...I did get a significant number of spring flowering bulbs planted before the rains started. The anticipation of them is a balm for the soul--remembering springs past, and springs to come. When I plant bulbs, I think of Stan Rogers' song The Field Behind the Plow, and though I'm not planting food crops, I like to think of planting bulbs like Stan felt about planting grain or potatoes or whatever, as putting "Another season's promise in the ground."
Bulbs amaze me. Those insignificant looking little nubbly lumps of plant material disappear deep into the garden's beds and borders, sleep for a few months, then burst forth in a rainbow of colour. From the most exotic to the (some might say) humble crocus, they're all wonderful.
The tenacity and determination of Galanthus (snowdrops) delights me. Some years, they're pushing through melting snow in their haste to get up and blooming. They shrug off frosts, and multiply each year.
Are you acquainted with Leucojum, given the common name of Summer Snowflake? For many, they bloom in late spring rather than summer, but in our cooler spring garden they have held on until well into June. Think of them as something like taller, elegant snowdrops. I think they're underused and wonderful.
Another of my favourite small wonders is Puschkinia, or striped squill. It's an early bloomer too, following along after the snowdrops and usually accompanying the hellebores. This is another colonizer, great for rock gardens and front-of-border plantings.
Alliums are fabulous, deer resistant, come in all sorts of colours and sizes...some have excellent, longlasting seedheads, and some self seed, like the amusing 'Hair', which I'll show in the next post.
Another excellent and later blooming species is Sicilian honeybells, Allium bulgaricum (formerly Nectaroscordum siculum or N. bulgaricum). It's another favourite, so unique with its green, purple and white bell clusters.
The petite Iris species like I. reticulata are enthusiastic bloomers, barely clearing the soil before their colourful blossoms form a petite-pointe against the awakening soil.
For those who crave true-blue flowers, you can't go wrong with scilla, or squill, with its nodding, cobalt blue flowers. Scilla forms gradual colonies and works well under deciduous shrubs and mixed with taller bulbs such as daffodils and early to midseason tulips.
Fritillaria are another great choice for those plagued by deer and squirrels in their gardens. This is the chequered or snakeshead lily, F. meleagris. Frits can be bothered by scarlet lily beetle, although I've never encountered this as a problem.
Chionodoxa is commonly called glory-of-the-snow, and is another of my favourite small wonders for the front of borders or in rock gardens. When happy, they gradually form nice colonies in blue, white...
or pink! They are very popular with early pollinators, as are the crocus.
The first time I planted winter aconite, I put them in too soggy an area of the garden, and they didn't come back for me. This year, I've put them in what I hope is a more convivial situation (although with all this rain, everything is currently soggy!) and I hope they'll delight me with their cheery little flowers.
Don't forget to plant some bulbs for indoor colour; you can often purchase pretreated hyacinths, which you just plant and wait to bloom, or else you can buy the less expensive untreated bulbs, give them 14 weeks of cool temperatures (under 45 degrees F) and then bring them into bloom. They were a real boon to me last winter. Just the thought of them makes the day a little brighter.
Next time: the bigger, showoff bulbs: tulips, daffodils, and more alliums. Do you have all your bulbs planted yet?