As I was weeding and cutting back perennials yesterday, I found myself thinking about spring colour. I know I need to add some more spring bulbs to the garden and it won’t be long before they begin to arrive in the garden centers. Last week we had to have a rotting tree taken down so this has made way for new gardens. It also exposed our existing garden for the neighbours to enjoy. Today I will be planting some perennials for the neighbours to look at and bulbs will be planted starting next month. This morning as I wrote this post, the mailman delivered my first bulb catalogue. Call that a coincidence or what? I love spring as it is a time of rebirth in the garden. The money put into spring bulbs is so worth it. They come back year after year and brighten up the garden after a winter of gray skies.
So what do I plant first? I start by planting bulbs such as Crocus that bloom first in the spring. I usually have my first Crocus arrive sometime in February. There are so many colours to choose from so go crazy. The bees love this plant. Plant bulbs in groups for visual impact. Over the years the Crocuses will naturalize and come back stronger every year.
In September I begin planting Narcissus. I tend to lose quite a few to the narcissus bulb fly so this can mean planting every year for me. One thing I did note this year is they don’t seem to like the Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’. That’s a good thing so this fall I will plant more of them. They grow to about 10″ high and look great planted in mass. Their blooms last for a long time. Plant them up close in the garden so you can see them or use them in containers.
I will also plant some of the regular Narcissus but I like to have a mix of colours. When buying Narcissus you can have them blooming over a two month period so check out their bloom times to have them in bloom as long as you can.
You don’t have to plant the usual yellow Narcissus. Why not try a few of the fancier ones as well? I want to say this is Narcissus Tahiti’, one of my personal favourites. I love the orange and yellow ruffles.
In April the Tulips start to bloom. Oh how I love Tulips! I have long forgotten the name of this Tulip. They are the toughest tulip in my garden putting up with standing water in the winter after a heavy rain. Each year I look at their muddy site and wonder how they come back year after year. Isn’t mother nature wonderful? Because Tulips bloom after Narcissus they are usually planted in October. Again, plant Tulips in groups of a minimum of five to seven bulbs per hole. Be sure to plant Tulips just a bit deeper. A deeper planting will have them returning for years to come.
I can’t forget the Hyacinths. They will bloom in April bringing fragrance to your garden. These bulbs need to be replaced this year as I haven’t done it for years. As the Hyacinths get older the flowers start to appear further apart on the stems. Normally they are in tight clusters. This is because over the years they begin to revert back to their species form. They are still just as fragrant but not as compact.
Of course, every garden has a few Grape Hyacinths. Okay maybe hundreds if your garden is like mine. Once they are in the garden, you have them for good. These plants give us a reminder to think spring bulbs as they send out their green leaves in late summer. It’s almost as if they are reminding us not to forget to plan for more bulbs. I use their yellowing foliage in late spring as a sign of when to plant out my annuals so I am not sure I could do without them. Their vibrant masses of blue in the spring garden are beautiful combined with Narcissus and Tulips.
I know what you are thinking. Grape hyacinths are a weed in your garden. Well, check out this planting at a garden in Washington state. This is an amazing use of spring bulbs. Why not try something like this? I love it, love it, love it.
This is another shot of my Tulips growing by an arbor in the garden. I hope I have inspired you to try some easy spring bulbs. Select a few varieties to try and follow the instructions for planting. I hope to plant about 300 new bulbs next month. The best part is the anticipation in the spring as I watch them poke their noses up through the soil.
If you don’t have a garden, try growing them in containers. I like to layer Narcissus, Tulips and Hyacinths in a large container and top the container off with some Heather, fall Mums and a few Pansies. There is a spring bulb for any type of planting.