Advertisement

Time to Plant Those Bulbs


There’s a nip in the air — I wouldn’t yet call it a chill — that prompted me to rummage through the box on the back porch yesterday and bring out the bags of bulbs I will be planting. Some of them maybe even today.

Since I never know how many of my tulips will return, I always make a point of planting some more each fall. This happens to be real work since it has me crawling around roses and hydrangeas, getting scratched and poked in the process. If I only had a brand new patch of ground to plant, life would be easy. Brent Heath, co-owner of Brent and Becky’ Bulbs, a mail order company in Gloucester, Virginia, once gave a talk at the Chicago Botanic Garden where he astounded us all with the statement that he could plant … did he say 500? ... bulbs in an hour. Whatever it was, it was a staggering number. He also showed us how he digs with the trowel held “backward” and digs toward himself instead of away. It goes faster that way, he insisted.

Photos: Ron Capek

I always add some crocuses each year since, like diamonds, you can never have too many, and what else can carpet the ground as early as the end of March? There’s the charming yellow winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), but it’s a fickle little bulb that will reward you if it likes your soil. Plant some, to be sure, but don’t expect them to be as reliable as crocuses. Grape hyacinths (Muscari), windflower (Anemone blanda), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) don’t pop up quite as early as crocus and aconite, but they are all reliable performers that will cheer your spirits no end. Learn more about minor bulbs here.

To learn more about bulbs, check out the Fall Bulb Primer, written for our September/October issue by Liz Holmberg, co-owner of Lizzie’s Garden in Naperville. And to read about some more unusual bulbs, read Beth Botts’ story in our March/April issue, Weird and Wonderful Bulbs There’s a photo of the fabulous yellow crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) on the cover.

categories

Lincoln Park Zoo Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Blog
How to be a Mother to a Butterfly, Yes, You!

If you are reading this article, you are probably already aware that monarch butterfly numbers in Illinois are way down.


Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Tough Plant for Tough Times

This is the year of the hellebore, at least in my garden. I have about a dozen now, with several of the lime-green ones ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - JanFeb 2017

At Chicagoland Gardening we duly make our resolutions, chief among them our determination that 2017 will be the magazine’s best


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Gardening for Your Taste Buds

In a few weeks, we can start planting tomatoes and peppers as well as sowing seeds of squash, eggplant, beans and other ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - July/August 2015

The stars must have been aligned as we assembled our editorial calendar for this issue since it turns out that we have a …


questions

What is rose rosette disease? I lost two antique roses and removed a hedge of multiflora roses that were supposed to be undesirable. How bad is it?

I’d like to plant a white bark birch in front of my home in my sunny front yard. What can you tell me about Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii?

What three dwarf shrubs do you think gardeners should know about and why?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement