Fall Bulb Planting

Every spring, when the daffodils, muscari, allium and other bulbs burst forth from the just-thawed soil, I berate myself for not having planted more. Even though the flowers of my spring flowering bulbs are long gone at this point, the memory of how much I enjoyed them drives me to the garden shop in search of new treasures to add to our collection.

Last fall, I added to the quantity and variety of our allium collection and was thrilled with the results. So, this fall, I’ve added even more; in particular the giant 3′ and 5′ ‘gigantium’ and ‘Globemaster’ varieties that turned out to be quite the conversation pieces this spring. Since my hilltop location is notoriously windy, I’ve given up on taller tulip varieties and am sticking with the shorter ‘gregii’ tulips like ‘Red Riding Hood’. Past successes with muscari around the edge of one of our beds makes me want to recreate the effect in others. Muscari’s flowers last a long time, and they reproduce quickly (always an admirable quality in a flower bulb). Even after the flowers have finished, muscari’s grass-like leaves remain green all summer, softening the edge of the bed.

Other early-flowering, mood-lifting bulbs we plan to add are snowdrops and crocus. The snowdrops are going into a small bed near our front door to greet us when we arrive home late in March. I like to plant crocus in small groups (that I like to refer to as “drifts”) right in the lawn in areas that are visible through windows from inside the house. Since crocus bloom long before I need to mow the lawn, they’re perfectly happy growing among the fescue and ryegrass.

Alliums may be amusing, crocus cute, and tulips just too cool but, the flower bulb family that is dearest to me would have to be the narcissus family…the daffodils. Every fall we add more and more and every spring we wonder why we didn’t plant more than we did. While the classic large yellow-cupped ‘Carlton’s are quite striking, it’s the smaller, fancier types I’m really taken by. We have established clusters of ‘Thalia’, a 10″ white daffodil and ‘Cheerfulness’, a 14″ white that produces cluster of flowers on each stem. Last fall, we planted ‘Flower Record’ (16″ with white petals and an orange & yellow cup) and ‘Flowerdrift’ (14″ white with a ruffled white & orange cup). Well, we fell thoroughly in love with them this spring and were again amazed that we hadn’t planted more. Rest assured, we will be this fall.

My advise for planting fall bulbs? Get more than you think you need and don’t forget to add bone meal at planting time…you’d be crazy to plant flower bulbs without it!