View from the Garden: One Can Never Have Too Many Spring Flowers

Every spring I say that I will order more daffodils, crocus and some “goodies.” This year I did. I have ordered bulbs for clients for many years and have favorites.

Since my garden is now fenced, I added a few tulips and lilies last year as an experiment and they lived—and deer did not jump over the fence!

I have always ordered bulbs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Their catalogue is online but I get a paper one and, even though I have examined it thoroughly every year, I studied it again this year.

One can never have too many daffodils so I ordered some more. I favor unusual ones, so this year I ordered more traditional yellow ones to mix with the others. I like to plant daffodils in groups of three to five at least—some in beds and some against garden borders. Remember when planting that all bulb foliage must be left to die back completely. It’s best to plant them where the dying foliage will not be too noticeable….among ferns, day lilies or grasses, for example.

One common assumption about daffodils is that once they are planted, they will multiply and live forever. Well, some will multiply and some older varieties will live for many years. Look for “naturalizer” in the description. “Perennial” daffodils will live for several years only and will not multiply. Often very fancy ones don’t come back at all. However, I have planted some that I thought would be one-timers and they have come back for many years. So pick the ones you like, keeping in mind the description of longevity, and realize that some are fickle.

Tulips have similar returning habits. Most don’t return, or return for only a couple of years. Darwins and species varieties are the most reliable and also some of the most beautiful. Darwins are tall, large-blossomed and come in various colors. Tulips are so inexpensive in relation to the beauty they provide that they are often planted as annuals. If you see ones you like that aren’t reliable returners, you might consider this. Species tulips are varied in size, shape, height and are very interesting as they are not commonly seen. Several varieties have returned in my garden for many years.

Tulips are favorites of deer and voles. Before deer found our neighborhood, I had moles and voles. I planted tulips in boxes made of hardware cloth. Not a very easy task but I was determined to have tulips. When deer invaded, I only enjoyed tulips in clients’ gardens.

One can never have too many crocuses. They are so welcome when the winter is ending. I’m so happy to see them and, if you get your nose right down to the flower, they have a wonderful fragrance. I order the tommasinianus variety because squirrels like them less than others. I like to tuck several crocuses into small spaces, and in cracks in stone pathways.

In addition to Brent and Becky’s you might like Old House Gardens catalogue. Be sure to read all the descriptions of each bulb, which, for us plant nerds, is mandatory. Our local garden centers have bulbs now so you don’t even need to wait for the mail!

Bulbs are great to experiment with. I had to give myself a dollar limit and reassure myself that I can buy more bulbs next year to avoid getting ridiculous with my order. Give yourself permission to play without fear of failure, but with anticipation of spring beauty.

Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067. jeanellemyersfinegardening.com

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