Heads Up

– Posted in: Wishlist

Just in case you’re too busy enjoying summer, I’d like to point out to you that many fall bulb catalogs have deadlines coming up. If you order before the deadline, you get a discount that, while not stupendous, might offset some, or all, of the shipping cost for you. Odyssey Bulbs and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs both have July 1st deadlines, and McClure & Zimmerman has a June 30th deadline. So, this weekend, while you’re lounging by the pool, or lazing in a shady hammock (my preference, though we don’t have a hammock at the moment), bring along your bulb catalogs, a red pen, and a calculator, and see what you come up with.

I know I’ll be ordering more colchicums from Odyssey Bulbs, the only question being which ones. And there are several daffodils I’d like to get. I’m a sucker for the small-cupped, fragrant ones in pale colors. I don’t like the pinks–at least not in the photos I’ve seen–and I don’t like most doubles. Truth of the matter is, I already have a lot of daffodils around. They’re just all the same ones that were here when we moved in, which I’ve lifted and divided several times. What I need to do is dig some clumps up and give them away, and put new, choicer varieties in their places. Some timely ruthlessness on my part would help me justify some new acquisitions. It would also just make life easier. In some places, the daffodil foliage gets in the way, almost smothering something else coming on. I’ve decided the best place for daffodils is around daylilies, so my goal is to have every daylily partnered with a daffodil of some sort. Also, very early daffodils can go way, way, way back in the border, where you can see them when everything else is short, but the dying foliage is hidden as the other things grow up.

I think I’m going to limit myself to those two genera–colchicums and narcissus. I have a lot of crocus and a fair amount of snowdrops, and a dab of this and a dab of that of other small bulbs. Of course one can never have too many spring-blooming bulbs, especially in a cold climate where you may have seen nothing but snow for the last several months. I have come to realize, however, that anything you order now will have to be put in the ground later, and I already have plans to move a few peonies, which is a project in itself. Plus, if you must know, the weeding is going slow, and I’m pretty sure I’ll still be at it in the fall. Sigh. I wonder if I’ll ever get on top of it.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

erica June 29, 2003, 1:21 pm

the short answer: yes, many (most?) tulips and daffodils require pre-cooling to have even a chance of blooming in the gulf coast area. and even with pre-cooling, many of them still won’t bloom down here. but there are some varieties that will bloom without cooling.

the long answer: i aspire to be a minimal-maintenance gardener — i want plants that can survive and thrive without “special treatment” (like pre-cooling or digging and storing).

so, since my gardening experience is still very limited, i rely heavily on a couple of books for making my bulb decisions: scott ogden’s “garden bulbs for the south” and william welch’s “the southern heirloom garden.” ogden notes which varieties can be grown here in the warmer parts of the south. and if welch says some particular bulb variety persists in abandoned southern (especially texas) gardens, i figure chances are good it doesn’t require cooling.

the only tulips i’ve planted far are the species i planted last year (plus some johann strauss kaufmannianas that i put in *really* late). i’m very interested to see what comes back. i was thrilled with the show by the crocus tommasinianus (recommended by ogden), but again, don’t yet know how they’ll do longer term.

as for daffodils, i planted two varieties last year, both supposedly suited for the warm south. i’ll probably try two or three new (to me) varieties this year.

it’s soooo tempting to look at all the beautiful pictures, but i always check my books because so many of the cultivated bulbs are bred for much different climates and just melt into mush down here. i’m still waffling about what to order, but i’ll post my list when i buy.

Kathy June 27, 2003, 7:51 am

Do you have to pre-cool daffodils and tulips? If so, do you even bother with them? I know you have some species tulips. What’s on your list for this fall?

erica June 26, 2003, 10:19 pm

i’ve already been pondering my brent & becky’s and john scheepers / van engelen catalogs, plotting what i ‘need’. i sit in bed with the catalogs and fall asleep dreaming of flowers (and agonizing over where to put new beds).

i keep reminding myself what a pain in the patootie it was to plant what i bought last year (my first experience planting bulbs) in order to keep my upcoming orders realistic.