Way back at the beginning of July, Gardening Gone Wild posted the subject for the Garden Workshop series they host every month. This month the chosen topic is “Gardening With Bulbs.” When I read that I thought that that had to be the perfect subject for a person of my predilections.
I love bulbs, for all the reasons that the moderator for the topic listed in his introductory remarks. There is an amazing variety of bulbs out there, with a huge variety of colors, shapes, bloom times and foliage. Many bulbs are hardy, they reward you for planting them by reproducing and making it possible for you to extend your holdings. They also make wonderful gifts to other gardening friends when you finally have 16 dozen of one variety of daffodils and want to make room for a different variety.
That brings me to a part of gardening with bulbs that the seductive catalogs from McClure and Zimmerman, or John Scheepers, or all those other purveyors of the addictive drug that bulbs are, never mention. That is what happens when they are happy where you put them and you dutifully deadhead them so that they will put energy into their bulbs and bloom next year. They multiply! When the catalog says, “Naturalizes freely” you can bet that that bulb will try to take over your whole border. One of those that does that is grape hyacinths, and so do Star of Bethlehem. Guess how I know? I have become positively callous about taking tiny little grape hyacinth bulbs and casting them out into the lawn where they can become mulch, squirrel food, or possibly root and make pretty flowers in the spring lawn.
Those catalogs also don’t mention the mysterious disappearances that occasionally happen out in the real gardens, either. For example, I had an amazing daffodil called “The Wave” which bloomed profusely for three years and multiplied too. Then the following year, it was gone. Kaput. The two daffodils on either side are still there, still happy, still burgeoning. Where did “The Wave” go??? Goodness only knows. I may or may not buy another one.
My secret shame is the 1 gallon bucket that is sitting in my carport half full of various and sundry daffodil bulbs that I weeded out divided earlier this summer when they had finished making leaves. These bulbs are supposed to be planted in the labyrinth so that I can finish that project, which is to outline the entire pattern with daffodils and it is about 80% complete. I’ve been working on this project for 5 years now. This is how that looked this spring:
It is coming along nicely. The daffodils in the bucket might bring me up to 90% complete, but have I planted them? No, they are sitting there mocking me every time I walk by with my shovel while on the way to other places in the yard. Those catalogs don’t tell you about that part of having bulbs.
Of course, they also can’t replicate the incredible experience of walking past a big orienpet lily that is full of blossoms and scenting the afternoon with such sweetness it makes you stop in your tracks and inhale deeply. They don’t tell you how much the hummingbirds like the turk’s cap lilies, either.
Anyway, this is all preparatory to a discussion of how I used daffodils and species tulips as a border around my new Rose Garden in the Stroll Garden.
When we first started developing the area, the Rose Garden was the far north end of the first phase. The following picture shows it shortly after I deemed it ready to plant the Knockout roses that had been patiently waiting in pots for almost an entire year since I bought them.
I have to admit that I am such a bulb addict that before I ever put the rocks down for this new garden I knew that I was going to use it as a place to indulge my need to collect more varieties of daffodils. I have recently discovered the wonders of species tulips as well, and thought this would be the perfect venue for both types of bulbs. After all, during the summer, bulbs want to live somewhere hot and dry so they can indulge their dormant period without rotting away. During the hot part of the year, I water the roses using drip emitters, so the border at the edge of the garden stays dry-ish. The bulbs resting there appreciate that.
A border of spring bulbs adds beauty and color to a bed that has flowers in it that won’t get into their full swing later in the summer.
Making a bulb border is also a great way to gradually add to your garden when you don’t have oodles and scads of money to spare. My experience is the perfect example of that. I counted my pennies and realized that my ultimate dream was far out of my financial reach. But my wonderful husband gave me $100 dollars for our anniversary last year with the stipulation that I purchase the minature daffodils and the tulips I have been coveting for this spot. This would provide enough funds to begin the project nicely. I had to really cut back my desires to match the available funds, but eventually I decided on a nice balanced selection from McClure and Zimmerman. My criterion in the choices I made was I wanted all the daffodils shorter than 10 inches, they should exhibit different colors and forms, and their blooms had to be spread out over the blooming season for maximum enjoyment.
What I chose and planted around the edge of this bed are the daffodil cultivars “W.P. Milner,” “Sun disc,” “Kedron,” “Little gem,” “Hawera,” “Waterperry,” Baby moon,” and “Chiva.” The species tulips intermingled with those cultivars are Tulipas wilsoniana, turkestanica, acuminata, kolpakowskiana, humilis, polychroma, linifolia, canaliculats, maximowiczii, sylvestris, and biflora.
This first phase performed very well. I had early, mid-season and late varieties of both the Narcissi and the Tulipa; the following pictures were taken during the mid-season, which was in April this year.
There is still plenty of room to add additional beauties as the funds become available. Also, as I have pointed out earlier in the post, these groups will multiply and get fuller over time.
Next is a long view of the gardens looking south, showing the beds of the first phase of construction of the Stroll Garden in the background. The foreground has the new beds of the second phase. It is hard to believe that the first phase has only one full growing season “under its belt” when this picture was taken.
Let’s just get a close up of that border. What you are seeing are the small daffodils “Kedron” and “Hawera”, with Tulipas maximowiczii and linifolia splashing their scarlet notes around in between. Tulipa acuminata is nodding above the others in the background as well,and just to the right of “Kedron” you can make out a small bloom of Tulipa kolpakowskiana. (Not the least part of my enjoyment of the bulbs is the amazing scientific names attached to so many of these species tulips.)
Now, just focus on Tulipa acuminata for a moment. This is a positively delicious flower, and I am hoping that it will multiply excessively.
Honestly. It doesn’t get any better than this. Actually I can’t think of a better argument for why I garden with bulbs than that picture.
If you are at all interested in the various aspects of gardening with bulbs, I heartily suggest you visit the post about bulbs over at Gardening Gone Wild and follow some of the links in the comments posted by other gardeners.
Don’t blame me if you turn into a bulb addict, though.