Bulbs From Spring to Fall

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Nature Magazine, September 1937

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There are many varieties of flowering bulbs available that enable gardeners to obtain a succession of blooms from early spring to fall, but rare indeed is the gardener who takes advantage of the many kinds offered for sale. And yet, every garden has a dozen or more places where flowering bulbs may be tucked in without disturbing existing plantings, as they may be used in all sorts of places to blossom forth when their turn comes around. Most of these are hardy and may be left undisturbed year after year; a few are tender and must be lifted and stored in the cellar over winter.

But let us see some of the places we may use bulbs.

In the rock garden: crocus, grape hyacinth, winter aconite, guinea hen flower, squills, species tulips, the smaller narcissus, Zephyranthes, Colchicum, coral lily, and Lilium elegans.

In the wild garden: many of the lilies, squills, and grape hyacinths.

Back of the pool: lilies, narcissus, crocus, grape hyacinths, squills, summer hyacinths, and Fritillaria.

Among the lower growing shrubs: tiger lily, Hanson lily, Henry lily, or any other of the taller growing lilies; also gladiolus.

At the base of trees: grape hyacinth, squills, narcissus, crocus and tiger lilies.

In the perennial border: any of the bulbs, especially lilies of all kinds, narcissus, gladiolus, tulips, Tigridia and the early flowering bulbs as crocus, squill and grape hyacinth.

Among low growing evergreens: gladiolus, summer hyacinth, the taller lilies.

In front of evergreens: crocus, grape hyacinth, narcissus, hyacinth, tulips, squills, Lilium elegans, Lilium concolor, winter aconite.

Beneath tall shrubs: narcissus, grape hyacinth, crocus, squills.


Under the grape arbor: Narcissus, crocus, squills, tuberous begonias, spider lily, hardy begonia.

Along the north side of house: narcissus, crocus, grape hyacinth, tuberous begonia, hardy begonia.

In the myrtle (periwinkle) ground cover beneath trees: crocus, narcissus, squills, even tiger lilies and turkscap lilies.

Around the bird bath: crocus, grape hyacinth, squills, narcissus, early tulips, Zephyranthes.

Along the garden path: narcissus, crocus, grape hyacinth, hardy gladiolus, Montbretia, tulips.

Above a dry stone wall: crocus, grape hyacinth, early tulip, narcissus, Zephyranthes, oxalis.

These are but a few of the many places bulbs may be used.

The lawn often has been recommended as a suitable place for planting bulbs, but actually this is not the case. If the bulb foliage is cut off before it ripens while mowing the lawn, the bulb soon will disappear. If the grass is allowed to grow it soon becomes unsightly. The best plan is to plant your bulbs where mowing is not necessary.

Now let us look at some of these various bulbs we are going to use to add to our garden color. First, when do we plant them? The hardy bulbs may be planted any time before the ground freezes but preferably as soon as possible after they are available in the fall. This will usually be October, with the exception of the lilies, which, if they are imported, as most of them are, will not arrive until late November. So be prepared and cover the places you have selected for lilies with six inches or so of leaves to keep them from freezing.

To take the bulbs more or less in order of their bloom, first of all we have the winter aconite or Eranthis. Blooming shortly after the ground thaws, its bright yellow flowers on four-inch stems are best enjoyed if planted where they may be seen from your window. Once established they are hardy, permanent, and may multiply if the situation is congenial.

Next in bloom will probably be the Siberian squill, Scilla siberica, with its dark blue flowers. Once it becomes established it is sure to multiply and spread. It may even self-sow if the soil is suitable.

Following in quick succession we find the chionodoxas, glory-of-the-snow, and the many varieties of crocus, some blooming much earlier than others, some yellow, others white, lavender or purple.

As with the winter aconite, all of these early spring bulbs are best used where they may be observed from the windows, for many are the days while they are in bloom that we hesitate venturing forth into the garden to enjoy them. They are best planted in masses to give the maximum effect from a distance. My neighbor's garden has thousands of crocus, grape hyacinths and squills, scattered in patches throughout the perennial border where they bloom long before the perennials have started to grow. In this way they give the gardener an additional period of beauty.

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