Tag Archives: globemaster allium

Bury Bulbs Now for Spring Surprises

Corydalis ophiocarpa’s yellow blooms brighten the landscape in early spring.

Some things in life are just worth the wait. Take spring-blooming bulbs, for example.

In autumn, you dig a hole, gently insert a small vegetative object and cover it with soil. Then you wait. Come late winter or early spring, vibrant little beauties start poking their heads above ground, and before long you’re looking at a lavish display of pre-season blossoms–an end-of-winter announcement.

October is prime time for planting spring- and early-summer-blooming bulbs in Colorado, but you can get away with planting in early November, as well.

If you haven’t bought bulbs yet, you probably can still find some at nurseries, hardware stores and even big box stores, such as Costco.  The ones from the hardware and big box stores may not be premier quality, but they’ll get you by—especially if you just want to experiment.

Siberian squill’s nodding blooms add a woodland feel to the garden.

If you want top-quality bulbs from, say, mail-order catalogs, you’ll have to wait till late April/early May for the best selection of spring bloomers.

Why bother with bulbs?  Because they extend your growing season. Some bulbs, such as crocus and winter aconite, bloom as early as February, long before most perennials start waking up in April or May.

On top of that, bulbs are cheerful, exotic and easy to grow.  And they come in a massive variety of shapes, colors and sizes.

Allium 'Globemaster'

Globemaster allium, with its giant head that measures 6 to 8 inches across, is astonishing. It blooms in late spring or early summer.

Some of my favorites are Corydalis ophiocarpa with its ferny leaves and bright yellow flower stalks; Siberian squill with its delicate, nodding blue heads; and allium with its dramatic drumstick-like demeanor.  If you can’t find Corydalis ophiocarpa, you can find its darling cousins, such as C. solida or C. lutea.

Then, of course, there are ever-popular tulips and daffodils.

When planting bulbs, be sure to dig the hole two to three times as deep as the bulb’s height.  So if you have a tulip bulb that’s one-inch tall, for example, make your hole two to three inches deep.  Also, make sure that you insert the bulb so the pointy end faces up.  Otherwise, you’ll never see blooms.

I’ll admit that bulbs aren’t the first plants that I install in a landscape.  I want to get the trees, shrubs and perennials in place first.  But once that’s done, I like to tuck bulbs into small openings here and there in the garden.  They create such a nice surprise.

Try a few bulbs.  You’ll see what I mean.



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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness, Whimsy

Bring Backlighting to Forefront In Garden

Allium 'Globemaster'

Globemaster Allium. Sunlight streams through the translucent head of this dramatic bulb. Plant it in the fall for May/June bloom in Denver.

Is your garden ho-hum?  Do people yawn as they walk by?

Then maybe it’s time to add a little drama.  There are many ways to do this.  For example, you can add plants with arresting shapes and colors, create movement, frame a view, display garden art, install well-placed lights or take advantage of backlighting.

Let’s explore backlighting today.  I’ll discuss other approaches later.

If your garden faces east or west, you have concentrated sunlight in the morning or late afternoon to backlight your landscape.  Now all you have to do is take advantage of it.  How?  By installing translucent or glossy plants so light can shine through them or make them sparkle.

Purple smokebush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ or C. ‘Velvet Cloak’), with its semi-opaque spoon-shaped leaves, glows in the sunlight.  So do ornamental onions, especially Allium ‘Globemaster’ with its massive drumstick-shaped heads.  Then there are ornamental grasses, such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and giant sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii), with their narrow leaves and often eye-catching plumes.

For sparkle, you can add a glossy-leaved plant such as hawthorn (Crataegus).  I planted a drought-resistant thornless cockspur hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli var. inermis) at the end of a grassy expanse in my east-facing back yard.  Every morning, that baby just lights up and steals the show.

Other glossy-leaved plants you might consider are Frau Dagmar Hastrup rose (Rosa rugosa ‘Frau Dagmar Hastrup’) with its delicate mauve-ish blooms, Prague viburnum (Viburnum x pragense), Manhattan euonymus (Euonymus kiautschovicus) and Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium).  Hollies in the genus Ilex also have glossy leaves but can be difficult to grow in Colorado.

By planting strategically to use backlighting, you can turn those yawns of passers-by into gasps of delight.

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