More About Spring Bulbs

They put a smile on my face! That’s the main thing I can say about spring bulbs–i.e. the ones that you plant in the fall and they emerge in the spring–even late winter.


Tulipa tarda–one of the many “botanical” tulips


Muscari–grape hyacinth. One of the most generous garden plants, will flower in sun or shade, dry or wet soil, and will naturalize easily–maybe too easily.

Galanthus nivalis--Snowdrop

Galanthus nivalis–Snowdrop


Crocus and bee–what’s not to LOVE here?

This might be my favourite spring bulb--Fritilaria mealagris

This might be my favourite spring bulb–Fritilaria mealagris–aka Snake’s Head Fritillary.

Tete a tete daffoldils and scilla

Tete a tete daffoldils and scilla


Stay tuned for more design suggestions using spring bulbs…

Forcing Bulbs for Winter Bloom

Forcing Bulbs for Winter Bloom


Starting the larger tray with Orange Imperial Tulips–bought in bulk so there’s no package image.

I have never tried to force bulbs so this advice, cribbed from various websites, is as much for me as for you. I’m going to try some tulips, daffs, crocus and iris, maybe fritillary, and post my progress.

Most spring-flowering bulbs need to be chilled for a prolonged period before they will flower. You can buy pre-chilled bulbs (pricey), or you can chill them yourselves. Paperwhites and Amaryllis are exceptions: Paperwhites will just start to grow as soon as you offer them some water, and Amaryllis require a whole separate blog post–maybe I’ve done one?

The source of all the flower’s nutrients comes not from the soil, but from the bulb. So get good plump bulbs–choosing them individually from the bulk bin may be best–and plant shallowly. The  rule of planting outdoor bulbs 3-5 times the depth of the bulb doesn’t apply here. thumb_IMG_1430_1024I’m using clear produce containers so I can see what the roots are doing, and they’re only about 3″ deep. Not sure what I’ll do when it’s time to actually show them.

The chilling period of our common spring bulbs varies from 8 weeks for some crocuses, to (apparently up to) 20 weeks for some daffs or tulips. Most of the sources say to plant different bulbs separately because of their different chill times, but a longer chill time won’t harm bulbs that don’t actually need it, so I’m planting multiple types together.



Added botanical Tulips–I’ve bought this mixture before, and ended up with about 100% pink.



We’ll see in about 20 weeks if it works…

Oh, and the chilling temperature: fridge temp–around 4-8° C (38-45 º F). Mine are going into the fridge for most of the chilling period, but when outdoor temps get to the target range, I’ll put them outdoors on the back porch. Freeing up fridge space again.

Here’s something I didn’t read until I’d finished planting:

The flat side of the tulip bulb should be placed next to the rim of the pot since the largest leaf will always emerge and grow on that side, producing a more desirable looking pot.

You can see in the top picture I didn’t do that… Next time.

Now here’s the trick: when do you want your flowers to bloom? At a typical, or maybe just a bit earlier than typical, Spring time? Or Christmas? Since you can easily get an Amaryllis or Paperwhite to bloom on command, you may want to aim for your chilled bulbs to be later than that.That’s my plan: 4 months of chilling from now, plus 2-3 weeks for growth and bud formation means I could have flowers for late January, early Feb, the very time when I really feel the need to see some green growth.

When it’s time to take them out of cooling, do it slowly, putting the pot in a cool space with indirect light until you’ve got a few inches of growth–couple weeks–, and then allowing more warmth and light.


Smaller tray, starting with Rock Garden mini daffs. The bulbs look big to me, but they’re only half the size of something like King Alfred Daffodil.


‘Jetfire’ Rock garden Narcissi


Next layer is the dwarf Iris (reticulata ?) Clairette. A new one for me.




‘Clairette’ Dwarf Iris


And finally a few Fritillaria meleagris–aka “Snake’s head fritillary”.

Now it all goes into a bag–a loosely tied plastic bag because my trays have drainage holes, of course. Brown paper bag is recommended. I guess that would be if you have a fridge you can devote to chilling bulbs. I do not.

I don’t expect to have any progress to report before Christmas, but I’ll be checking periodically to make sure the potting soil doesn’t dry out.

Garden Trends


The 2016 Garden Trends Report is out, and in my inbox, so I’ll give you their forecast of what to expect in the gardening world over this next year or so. I’ll leave out the inevitable “more technology”, since it doesn’t take a mystic to predict that…

Connecting with nature for your health

People are increasingly aware of the wellness benefits to engaging with nature. So bringing natural surroundings close to home is one way to enjoy those benefits for you and your family. Add a fruit and/or vegetable garden, create habitat for birds bees and other critters, plant shrubs and trees, especially natives (to your own area).


Instead of just planting for beauty, makers want to have a functional garden–growing hops to make their own beer or grapes to make their own wine. Plants with healing properties like calendula for soaps and salves. Marigolds and onions for botanical dyes.

Multi-sensual experiences

Water features aren’t new, but adding music from a faux rock speaker, or LED lights under the falling water increases the sensual experience.

Or how would your child like this:

led swing

See this in action: Light swing


We may not know it, but it’s possible if not probable that one of our subconscious goals in creating outdoor spaces is to re-live a childhood memory–Grandma’s flowers, Mum’s vegetable garden, the neighbour’s dog, summer holidays at the lake, that apple taste you’ve never been able to find…



Hardy Landscapes

Fewer annuals, more natives, evergreens, both broadleaf and conifers, ornamental grasses that offer multi-season–including winter–interest. Legacy gardens–planting for your children’s generation, not just your own.

Appreciating our (apparently) dwindling supply of water makes us ever more mindful of conserving it in our gardens. Sprinklers will become scarce as hens’ teeth (so to speak) and drip irrigation the norm.


This is a big one, as the Report says 65% of US households own a pet (I imagine it’s a similar percentage in Canada). Toxin free spaces for dogs to run and explore are increasingly in demand as pet owners invest more and more (financially and emothionally) in their pets.

Photo Credit  Pet Plan

Photo Credit Pet Plan

Tiny gardens

Container vegetable gardens, hanging strawberry baskets, espalier fruit trees–a lot can be done in small space.

Photo credit Vintage Garden Gal

Photo credit Vintage Garden Gal