Every Fall, I make time to plant Spring bulbs. Whether it’s a beautiful fall day or a freezing November one, I make an effort to get them in. I do this because I know how satisfied I will feel come April and May the following Spring. We have lived in our house for 17 years. One of the reasons that makes it hard to consider leaving is the amount of love Brian and I have put into this garden. As I said in a previous post, for 6 years before we had kids I had dreams about this garden and all the things I could do. With a western exposure, the front bed is perfect for perennials and sunny annuals. But the spring bulbs are the best! Here are some tips from my efforts over the years.
Dawn’s Spring flower garden and a cool use of an old pallet
Daffodils come up every year and naturalize (spread). This is a good thing! I planted a ton many years ago and still see the results. Only words of wisdom, when the blooms fade do not cut back the leaves, tie-back the stems with a leaf, raffia, or rubber bands, and wait until the leaves brown out and die back, this feeds the bulb for the next year. The one time I did shear back the leaves in haste I got very little blooms the next Spring.
Tulips have to be planted fresh every Fall. Many people think tulips are perennials. Most are not. It’s a one show wonder for most. While there are a few varieties that will come back, I have never found them to be successful or all that pretty. The prettiest varieties last for one season. Dig them up when you plant your annuals and start over in the fall. And don’t forget the Bulb-Booster fertilizer, it makes a big difference.
Quantity equals loveliness. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it says to plant them 6 inches apart, 8 inches deep. Whatever. I dig a giant trough and put 50 into it. My kids are awesome bulb planters. They know the drill. Make sure the bulbs face the right direction, pointy part up. There is nothing worse than seeing 10 tulips a foot apart. You need to think en masse, its so worth it!
Timing is everything, spread out the season. Make an effort to read the labels that say “Early”, “Mid”, and “Late” Spring Blooms. It’s true! The minute one starts fading, the next come up. It’s such a great show over a 2-month timeframe. There is nothing more disappointing than an “all and done” garden.
Variety is key. There are so many other bulbs other than tulips and daffodils. Snowdrops, crocus, allium, hyacinth. Varying the height of the blooms makes a gorgeous picture. And remember not all these bulbs have scent. But some are just so powerful, like hyacinth, they shadow the rest. If you want to smell Spring, you have to plan for it correctly. It’s like painting a picture, layers are key.
A varied showing of Spring blooms in Dawn’s garden
I’m no expert, but I enjoy gardening quite a bit and feel that over the years I have learned some lessons. And since the garden is part of the house, I make sure mine looks just as finished and decorative as the rest of our home. So as you enjoy the Spring, make some notes, and take some pictures of ideas to remember come Fall. It will be here soon enough.
Sophie and Esme Carroll in the garden
If you want more tips or inspiration, one of my favorite gardening blogs is Gardenista, check it out! Also, for authentic bulbs from the Netherlands, the best supplier is Van Engelen, a great catalog, and even more beautiful flowers.
Happy Gardening, Dawn