Bulb Evaluation

DSC05013  Two of my favorite bulb catalogs arrived today, and that set my mind to dreaming.  The photos and descriptions are so tempting and tantalizing that before I got carried away with ordering, I knew I should review my notes for bulb performance this spring.  Thankfully, I took extensive notes. The tulip parade was reviewed in a prior post, “Tulip Evaluation,” so this will include the others.  I didn’t plant as many daffodils/narcissus as tulips, because there were already plenty in the gardens around the house, so only the front border of the potager needed their cheery blossoms.  Since daffodils nearly always return, I won’t be ordering many more.  However, after watching their performance, I thought you might be interested in which ones did best, especially if you are considering adding more to your own gardens.

Kedron close compressed

“Kedron” was the one I was most interested in seeing bloom, because the flower color, an amber-tinged apricot with a deep orange trumpet would best match my color scheme.  (It’s not as yellow “in person” as shown in the photo.)  The flower color is good, however the blooms are small.  What I most disliked was their height, which was over 24″  despite the catalog listing of 12″, which caused me to plant them toward the front of the border.  That, of course, turned out to be poor placement and made them look awkward.  I won’t add more and feel compelled to dig them up to relocate them further back in the border where their height is more appropriate.

“Rijnveld’s Early Sensation” was not the first to bloom, but the large 3″ golden flowers were impressive.  I put them in the Addition Garden, where their cheery color could be viewed from our bedroom window.  12-14″  If I wanted more plain gold, I’d probably order more, but I prefer the following varieties.

“Vanilla Peach” was a gorgeous split-cup narcissus.  Lightly scented, 4″ flowers that opened white and matured to pale yellow with layers of apricot segments.  Strong stems held the heavy flowers upright, which has been a problem with others of this type in my past, and they were very long-lasting as a cut flower.  16″

“Topolino” was adorable in the Fairy Garden, with it’s creamy-yellow petals and bright yellow cup.  I will definitely use more of them in the front of borders throughout the gardens, where their petite 5″ height and pretty blooms can be appreciated fully.  I think I’ll add some to my patio planters, too.

Delnashaugh daff compressed

The absolute winner was “Delnashaugh”which not only had outstandingly beautiful double blooms but easily were the longest-lasting of the daffodils.  They not only bloomed with the bulk of the tulips, helping make the border full and lush, but continued to look fresh and pretty during the gap after the tulips were gone.  They still looked amazing on May 21st.  As pictured, the blooms are 4″ fully double filled, frilly cream flowers with frilled apricot cup segments tucked throughout.  18” tall with strong stems that held up to our wind storms.  I’m definitely ordering more for the new Island Bed, and the shrub additions (more about those new areas later!)


Another big winner were the Silverbells, Ornithogalum nutans.  Their 12″ stems of white bells with delicate green streaks filled another gap in the bloom schedule.  They grow best in semi-shade, so happily performed on the north side of the potager fence, prettily filling that area before the foxgloves took over the show.  They were also delightful  in the Fairy Garden.  I’ll order more for other partly shaded areas.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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2 Responses to Bulb Evaluation

  1. Jackie Powers says:

    I am not experienced with tulips. I have been discouraged by things I have read that they can only be expected to perform well for 2 or 3 seasons then need to be replaced, are best dug up and stored away in the spring requiring replanting every fall, the bulbs are a favorite for animals to dig up, just overall, much higher maintenance than the happy go lucky daffodills. What is your experience with them Carolee? What is the replacement rate each year? You don’t dig the bulbs up and replant every year do you? Any tricks to advise to increase reliability from year to year? Thanks!#


    • Carolee says:

      Jackie, For many years, I held your view that tulips were not worth the trouble. However, I’ve changed my mind. They come is such luscious colors and forms and many give over a month of bloom. Yes, they are edible with makes them susceptible to critters, but I’ve only had trouble with deer, and a quick spray of Plantskydd fixes that. I leave the bulbs in the ground. When they are done blooming and the foliage has ripened, I plant annuals over them that do not require a lot of water: gomphrena, zinnias, marigolds, etc. Too much water will cause the bulbs to rot. I always plant some in the fall, so I’ll have a good show even if I lose a few of this spring’s bloomers. Not hard, because there are so many tempting ones I want to try. Yes, daffodils are easier and more reliable, and I wouldn’t be without those either, but in the years I have left, I would hate to have a spring without tulips!


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