A Beautiful Year for Spring Bulbs

Maybe it’s because it has not warmed up too fast, or we had moisture at the right times (though parts of Minnesota are technically in a drought), 2015 has been a good year for bulbs in my garden.

Mixed crocus

Over the past couple of years, I’ve planted more bulbs in the fall for spring bloom, including lots of crocus*, Siberian squill in the yard and garden beds, new big daffodils*, more tulips and cute, little Chiondoxa (glory of the snow). For later bloom, I have two kinds of allium as well. So far, the early spring bulbs are blooing except the tulips, which will be colorful until mid-May or beyond.

First tulips in bloom.
First tulips in bloom.

Bulbs brighten up the early spring landscape and are a great addition to northern gardens. Since we often aren’t sure when spring will occur in Minnesota or how long it will last, bulbs guarantee a bit of color before that explosion of spring flowering trees and early perennials that occurs in May.

glory of the snow
Glory of the Snow

They are easy to plant and take care of, too. In early October, I dig a big hole to place large groups of bulbs. The larger groups have more impact in the landscape and placing them in one hole is easier than digging individual holes for each bulb. I give them a little fertilizer, but otherwise just leave them alone and wait for spring. I’ve been fortunate that the many critters we have around our house have not gone after my bulbs. My neighbors have had that happen and switched to mostly daffodils, which for some reason the little monsters don’t like.

How are your bulbs looking this year?

I’m pretty sure these were test plants sent to me at no charge from Longfield Gardens. (I lost the paperwork between October and now.) The bulbs are fantastic.

First Bloom

Iris reticulata bloom
Iris reticulata blooms amid the spent foliage of a dusty miller plant.

The seasons are changing rapidly here — and, in true Minnesota style, changing back. We went from mid-60s much of last week to mid-30s today. Sunday I spotted the first bloom in our front yard. It is an Iris reticulata, an early blooming bulb that usually comes up about the same time as crocuses. (The timing is right on. My neighbor’s crocuses are also blooming.) It’s one of those plants I have no recollection of planting — so each year, it’s a pleasant surprise. I love the deep purple color and the little polka dots on the bloom. What’s blooming in your garden this chilly day?

Another Bulb in Bloom

Iris reticulata in bloom
Iris reticulata is one of the earliest bulbs to bloom in northern gardens.

These sweet little Iris reticulata are the second bulb to bloom in my yard this year. They surprised me a couple of days ago because — as has happened before — I forgot I planted them. Like the squill that are also blooming, the plants are small (the iris flowers are disproportionately large) and you have to be standing close to them to notice them at all. For the photo, I was crouched way down on the sidewalk. The crocus I planted last fall have foliage but no blooms yet, though my neighbor who has an impressive bulb display every year has both crocus and diminutive daffodils in bloom. Whatever their size, the blooms are most welcome this time of year. Now, if we could just get some rain…..

Snow Blooms

squill emerging in snow
You can’t keep a spring bloom down for long.

I went outside to take photos of this morning’s short-lived snow fall and what to my wandering eyes should appear but blooms! The squill (Scilla siberica) in my front yard has started blooming. There are not many blooms yet — and they looked a little chilly this morning, but I’m not complaining. My neighbor’s crocus are also in bloom. So, perhaps spring is creeping up on usĀ  even though temperatures are predicted to be well below normal this week.

Allium and Plant Architecture

purple flower about to bloom
About to open

The ‘Purple Sensation’ allium has such interesting architecture. Each little blossom in the bulb seems to be held on a stick, radiating from the flower’s center. Each blossom is a tiny daisy, and watching them emerge in mid-spring is a joy. They start out as tight little balls.

allium about to bloom
Getting closer

Then as the bloom opens more fully you can see the tiny flowers.

purple sensation allium
A fully open ‘Purple Sensation’ allium

Then, voila, the plant is fully open, a round ball of purple standing tall in the garden.

The intricacy of plants continues to leave me in awe.