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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in garden beds (4)

Tuesday
Sep012009

Are There Any Other Spring Flowering Bulbs to Plant?

Admirers have to be on their hands and knees to get this beautiful view of Chionodoxa, one of many miniature spring flowering bulbs. The flowers of this bulb are smaller in real garden life than they appear here.Except for some Allium bulbs which bloom later than Tulips and Daffodils, and which will soon get a blog of their own, the answer is "no"!  As you may have noticed, I have restricted my blog to Tulips and Daffodils. That is because they are reliable and if planted in drifts of 5 bulbs or more, they make an impressive color display in spring. Masses of color is what I care about when I garden.

That is why I am not impressed with most of the other spring flowering bulbs. In zone 5 where I live, Crocuses [or Croci] may or may not bloom depending on the depth of the snow banks that accumulated over the winter and also because of the frosty night temperatures that sometime occur in early spring. Hyacinths are too short to be noticed. All of the other teeny weenie bulbs are messy when they bloom and are almost impossible to see from far. They look great only in their commercial photos and when seen up close. However, being up close at ground level is not a natural position for humans. I suppose we might better appreciate these little bulbs if we were no taller than rabbits.

 
Monday
Aug312009

Jump Start the Color Display With Tulips

Choosing and planting Tulip bulbs in the fall to bloom in the spring can be a little trickier than selecting Daffodils. Only a few varieties are perennial. Most of the really pretty tulips have a short life. Plant them only if you don't mind lifting and and replaced them after a few years. That’s a lot of work. Perennial varieties of Tulips return year after year and will show no signs of waning if they are fertilized twice during the growing season.

Here is a list of perennial tulips:- Darwin Hybrids in colors of Red, Rose, Orange, yellow and two-tone, Emperor Tulips, some Triumph tulips, Species tulips, Gregeii tulips. There is a grove of red Kaufmania tulips in my garden that have been reblooming reliably for 15 years. For best results, plant tulip bulbs at least 8 inches deep to encourage them to perform as perennials.

Here‘s what to do to ensure that perennial Tulips bloom for many seasons. After the Tulip flower has finished blooming, cut down the stem and head of the tulip. In addition, cut down all of the foliage of that Tulip except for the one large leaf at the base of the plant; allow that leaf to continue to grow until it turns yellow. At that point in time, it may be discarded or can be camouflaged by summer perennials that will  hide it.

Under normal climatic conditions it is possible to protect Tulip bulbs from being eaten by squirrels. Sprinkle chili pepper flakes [capsicum] directly onto the tulip bulb after it has been placed in its hole. Then sprinkle more flakes on top of the earth after the hole has been filled. When squirrels have no problem foraging for traditional nourishment, the chili flakes are a sufficient deterrent. But be forewarned. In some area of North America this does not dissuade the squirrels. You will only know if it works where you live if you try it.

In the previous two blogs that dealt with spring flowering bulbs that are planted in fall, I recommended easy ways to purchase bulbs. That advice applies to Tulips as well.

 

 
Sunday
Aug302009

Jump Start the Color Display with Daffodils and Narcissus

Daffodils and Narcissus are related bulbs that are planted in the fall for spring blooming long before most perennials begin to stir. They are the easiest spring flowering bulbs to grow. They naturalize well, i.e. each bulb returns the following season in a bigger and lusher clump than the year before. They make great cut flowers and squirrels do not disturb the bulbs once they are planted.

Any kind of Daffodil or Narcissus is welcome and there is no one variety in this genre that is ultimately better or more beautiful than another. The assortment from which to choose is extensive. Some are white, some are yellow and many have colored trumpets in wide assortments of color permutations and combinations. Some bloom early, some medium or late and some are taller or shorter than others.

This plant requires only three simple tasks to ensure quality blooms, season after season. At the beginning of the growing season, when the garden has just popped out of dormancy, fertilize the flower bed with whatever nutrition that has been selected for the rest of the plants growing in the garden. In later spring, after the bulbs have finished blooming, cut down only the stems of the dead flowers. Do not touch the leaves. Allow the leaves to continue to grow until they turn yellow. Then, one has the choice of either removing them if they are unsightly or of ignoring them if they will be camouflaged by perennials growing nearby. Eventually, they will disappear on their own.

If Daffodils and Narcissus bring a smile to your face, by all means, plant your own. Determine your requirements now and make your purchases quickly while the assortments are most extensive and inventories are high. Planting can be done anytime up until the earth freezes over.

 

 
Thursday
Aug272009

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Photo courtesy of Home and Garden Webshots, Photo 1295486587I received a catalogue for spring flowering bulbs that are planted in autumn and it reminded me how important it is to include tulips and daffodils in the perennial garden composition. These bulbs jump start the color display of the perennial garden. Spring flowering bulbs are a colorful overture to the upcoming season.

Bulbs may be purchased on line, or at retail garden centers that sell bulbs either from open stock or in prepackaged quantities. When shopping for open stock bulbs, don't leave home without a shopping list. It helps avoid confusion when one is confronted with selections that appear overwhelming. However, be forewarned. Buying from open stock is hard work. Customers are required to fill their own bags on which they must write the kind of bulb, its name, the quantity purchased and the unit price. This is tiresome work because it detracts from what should be a pleasant shopping experience. Garden centers that carry large assortments in open stock may have everything one is looking for but finding the desired items can be frustrating.

Pre-packaged bulbs come with an easily scanned bar code so there is no work to do at the point of sale. Often, these packages are attractively priced. However, garden centers that sell only prep-packaged bulbs may not have that one specific variety the purchaser really wants. Also, one might land up with more bulbs than needed. And yet, I will continue to buy prepackaged bulbs because it saves time and money. Besides, the extra bulbs make a nice hospitality gift when cleverly packaged. Better still; plant the extra bulbs in the garden of a friend.

Mail order is the easiest way to shop, especially with a hard copy of an actual mail order color catalogue on hand. Most catalogue houses have idiot-proof on-line ordering services that save many hours of personal shopping. The shipping charges are a worthwhile trade-off to spending too much time at the store.