Master Gardener

By now you should have planted some colorful shrubs, filled in the bare spots in your flower garden with reduced price perennials (they are usually on sale now), and decorated your yard with new shrubs. So what’s next you ask? Next spring’s flowers. 

Do you remember what your flower beds looked like last spring? A clump or 2 of daffodils, a row of red tulips and several clumps of iris you got from your grandmother? Do you really like that effect? If not, check with your local nursery, the big box stores and if all else fails, the fall seed catalogs. 

If you have had problems with tulips not being perennial, try Darwins. They are non fail. Another type are the fringed ones. They seem to be quite reliable at returning. 

If you have trouble with critters digging tulips up as soon as you plant them, try these tips. Plant them at least 8 inches deep top the last 2 inches with chicken grit or sharp stones then fill the hole. Never leave any of the dry tulip skins lying about. That is a calling card to the squirrels and chipmunks that here be tulips.  

In the spring, as soon as they pop up, spray them with a critter deterrent like Liquid Fence or pepper spray. If they just don’t come up at all and you have clay soil, they may rot before they can even sprout. You will have to modify the soil with decent dirt where you plan to plant them.

If your only daffodils are the yellow ones, you definitely need to diversify. They come in yellow and white, yellow and peach, peach, white, orange, orange with a red cup, pink, pink and white, frilled, and double. The nice thing about daffs is that nothing will eat them as they are poisonous to mammals.

Now add some blue. Mertensia, or Virginia bluebells, open pink then turn blue. They will spread slowly but  they are ephemerals. That is, like other spring bulbs and corms, they bloom then disappear until next spring so you can plant right over them. 

Sillia are little blue bells only 6 to 8 inches high. They not only spread in the flower garden, the birds like the seeds,  so they often show up  here and there in Bunkey’s yard. 

Then there are Spanish blue bells (wood hyacinth), English blue bells (Hyacinthoides non- scripta) and Indian hyacinths (Camsssia). Plant all those and you will have a multi nation flower garden. One hyacinth  looks like a drumstick. They come in red, purple, pink and white and small like heaven. Other types come in shapes like feathers, grapes and spikes.

Crocus comes in several colors and shapes. 

Snow drops are a white plant, about a foot tall with white flowers that look much like lily of the valley.  All these small plants are called minor bulbs. They are usually pretty reliably perennial and usually not critter lunch. They don’t spread. 

Alliums are first cousins to onions. The blooms can look like a kid with a bad hair day, a round ball  or an explosion.  Allium Roseum has  an open head full of tiny pink flowers. Sparkler looks like fireworks. Alliums come in white, pink, purple and blue. Do be aware they spread by seed. You can dry the seed head and spray it with spray paint for pretty decorations. 

Do invest in some hybrid iris. They have huge blooms in many single, two colored and sometimes triple colors in their flowers. They are great cut flowers too.

The only limit to spring color is your imagination, your pocketbook, and the size of your flowerbed.