Dreaming in Technicolor
In late summer, glossy bulb catalogs arrive harkening spring and I start dreaming in vivid Technicolor. After much oohing and aahing, I place my order. I patiently wait - counting down the days for my sleeping beauties arrival. I order bulbs to trial new varieties not yet available at local garden centers. Besides, I love getting presents in the mail. There is nothing like coming home to a treasure trove box on the doorstep.
Check Your Order
A crisp, sunny fall afternoon is a rarity in the Pacific Northwest. But when we are blessed, there is no better time to start digging. First, check the packing list for what was originally ordered. Sometimes there can be substitutions. Bulb companies often toss in a thank you present of free bulbs they are overstocked on.
Try to inspect your order as soon as it arrives, as warranties are usually time-stamped. Inspect each bulb’s condition. Look for soft spots, discoloration, or white speckles of mold or fungus. Soft spots can be cut out, but bulbs that “squish” or have lost their firmness should not be planted. Check your order slip for guarantees. Each company’s return policy differs. If bulbs are purchased on clearance, frequently bulb companies do not offer the same warranty.
Mail order catalogs ship bulbs when they are ready to plant in your zone. If time to plunge them into the ground right away doesn’t exist, find a cool and dry storage location. For me, the garage works best. The box is placed near the laundry room door as a physical reminder to plant them sooner than later.
Once the bulbs have been sorted by condition, color and size it’s time to prep the beds. Walk around the garden. Search for the perfect spot for a splash of spring color. Perennial bed edges or corners are great locations for smaller clumps of bulbs such as Galanthus nivalis ‘Snowdrops’.
Oregon blue clay can be difficult to pry open - so dig as deep as you can. A general rule of thumb is to dig three times the diameter of the bulb. I have tried dibblers and bulb augers with limited success. Nothing beats a good shovel and brute foot force.
Sprinkle bone meal at the bottom of the hole to promote healthy root development over the winter.
Bulb Layering Recipe
Deeper the Better
A show-stopping color combination that works in containers and beds. The larger the bulb the deeper it must be planted.
Starting from bottom to top, plant in this order:
5 Daffodil ‘Mt Hood’
3 Tulip ‘Pink Impression’
3 Tulip ‘Salmon Impression’
5 Crocus sieberi ‘Firefly’
Which Side Is Up?
Depending on the type of bulb, locating the correct side can be tough. If a pointy side is not evident, plant the bulb on its side. Cover the bulbs back up and resprinkle area with a smattering of bone meal. Labeling is always a good idea, so you won’t forget where the bulbs were planted initially.
Soon the sleeping beauties will awake with wonder. Spring gardens will be colored with splendor. Gardening with bulbs is my way of producing pleasure from little time and effort expenditures.
BeeDazzled Gardens & Designs Specializes in creating fragrant, organic, low maintenance garden vignettes that add value and pleasure to a home or business exterior and landscape. Our specialty is staged, perennial bed planting designs, seasonal potted containers and garden renovations. Learn more about Dawn at her profile www.themulch.com/community/1859-beedazzledgardens/profile.
Photo credit on all photos: Dawn Hummel