Layers of Bulbs and early Spring Foliage

Fritillaria imperialis April 14 2018 small
Fritillaria imperialis rising regally from the ground.

Although I, like almost everyone else in Southern Ontario, have been moaning about how cold it’s been in April, there are ample signs that spring is progressing and the garden is awakening as it should.  Yes, it’s been wet, but we all know what April showers bring, right?  And there’s been snow and freezing rain, but with a normal last frost date in mid May, what else would you expect?  Yes, temperatures on most days have not reached the ‘normal’ highs but the flip side of that is cooler weather means spring bulbs last longer.  My Galanthus (Snowdrops), for example, have been blooming since the end of February and will likely last til the end of April.  Remarkable!

Meanwhile, other spring bulbs, tubers, corms and perennials are waking up and starting to make an impression as the colours of the garden slowly morph from greys and browns to green and all other colours of the rainbow.

Tips to remember for the fall – layering and close planting.

When I plant bulbs I often ‘layer’ them to provide a longer bloom period – smaller Crocus and Chianodoxa, for example, bloom early and, in the planting hole, sit on top of larger bulbs like Narcissus, Allium and Fritillaria, which will bloom later.  Or I’ll plant bulbs tight to the base of perennials so that the perennial foliage will grow and cover the dying leaves of the bulbs.   This both lets the bulb gain strength for next years’ blooms and also helps nourish the soil.

Fritillaria persica & Crocus Prins Claus April 14 2018 small
Can you see the tips of Fritillaria persica starting to emerge through this drift of Crocus Prins Claus?
emerging Tete a Tete daffodils Apeil 14 2018 b small
A tale of two Narcissus — this one a tiny Tete a Tete getting ready to display buttons of yellow above ground cover Sedum, which is just starting to shift from its winter red hues to summer green…
orange crocus and daffodils april 14 2018
…and these much taller Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ – which won’t bloom for another month or so – pushing through large orange Crocus.  Last fall, I dug a wide hole, planted Narcissus and Crocus around the edges and t=in the middle transplanted a mature clump of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).  This year, I’ll get many month of blooms from the same spot in the garden.
emerging Iris April 14 2018 b
I love the contrast between the bright green of newly emerging Iris leaves and the red leaves of fleshy Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) leaves.
Allium and Chianodoxa April 14 2018
There’s dozens of little blue Chianodoxa bulbs at the base of these Allium ‘Purple Sensation.’  The Chianodoxa will start to bloom in a few days (weather permitting) and stay in bloom until the Allium are set to start.  I’m thinking the rabbit damage to some of the Allium wasn’t life threatening and the flowers themselves survived!

Awakening

8 Comments

  1. I would have guessed that it would be too cold for hen and chicks. Some do not like even mild frost. Yours look even better than mine do, although I do not know what mine are, or how closely they are related. Some are not Sempervium.

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  2. Yes, cool, wet and snowy is normal for April, it’s not like complaining will change anything, right? I’m surprised something ate the allium – I thought nothing would, guess it depends on how hungry, eh? Good idea with the layering – it looks well.

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