In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
November, 2004
Regional Report

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Bulbs can highlight any landscape with vivid colors in the early spring.

Bright Bulb Ideas

If you're a gardener who likes to create living pictures with plants, flowering bulbs are the ideal subjects. Bulbs can highlight any landscape, large or small, with vivid colors from very early spring when snow is still on the ground to late autumn when leaves have begun to fall.

You still have time before the ground freezes solid to plant spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, crocuses, muscari, hyacinths, narcissus, scillas, and galanthus. These are planted in the fall to allow ample time for the roots to develop before winter.

By their very nature, each variety is predestined to bloom at a certain time, at a certain height, with a specific color and form. With knowledge gained from experience or from catalogs, you can plan a delightful composition in your landscape.

For Months of Flowers
Try to extend the flowering period to its fullest. Crocuses herald spring, but their season can be stretched by using several different varieties. Crocus chrysanthus and C. vernus will bloom in February, tucked near rocks in a sunny exposure or next to the house; but when planted under shrubs or in shady locations, they will bloom weeks later. Crocus sieberi and C. flavus are vigorous species that bloom March through April.

Siberian squills (Scilla spp.) are beautiful in borders, rock gardens, and beneath shrubs and trees. S. siberica flowers from March through April, and S. tubergeniana sends up stems with very pale blue flowers even earlier. Combine it with winter aconite and snowdrops. Wood hyacinths (Scilla campanulata) bloom April through June in white, pink, and blue.

The longest stretch of flowering will be found with daffodils, tulips, and lilies. Check catalogs and package labels for information about the different divisions or types. Note their flowering times, colors, heights, and bloom characteristics.

Botanical tulips (Tulipa kaufmanniana) flower very early with a form that resembles a flat, hexagonal star. With an average height of 4 to 8 inches, these are well suited to rock gardens.

Triumph tulips, such as 'Apricot Beauty', are a very important class and come in a wide array of colors. Most have been obtained by crossing single early tulips with single late tulips. With an average height between 10 and 16 inches, they make excellent cut flowers and are considered good for forcing indoors.


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