Thursday, February 20, 2014

Joys of Spring Bulbs

I was reading Noel Kingsbury's blog. Here's what he had to say about spring bulbs:
So often, a 'spring garden' consists of drifts of daffodils let loose in grass. Very nice, but so easy to do, it hardly counts as gardening once [it's] done, just mowing at the right time. 
Daffodils under a deciduous Crape Myrtle.

My take is that daffodils are a more or less permanent installation, so easy to do IF you have a gardener to plant the bulbs rather than an old lady on her hands and knees. The hardest part is getting he-who-mows to skip mowing until the foliage ripens after the blooms are gone. I stuck in a few hyacinths, too.

Mr Kingsbury suggested a mixed planting, bulbs among spring and summer perennials. That notion works very well for me, except I cannot grow the peonies and primroses that he suggests. It isn't as stunning to have Daffodils blooming among the dead stubs of Lantana but enough bulbs in bloom make it showy as it progresses. This is the early view before all the buds open:

There's a Magnolia in the background. 

This is the early view of my Tulip and Muscari experiment, planted where we ripped out box and wisteria last year. I haven't decided whether this will be a permanent mixed bed with perennials -- Tulips act as annuals here, Muscari may persist. There are late Daffodils not yet visible except for a few just breaking ground. Daffodil season lasts a long time if different cultivars are used and a few more dozen planted in fall because late planted bulbs bloom late the first year.

I always wanted a river of Muscari. I am settling 
for a couple of puddles and a trickle. 

I could not wait to show the Muscari before it fully opened. It usually puts up secondary blooms so I am hopeful that there will be a real display with Tulips. 

How do you manage spring bulbs? Planted in mixed beds or scattered in grass? 


  1. I've admired bulbs scattered in lawn, but I don't think I could leave them long enough for the foliage to ripen. I use them interplanted with other perennials, but the danger in that is digging them up or slicing into them while planting. They've found a peony that can take full shade, you'd think they could find or breed one that can take your climate. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

  2. haha .... he-who-mows would love to get work done quickly..!!!

  3. It's harder in a small, neat garden to have bulbs scattered in lawn.

    I try to have something nearby to distract from ripening foliage. Mama overplanted her tulips with Shirley Poppies. Deciduous Daylilies in front of bulbs are a good plan, too. They come up just in time to hide the daffies.

  4. I always enjoy seeing your spring bulbs in bloom Jean.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

  5. He sounds like an English gardener......

    Last fall I (all alone) planted l00 new daffodils. None of the methods that they say will make it so easy does! Unless you have someone doing it for you. I did not do it in 'drifts' among the grass. I am she who mows and I don't want to leave wide swaths growing here and there.
    I tried to find out of the way places where we could enjoy them but where I could leave them die in peach.

    I will try to plant some annuals over the areas to enjoy after they are gone.

    I am cutting back on some things that require a lot of attention, like trimming and deadheading.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.