In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
September, 2005
Regional Report

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Mixed colors of flowering bulbs can repeat or contrast with spring perennials.

Bulbs: Traditional Yet Trendy

The latest ways with Holland bulbs were at their best when I visited The Netherlands this spring. Hottest trend? Combining bulbs with perennials and annuals.

Much Like Home
One of many things the Dutch have in common with gardeners in our regions is that tulips are grown as annuals. But we've all been stuck in a rut. Daffodils encircle trees, hyacinths grow in glasses, and tulips stand like sentinels in rows with a pansy skirt.

At The K, a local affectionate name for Keukenhof Botanical Gardens, designers have taken a new tack. Sure, there are still plenty of beds full of single color tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and amazing blue muscari (grape hyacinth, as we know it). Stripes of color run under trees and between hedges and the greenhouse is full of hyacinths in every sort of glass imaginable. However, new areas have been carved out for a different approach, one more friendly to home gardeners with established beds.

Color Sweeps
Perennial beds come to life early in our regions, and adding bulbs to them in fall means even more color. A popular planting starts at one end of a bed or border with white, then pink, followed by deep rose, but instead of huge numbers, each bulb is planted between existing clumps and crowns. The result blooms a color sweep of tulips accenting a bed of liriope or monkey grass. Stuck in among the earliest iris, hyacinths can repeat deep purples and blues, add rosey tones and white plus fragrance as well as cut flowers when planted in as a swath of color.

Annual Looks
Traditionally, we have used tulips and daffodils as the tall plants in beds with low-growing annuals. Take a different approach by selecting annuals like tall snapdragons and candytuft with similar height to the bulbs you choose. Mix them together and enjoy the result. Or stay with clumps of pansies, but interplant with shorter daffodils like 'Tete a Tete' and 'Hawera'.


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