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A Little Bit About Bulbs

For those of you who love tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth, but, like me, forget until it’s too late each year to plant them, September is not too early to start planning.

First, decide which season you’d like your blooms to appear. Every label or catalog which displays a bulb shows the bloom time.

Second, decide if you want your bulbs to naturalize or not. Daffodils naturalize easily and there are hundreds of varieties that flower from prior to Christmas to after Easter.

Hyacinth, with its magnificent large blossoms, will re-occur each March or April. Plant them close to pedestrian areas to enjoy the incredible fragrance. Freesia, which grows from corm is extremely fragrant and does well as a cut flower.

No article about bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes, all of which produce beautiful flowers, is complete without mentioning tulips. Tulips are, arguably, one of the most recognizable flowers in the world. Even those who have absolutely no interest in flowers can identify a tulip. My favorites are the large Darwin Hybrids.

I first became interested in tulips while living in Northern Japan in 1992. With four to five months of snow, combined with a wet-summer, tulips thrive there. In Gilroy's Mediterranean climate, however, most tulips will not naturalize. You must either buy new ones, or be prepared to remove and chill them in the refrigerator prior to each planting. If so consider planting them in pots or small isolated planting spaces for easy removal.

Being from Gilroy, California, it's my duty to mention Allium, aka Garlic. In this case, look for the improved varieties of ornamental garlic. They are a May-June bloomer and are some of the most striking purple, lilac, blue and white flowers available. Look for Allium ‘Globemaster’ from K. van Bourgondier & Sons, Inc. The blooms are up to 10 inches wide. Like iris, hyacinth & daffodils, deer leave them alone.

For both interesting and unique flowers you will most likely not find them at any big box store. Mail order shopping for bulbs is easy from catalogs like the one listed above. For great Spring bulbs, plant this Fall, but plan and order this month.

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