NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR MAY 24, 2008
BY GLADYS JEURINK
daffodils, crocus and other bulbs we planted last fall have been
beautiful this spring. New or beginning gardeners have gone to the
garden centers wanting these bulbs only to be told that they are not
available until fall. However, there are bulbs that can be planted this
spring that will produce beautiful flowers this summer.
gladiolus: One catalog called them BUTTERFLY
GLADS, another GLAMINI GLADS.
I find it quite common for different concerns to make new names
for the same thing, thus making it necessary to know the scientific
name. They will grow only about 20 inches high and not like the tall
ones we know that tend to collapse when they bloom from the weight of
the flowers. In a mixed collection I didn’t get as many colors as I
have in the big ones. Glads are actually corms which are a solid,
swollen part of a stem. The
old stem is used up at the end of the season and replaced by new ones.
OF THE VALLEY is really a rhizome as are IRIS-that
is, a horizontal stem that sends up leaves or stems at the apex. For
their small size they are aggressive and will cover your shady space in
damp, well composted soil. Easy to plant at only one inch deep and four
inches apart. Usually white
but lately there are pink ones as well as double ones.
ornamental onions (Alliums)
are a true bulb-a modified leaf bud, consisting of a basal plate, short
thick stem and fleshy scales or a membranous skin. They range in height
from 4 inches (Allium karataniense) to 4 feet (Allium
giganteum). They also bloom from early spring to early autumn. Most
of them are planted in the fall and are winter hardy.
They also do well in high shade or full sun. Since the leaves of
many of the large purple ones disappear in the summer, they can be
planted among later appearing plants that will cover the bare spot. The tall stems can be cut for winter bouquets or just left
standing. Probably my favorite is the
STAR OF PERSIA (Allium
christophii) which only grows 18 inches high and blooms in late
spring. The head may be 15
to 18 inches wide with widely spaced up to one inch blooms on many long
stems forming a globe. The little one (Allium
karataviense) has bluish foliage and a reddish white flower.
also an Allium (schonsprasum)
usually grown in the vegetable garden.
They are about 12 inches high with rose pink flowers from
Eurasia. Most people grow them to cut up the leaves for flavoring but
the flowers look well in bouquets. It is not one to attract your nose
and they reproduce frequently so the clumps need to be divided about
every 2 years.
bicolor is a new bulb for me as last summer I had it for the first time.
They have to be dug in the fall like GLADIOLUS.
In fact their care is almost identical to GLADS and even the foliage
looks alike but the flowers are always white with a maroon center about
3 inches across. In the fall there are new bulbs to keep and old ones to
throw away just as Gladiolas. They are natives of Africa.
is always a surprise when it blooms as the foliage comes up early in the
spring and then disappears. The flowers of COLCHICUM
autumnale blooms in late summer and resembles giant Crocus.
I like to have mine planted near the edge of my paths or they
could be missed if hidden by other foliage and not having any of their
own to mark their spot. One
needs to order them early and know when they will arrive. If you put
them aside they may bloom on your shelf.
The foliage appears in the spring and then disappears.
are tuberous roots. That is, a swollen food storing root with eyes, not
on the root itself but on the base of the stem. When you dig them in the
fall you need to be careful not to break the tubers off without a part
of the stem with a bud. Some
keep the entire clump until spring, while others separate the tubers to
save space. They need to be kept in a cool place during winter in sand,
vermiculite, etc. to keep them from drying out. In spring I like to put
them in damp peat moss to rehydrate and start to grow.
I dig a 6 inch hole, put the tuber in with a stake or a cage and
cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil. As
the plant grows I fill the hole in.
I think the depth helps support the plant as the
“dinnerplates” are quite heavy.
Each plant needs about 3 feet.
There are smaller varieties just as pretty in many forms called
“water lily”, cactus, and bedding. When blooming they need a good
supply of water in well drained soil.
I have raised the dwarf form from seed-it comes up immediately
and blooms before the dinner plates.
(Dicentra species) are
sometimes called rhizomes and sometimes tubers.
For me they prefer light shade as they die down after blooming in
sun and the plants are not nearly as large the next spring. They can be
moved after dying down but the roots can be broken very easily as they
are very brittle. They grow
up to 2 feet tall and there are red or white blooms.
I keep a mulch over their roots to have them blooming as long as
possible. There is a Dicentra
cucullaria or DUTCHMAN’S
BRITCHES with white flowers only about 1 foot tall that dies down
even soon. Dig lots of compost into their soil before planting to help
keep the soil cool and damp.