Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bulbs: in which I tell all ... so far


Or almost all, because the real horror is that I still plan to order from Old House Gardens and —maybe—The Lily Garden. Every year, I go crazy with bulbs and it seems to grow worse with time. Nearly half of them are for forcing and others are treated as annuals; hence, the reason I need so many each year. So far, I have ordered 455 bulbs. Over the last two weeks.

Tulips

There is still work to be done here, but I do have some species (top) triumphs, and doubles (above) on the way. One hopes the species will naturalize, while the triumphs will be forced for inside the house, or used in containers to be brought outside from the garage in April. My goal is to have every type of species tulip available growing in my front garden. Tulip season is the best time for this space, as during the summer, deep shade limits the possibilities for flowering plants. Can you say … hosta? So before I have to get all creative with shade perennials and impatiens, it’s nice to have the tulip show. Species tulips from top left: vvedenskyi, marjoletti, humulis violacea, dasystemon, orphanidea flava, pakowskiana, and humulis Persian Pearl. Above are hybrids Orange Princess, Black Hero, Yellow Mountain Rem's Favorite, and Strong Gold.

Narcissus

Though the large-flowered daffs don’t work well on the GWI property—their decaying foliage just can’t be hidden—I love forcing tazettas inside and I am adding some small species types for outdoor planting this year. It’s sad that so many assume Ziva is the beginning and end of paperwhites/tazettas for inside. The ones I’m ordering have much more interesting flowers and a lighter, pleasant scent. I will be ordering more of these from Old House Gardens. Above are cantabricus, Martinette, albus plenus, and Golden Rain.

Hyacinths

There is nothing fresher and lovelier in winter than the scent of a forced hyacinth—at least, to me—and I fill my house and office with them every year, as well as giving some as gifts. I also use Victorian forcing vases to hold some of them. It's a lot of fun and the forcing process is strangely devoid of failure. Above are Prince of Love, Crystal Palace and Raphael.

Lilies

These are perennials and generally last for a few years—some longer than that. I have had a few of my lilies for ten years, but some diminished and disappeared. A sharply draining sandy soil is best for them, and I don’t have close to that. They thrive as best they can, though, and are undoubtedly the highlights of my summer garden. This year I’m going to do more in containers, as I can only fit a few in the ground. Above are orienpet Satisfaction and orientals Amazing and Excelsior.

The rest

That’s what Scheepers calls them and it works for me. I always add scilla and galanthus; this year, I am planting camassia and winter aconite (eranthis hyemalis) for the first time, inspired by images of these I’ve seen on other blogs. I like the double flore pleno snowdrops the best, I think. They are above, with camassia Caerulea, eranthis hyemalis, and scilla siberica.

Why order so many bulbs? Is it necessary? Of course not. But here’s the thing: bulbs always work. Not forever; but at least for the first year, each is a little ball of completely fulfilled expectations. The images here are all catalog porn, but if you look at past posts, you can see many of these as they really grow in my garden, or forced in the house.

18 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is a good reminder to get some bulbs ordered. You have quite the collection here.

Carol said...

This looks like a "good start" as they say. Actually it looks like it is going to be a fabulous spring in your garden.

Gabrielle Marsden said...

I understand the obsession. I am trying to keep myself satisfied with the discounted home depot bulb I got last week.

I am partial to forcing thalia. they are cheap at home depot right now but always sell out early.

I won't let myself order any online.

Wendy said...

What are your favorite bulbs and bulb cultivars? Which ones do you find especially lovely, tough, and enduring? I'm most interested in your experience with tulips, daffs, and lilies (esp. fragrant liles).

Helen said...

Oh heavens. I read the number 455 and began to feel weak. Intoxication might come in handy before considering such... shall we call it bounty? I envy you your bulbs and your apparent invincibility.

As an aside: Bulbs are one of the few things which thank me for our sandy sandy soil.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

You're so ambitious with your complete collection of species Tulips. You'll be an expert on them and could write a book.
Oh, dear, now I think I need to order more bulbs for forcing! I hope you have good luck with the Eranthis. Some people find them difficult to grow, but they love my garden for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Washington State University did a study twenty some years ago on daffodils. They discovered that daffs that had their foliage removed six weeks after bloom did as well or better than those that had had theirs left to ripen completely. I've been doing it successfully for over twenty years. In my garden, six weeks is when the foliage flops over, so I cut them when they flop. You can have daffodils without having to look at brown foliage.
I love bulbs, but I don't have your energy. 455 bulbs is a lot to plant!

Anonymous said...

Now look what you've done! After saying I didn't have the energy to plant 455 bulbs, I just went and ordered 425 on top of the ones I'd already ordered!

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of all those bulbs in beauteous bloom! I wish I had your talent with them.

Leslie said...

So many of those don't do well here...I am anticipating enjoying them vicariously through your posts! You really are the bulb queen!

EAL said...

Wendy, I think the species tulips give the best return, particularly the clusiana types. I also love all the humilis types. They've lasted well in my garden. For fragrant lilies, the Amazing seems resilient, also the Silk Road orienpet seems really tough. Both have great fragrance.

Craig @ Ellis Hollow said...

JM&J. At least you broke down and bought some of those little bulbs that will give you something to look at in March. ;-7

flowergardengirl said...

You and the bulbs has entertained me for some time. Bulbs intimidate me for some reason. I have good intentions of ordering some but then don't. You do inspire me to give it a go.

Gail said...

I ordered bulbs earlier this summer, but after reading your post...There weren't nearly enough. I completely forgot to add more species tulips. I love them...thanks for the reminder. Regarding forcing...I have crummy luck with that, I might have to it a try again. gail

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

You are giving me the confidence to continue ordering bulbs in large quanities. I thought that I was the only crazy one! I am staying away from tulips (except species) at the moment, due to the HUGE squirrel population in our garden (we back on to the Niagara Escarpment). I am planting as many of the small bulbs as I can afford every year. As our house is a weekend/retirement house, hopefully they will increase into rivers of colour by the time we move up there. This year 150 scilla, 50 chionodoxa, 50 aconites,and 100 Hawera daffs.
Looking forward to spring!

Susan aka Miss R said...

I'm in a bulb detox program this year. No bulb orders for me. Well (shhhh!)...I will force some for the February blues...can't---help---myself...

Commonweeder said...

I'm tormented. Where to put more?

LINDA from EACH LITTLE WORLD said...

I had already decided I just couldn't do many more bulbs and now you've completely ruined my resolve. I did try some little species tulips last year and they were lovely. Your pots were so inspiring that maybe I will give them a try.