If there is one thing that gardeners know it is how to be patient. Considering how fast paced our world is with having to know everything as it happens up to the second, being in the garden gives me time to daydream and plan for the following year. You see, plants are like that. They take time to grow and blossom. They are not instant and that’s a good thing. Being able to stay home and just putter in the garden gives me the down time I need to recharge for another day. Fall is now upon us and I feel nature’s clock ticking telling me I need to get my garden ready for winter. As I clean up the garden , cut back plants and rake leaves I will be planting spring bulbs.
If you have a garden full of deciduous trees, it’s the perfect place to plant your bulbs. In the spring the trees will be leafless letting in lots of sunshine for early plants to grow. As my back yard garden grows the shrubs and trees shade it a bit more each year. This means plants that need more sun will be moved and replaced with shade loving cousins. Transplanting will have to wait until spring as I have bulbs to plant. I want the garden full of bright colours come spring, chasing away the long winter days. When looking for spring bulbs check out your local garden centers. The selection can be quite overwhelming so ask questions if you are a new gardener. Stay with the tried and true such as Narcissus, commonly known as Daffodils, or with Tulips. They are so easy to grow. The next part is choosing the colours you want. Every colour is beautiful so don’t be too fussy. What you want to check out is when each bulb blooms. You can have bulbs bloom from February to late May. Read the package carefully to see when your bulbs will bloom and plan accordingly.
Usually Crocuses begin the show with Narcissus coming next and Tulips later. Above you can see Crocuses blooming along with miniature Narcissus called Tete a Tete. Notice how the bulbs look so natural like they have been there forever. You don’t want to plant your bulbs in straight lines but in clumps of five to seven bulbs together.
Lets get started. Above I have laid out some taller growing Daffodils at the back with miniature Daffodils and Tulips near the front of the border. I like to lay all my bulbs out so I have a feel of where they should go. This way I can see if I have enough bulbs to do the whole back garden.
It’s easiest to plant your bulbs if you have done some cleaning up in the garden. Its time to remove your annual flowers now if you haven’t done so yet. Annual means they only live for this year and once they flower and set seed, the plant dies. This will leave you room for spring bulbs.
When planting your spring bulbs, dig a hole for them that is at least three times the bulb size deep. So with the 2″ Daffodil bulbs above, the planting hole should be about 6″ deep. You may find it easier to dig the deeper holes with a shovel. At this point you could add some bone meal in the planting hole and mix it in with the soil. Place your spring bulbs in their holes pointed end up and try to have them not touch each other in the planting hole. If one bulb rots you don’t want it to infect the rest. Its important when buying bulbs to check them over. Do not plant bulbs that show signs of mould or are soft and squishy to the touch. I like to place my spring bulbs in their planting holes but I do not cover them with soil until all of them are in. All you need is for the phone to ring or a child to call you away. If you have covered your bulbs you may forget where you just planted them. I know I have done this before.
Plant the shorter bulbs near the front of the border or in containers. You want them to be front and center so you can see them. I planted these tiny Narcissus along my front walkway. They always give a good show in the spring.
I am completely hooked on species Tulips this year. The one above is called Tulip tarda. How are they different? They tend to naturalize easier than regular Tulips. They also open up wide on sunny days and close up when its dark or on overcast days. There are often multiple flowers on one stem.
This is why I love spring bulbs. The colours that they bring make everyone smile. Now its time to be patient. Your spring bulbs need a cold period in order to bloom. That’s why they are planted now. You can plant spring bulbs right up to the first frost. If you forget to plant some, do so as soon as possible. Late planted bulbs will usually grow but bloom later than normal. Fortunately they get back on schedule in the following year. Once the spring bulbs are in, finish your garden cleanup by raking leaves and cutting back your perennials. Soon it will a time of rest so we can plan for next year.