A Host of Golden Daffodils

Saturday, November 6th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Japanese maples and dogwoods are some of the most colorful trees in the fall. Plant them now and give them a head start on spring.
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue and white and can be planted now.
    • Naked lady amaryllis have lovely, fragrant pink flowers that bloom in late summer with little or no care. Plant the bulbs, available at local nurseries, now.
    • Check houseplants for insects. Spray leaves with insecticidal soap and wipe them off to leave them clean and insect-free.
    • Tree collards are delicious winter vegetables. Set out plants now.

Grow great daffodils

Daffodils are some of the easiest bulbs to grow. Under good growing conditions, they will live for many years and probably outlast any of us. While some kinds of bulbs tend to dwindle and die out, daffodils increase.

Daffodils come in all sizes from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems. They also come in a variety of color combinations.

The well-known ‘King Alfreds’ with their bright yellow, trumpet flowers are always a welcome sight. ‘Dutch Master’, the standard of yellow trumpet daffodils, introduced in 1938, is an heirloom variety. And ‘Carlton’ is a two-tone yellow daffodil whose soft yellow petals encircle a large, frilly, golden yellow cup.

‘Ice Follies” daffodils are large-flowering with creamy white petals and a butter yellow ruffled cup inside. The unique ‘Salome‘daffodil is quite showy with its ivory-white petals surrounding a magnificent salmon trumpet.

‘Sempre Avanti’ is a charming variety of large-cupped daffodil having rich creamy petals with striking orange cups that appear very early in the season. With its large yellow flowers and soft orange cups, the blossoms of the ‘Fortune’ daffodils last up to 4 weeks in mid spring.

Mixed daffodils are excellent bulbs for naturalizing. They will return year after year and are great for areas with high deer population. Plant a deer-resistant blend with Chionodoxa, (Glory-of-the-snow), to add some little blue stars to the landscape.

To grow great daffodils you should choose a well-drained, sunny place. Hillsides are excellent spots to place drifts of bulbs where they will make an eye-catching display for passersby. Hillsides and raised beds are ideal, but drainage is the key. Spade at least twelve inches deep adding well-rotted compost to heavy soils.

If planted properly, naturalized bulbs can live and bloom for many years with a minimum of care. When planting bulbs in a natural area to be left undisturbed for years, plant them deeply, so that their tops are at least eight inches deep.

Daffodils will grow in the shade of deciduous trees because they finish flowering by the time deciduous trees leaf out. However, it is better to grow them outside the drip line of deciduous trees rather than under them. Daffodils will not survive for a long time under evergreen trees and shrubs.

One reason for the longevity of daffodils is that squirrels, gophers and other rodents will not eat them. Deer also tend to leave them alone.

Daffodils bloom for almost six weeks in the spring garden. After blooming, leave the bulbs alone while the foliage is still green. The green leaves are rebuilding the bulb for the next year, and this is a good time to fertilize your bulbs. When the leaves begin to yellow, then you can cut the leaves off but not before.

Daffodils multiply, and after a few years you may need to thin them out, if they become crowded and are not blooming well. Dig them up in midsummer and replant them six inches apart.

In some cases, daffodils can be grown with ground covers. They do well planted with shallow-rooted, trailing plants, such as potentilla, creeping thyme and blue star creeper, but vigorous and deeply rooting plants, such as rosemary and ivy are likely to discourage daffodils.

“A host of golden daffodils” is certainly one of the glories of spring, and now is the time to plant daffodil bulbs. Plant a variety of daffodils for a wonderful display in the garden and a beautiful bouquet in the house.

Light up the Garden with Bulbs!

Friday, October 17th, 2008 by Jenny Watts
    • Plant pansies, snapdragons, stock, calendulas and primroses now to replace summer annuals.
    • Divide artichoke plants which have been in the ground for three or four years. Mulch established plants with steer manure.
    • Protect the pond from the worst of the leaf fall with a fine-mesh net over the surface of the pond.
    • Garlic sets can be planted now for an easy crop that you can harvest next spring.
    • Plant cover crops in the garden where summer plants have finished. Fava beans and crimson clover will grow through the winter and improve your soil for spring planting.

Landscaping with Bulbs

Landscaping with bulbs is a great way to make your home beautiful year after year. With just a little effort, you can create dazzling carpet of spring color.

Bulbs are much more impressive when planted en masse. Uniform color and texture creates an impressive visual effect. To make this happen requires a little planning.

The novice gardener often makes the mistake of planting tulips or daffodils in a straight line along a walkway like ducks in a row. It is much better to plant them in groups of at least a dozen. In fact the best way to make an impact with a small grouping of bulbs is to plant them in a triangle formation with the point of the triangle toward the viewer. This will fool the eye into seeing more flowers than you have actually planted!

Of course, if you have the room to plant 50 bulbs of a kind, you can have a really spectacular show. In Holland at Keukenhof Gardens, they plant 70 acres of bulbs to bloom each spring, in huge drifts of solid colors. Their fabulous display gardens are world famous. An interesting technique that they use is planting in layers.

Bulbs are planted on top of each other, in different layers.  The late-blooming tulips are placed deepest in the ground; above them early-blooming tulips; and above them crocus. This way flowers will bloom at the same spot in the park, from early in the season until late in the season, giving a continuous display of color.

Plant bulbs of one color in small spaces in the landscape. One color will have greater impact and make the planting space look larger. In large spaces, a planting of two or three colors will have the best effect. Select colors that blend together and don’t mix them: group each color together in interlocking shapes.

Another way to use bulbs for landscaping is called “naturalizing”. Naturalizing is the process of imitating nature by planting in irregular clumps scattered over the landscape. A grassy hillside dotted with yellow daffodils is a glorious sight.

Most bulbs like to be planted in full sun, though some will tolerate partial shade. It works well to plant under deciduous trees because the bulbs will bloom before the trees leaf out, so they will get the sun they need.

You can also interplant bulbs and pansies for a long-lasting spring flower show. Plant the pansies between the bulbs so the bulbs can easily come up between them. You can choose pansies with faces, or the solid colored ones. Little violas also make a lovely ground cover over bulbs.

Bulbs are one of the easiest ways to add beauty and color to the landscape. And this is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs so they will be ready to flower next spring.