I did something else!

A few days ago I posted about my success in remembering to plant garlic at the right time of year for once, and titled that post "I did it!" Well, garlic wasn't the only fall-planted "bulb" that I've been wanting to plant for years and finally managed to this year. (Does that sentence make any sense?)


Every spring I look around my yard and wonder why I don't have any spring-flowering bulbs planted. Technically I shouldn't say "any" because I do have some crocus that I planted in places in the front yard, but they're slowly dying away -- there were only a dozen or so blooms this past spring. Still, why don't I have more?


***


So on two recent trips to different big-box stores I noticed all of the spring bulbs on clearance, and although it seems a bit late for planting this year I thought I'd take a chance and bought several. Each of these was 1/2 price or less -- for instance, the $5 bags were only $2.

Even though I don't particularly like them, I started with daffodils:


I got these because they're dependable, multiply each year, and the deer won't eat them. Perhaps I'll like them more once I'm growing them. (It's mainly the all-yellow types I don't like, which is why I got other varieties too.)

I'll be mixing them in with another deer-proof plant: allium:


These are late bloomers (each package noted the blooming time as early, mid, or late spring), so will extend the interest of these beds -- I'll be mixing all of the bulbs together when planting.

I chose lots of different tulips:


I don't know if the deer will munch all of these or not. Of course I'm hoping they don't, but I'll find out.

Finally I got more crocus and some hyacinth to mix in:


It's a lot of bulbs, but my idea was to plant densely. I saw a segment on a gardening show where a gardener in a botanical park in Texas planted tulips like annuals, so would just dig a big hole, dump all of the bulbs in so they were packed right next to each other, and cover. Beautiful results that I hope to emulate on a smaller scale, with a bit more permanence.

Here's where I want to put a large portion of these bulbs:


It's along my driveway, where I experimented with potted plants this year. I loved having a strip of plants here, and if the bulbs don't work out (for example if they're eaten from below or above) at least I'll have a planting bed ready.

Step one is to move the pots and remove the poor turf:


I decided that I'd like a little bed on the other side of the driveway too, and they're both cleared of grasses and weeds now:


Difficult to see there... how's this?


After turning the soil, I realized I'd need to add a lot of organic matter, and would need to loosen the soil a bit deeper.


Although we don't typically step on the grass next the the driveway when getting out of the car, even occasional footsteps build up after 40 years (the rough age of my house) and compact the soil. To get the spade deeper, I needed to remove some of the soil:


Then I added heaps of compost (leaf mold):


Once it was worked into the soil, I started laying out the bulbs. I spent a long time trying to figure out the best way to divide them and plant, but it mainly came down to two choices: "clumps" of the same blooms, or a "random" mixture. I decided the random mix would be best, and laid out the bulbs.


I soon realized I had way more bulbs than I could expect to plant in these two beds, so dug two more closer to the front door:


With everything laid out I realized that digging individual holes for all of these would take way too much time and effort, so I moved all of the bulbs next to the beds (trying to keep them in the same relative places) and dug a big hole in each bed, putting the soil into the wheelbarrow temporarily:


Then I moved the bulbs back and added some fertilizer:


I had removed about 4" of soil, and since some of these bulbs (like the daffodils) needed to go a little deeper, I still had to dig with the hand trowel for many of them, then I put all of the removed soil back:


The last step (not pictured) was to plant the crocus and hyacinth, which only go a couple inches deep and can be planted over the bigger bulbs. I just sprinkled those around on top and pushed them down to the correct depth.

Since there are now bare soil patches next to the driveway, I'll probably mulch over these beds. Other than that, this project is finished -- now I just wait for spring and see how much success I have.

This took more effort than I expected, but even if most of these bulbs do nothing in the spring, at least I'll have four new planting beds to work with next summer!

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anne  – (November 23, 2011 at 8:29 AM)  

SO glad to see you put bulbs in - they are a favorite earlier start to the spring season for me. (I am also trying Innuendo this year) Other than my gardenia-looking daffodils that come up every year, I dig up most of my tulips (except the species kind which come up each year looking great)after they flower and order new combinations for the same holes. I find that in order to look fantastic, they need to be new.

Alliums are wonderful, so are galanthus, scilla & chionadoxa which will multiply and you can naturalize them in lawns. Bulbs add a whole dimension of flowering to any garden and extend the season!

Cat  – (November 23, 2011 at 9:17 AM)  

I bet you'll have some success! Happy Thanksgiving, Alan. Thanks for your kind words about Weezie ;)

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening!  – (November 23, 2011 at 9:39 AM)  

Anne: I want to add less-common bulbs to the garden next year, so thanks for the suggestions!

Cat: Thanks, and you're welcome.

Gerhard Bock  – (November 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM)  

Alan, great post. I'm envious because many of these bulbs don't do well here.

Gerhard

anne  – (November 23, 2011 at 5:44 PM)  

I think you are going to have a new hobby with bulbs next year. johnscheepers.com is a great bulb website even just to check out what's out there. I like mixing Species tulips (usually short tulips) - like a pale yellow, with a pale periwinkle muscari and also I like to try different combinations of tulips together in one hole each year. For example - White Triumphator with Queen of the Night or Orca (tangerine colored peony tulip) with a hot pink tulip. Just make sure they bloom about the same time! My favorite allium is Christophii which makes a great dried arrangements - like firecrackers.

Christine @ the Gardening Blog  – (November 26, 2011 at 3:01 AM)  

Hi Alan ... I never thought I would see you plant tulips! I loved my spring show that I created with all the bulbs I planted - and am definitely going to do it again. Can't wait to see yours! :)

Anonymous –   – (July 19, 2013 at 11:05 AM)  

How did this turn out? Any pics?

Alan  – (July 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM)  

Yes it turned out great! Check this post:
http://www.itsnotworkitsgardening.com/2012/03/bulb-planting-payoff.html

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