Planting bulbs in the Autumn gives you a chance to dream, and connects the garden to the next flowering season. After a long, cold winter, the spring flowers are the most anticipated. When the snow is almost melted, I check the ground a couple of times a day for signs of green life. When the Puschkinia (striped squill) first showed a bud last spring, I was delighted with its beauty, and its stand against the snow and cold. I took dozens of photos of the first brave bloom, even though it was soon halted by a fresh snow storm.
Here are some of the new bulbs I am planting in the garden this fall. They are the small, early spring bloomers. One advantage to the small bulbs is that their foliage is smaller too, so it is easier to hide after blooming. The leaves of these bulbs die back relatively quickly. The little bulbs look best planted close to the door or walkway where they can be viewed up close, or in large patches, that blaze from a distance. I planted 380 bulbs, which sounds like a lot, but with these small bulbs, it’s not at all. They disappear into the garden quickly.
I’m still amazed by how these small brown lumps that I bury will burst forth in spring, transformed into beautiful flowers. The next photo was taken in May this year.
I added some more bulbs of my old favourites, including Puschkinia scilloides ‘‘Libanotica’ (striped squills). Since these are the very first blooms in the garden, I planted some additional groups, to bring even more cheer. A dozen or more little bells hang down the flower stalks for each bulb. Puschkinia flowers are white with light blue stripes, and make a good show in a group.
I’m adding more Muscari ‘Blue Spike’ (grape hyacinth) too, which is another bulb I admire. This type of grape hyacinth is extra showy because its flowers are more open, giving it a frilly appearance. The colour is more noticeable, so the blooms have more of an impact.
This photo above is of my Scilla from this spring. I’ve added more of the Scilla Siberica (squills) in a large group. These are a very pretty bright blue bulb of early spring .
I also picked up some new varieties of some spring bulbs I already have. The Muscari azureum (grape hyacinth) is a pretty, light blue muscari. It also has the open petals like ‘Blue Spike’. I can’t wait to see it blooming in the garden to compare it to the other Muscari.
I bought another variation on a treasured bulb, Chionodoxa ‘Alba’ (white glory of the snow). I have the bluish purple glory of the snow, which are charming. The Chionodoxa usually flower right after the Puschkinia, their bloom time overlapping for a short while. These flowers face upwards, so they are easy to admire.
I wanted to plant yellow and purple crocus under the lilac tree, between the geranium plants. I have a lot of blue or white bulbs in other parts of the garden, and I thought this would make a nice combination of spring colours. They would bloom before the geraniums got too big, and then the geranium leaves would hide the bulb foliage after the blooms have finished. I got the idea for the planting after everything else had been planted, so it was a little late to find all the bulbs. In zone 3 most of the bulbs have already been planted, so I had to search. I finally found a few Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’ in a purple colour, but no yellow crocus. My idea of a hundred purple crocus behind a group of a hundred yellow crocus has now been reduced to a group of 30 purple crocus only. Next year I’ll finish the planting.
I bought some Galanthus elwesii (snowdrops), despite the fact that not one of the Galanthus I planted last year came up. Normally, when a plant avoids my garden that completely, I would give up. However I kept wondering if they were just old bulbs, or if a discriminating squirrel ate every one, so I bought some more this year. As I was planting another type of bulb in the old Galanthus spot, I think I dug some snowdrops up. Perhaps the bulbs are still there and will come up next spring.
After the desert of winter, spring bulbs are an oasis of beauty. Are you planting bulbs for spring? Do you plant more of your old favourites, new varieties of familiar bulbs, or try all new bulbs?