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