Where to plant bulbs? Following my own advice

– Posted in: Design, Mud Season
15 comments

A couple of years ago, I told you to choose your fall-planted bulb locations now, when the snow is just beginning to melt. Of course, it helps to have snow. We finally got some, and I thought you’d like to know I’m following my own advice.

I went around the yard, camera in hand, taking pictures of places where the snow melted first, and making mental notes of what I’d like to plant there.

Yard with snow and bare patches

These two bare strips in the lawn would be good for very early blooming bulbs

In the photo above, the snow has disappeared from two long strips along the driveway. For a very early show to greet commuters returning home, I think I will plant…

These crocuses bloom every year at our previous house. (c)Cadence Purdy

… crocuses of all kinds and bloom times. In our climate, at least, the foliage has pretty much died down by the time the lawn needs its first mowing. In some years, we did have to let the Crocus Bank at the old house get a bit shaggy, I concede. But it’s worth it to be cheered up in March and April.

Yellow and white blooms show the best from a distance, but I love all the colors, so that’s what I would plant. I’d probably start with mixes of snow crocus–the earlier ones–and Dutch crocus–the bigger, later ones, and then add some individual varieties to the mix. I will look for crocus varieties noted for fragrance, and like Gail did at Clay and Limestone, I want to plant lots of “Tommies” (Crocus tommasinianus) because they are reputed to be rodent resistant. So far, Gail has found them to be so.

To Be Seen From the Road

A row of evergreen tree trunks

These evergreen trees border a parking area close to the road.

To the right is a parking area up close to the road. The pine trees border it and there is a tractor path behind it, seen on the left side of the photo. There is no lawn in this area, so a larger bulb that takes longer to die down would be appropriate here. To greet the neighbors driving by, and the guests who park here, I think I will plant…
Daffodils photographed in evening light

These daffodils from the old homestead will feel right at home in the new one

…daffodils. Taking a page from Fairegarden’s book, I will dig up daffodils from the garden at my previous house and plant them where they “need” to go around here. So far I have seen maybe three daffodil shoots at our current home, and swaths are called for. Fairegarden includes many good ideas for suitable companion plants for daffs, but planting them in borders will come later for me. First I need to make the borders! Cornell University also has some great bulb and perennial combinations.

When Early Isn’t Early Enough

cut stone path

The best place for the earliest bulbs

Next, the photo above illustrates the perfect place for the very earliest bulbs, to get the earliest show. There is a narrow garden bed between the garage and a stone path. The garage provides shelter and some residual heat. The stone walkway absorbs heat and then releases it. For the earliest possible bloom in my short season, cold climate, I will plant…
crocus korolkowii lucky number from Odyssey Bulbs

Crocus korolkowii 'Lucky Number' is my earliest blooming crocus.

‘Lucky Number’ crocus from Odyssey Bulbs and winter aconites
eranthis or winter aconite

Winter aconite (Eranthis sp.)

and also the Giant Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) plus some of the ‘S. Arnott’ snowdrops
snowdrops_s_arnott

Galanthus 'S. Arnott' blooms early for me.

which I mentioned in my post about warm micro-climates.
Two dorman shrubs in late winter

Each shrub has a spot near it that melts first.

Finally I turned my attention to the border planted by the previous owner. I don’t yet know everything that’s planted in this bed, but I do notice that some of the shrubs have an area near each of them where the snow melts sooner. I think I will plant…actually, I haven’t made up my mind. Since it is a cultivated area, something that needs a bit more pampering, or is a bit more rare and I wouldn’t want it to get overwhelmed by lawn grass, would be suitable here. What do you suggest?

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.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Don Statham March 25, 2014, 8:01 am

Hi Kathy, Our springs are so short I think this is an excellent idea to photograph where the snow melts first! I always think of all plants including bulbs as either hybrid or wild. So in terms of bulbs the ones that naturalize like daffodils, crocus, scilla and snowdrops I tend to plant out in drifts inthe wilder areas of the garden away from my house. The domestics or hybrid such as tulips, alliums, hyacinths, eremuras and fritillaria which don’t move about I plant near the house in the borders. That said rules are made to be broken. I definitely have muscari both in the wild and in the borders near the house.

Ilona's Garden March 7, 2012, 11:22 am

How wonderful to be starting a brand new garden- I think I enjoyed that part of gardening the most! Getting to know a new place and putting in new borders. Your plans for bulbs sound wonderful.

Deborah March 5, 2012, 3:31 pm

Great ideas, and how exciting to have a blank canvas to dream on. And about that last spot under your shrubs, I’d consider chionodoxa, an early bloomer that adds a bright splash of blue to the landscape.

Teresa March 4, 2012, 5:17 pm

Kathy, looks like you have your garden mind in gear ready to go. I can’t wait to see what you do with that blank canvas! I have a feeling a bit of garden shopping is in order. perhaps we need a road trip for that.:)

Alistair March 4, 2012, 10:40 am

Yes, and this post will serve as a nice reminder of what’s to be done. I agree, putting up with grass a little overgrown is well worth it for the pleasure of a bank filled with Crocus.

Angela At Frugal Gardening March 3, 2012, 1:15 pm

I am postive your garden will turn out beautifully. You made great bulb cloices. Thank you for sharing.

Leslie March 2, 2012, 4:30 pm

This is so very exciting…to see the beginnings of your new garden! I look forward to the evolution of it over the years.

Layanee March 2, 2012, 4:22 pm

You have a blank slate with which to start. We will all watch them colonize and spread at your new home.

gail March 2, 2012, 12:25 pm

How very exciting to discover what might be in the garden! I love your cold climate idea of watching where the snow melts for the best spot to plant early bloomers. You will love the Tommies! They are a delightful sight after all the browns of a middle Tennessee winter, I can only imagine how welcome they will be in your snowy world. Thank you for the link/shout out. xoxogail

Frances March 2, 2012, 12:09 pm

Hi Kathy, oh how thrilling to be able to plan the new garden’s flowers and shop from the old garden! I think your plans are spot on, and as for that bed with the hydrangea, you might want to wait and see what goodies might already be growing there before taking up the shovel. Good luck with your beautiful new home. Your garden will evolve just as it should. Thanks for the linkage, too!
xxxooo
F