We all do it every spring…we lust after those gorgeous bulb gardens, full of bright colors after a long gray winter… And every year we say, “Next spring I’m going to have a garden like that!” Well this is your year, because not only is TGG going to give you an easy to understand primer on which bulbs to choose, we are going to show you exactly how to choose, buy and design with them this fall so that next spring your yard will be the envy of the block!
Planning the Bulb Garden
Unless you are planning to plant hundreds of bulbs in full public garden style (not recommended for the average gardener!) planning a bulb garden isn’t complicated. Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind.
Choose just two or three types of bulbs to use in your yard. Using just a few of every pretty bulb out there will just leave your garden looking cluttered and lost, without the impact you are looking for. Use the same bulb in groups and drifts for the best design strategy.
Choose bulbs that bloom at the same time. Most bulbs bloom for just a few short weeks every spring, and to get the best effect, choose ones that bloom together. Bulbs are classified into early season, mid season and late season bloomers. If you want the most impressive show, plan your bulb garden to either all bloom at once, or to have several different shows in each classification.
For instance, you could choose a mid season tulip, daffodil and grape hyacinth (my fav combo, btw) and create a one time show with larger groups of those three bulbs. Or, you could create smaller shows of each an early season group, mid season group, and late season group so that something is always in bloom. There is no right answer, just depends on how much time and planning you wish to put into you bulb garden.
Choose a color scheme for you bulb garden. Want gentle, sweet pastels, or bright and vibrant colors? Complementary colors grown together, such as red and blue, or yellow and blue are always show stoppers. A bulb garden looks best though when the color scheme is consistent.
Plan cover ups. After bulbs finish blooming, their greenery withers, but you can’t cut them back yet if you plan on them returning the following year. Plant a ground cover or sprawling perennials around and through your bulb garden so that as the bulbs finish, they and other plants will be naturally growing over the stalks to cover and hide them.
How to Choose Bulbs
- Don’t buy discount bulbs at the local stop and shop. Quality and health of your bulbs will make all the difference in both display, and their ability to return, and multiply year after year. Here’s how to choose healthy bulbs.
- Buy from a trusted online source. Two that we use and depend on are DutchBulbs.com and WhiteFlowerFarm.com.
- Another reliable choice is your local plant nursery – not your local home improvement store. If you want small flowers and a wimpy display, then you go ahead and buy those bulk bags at Walmart.
- Choose bulbs that are smooth and free of defects.
- Buy “top grade” bulbs. This refers to their size, and yes, size matters. If they aren’t marked top grade, they aren’t top grade!
Finally, wait until late fall to plant your bulbs, but before the ground freezes. Find out from your nursery their recommendation for planting depth for your particular bulbs for your area – it can vary due to winter cold.
You can have that gorgeous spring bulb garden if you plan now, so take our advice, and start shopping now before the best bulbs are sold out!Image Credits: gembells, BHG