A few posts ago (“It’s Tulip Time”) I promised that we would discuss some of the other bulbs that can add so much to the garden scene in not only early spring, but later into that gap before early summer as well. Most likely, you’ve planted a few crocus and maybe some perky grape hyacinths. Both of these are delightful, actually essential to the spring landscape, but there are other bulbs that deserve a spot in our gardens as well. And, if you are like me, most of the time, I impulse buy at whatever store happens to have a display of glossy-photo packages near the check-out, rather than actually putting thought and research into what I’ll plant. Sometimes the results are surprisingly good; sometimes I think “What in the world was I thinking when I bought that?” So, here are some of the bulbs that just arrived for my new potager.
Let’s start with daffodils. I’m not ordering nearly as many daffodils as tulips, not because I don’t love them, but because I already have lots and lots of varieties in my gardens at the house. I only need them for the flower border along the fence of the new potager, and I can transplant some clumps from the farm of varieties I especially like. However, Brent of “Brent & Becky’s Bulbs” told me that their very first daffodil to bloom is “Rijnveld’s Early Sensation.” Since I don’t have it, that had to be first on my list.
It’s solid gold 3″ flowers on 14″ stems is reported to bloom a good two weeks before the others. Because apricot is one of the basic colors in my scheme, “Kedron,” with its apricot petals and orange cup, “Accent,” (below left) white petals with a salmon cup,
and “Vanilla Peach,” (above right) a split-cup with a fluffy apricot center are included. That’s it for daffodils. I may move a few pure white “Mount Hood” and “Thalia” from the Moonlight Garden at the old farm if I need more, and the solid whites will help make the colors of the other bulbs “pop.”
I debated long and hard over crocus. We have so many squirrels, you see, but in the end, I ordered Crocus sieberi “Tri-color.” It has dark lavender petals, a white center, and bright yellow-orange throat, and C. sieberi are supposed to be the hardiest of their family. My friend, Kylee Baumlee (author of “Our Little Acre” blog) raves about them. That’s her photo above. I thought that was going to be it for crocus, but then I read Ann Lovejoy’s “A Year Along the Garden Path,” (a terrific book) where she stated Crocus tommasinianus ( often called “Tommies” for short) are generally not troubled by squirrels. So, when I placed my second order, I added “Lilac Beauty.”
I’ll record the number of each that I plant, count how many come up next spring, and keep track in following years to see if the Tommies maintain their numbers, or actually increase, as Lovejoy says they do for her, better than the sieberi or chrysanthus. Oh, after reading her comments regarding C. chrysanthus, “sweet-scented…the fragrant, buttery petals of Cream Beauty are faintly feathered with bronze on their backs,” I had to add a few of those,too.
I have some Iris reticulate in the front garden along the sidewalk, but I don’t want to dig them up, so I ordered “Gordon” (shown above left) for the new border. It’s 4″ of lobelia blue, with deep orange blotches and blooms in early April. I love to mix blues with the oranges/apricots/yellows that dominate my planting scheme. Dutch Iris bloom later, May/June and are much taller, usually about 20″. I picked “Cream Beauty” (above right) for its creamy-white uppers and buttery yellow falls with a bright orange blotch. The “Beauty Series” is known for extra-large flowers and if I am lucky and they are happy, they may rebloom for a second show. For hyacinths, I only chose “Gypsy Queen,” which has performed beautifully for me in the deck garden over the years. I already have a grouping of them right along the sidewalk, where their fragrance greets me each morning and their salmon-apricot flowers can easily be seen. Of course, I need some at the potager as well.
For grape hyacinth, “Valerie Finnis,” is reported to be a true sky-blue, so that will be a nice change in the new border because I have the very dark blue in the new Shade Garden, and in the front garden.
I’ve never grown Brodiaea, have you? It resembles an allium, a ball of tiny flowers clustered together. I chose “Starlight,” because it is a soft yellow, but you can order them in white, or pinks, or blues. They bloom May/June and are 16″ tall.
One of my very favorite plants is Eremurus, or Foxtail Lily. I’ve had a clump of soft orange ones in my deck garden for years, and they always evoke comments from visitors. I want more for the new border, so I’ve ordered “Cleopatra,” which is burnt orange, and “Pinocchio” which is a softer orange. I will probably regret not ordering “White Beauty” because it looks so tempting with large white flowers that have brilliant yellow-orange stamens, but the budget can only stretch so far. Maybe next year.
Lilies? You noticed I didn’t mention lilies. Well, dear reader, that’s for another day.