Hello fellow readers,
I just ordered 500 bulbs and am ramping up to dig them in. I confess that planting bulbs are not my favorite ‘to-do,’ and in truth, I haven’t planted them in many years. Maybe because the gratification comes months later, though beautiful things are well worth waiting for. In reality, it’s because planting 500 bulbs seems intimidating. I’ll use the technique of digging a trench as deep as the bulb of choice directions specify (typically three-times the height of the bulb), placing the soil on plywood or stiff cardboard as I dig, then loosen the soil at the bottom of the trench. I’ll add a bit of bone meal /dried blood fertilizer to help keep critters away before I slide the dirt back in. A perfect strategy for swaths of 50 or 100 to make a real impact.
“Can we time them to have color from early Spring until the already planted perennials bloom?” asked James of Lake Mohawk, NJ.
“Yes, indeed. I’ve put together an assortment of bulbs that will give us an extended bloom in a colorful purple and yellow theme.”
James’s garden is the Alpine Garden you may recall I designed this summer in the worst deer-pressure area I know (link below). The deer even nibbled the newly planted ferns. So, the highest in deer resistance is in order, such as Daffodils (Narcissus) and Ornamental Onions (Allium). I chose an assortment of all-yellow daffodils that will bloom from early to late-spring – the nifty Rotterdam Mix from Brent & Becky Bulbs. In the ornamental onion category, I chose Allium moly ‘Jeannine’ with sunny yellow golf-ball-sized long-standing blooms, about a foot high, in very late spring into June. Then the softball-sized purple ‘Giganteum’ will stand tall, over three feet. I love allium seed heads when dry too, prolonging their role in the summer garden.
Winter Aconite or Buttercup (Eranthis hyemalis) will be James’s early-season lemon yellow wake-up call. Another early fragrant bloomer will be a mix of yellow and purple low growing Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata) perfect for the rock garden of huge boulders where a river of perennials and groundcovers will go.
Next, the starry flowers of Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) that grow 7-12 inches. They thrive in full sun and shade. I chose lavender-blue though they come in an assortment of whites, pinks, and purples. I included Corydalis’ Purple Bird’ (Corydalis Solida) in the lineup too, with bundles of flowers above the ferny foliage to carpet the part-shade areas of the garden in mid to late spring.
New to me is Fritillaria (Fritillaria-persica), which creates an unusual structure in mid-Spring with striking clusters of dark purple bell-like flowers that rise 2-3 feet. “They’re cool looking, but the ‘skunk-like fragrance’ maybe a bit distracting. Shall we try a few? Promise I won’t put them by your front door :^)” James, the adventurer, writes back, “They all look great, Mary! I love the purple flowers and, of course, the yellow daffodils (to match the newly painted bright yellow door). I’m not worried about the skunk smell. Maybe it will encourage deer to avoid my yard entirely!”
Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com
Click through to the previous column about James’s garden in Planning an Alpine Garden
Links to Bulbs:
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)
Ornamental Onion Allium moly ‘Jeannine’ and the softball-sized purple ‘Giganteum’
Winter Aconite or Buttercup (Eranthis hyemalis)
Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata)
Corydalis ‘Purple Bird’ (Corydalis Solida)