A GROWING CONCERN: As fall starts, think spring

SO SORRY TO have kept you waiting for the list of “must have” spring blooming bulbs, but I got a chance to go to visit my son in order to celebrate his becoming a flight instructor (Way to go, Spencer). He also took me to the very last national air races in Reno, Nev.

However, gardening is still my main concern, so here is a list of spring bulbs your garden wants you to buy.

Remember, you never buy enough!

1. Crocus (giant or grandiflora).

March, 4- to 5-inches high, 2-in apart, very perennial, great for forcing.

The grandifloras are truly magnificent for their size of bloom and brightness.

They will easily naturalize in your lawn, on a hillside, trim on a pathway or as a border.

They adore well-drained soil (which we have an abundance of here) and with the yearly bone meal feed in August or September, are virtually carefree.

2. Indoor Narcissus (paper whites, narcissus papy-raceus).

January to March, 16- to 18-inches, sun to semi-shade, not hardy, (may be stored) bulb on bulb, great cut flower, developed for pot forcing.

Paper whites and especially the superior relatively new variety “ZIVA” are spectacular for indoor pots.

This is the way to get the bulb program off to a great start as early as day one of mid-early-winter Jan. 1.

Try some in a beautiful bowl with decorative gravel or as stocking stuffers and holiday table gifts.

They are on automatic pilot so anyone can grow these gems.

3. Rock garden or low-growing daffodils.

Late February to March, 8- to 12-inches, sun to shade, 3- to 4-inches apart, perennial, deer resistant, cut flower, pot forcing.

Here is the first of the uncommon narcissus to branch off into.

Rock daffodils (miniatures) are an absolute in the garden for a multitude of reasons.

They are very early, so they greatly extend your daffodil collections’ bloom time.

They are short, so wind and rain won’t knock them over.

They co-mingle perfectly with a variety of other bulbs (grape hyacinths, rock tulips, striped quill). And they are unsurpassed in the rock garden, perennial garden or as a pot forcing item in your home.

Outstanding varieties are tete a tete, minnow, thalia, scarlet gem or try to find the bigger cupped golden bells.

4. Large cupped double Narcissus.

April, 14- to 18-inches, 4- to 6-inches apart, perennial, deer resistant, cut flower.

The extra layers of petals give this large flowering spring bulb demanding attention.

They are used for accent spots, clumps in the perennial garden or as part of a knockout flower arrangement. Doubles are a great perennial.

5. Butterfly Narcissus.

Late March to April, 16 inches, sun to shade, 4- to 6-inches apart, deer resistant, cut flower, pot forcing.

Here is another unique type of novelty daffodil. Split corona narcissi (butterfly narcissus) are an eye catching little group of daffodils.

They are classified by their interesting flower that is a split open-centered cup.

They come in many neat bi- and tri-colors and are great when planted behind the rock garden types, but in front of large cupped for that ever so stunning three-tiered effect.

6. Specialty tulips.

April to May, 6- to 8-inches, sun to semi-shade, 2- to 3-inches apart, perennial.

Diving into the tulips, specialty tulips are unfamiliar to most gardeners. They’re bulb is half or less the size of a conventional tulip.

They are actually species forms of native tulips growing in the hillside in Asia and the Mediterranean.

They are low, fast growing, require little care, love sandy rocky soils and come back better every year (with bone meal).

7. Rock garden tulips.

March, 6- to 12-inches, sun to shade, 3- to 4-inches apart, perennial, cut flower.

Here is a whole category developed just for rock gardens.

Ever so slightly later to bloom, these will get your yard off to a spectacular look.

Noted varieties are Red Riding Hood, Fusilier (both excellent pot forcers), Toronto Tarafa and any bi-colors. Many of the rock garden tulips are known as Greigii tulips.

8. Double tulips.

Early and late March to June, 10- to 12-inches or 14- to 20-inches, sun to shade, 4- to 5-inches apart, perennial, outstanding cut flower.

Double tulips are perfect replicas of peony blooms.

When you plant early and late together in the same hole you get 8 to 9 weeks of fully-double flowers.

Any variety will do.

9. Parrot tulips.

Late May, 18- to 20-inches, sun to shade, 4- to 5-inches apart, perennial, cut flower.

This is the tulip bulb to have and my No. 1 choice this week.

The utterly unique flower pattern (fluffy ruffled petals) combined with the true lateness of this type give you the grand finale to spring tulips.

10. Fringed tulips.

May, 22- to 24-inches, sun to shade, 4- to 5-inches apart, cut flower.

The first cousin to the great doubles and parrots, fringed deserve more than honorable mention.

Fringes derive their category by the way in which each petal edge is extremely serrated. This dazzling fringe so fully developed give these tulips a mandatory status.

11. Hyacinth.

Late March to early April, 8- to 12-inches, sun to partial shade, 5- to 6-inches apart, perennial, deer resistant, cut flower, pot forcing.

We all know hyacinths for the garden, but go get 25 or so for pot forcing.

With their heavenly scent you’ll have the same scent and flower in the garden, in a pot at the table, and a fresh cut stalk and a vase on the bathroom stand.

But please remember … Stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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