Every fall I write about planting spring bulbs, because although it takes an extra little push now, just as the season is winding down, you’ll never regret it. As much as I love those cheery flower faces in my own garden, I’ve also thought what a delight when looking at someone else’s. Nothing is more inspiring, more life affirming, more joyous than splashes of colourful flowers magically bursting through previously snow crusted moonscapes.
In fact, if you become as obsessive as I am with bulbs you can enjoy these little ‘flower miracles’ from the end of February (Eranthis / Winter Aconite & Galanthus / Snowdrops) until early July (assorted Alliums esp ‘Drumstick’ Allium)
Everyone knows Daffodils, crocus and tulips, but I encourage you to try other favourite, less common bulb varieties; Muscari, Camassia, Fritillaria meleagris, Fritillaria imperialis, Anemone blanda, Chionodoxa, Hyacinthoides & Pushkinia. There are less common tulips like peony-ish double varieties, as well as tiny ‘species tulips’, they come in every colour under the sun, various petal shapes as well as early, mid and late bloom times.
Allium is part of the Onion family and as a result it’s a bulb usually left alone by wildlife. The purple (or sometimes white) globe shaped flowers can be huge or tiny, tall or short and bees adore them for their pollen. Daffodils also come in more than just classic yellow, some have white petals with orange or pink centers, others have petals that curl backwards (Called ‘recurvus’) and my favourites are the small, intensely fragrant varieties.
- Buy quality bulbs. It’s a little known fact that there are ‘grades’ of bulbs to determine size and quality, lower graded bulbs from Holland are often sold in multiflower packages or in bulk at low prices in local hardware stores and are best avoided. Many a lost bulb is blamed on squirrels when in truth it was not planted deeply enough or it was not of a good enough quality or size to make it through our winter.
- Plant a bit deeper than the suggestion on the package, using a small, sharp shovel vs a hand trowel makes planting much easier.
- Tamp the soil down firmly after planting, water in if possible, and sprinkle with blood & bone meal or hen manure if you want extra squirrel ‘insurance’. Disguising the smell of freshly turned soil is the best defence against varmints.
One final thought; fall is an excellent time to divide, share or replant perennials in your garden, if doing this then tuck in some camassia under the edge of that hosta, some alliums with the daylilies or smaller bulbs mixed in amongst the groundcovers.
Sept 29th Hort15 at Mohawk College I’ll be sharing all this knowledge and more – sign up for 3 fun filled hours, honest! ‘Fall Lawn & Garden Care’, hope to see you there.
Candy Venning owns and operates Venni Gardens, a local landscape design & build business.