Why I Love Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Thousands of spring-blooming bulbs recently arrived at Homestead, so I’ve started my bulb-planning in earnest.  For inspiration, I perused the photos in my “bulb” file and found these beauties I can’t resist sharing.  They illustrate some of the many reasons I’m such a fan of bulbs.

On the left is a scene I’ll probably never see again – the dry streambed I built in my former garden.  In the foreground is the sunny bed where I planted a different selection of tulips every year, then just yanked them out after they faded to make room for perennials and annuals, and for a whole new bunch of tulips I planted each fall.  Yes, some tulip-lovers choose the longest-lasting tulips (like the species tulips and Darwin hybrids) but bulbs are cheap enough that I love trying a couple dozen new ones every year, just for fun.  And if the colors don’t exactly complement each other, well, there’s always next year.

Mixing and matching tulips is one of my most fun projects in the garden, and I’ll be doing it again in my new garden.

Here’s another type of tulip collection – in the Ripley Garden off the National Mall, with the glorious architecture of the Smithsonian as a backdrop.   I’m inspired by this combo of just two colors of the same type of tulip (maybe a Darwin hybrid?), interspersed with little Jump-up pansies in a coordinating color.

This next shot captures one of my favorite daffodils – the naturalized Acteas I planted decades ago.  They bloom late, after all the other daffodils have faded.  In the background you see the chartreuse blooms of Euphorbia amygdaloides and to their right, the golden blooms of Celandine poppy.  So this illustrates the fact that bulbs can put on a show for months – if you choose some early, middle and late-season bloomers.

Here’s a glorious mass of what I’m embarrassed to admit I think are Spanish bluebells, but they might be some other bluebell.  Whatever they are, WOW.   And they demonstrate the fact that bulbs can perform brilliantly in shady spots like this one, and in large masses like this one.   Photo taken at Brookside Gardens.

Bulbs for Every Garden Challenge

For shady sites, these (presumably) Spanish bluebells aren’t the only bulbs that do well.  There’s also English Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Snowdrops, Scilla, Grecian Windflower and Siberian Squill.  And in spots shaded by deciduous trees there are even more choices – early bloomers that produce their show before the leaves come out.   The ‘February Gold’ and other early-blooming daffodils , for instance.

There are plenty of bulbs for deer-infested gardens, too:  Daffodils, Leucojum, Colchicum Waterlily, Snowdrop, and Allium moly.

For dry sites, like hillsides, really all bulbs do well because they LIKE dry spots.  It’s soggy spots the can’t survive.

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