Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Deer-Resistant Spring Blooming Bulbs

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Hello, fellow readers,

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, How to Plant Bulbs, Longwood Garden Tulips, Tulips

Longwood Gardens in its spring glory – “Mom J” is my lifelong friend and piano teacher behind the camera :^)

I just ordered 500 deer-resistant spring blooming bulbs and am ramping up to dig them in. I confess that planting bulbs is not my favorite ‘to-do.’ I haven’t planted them in many years, maybe because the gratification comes months later, though beautiful things are 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 bulb’s height), placing the soil on plywood or stiff cardboard as I dig, and then loosening 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.

Purple and Yellow Bulbs to Extend the Bloom 

“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 assembled an assortment of bulbs in a colorful purple and yellow theme for an extended bloom.”

James’s garden is the Alpine Garden 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 deer-resistant plants are 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,’ which has sunny yellow golf-ball-sized long-standing blooms about a foot high from late spring into June. The softball-sized purple ‘Giganteum’ will stand tall, over three feet. I also love allium seed heads when dry, prolonging their role in the summer garden.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, How to Plant Bulbs, Longwood Garden Spring Bulbs

Longwood Gardens

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) 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.

It’s a fabulous bulb despite a skunk-like smell. 

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’ may be 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? and your favorite Podcast App. 

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast (@a soothing 10 minutes):

Click through to the previous column about James’s garden in Planning an Alpine Garden

Links to the featured Deer-resistant Spring Blooming:

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)

Fritillaria (Fritillaria-persica)

Column updated 3/10/24 





Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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