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Diggin’ In: Plant bulbs in the fall for breathtaking springtime blooms

October 17, 2016
 

Late October and November are bulb-planting months — the time to tuck daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other spring-flowering bulbs into the soil where they can root and surprise you with sensational springtime scenes.

Whether you are a beginning gardener or a master gardener, bulbs add a layer of interest that makes any yard extraordinary. Think of trees and shrubs as the bones that structure your yard. Perennials, including bulbs, dress it up, giving you year-round color when you plan and plant with seasonality in mind. For instance, there are early-, mid- and late-flowering daffodils, so avoid picking varieties that bloom at the same time. A free print or downloadable digital catalog from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs — www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com or 877-661-2852 — in Gloucester, Va., provides bulb descriptions that tell you when each variety blooms and how to combine bulbs for dramatic results.

"The great thing about bulbs is that you plant them and then wait for them to put on a show," says Denise Hutchins, spokeswoman at Brent and Beck’s Bulbs.

"However, we do get many calls in the winter when there are warm days and the leaves begin to push through the ground. Once the bulbs have grown their roots, they will not freeze due to a chemical that forms within the bulb that protects them. But, when the leaves seem to come up too early, they may get nipped by a frost. This will only cause the tip ends of the foliage to turn yellow, but will not hurt the flower or the bulb. Fluctuations in the temperature throughout spring may delay or excel the bloom time and can cause flowers to bloom on shorter than normal stems.

"But, for the most part, Mother Nature cares for the bulbs throughout the winter."

Bulbs are also good for small garden spaces and containers because they give you a pop of color and interest without taking up a lot of room. Again, fall is the time to prepare those containers of bulbs and over winter them outdoors, letting Mother Nature provide the care with minimal assistance from you, adds Hutchins. To protect pots of bulbs outdoors from cold, freezing winds, place them in a sheltered, but sunny spot and/or pile leaves around the pots.

For kids, bulbs are one of the simplest and best ways to get into gardening indoors or outdoors.

"A wonderful project through the winter is to pot them up and enjoy during the cold winter months," says Hutchins.

"Or, out in the garden when they can go out and look and see the changes every day and then experience the joy of seeing their flowers bloom. With great success rates from growing bulbs, kids can develop a love for gardening and the natural environment."

BEST NEW BULBS

Hutchins lists these best new bulbs at Brent & Becky’s Bulbs:

—Narcissus Prosecco. The first all-pink daffodil is a fragrant jonquilla with multiple blooms per stem. Very unique in the daffodil world, she says.

—Narcissus Starlight Sensation. Bred in Gloucester, by Brent and Becky Heath, it’s a fragrant, creamy white daffodil with dark green foliage and multiple blooms per stem.

—Tulipa Brownie. The double, early tulip is sweetly fragrant and features a blend of warm tones. "When Jay and Brent saw a patch of this blooming in the field in Holland, they were impressed that you could smell the fragrance while standing near the field," she says.

—Allium Miami. The long-lasting, oval-shaped ornamental onion is a beautiful flower for late spring/early summer and a pollinator attractor. Alliums can dry in the garden and be spray painted, too, for a pop of color all year.

—Musari armeniacum Alida. It’s an early-blooming flower with rich purple coloration that is easy to force bloom indoors. Great choice for outdoor containers placed where you can see and enjoy them.

COLOR COMBOS

For viewing at close quarters, simplicity is pleasing, according to Tim Schipper, founder of www.Colorblends.com.

"Think in twos and threes," he says.

"Pair any daffodil — white, yellow, apricot or bi-color — with blue grape hyacinths, blue squill or blue Glory of the Snow. For spectacular tulip combinations, consider blends designed to bloom together. Colorblends.com offers Tulip Blend Celebration with three tulips in brilliant red-orange-yellow and Tulip Blend Pillow Talk with two beautifully-matched tulips in softest pink, yellow and white. For an especially long-lasting tulip display Tulip Blend Red Cubed combines three red tulips that bloom in sequence.

"In even the smallest yard or garden, there’s always room to plant a handful or two of flower bulbs. With crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips, that’s all it takes to make an impact in spring."

 

 


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