The weather here continues to be more like November than October: cold, wet, dreary, windy, rainy, repeat as necessary. It's been annoying because the great fall colour we often get has been somewhat beleaguered by excessive wind and rain, so that many leaves are just getting to their good colour when the wind shreds and sends them away. I've done nothing outside, but am declaring a day off indoors to catch up on much neglected matters, such as blogging and cleaning the house up.
Work took me out and around the other day and I landed in unexpectedly to visit a dear friend I hadn't seen in far too long. She was taking the opportunity of a decent (if cold) afternoon to clean up her containers, bring her houseplants in, and do other garden chores I've yet to touch. Naturally, we got on to the subject of planting bulbs and of colour and of other timely subjects.
Last year I received a box of white-flowering bulbs from the International Flowerbulb Centre, and managed to get most of them planted out before snow and surgery ended my gardening year. In talking to my friend, I remarked that while I love white flowers, I wasn't sure how much most gardeners would appreciate white bulbs after a winter spent buried in snow. We're really craving colour by March, aren't we? And we're not all into doing a white garden a la Sissinghurst, are we?
My friend pointed out, wisely, that white is an excellent colour for bringing out contrast and attention to other colours. And actually, it's pretty awesome by itself, just accompanied by sparkling green foliage, as with these 'Mount Hood' daffs.
When I got home, I got thinking about white bulbs in earnest, and went back through my photo libraries looking to see what I do have planted out there. Of course, the first harbinger of spring in our garden are the valiant white snowdrops (Galanthus, top photo) which are barely out of the ground before they're blooming. They are my favourite spring-flowering bulb, bar none. We do have some white crocus ('Snowbunting', second photo from top, named for my beloved snowbirds) but mostly I do prefer other colours in crocus. But I'm really partial to white or white-bicolour daffodils of all sizes and forms, including this double 'Sir Winston Churchill'.
'Thalia' is another favourite white daff, smaller than the standard types, and highly fragrant. In our garden it blooms with the forget-me-nots so we have this lovely sea of tiny, lacy blue flowers underpinning the wonderful daffs. Makes me very happy.
The last daff-family species to bloom in our garden are the 'Poeticus' narcissus, which don't come on til late May and into June. They're very fragrant and strikingly beautiful; they're also known as 'pheasant's eye' narcissus, and if you've ever fed pheasants in your yard and gotten close enough to watch them well, you can see the description fits well.
Normally, I DON'T plant white tulips. This is one situation where I really do want outbursts of colour. There are exceptions to that sort-of-rule, mostly having to do with form. These white parrot tulips have yet to reach their full glory, but I love the green and yellow feathering on the white, ruffled petals.
The double white 'Mt Tacoma' looks more like a peony than a tulip, but I do like its clean appearance. Behind it is perhaps my favourite of the viridiflora tulips, 'Spring Green'; again, that white-and-green combo just does it for me.
Muscari, or grape hyacinths, do very well in our garden, forming lovely clumps of fragrant, brilliant blue flowers. This white hybrid 'White Magic' appeals to me very much too, and I hope it multiplies as quickly as its relatives.
Lastly, we have the 'White Festival' hyacinth, which is amazingly fragrant. I planted these in the front garden near our main door and they sent out huge waves of fragrance this past spring. The fresh gold-green foliage of 'Aztec Gold' creeping veronica on one side of them, and the almost-black new growth of Actaea 'Black Negligee' made this little combination quite appealing.
I've found focusing on these white flowers has actually brightened up my weather-dreary day, bringing some much-appreciated light into my perspective. My plan is to focus on various colours over the next few blog posts, and maybe get some conversations going with more of you again. So it's over to you--do you like white spring bulbs? What do you plant?