Planting Ahead: The Magnificent Blossoms of Spring

Usually about this time of year, bulb catalogs start trickling in through the mail. Distracted by the current state of my garden, heady with flowers and billowing shrubs, I take a quick look and set them aside.   I’m enjoying the long, warm days of summer and the beautiful gardens for which I have labored.  The crush of spring’s chores- mulching, pruning, and staking- are behind me.  Now is the time for sitting, with a book and a drink, to bask in my paradise.

Do I really need to think about next spring already??

Well… I have lived through enough long cold winters to know that when the first snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) appear in February, the words “well done” will be on my lips.  IMG_7227



Then crocus, hyacinth, tulips, and daffodils each in their turn will push up to greet me, all before most other plants have even opened their leaves. At just the moment when we can’t take anymore –  the endless looking out of the window, checking for any sign of life – they bloom.  IMG_7233

And how I delight in that bloom!   The refreshment of their color and form is just what I am starving for. It is exactly what I need exactly when I need it.  A fix.  My rescue.  Relief.  I am almost always surprised by them as I have usually forgotten planting them what seems like so long ago.  IMG_7234

So yes, I order more bulbs when it seems I don’t need them. And when I put my garden to bed for the winter, I reluctantly drag out my shovel one more time.  And I plant my bulbs.  Some in clumps of 10-15, where I know their dying foliage will be hidden by perennials rising to take their turn.  Some, I scatter like seeds and plant them as they lay, for a natural, meandering look.  Others, I mix together to create bouquets of color.  All are strategically placed to be seen from my windows or upon my arrival home, and some are intended especially for passersby.  IMG_7246

This year I plan to add Fritilla meleagris or snake’s head fitillary.  While the name is not pretty, I am excited to add the checkered petals to my spring display.  Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is another beauty I’ve long admired.  Others on my wish list are magic lily (Lycoris squamigeria), grecian windflower (Anemone blanda), and glory of the snow (Chionodoxa sardensis).  

“If we had not winter, the spring would not be so pleasant” IMG_7231

~Anne Bradstreet~

When the catalogs arrive, and advise to “order early before the best sell out”, do it.  Think of the next spring, the promise of sunshine and flowers.  Make one last effort this fall so that when the first bulb blossoms, you too will say “well done”.



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