March 30, 2015
Spring Bulbs Around the Farm
Now that it’s spring, every day something new is emerging in the gardens. It won’t be long before many of the bulbs we planted last fall will start to surface. It’s a tedious process every year - we plant thousands of bulbs - but it’s very exciting to see their blooms come to life after the long, cold months of winter.
Last November, I posted a blog about the bulbs I was planting throughout the property. Many of the bulbs came from Van Engelen in nearby Bantam, Connecticut. In the following photos, you’ll see where some of the bulbs were planted, and where beautiful flowers will soon appear. Enjoy…
1 Every autumn, I order all sorts of bulbs to be planted in my gardens. Here are some of the bulbs I selected for my Bedford farm. They all come very well packaged and labeled. Once they arrive, they're placed in bins along with the label for easy identification.
2 I decided to plant Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye' in the beds near the front gate. You may recognize it as summer snowflake 'Gravetye Giant'. It's a perennial with narrowly strapped leaves and slightly fragrant, bell-shaped, white flowers with dainty tips of green.
3 'Gravetye Giant' plants thrive in full sun, and moist, well-drained soil. They are often used for borders and informal garden beds.
4 As a general rule, bulbs should be planted in holes three times as deep as the height of the bulb. The 'Gravetye Giant' is more moisture tolerant than other bulbs and does well near ponds and streams.
5 The most important note about bulbs is how to plant them - always with the point facing upwards. Planting a bulb upside down, however, is not disastrous. It may take a little longer for it to bloom, but it will always find its way.
6 Plant each 'Gravetye Giant' bulb individually, and keep the bulbs several-inches apart.
7 Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' plants are mid-spring bloomers and can reach about 18-inches tall.
8 In the beds outside my kitchen, I selected several flowering bulbs including Ornithogalum Balansae. Native to areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, these plants are hardy, easy to grow, and don't mind cool weather.
9 Ornithogalum balansae is a wonderful spring-flowering perennial especially for borders. Plants do well in full sun to partial shade. They produce white star-like flowers with green stripes.
10 For the apple espaliers, I chose Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty'. The common name is Siberian squill. Each mature bulb produces three to four thin leaves with one to three drooping, bell-like blue flowers.
11 Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty' will look stunning in the border of the 'Gravenstein' apple espaliers. They prefer full sun to part shade.
12 Near the apple orchard is a row of standard lilacs. Underneath, we planted Fritillaria meleagris bulbs.
13 The Fritillaria meleagris won't get much taller than eight-inches, but they will bloom profusely.
14 These bulbs are planted two to three-inches deep and at least two to four-inches apart.
15 Sometimes, it is not always easy to find the point. If this is the case, place it on its side, and let the plant figure it out. This is called gravitropism.
16 For maximum effect, scatter the bulbs randomly and then plant them where they rested. Try to avoid planting bulbs in straight lines or with too much space in between them.
17 When purchasing bulbs, choose the best quality bulbs you can find, and avoid bulbs that are dry, withered, spongy or moldy.
18 When planting small bulbs, a dibber or dibble may come in handy. These are pointed wooden sticks for making holes. This is called a T-handled dibber because it has a T-grip that easily fits in the palm of the gardener's hand.
19 Larger bulbs, which are planted individually, may require the use of a bulb planter. Bulb planters come with both short handles and long handles.
20 Bulb planters gather dirt in the cone and leave a bulb-ready space when pulled up. All these bulbs will be blooming over the next several weeks - I can't wait.