Sunday, October 04, 2009

Too many bulbs? Impossible.


Yesterday, I planted 150 bulbs around the front and sides of the GWI property, much to the amazement of my social networks. But it’s really not that many. Indeed, I expect to get 150 more into the ground before I’m done (and another 150 into containers and forcing pots). Over the years, I’ve realized that even on a small property, a few bulbs scattered here and there look sparse and rather pathetic. You must plant bulbs en masse.


Even dainty ephemerals and species tulips only look good if they are scattered rather thickly. A single species tulip looks good in photographic close-up, but is otherwise a sad little specimen. With these and other smaller bulbs, I’ve started to plant 3 or so together and try to make sure there are similar groups of 3 close by.


As for hybrids, I’ve stopped planting less than 8-9 large tulips or daffodils in the same hole. It doesn’t seem to impede the daffs from coming back (if they want to), and the tulips will persist if added to every year, so that the ones that falter won’t be missed. (Personally, I treat hybrid tulips as annuals, but that suits my conditions.)

So 150 or even 300 bulbs— a drop in the bucket as far as I’m concerned.

The images are of some of my tulips and plantings on a nearby street.

22 comments:

Kathy said...

I remember planting crocuses according to the recommended spacing and being shocked at how quickly 150 ran out! I am not sure whether your social networks were shocked at how many you planted, or just shocked that you did it all in one day. With a cold, no less.

Gardeness said...

All those tulips are beautiful. Makes me realize I must plant more in my catwalk bed. I think I have close to 100 awaiting planting. I'm just trying to get up the energy for all those holes!

Pam said...

Those tulips are great - and your post as convinced me that I should place an order soon...(twist my arm).

EAL said...

Gardeness, you should not need more than 10 good-sized holes.

Leslie said...

Where are my bulbs from Brent and Becky? I think they'll be here soon! I will try to remember to plan then closely.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The bulb lady has spoken. Must get bulbs into the ground.

garden girl said...

It's so worth the effort when they're blooming in the spring!

I used to plant a lot of bulbs in the fall. I gave up on tulips though, because the rabbits always ate the blooms just as they were getting ready to pop. The only color I'd get from them was scattered in shreds on the ground.

Since moving here, somehow I just seem to run out of steam in the fall, and always regret it in the spring.

Susan aka Miss R said...

I remember the first time I came home with 2 bags of 100 daffodils. I thought I'd be ablaze in yellow the following spring--it was just a drop in the bucket on my small suburban lot. Over the years I have added so many bulbs that spring bloom is now in the many hundreds and it makes me smile as they push their way through the still partially frozen ground at the end of each winter. Go, go, go plant more more more!

Gail said...

I already ordered more! Now if only the rocks would cooperate and get out of the way! Elizabeth...your photos are inspiring! gail

Jean said...

Holy moly! I can't even imagine planting that many. Don't think my back could handle it. But this is good timing for me. I went to an heirloom bulb sale in a nearby city and bought more than I anticipated. But I wasn't going to plant all of them in one place. Now I'm thinking twice about what to do. Thanks for the advice. Your spring garden must look sensational!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Nooo! I'll never be able to plant enough bulbs to make it look good from more than a foot away. There's something about bulb planting that I just despise. Is it the sore wrists? The numb fingers & toes? I should have been adding to groupings gradually over the years, a little at a time. I suppose it's not too late to start now.

Liz said...

I have to agree, I haven't been in my house long but I learnt from my past houses where the gardens were tiny and I only ever used pots that you have to fill them jam-packed in order for the display to be anywhere near exciting.

So now all my pots are just solid with bulbs, and the spring Iris look amazing... Now I just need to put them in the garden............

Excellent post, and wonderful photos!

flowergardengirl said...

Such good advice and beautiful photos. I am surprised to hear that they will all do well even when crowded but do agree they look better in mass.

That first photo is my favorite color combo.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I always think I've planted a nice display until they come up in the spring. I'm good with daffs but I still don't have the tulip display thing figured out. Your photos of your tulips in the ground or in pots are so inspirational that they keep me thinking I can do it. One of these years I'll finally reach critical mass!

kris at Blithewold said...

I agree, there's no such thing as too many and consequently there's never enough! But your display is wonderfully abundant and bulbilicious. Kudos and happy digging.

GardenRetreat said...

I struggle with fall bulbs.. i also run out of steam in the fall. I have them just scattered in several small groups and like you said they do not have big impact. but I also plant winter pansies and they combined with bulbs look pretty nice.

My reason for not planting lots of bulbs is that I have a ton of periennels and do not have much room left for them.. I do not understand what your garden looks like the rest of the season with the bulbs taking up so much room??

I want to try them in pots this year though. your pictures are inspiring

Daffodil Planter said...

"Heaven, I'm in heaven"--gorgeous photos! Plant on!

EAL said...

The trick to balancing a big bulb planting with perennials is, again, to concentrate the bulbs in one area, and, if they are tulips, pull them out. That being said, some big foliage perennials like hostas and rudbeckia would cover the tulip leaves, which should be done rotting by mid-June at the latest. It's a question of timing and not paying attention to any spacing requirements on labels. these are written to be ignored.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Eliz, I think you've inspired me to order more bulbs every year. I probably have 150 or so now myself. You're right about en masse. It's the best way to go.~~Dee

Miss Daisy said...

That's amazing! I can't wait to see all of your spring pictures on display. But the pictures you have placed here are so incredibly beautiful. I agree, tulips are much more beautiful planted en masse! Thanks for the encouragement. I plan to plant mine soon!

Kaarina said...

oh my gosh- I have GOT to get on it! thanks for the beautiful kick in the butt.

Nell Jean said...

200 seems like too many when you are planting; 2000 are hardly enough when they are blooming.