The spring flowering bulbs have arrived, and once I figured out where they would go (no simple task), they were quickly planted. Planting is the easy part, and all bulbs were small enough to fit into the hole dug by the cordless drill and auger. I’ve hand dug too many holes for bulbs over the years, often resulting in bulbs not planted as deeply as they should be, and using the drill is almost cheating. Other than a bit of a sore back from stooping, there’s hardly any physical labor involved. I barely got dirty.
The hard part is getting around to purchasing a bulb that has no visual appeal at the moment, or setting the catalog aside for later. Perhaps the colorful signage in the garden center catches your eye, but if this serves as a reminder that you intended to plant daffodils, snowdrops, (above and below) or any of the other nearly foolproof spring bulbs, but put it off for another day, get to it. Now. Visit the garden center, or get on to mail order site while they’re still available. This is such an easy and relatively inexpensive addition, that makes such an impact on the garden, that there is little excuse not to plant a variety of bulbs.
Certainly, I haven’t planted enough, and when I plant winter aconites (Eranthis hymelis, above) or crocuses (below) I often plant too few to make the impact I expect. Yes, someday they’ll spread and catch up, but instead of planting twenty-five, I should plant fifty, or a hundred. So what have I done? I’ve just planted twenty-five of one and fifty of another. I excuse that it’s a small space.
Hopefully, I haven’t repeated this mistake with Summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) that have been long planned but delayed until now (only thirty-one years late). The plan is for the vigorous spring bloomer to spread to cover the area beneath the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla), and as the snowflakes begin to go dormant in late spring, ferns will poke through. I cautiously planted a hundred, slightly concerned that they could prove overly rambunctious and overrun nearby hellebores.
The planting area is ideal, I think, though a bit shadier than I’d prefer for the snowflakes. Leaves of the magnolia, and of neighboring dogwoods and maples, are left here to decay without shredding since the magnolia’s twenty-four inch leaves clog the shredder. By winter, the cover of leaves is often eight or ten inches deep, and even today (late in September) an inch or two remain that are dug through before loamy soil is reached. Many fat earthworms flee for safe ground after being dug up, which encourages me that the minimal sunlight will be compensated by otherwise superb conditions.
This year I have not purchased any daffodils, and while there are hundreds, there’s no such thing as too many and there are a number of unique varieties I’ll get around to sooner or later. Typically, just after planting I get the urge to add more, so there could be a second planting of bulbs in another month or so.
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It is still too early here. The early spring bulbs bloom in winter if we plant them now. We will get to it though. Those that bloom again the following year are likely to get battered by winter weather, but that is okay too.
With our colder temperatures, flowering of bulbs is dictated much more by the weather than the time of year that they’re planted. Early flowering bulbs are occasionally fooled by a mild spell, but most flower predictably within the range of several weeks.
Our weather is of course not as variable, but is just too mild. It has advantages, but not for species that expect a cool winter, or that expect winter to last bit longer. I still enjoy spring bulbs. I just do not expect them to perform like they do elsewhere.
Weirdly, some of the autumn bulbs bloom in winter or spring here. Saffron crocus blooms with the fancy hybrids! It is so odd that I suspect that it might be something else; but it really looks just like saffron.