a display that will span several months. The early bloomers of March and April are snowdrops, crocus, Iris reticulata, Scilla, Chionodoxa followed by daffodils and hyacinths. With careful planning now, the entire month of April can be a spectacular display of flowering bulbs in a multitude of forms and a rainbow of colors.

Make It Tulips!

French Tulips

French Tulips

Tulips are truly a breath of fresh air — like taking in the fragrance of sheets off the clothesline. For early spring color and sheer garden abundance, nothing beats a bed of willowy tulips in full bloom. A undulating sea of tulips will certainly lift your spirits after any lingering grey of winter.

Generally, tulip varieties are divided into 15 different groups, which categorizes them by bloom time and overall shape and form. Very early blooming and low growing, the greigii and kaufmanniana varieties are a great addition to your garden. Species or “wild” tulips are smaller and more delicate in form—often the colors are quite vivid in hues of red or yellows. They tend to be easier to establish in the garden, multiplying and reblooming each spring. Some other reliable establishing varieties are: sylvestris, clusiana, humilis, saxatilis and dasystemon. These are perfect for planting near doorways or rock gardens as they are the first to bloom every year.

There are other varieties, too:

  • Triumph tulips bloom in late April and come in a multitude of colors. They are also good for forcing in pots.
  • The Darwin category contains some of the largest and sturdy growing varieties. They are truly impressive when grown en masse.
  • Peony-flowering tulips are highly scented looking like luscious peonies or bowls of ice cream in the garden. Their strong, thick stems lend support to the massive flowers.
  • Parrot tulips contain some of the most dramatic colors with flamboyant and frilled shapes— a magical addition to any garden.
  • Viridiflora or green tulips have subdued green markings, which contrast with the muted tones of pinks and purples of the petals making the whole flower appear feathered and elegant.
  • Lily Flowering have tall, elongated and flared stems that create a beautiful vertical line. They bloom later in the season, which makes them the perfect addition to the back of the border fully extending the long season of blooming tulips.

(Click on an  image below to see a slideshow.)

Mass planting tulips in drifts creates an alluring and voluptuous feeling to the spring garden. Bold plantings are sure to inspire and lift spirits, and provide an abundance of color before spring perennials even start to bloom.

Tulips can be incorporated into shrub and evergreen borders to fill in gaps and provide wonderful color in the early spring. The later blooming shrubs will camouflage the waning foliage of the bulbs.

By staging different varieties of tulips in graduated layers the garden will unfurl in a succession of blooms providing wonderful color and fragrance for many weeks. Enjoy!

Are you ready for some spring color?!?

This winter has certainly tried even the most patient of us–mounds and mounds of snow, grey days, and deep relentless cold. Take heart, some meteorologists are predicting a milder start to spring this year–ok maybe it’s not all based on science, but I am going to hang on to this an early, warm spring with all my heart. For now, indulge in some early spring color!

(Click on the images below for a slideshow of spring color!)

CLICK HERE to indulge further.

The More the Merrier!

bulbs2014

Now is the perfect time to plan and plant your spring bulb garden! Regardless of your gardening expertise, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, nothing will feed your soul more than a spectacular display of multicolored, spring bulbs planted en masse. The colors and fragrances emerging in abundance next Spring are something to consider now, ahead of winter and snow, and all of those things we’d rather not be thinking about!

By incorporating a mix of early and late blooming bulbs into your garden now, you can count on a display that will begin in mid-February and continue right on into June.

allium
Allium ‘Ambassador,’ Blooming in early June

Plant in drifts and masses around perennials, define and enclose the base of shrubs in ribbons of bulbs. Incorporating bulbs in the landscape this way will ensure a grand display, especially after the lingering gray of winter.

In spring, the foliage of the emerging perennials will provide a lovely contrast to the blooms. Then, as the foliage grows, it will eventually hide the waning blooms of the bulbs.

earlydaffofils
Early daffodils in a rock garden

For the front border, concentrate on using dwarf or minor bulbs, which will magically appear in very early spring providing subtle color to the garden. If left undisturbed, these tiny bulbs will multiply and rebloom consistently each spring.

Snowdrops and winter aconite are the harbingers of the spring, emerging through snow and ice, unfurling in pale tones of ivory and yellows. Crocus, Scilla, Chionodoxa and Puschkinia spill out onto the late March landscape, appearing near doorways, lining walkways, popping up in lawns. Their ephemeral colors echo the unfolding spring giving each day a renewed radiance.

kaufman
Kaufmanniana Tulip ‘Ancilla’–for front of the border

From April to May, all forms of daffodils in varying heights from 4″ to 18″ provide weeks of color. And in May, tulips—the grand dames of the garden—lend flirt and fancy while providing many weeks of color in a multitude of forms.

tallfrench
Tall French blooming tulips in late April

The dynamic and vertical lines of alliums, or flowering onions, continue the show into June–the globe-like flowers will dry and add texture and drama for early summer.

marianne
Tulip ‘Marianne’

To complement the alliums, consider the yellow and orange tones of Eremurus or desert candles. They prefer sunny dry locations forming a large clump of sword like flowers for many weeks. Their tall and willowy plumes bloom in mid June and continue into July. Eramurus also has the benefit of being deer and rodent resistant.

Wild hyacinths or Camassia is an American native that thrives in wet areas–it forms tall, linear blue or white flowers in early summer after daffodils and tulips have passed. They are tolerant of all types of soil preferring sunny sites but will adapt to some shade as well. Camassia is a great plant to let naturalize at the edges of your property.

lilyflowering
Lily-flowering ‘Green Star’ Tulip

Remember, the more the merrier when planting your bulb garden. To ensure a lovely spring, plant your bulbs before the snow flies which means to start now and finish by late November.

Whether your bulb garden is a carefully planned grouping of purple, pink and white lily-flowering tulips, a sunken meadow of differing daffodils, a lawn infused with snowdrops or crocus, or a large container of mixed, multicolored bulbs on your patio–they will all burst forth to enliven and renew your spirit next spring.

peonyflowering
Medley of Peony-flowering tulips