by BRIAN MINTER
September 10, 2003
It is time to begin thinking about fall bulb planting, and this year I thought you might want to try a few new twists. At a fall bulb seminar held in Oregon, some very interesting facts were provided about the use of spring flowering bulbs in commercial landscapes. These seminars were designed primarily for landscapers, but the ideas and trends were definitely applicable to home gardeners.
For the greatest impact, landscapers use mainly three colours of tulips: reds; strong yellows; and red and yellow bicolours. These bold colours create a strong visual impression, both close up and from a distance. Other powerful tulip combinations are reds contrasted with whites and red and yellow tulips surrounded with a purple border of pansies. In commercial landscapes, the three most often used varieties of narcissus are the strong and sturdy ‘Dutch Masters’, the single yellow and orange ‘Fortune’ and the always reliable ‘Ice Follies’. They are very weather tolerant and dependable, and they naturalize easily. ‘Ice Follies’, by the way, is the longest lasting variety, but try blending ‘Dutch Master’, ‘Fortune’ and ‘Ice Follies’ together for an extended display. The impact might not be quite as strong, but the longevity of the display makes this a successful combination.
One concept that is very effective in commercial plantings is the idea of a ‘marketing avenue’. I am sure you have seen a large, stunning floral display as you enter a condominium complex, a golf course or a public garden. This is a good idea for homeowners as well. One major floral bed at the entrance to your home could be quite dramatic and effective. Such a bed, however, must be designed to look good all the time. No matter how large you make this bed, fill it with a massive colour display for the greatest impact. The message to landscapers and homeowners is quite clear. If you wish to create an impression with your planting of bulbs, stick to the bulb varieties that are dependable performers and that bloom at specific times; choose strong colours; and outline your bulb plantings with accent borders to further enhance the flowers and foliage. It may take a little extra work, but the results will be worth it!
Daffodil leaves can, at times, look untidy in a garden. One of the best solutions for this problem is to plant daylilies (Hemerocallis) along with your daffodils. As the daffodil leaves begin to decline, the daylily leaves conceal them nicely, and if you choose one of the new long blooming daylily varieties, such as ‘Stella d’Oro’, you will have colour in that spot from April until September. Narcissus also naturalize well among the foliage of English ivy and lamia. Both are evergreen and provide a nice contrast to narcissus blossoms and foliage.