Fall Is For Planting Bulbs

I mentioned in my “I’m Too Old for Fall Gardening” post that I used to plant mass quantities of fall bulbs. Bulbs are special things. They require a special kind of gardener–one that is willing to wait until it is cooler and damper (usually)–or sometimes downright cold and nasty–and then the gardener goes out and plants in this weather, not seeing any result until 6 or 8 months later. Talk about delayed gratification!

But of course for those who do plant fall bulbs, the result is so worth it! There’s absolutely nothing like seeing the first bulbs of spring pop up–and we can debate what those first bulbs are. For me it’s snowdrops, although some folks plant winter aconite, and they may be first.

Others don’t plant either, so their first bulbs may be the lovely crocus, whether its the very early light purple “tommy” crocuses, or the slightly later dutch varieties that come in shades of purple, blue, white and yellow. They never fail to make me smile–sometimes they’ll even make me stop the car and just enjoy, if I can safely do it on a side street.

Once the crocus are up, it’s a virtual riot of bulbs that follow: daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths and hyacinths being the most common. I’m seeing more and more “minor” bulbs like blue and white scilla, which are early–with the crocuses, and puschkinia (a mouthful of a bulb, but pretty). Even the looser, more open Siberian squill, which looks like hyacinths gone amok, in shades of blue white and pink, are occasionally pooping up in my neighborhood.

I don’t see much snowflake or giant snowflake–perhaps its name is too off-putting. It’s a shame, because it’s a lovely white, later blooming bulb.

The alliums are becoming more popular–perhaps because they are great for pollinators. And it is possible to have alliums in bloom for 5 months in my climate so that’s a definite plus.

I also almost never see fall blooming bulbs here. That’s a terrible shame. What’s better than the unexpected in the garden? Most are deer proof as well. They too are planted in the fall although earlier than the spring blooming ones.

This year, my fall-bloomers have not yet bloomed. It’s the drought. As soon as we have a few good rains–if we do–they’ll be up and blooming their fool heads off. I know they weren’t winter killed because the foliage came up in the spring.

Some great places to buy bulbs–besides your local garden center–are the catalogs. But don’t delay because the best selection will be almost gone shortly. My favorites are always “local” catalogs for me. I like Colorblends of Darien, CT, John Scheepers, of Bantam, CT and for very unusual bulbs, Brent and Beckys of Virginia.

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