Daffodils and other spring bulbs are so joyous and promising of warm weather and more flowers to come, especially after a winter like this past one. The next “layer” of flowers, present now, are the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise. I was in a garden yesterday where red peonies, orange oriental poppies and purple allium were blooming. I was aquiver: three of my favorites that don’t last long enough.
The shimmer and color of the poppy Prince of Orange is unmatched by any other flower. It seems to have lost favor in recent years and the pinks, whites and mauves have replaced it so completely that it has become hard to find. Fortunately, I planted a couple of them years ago and they have self-seeded to the extent that I have a real show when they bloom.
Alliums should be added to that list you are keeping of bulbs to order in the fall. You know, the list with “a lot more crocus, some of those sweet tiny blue flowers you saw at that garden and hundreds more daffodils?” Alliums range from the small drumstick to giant purple giganteum at 48” with 4-8” lilac softball shaped heads. And be sure to check out allium schubertii! Really, you won’t believe a plant can look so much like an explosion of fireworks sitting close to the ground.
In a garden I have worked in for nine years, I planted dozens of giganteums with white giant, a white form of giganteum in a large field of pervoskia and white guar, along with a few dozen nectaroscordum siculum. (It has no common name but is an astounding plant). The alliums and nectaroscordum make their incredible show over the developing pervoskia and gaura and are finished just as the pervoskia and gaura are large enough to begin their statements. These tall stems, with lilac and white balls on top accented with the unusual flower arrangement on top of the nectaroscordum, are planted quite densely and make a strong statement. But a few scattered in your garden are like “puffs” floating above everything.
The giant alliums are pricey but a few can be added each year, like a treat to oneself. Be sure to throw a few schubertii into the order!
This week we removed the finished foliage of ornithogalum nutans (Silver Bells), an unusual, later-spring-blooming bulb that is well worth discovering. It is 12” tall and from the stem dangle ghostly, whitish, greenish flowers. It is more beautiful than I make it sound—very sweet and demure. And next week the flower heads and foliage of blue camassia will be removed. This is a splendid plant that I don’t see used often. It blooms later in spring and has varieties from dark blue to white and from 30” to 10”.
I also worked this week in a large peony garden planted with bearded iris. Splendid, though almost every flower stem needed to be staked. Sometimes I can stake the peony bush as a whole, but usually each flower needs it. Those individual flower supports are another item to put on the list of things to buy in small lots over time. They’re much easier to use than gazillions of bamboo stakes!
Well, flowers are beginning to dazzle, tomatoes are growing, many seeds are up, small pea pods are on the vine, and I met a baby turtle in the garden last week!
Jeanelle Myers is a professional gardener, landscaper and consultant. For gardening discussion you can call her at 631-434-5067. jeanellemyersfinegardening.com