There is a great way to think about spring as summer wanes: flower bulbs – those daffodils, hyacinths and tulips that make spring so beautiful.
Selecting bulbs does not have to be difficult. It should be a pleasure as you consider colors, arrangement, height and numbers. All are important, but there is another factor you might overlook: succession of bloom.
This strategy will keep the bloom season going for a long time. If you really go at it, you can have a really long stretch of flowers, from tiny bunch crocuses in winter, to charming Dutch irises in May. This can be developed over several years.
Even if you cannot plant a dozen different kinds of bulbs this fall because of limited budget, time or energy, keep this goal in mind as you select bulbs.
When set out in a well-drained sunny spot, daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells and crocuses are quite long-lasting through the years; tulips and hyacinths are less so.
Tips for selection
Here are some things to think about as you shop:
Choose bulbs in portions. Daffodils cost more than tulips, but are worth it for their longevity. As most daffodils bloom in March, ahead of the tulip season, it could be worth it to allocate your space and budget to two-thirds daffodils, one-third tulips. That will cover the weeks of early to mid-spring.
Among daffodils, vary your choices. Many kinds are out there, in traditional yellow as well as white and pink. And they come in early, midseason and late varieties, blooming typically between mid-February and mid-April. When making your first choices, opt for the yellow daffodils such as Carlton or Dutch Master, which look like a daffodil should look. You can explore the stranger ones, such as the greenish-yellow Spellbinder or the multi-petaled Rip Van Winkle down the line.
Select for the edges of the season. Don’t overlook the start and end of the bulb season. Want a daffodil that blooms in January? There’s Rijnveld’s Early Season. Need something for a bare space around the trees? Consider bunch flowering crocuses, which bloom in February, a few weeks ahead of the popular Dutch crocuses, which bear just a single, large flower in March. Late daffodils such as Actaea, Cheerfulness and Pheasant’s Eye look good in April and can finish off the daffodil season with style and class.
Add unmistakable fragrance. Nothing does this better in spring than hyacinths. They tend to bloom in March, at daffodil time, and make excellent companions – blue or purple hyacinths enhanced by the yellow daffodils. This is a grand sight and scent. The Cheerfulness and Yellow Cheerfulness daffodils also posses a nice scent to follow the hyacinths.
Remember your containers. Bulbs grow very well in pots placed by your front door or on decks and patios. A single type works best – such as red tulips or blue hyacinths – especially when topped by a layer of pansies. A few pots of bulbs may be all you have time or space to handle.