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4 Gorgeous Bulb and Perennial Gardens

Start these dual purpose gardens by planting spring-flowering bulbs in fall, then filling in with perennials next spring.

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Bulbs for Dry Soils

A. Allium 'Globemaster' B. 'Pieter de Leur' tulip C. 'Estella Rijnveld' tulip D. 'Prince of Austria' tulip E. 'Tahiti' daffodil F. Crocus 'Gypsy Girl' G. 'Valerie Finnis' grape hyacinth H. 'Nairobi' tulip I. 'Rubra Maxima' fritillary

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Spring Planting

Overplant the bed with these perennials, annuals, and shrubs:

A. Weigela 'Red Prince' B. 'Isanti' dogwood C. Sedum 'Matron' D. St.-John's-Wort E. 'Red Flare' sage F. Lamb's-ears G. Veronica 'Goodness Grows' H. Rudbeckia 'Goldilocks'

Bulbs for Moist Soils

A. 'Tahiti' daffodil B. 'Lady Margot' tulip C. Allium sphaerocephalon D. 'Sorbet' Lily E. Lilium tenuifolium F. 'La Toya' lily G. 'Jan Reus' tulip H. 'Jetfire' daffodil I. Buttercup mix J. Mixture of 'Album' grape hyacinth, Crocus 'Cream' Beauty,' and C. tommasinianus 'Lilac'

Spring Planting

Overplant the bed with these perennials, annuals, and shrubs.

A. Geranium 'New Hampshire Purple' B. 'Goldflame' spirea C. Asiatic lily mix D. Nicotiana 'Nicki Pink' E. Phlox 'Rosalinde' F. Physostegia 'Miss Manners' G. 'Happy Returns' daylily H. Dwarf Fothergilla

Bulbs for Dry Shade

A. Allium 'Christophii' B. 'Sweet Wendy' tulip C. 'Golden Bells' daffodil D. 'King of the Blues' hyacinth E. 'Vie en Rose' daffodil F. 'Dordogne' tulip G. Crocus 'Blue Bird' H. 'Pink Star' windflower

Bulbs for Moist Shade

A. 'Blue Queen' bluebell B. 'Jetfire' daffodil C. 'Pink Charm' daffodil D. 'Bronze Beauty' iris E. 'Black' tulip F. 'Blue Heron' tulip G. Crocus 'Snowbunting' H. Crocus tommasinianus 'Lilac' I. Snowdrop

Cold-Climate Bulb Tips

If you live in a cold climate, look for hardy, not tender, bulbs for the lowest maintenance. Hardy bulbs can over-winter in the ground, but you should dig up tender bulbs and keep them inside through the cold months.

Buying Tips

The term "bulbs" is also used to describe corms, tubers, and rhizomes, all of which have swollen storage systems. Though bulbs bloom for only one season during the year, they bless our gardens with waves of color, and many propagate quickly for even more delight the following year.

Selecting Bulbs

If you buy from a garden center, make sure the bulbs are stored properly: soft bulbs, such as lilies and fritillaries, should be covered with sawdust, wood shavings, or peat to prevent them from drying out. Bulbs should be firm, free of mold or bruises, with clean skins and intact tunics.

Planting Tips

  • As a general rule, plant bulbs two times deeper than their diameter.
  • Dig the area at least seven days prior to planting to give the soil time to dry out. Break up any clumps.
  • Amend soil for good drainage. Heavy, wet soil benefits from sand; too-light soil will support bulbs better with the addition of the peat.
  • Soak your bulbs in liquid plant food for half an hour before planting.
  • Plant large bulbs several inches apart; plant small bulbs closer together.
  • After planting, water deeply.
  • Deadhead all bulbs after flowering to divert the plant's energy into the remaining flowers.
  • To insulate the bulbs in winter, cover the bed with at least 4 inches of mulch.
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