Get Out Your Photos! It’s Time to Plant Your Bulbs…Properly!

By Julie Boudreau

Last spring, I invited you to take photos of your garden, so you can remember what it looks like in the spring. Now is the time to take them out and plan your bulb plantings!

Everything started from this idea that every spring, we always find spaces bare of spring flower bulbs. But, every fall, we forget these places where bulbs would be welcome. Thanks to these precious captures on film, success is now assured!

First, the Analysis!

Each photo of the flower bed will help you spot several opportunities. First, the completely barren places in spring. In flower beds, it is possible that some surfaces are completely bare. No greenery. In other places you will see young perennials beginning to unfold. We can take these occasions to plant bulbs whose flowers blend well with the colors of the young foliage.

Finally, your photos will allow you to find existing holes in the bulb plantations. It will then be possible to choose bulbs of the right color that will harmonize well with what is already in the flower bed.

An example taken from my own garden, in 2007. My project here was to create a large clump of pink and purple tulips, all along my peony bed. Thanks to this photo, I knew where to continue my planting in the fall! Photo: Julie Boudreau

Shopping for Your Bulbs, Like at the Grocery Store

This beautiful detailed analysis of your flower beds will allow you to draw up a list, similar to a nice grocery list: a handful of purple crocuses near the heucheras, 50 yellow tulips in this bare space, a few hyacinths across a clump of sparse tulips. And why not some purple grape hyacinths to accompany the carpet of moss phlox?

We see the full potential of this flower bed! There’s plenty of room to add hundreds and hundreds of crocus bulbs! Photo: Julie Boudreau

This is how you can enter a garden center without fearing the worst: coming back with tons of bulbs that you won’t really know where to plant!

Buy Early, Plant Late

It’s at the beginning of September that garden centers start to display their beautiful boxes of bulbs: flowers of all colors! A real candy store for any self-respecting gardener! But, but, but… with your precious list in hand, you will make wise and judicious purchases! You will buy exactly what you need to fill the strategically studied places in your spring photos!

I am writing these lines and laughing up my sleeve! Of course there will be some impulse purchases! There is ALWAYS room for a small bag of crocuses in the lawn and a few more tulips in the corner of the flower bed. For my part, I have a hard time resisting decorative Alliums and, ultimately, all the varieties of bulbs that I haven’t tried at least once in my garden!

In front of these beautiful red tulips, it would be possible to add purple hyacinths, as well as grape hyacinths , around the brunnera. We can clearly see the bare spaces of the flower bed. Photo: Julie Boudreau

We will wait until days start to get cool before planting. Until then, keep the bulbs in a cool place and away from squirrels! It is generally around the second week of October that bulbs are planted in the province of Quebec. The planting time generally coincides with the coloring of the leaves in the trees.

Photos in hand, identify the places to garnish and plant! Then the following spring… take photos to show me your great successes!

My tulip project, four years later! Photo: Julie Boudreau

Julie Boudreau is a horticulturist who trained at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec. She’s been working with plants for more than 25 years. She has published many gardening books and hosted various radio and television shows. She now teaches horticulture at the Centre de formation horticole of Laval. A great gardening enthusiast, she’s devoted to promoting gardening, garden design, botany and ecology in every form. Born a fan of organic gardening, she’s curious and cultivates a passion for all that can be eaten. Julie Boudreau is “epicurious” and also fascinated by Latin names.

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