The catalog for spring-planted bulbs has arrived from my favorite bulb company, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. I am going to be adventurous and plant some bulbs that I have little experience with and some that I know but do not have in my garden and “need.”
I have been looking for a plant to add to the garden in memory of my friend Ellen who passed away two years ago. Amaryllis was her favorite flower and the favorite of her mother in Switzerland. The catalogue says they are hardy to zone 7. I never knew! I have two of hers that have been limping along indoors for these two years but I will plant them in the garden below the frost line, in a sunny location and mulch them well. They should bloom early to mid-summer.
Amarcrinum and crinum are both members of the same family as amaryllis. And I will plant both. It seems that crinum come in more colors and shapes than the Amarcrinum, which look like pink amaryllis in differing shades of pink. Their flowers bloom first, followed by leaves. I expect the crinums to bloom above their leaves and the clumps to become large over time. The flower stalks of each are 2 to 3 feet. Crinums bloom mid to late summer and Amarcrinum late summer to fall. There is a large crinum on the corner of Henry and Division Streets in Sag Harbor. I think I must order several just to make a good test! I will need to work to find room in the garden for them, as they do not like to be moved. Each might need a season to bloom.
I have used agapanthus many times as summer specimens and mourned as I threw them away at summer’s end. I will, therefore, try some that claim to be hardy in zone 7. I have grown some zone 8 plants successfully so I know how to baby the more tender plants. I will baby these just in case we have a brutal winter next year. Brent and Becky are still trialing them and I’m happy to participate in the trials. They will probably be smaller than the tropical ones but will bloom July to early fall. I really do not like tropical plants in the garden but I will try these.
I will also add some plants that I have experience with to my garden. Years ago I added a few bletilla to a client’s garden. It is a terrestrial (grows on the soil) orchid and is hardy here. The flower stems are 8 to 12 inches, grow in rich well-drained soil in sun to part shade. I tucked some into a bed of Japanese painted ferns at the sunnier edge of a shady bed. Coming upon their stalks, each with several orchid-like flowers is always a pleasant surprise.
Last year I planted two beds of deschampsia, tufted hair grass, in my garden. I will add several golden crocosmia. They bloom mid to late summer just when the grass will be in bloom with its fine feathery plumes. The crocosmia should be just above the grass with flowers lining the ends of arching stems. The deep red Lucifer is the most commonly used and it’s spectacular.
And I will plant some gladiolas. They do not typically live through winter but I do have some that have bloomed in the garden for at least 15 years. They are not expensive and come in many colors. Maybe I will be lucky and one will be perennial! There are some that are hardy here and I have had some luck with them.
Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067. jeanellemyersfinegardening.com