The Bulb Order is Away!

The potager exterior border last spring.

Last spring seems so far away, when our hopes that the virus would fade away in a few weeks felt possible. The earth was filled with energy and bird song, and seeds were pressed into the soil with visions of the crops that are in fact being harvested today. Every new flower that burst forth was greeted with excitement, notes and photos were taken and for some reason, the 2020 Spring seemed more colorful, more special, more precious than many in the past.

The bulb catalogs arrived weeks ago, and at first were put aside. How can I spend money on bulbs when people are hungry, or losing their jobs? Why should I plant all those bulbs when only I will see them (Yes, I have the “it’s going to be a long time before this is over, …if ever” view)? And then I thought, if everyone thinks as I do then all the bulb farmers will go under. I’m sure lots of the big institutions, cities, private and public gardens will not have the funding for their normal orders, since they had so little income this year, and corporations will not have their normal profits to contribute to good causes. Additionally, many individual gardeners may be forced, or choose to cut back on expenses. I thought back to all the small bulb farmers I saw in Holland, and some I’ve visited here in the States. They need support, too, just like all the other small businesses. And, I’m getting old. I may not be able to plant a lot of fall bulbs someday, so while I can still do it, I think I really want to! So, the catalogs were pulled from the stack and studied.

For years, crocus “Cream Beauty” has been the first of the bulbs to bloom here. I do love them, but I want more purple and white in the gardens, so the first item on the order were these early species crocus, a blend called “Vernal Jewels.” They’ll just go here and there in places where they will be noticed early on, but not in the Front Island where the squirrels dwell and forage!

Next were “Blue Magic” muscari. Yes, I know many people consider them almost a weed, but I’ve had some for years in the Blue Garden, and they’ve barely spread. There’s some pale blue “Valerie Finnis” in the potager’s exterior border, but a brighter blue and more of it is needed, so hopefully “Blue Magic” will do the trick.

Nothing unusual, but I love this bright, bright blue!
Tang Dynasty tulips from ColorBlends

Overall, I was very happy with last year’s tulip selections. You can revisit that post here. However, I’ve made a few changes based on my notes and photo reviews. First of all, the tulip order is about the same as last year: “Tang Dynasty,” a blend of white, yellow and orange tulips bloomed early in the Deck Garden, which I pass every day on my way to the potager. They lasted a long time, except I needed more.

“Cretaceous” tulip was a favorite!

However, the peony-flowered tulip above was part of a blend called “Threedom” and I wasn’t thrilled with the other two members of the group, so this year “Cretaceous” was ordered separately, and lots more of them. They’ll go in the potager’s exterior border and the Front Garden.

Tulip “Prince Armin”

Tulip “King’s Orange” was dropped this year, only because it is really similar to “Temple’s Favorite” and I wanted something a bit lighter in color, which “Prince Armin” will provide. I love it’s vertical striping and big flowers. And, this interesting bi-color “Orange Marmalade” was added to provide more bloom in mid-to-late May. I had a similar one a few year’s ago called “The Artist,” and one clump of those still come back in the Front Garden. Hopefully, these will as well.

Tulip “Orange Marmalade”

A few years ago, I planted a very few T. praestans “Shogun.” If you look at the very top photo of this post you’ll see a couple, but here’s a better, closer image.

Tulip “Shogun”

I really liked their smaller stature, and that they seem to return year after year, so lots more will be added this fall, in an effort to reduce the number of bulbs required each year. Some of these will go in the Addition Garden, and some in the Deck Garden edges. The short but showy double apricot “Foxy Foxtrot, the bright orange “Temple’s Favorite,” the late-blooming tall “Dordogne, and the tiny “Bright Gem” for the potager’s main path edges round out the tulip order and will go approximately where they were lat year. 700 tulips in all. In the off chance there are tulips left (since I’ve added more perennials and shrubs in the past year) leftovers can go in the Cutting Garden. I always think I’ll cut tulips for the house, but never do because they look so pretty in the beds!

My notes show that there was a glaring gap after the tulips were finished. To help provide more interest then, three alliums will be planted. The first is “White Giant” and all 10 will go in the Front Island to add some drama. They grow 3-4′ tall, with 6-8″ white globes. There will still be late daffodils, so it should be stunning.

Allium “White Giant”

Next, for the potager interior border are these pretty blue alliums.

Allium caesium

They are only 10-16″ tall, but with 4″ globes they should be outstanding and provide lots of interest until the other plants already there show color. And, lastly is “Purple Sensation.” That’s 45 allium bulbs.

Allium “Purple Sensation”

I’m giving alliums another try in the potager’s interior border. The first and only time I planted them there, most rotted over the winter. However, I’ve been working on the drainage problems, so I’ll give a few a try there, but most will go in the Front Garden, and maybe a few in the potager’s exterior border. This should help fill the gap, and also add more purple to compliment all the orange and yellow hues.

There are no daffodils on this year’s order. Actually, I need to dig and divide some of the older clumps, and several new, beautiful daffodils were added to the gardens last year that really extended their season. Instead, I’m thinking ahead to this winter, long before the spring bulbs will appear. I fear there will be little in the way of Christmas celebrations, and I suspect the winter doldrums will be worse than usual, so I’ve decided to plant some cheer indoors! First to be planted will be “Wedding Dance” white amaryllis.

Hopefully these will be timed right to bloom just after the “holidays.”

I’ve ordered three, and will start one to hopefully bloom in late December. I’m not even sure I’ll decorate much for Christmas…we’ll see how things go…but a bloom this pretty ought to help lift my spirits. The bright red ones I’ve had for years will be planted as well, but a bit earlier. Then after the whites and reds are finished,

Amaryllis “Terra Cotta Star”

this beauty will be the star that my hopes are pinned upon during the bleak month of January, into February if all goes as planned. They will be joined by part of the 25 fragrant, soft orange

Hyacinth “Gypsy Queen”

which I’ve grown before outdoors, but never forced indoors. I think 15 will be planted outside along the back sidewalk, and the other 10 will be forced, 2 or 3 at a time, to brighten my worktable. By then, seed starting in the basement will be garnering my attention and the winter aconites and crocus just might be pushing up!

So that’s how I’m hoping to battle the winter “Covid Fatigue”. Have you ordered bulbs?


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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12 Responses to The Bulb Order is Away!

  1. March Picker says:

    Lovely selections.And 700!! I am planning to order this week, but was gifted a great set of 100 in reds, yellows, and purples (which I don’t normally do) so plan to boost purples only. And maybe whites… Anyway, I plan to do far fewer than last year’s 580.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      Red, yellow and purple is a startling combination, but will certainly be eye-catching! I do 800-1000 bulbs each year…while I can. Someday I’ll have to give up doing tulips, but hopefully the other things will return and give joy. Or, maybe I will become rich and can hire a gardener to do it?????

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am addicted to buying bulbs. πŸ™‚ See
    I put in a couple of hundred daffodils which are flowering now, maybe 20 hyacinths which are just starting to come out, 50-odd lilies, lots of irises, some bluebells… but no tulips. Last year those that weren’t eaten by the pig when she got into the garden were cooked in their pots during the heatwave. Well, maybe just a dozen species tulips.


    • carolee says:

      That’s a lot of lilies! I do some lilies, but they last such a short time compared to many plants that I rather begrudge their space…except that their fragrance is so heavenly! Yes, our neighbor’s pig ate a lot of my tulips two years ago, so I know that can happen!


  3. maybeillbecomeafarmer says:

    Last year I bought my bulbs (Tulips, daffodils, alliums) at Sams Club and was really happy with them and the price! I was just wondering about when they will have them out. Your order looks like it’s full of lovely additions 🌷.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Getting the bulb catalogue and helping my Mum choose what to buy was something I loved as a child. I am very thankful to my mother and both grandmothers for instilling a love and appreciation of gardening in me at a young age.


  5. woollee1 says:

    I’m just catching up on all your work, you are inspiring me to keep better records of the garden, especially as I create it. I too baulked at purchasing bulbs, as we are very exposed and without dense tree shade above the summer heat can bake the bulbs. So I went with pots of colour, and yesterday my first Crocus bloomed and I was smitten.

    Lee Towle



  6. I will be growing alliums for the first time next spring – I probably went over board on my bulb order. Your garden is very beautiful! so inspiring πŸ™‚


    • carolee says:

      I say that every year when I place my order, and then in fall there are always areas still unplanted after all the bulbs are in! And in spring, I always wish I’d ordered more! But, there are always $$ limits…..Hope your alliums are exactly what you want!


  7. I held on to my catalog for a few weeks, dog eared pages, shared it with my daughter, was circling & highlighting all my wants…starring my *needs…I wrote it all down in a notebook-651 bulbs….I narrowed it down a bit, took a few more days to mull it over & finally placed my order! Narrowed it down to about 400!! There will probably be more throughout my travels, thinking about the mice eating all my pretty double tulips this Spring make me cranky….but we will try again! I look forward to seeing yours in the spring!


    • carolee says:

      It is always hard to narrow it down, when there offerings are so abundant and the choices each seem so very beautiful and perfect. I always shoot for 800, but it usually ends up being more. I bet your will be lovely…if you can keep the mice out. It’s squirrels that do the eating here, especially the crocuses and this year they ate several of the species tulips in the potager’s main path edgings. But at least they eat them because they are hungry, unlike rabbits who just bite the zinnias, etc. off and leave them laying whole!


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