Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.By Melanie Palmer
As I learn more about bulbs, I enjoy adding to my collection by trying new things. My goal this year is to have continuous color for three months, in the drab time between when the snow recedes and perennials start to flower.
For earliest bloomers, try Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow), Scilla (Squill), Galanthus (Snowdrops) and/or reticulated iris. These are all between 5 and 8 inches in height and are beautiful planted in masses or drifts. They also work tucked in rock or crevice gardens. These can be followed shortly by large-flowered crocus, early daffodils, hyacinth and species tulips.
Tulips and daffodils are available for different bloom times, in an ever-increasing array of colors, heights and foliage types. Double tulips and daffodils generally bloom later than others. Tulips will require protection from deer, if you can’t live without them. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with critter-proof daffodils purchased as mixtures, which will have a span of blooms up to six weeks. There are all-white and all-yellow and even fragrant mixtures, which will run the gamut of large cup, trumpet, small cup, double and miniatures, which pop up at various times for weeks of enjoyment.
As tulips and daffodils fade, look for Camassia (Indian Hyacinth), Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) and Alliums. The spent flower heads of the Allium are interesting and provide architectural interest for months. For a change from the purple globes, try Allium siculum bulgaricum, which has greenish-white florets with purple striations.
Although most bulbs require “full sun” (defined as six hours per day), some are happy with more shade and a little more moisture, as long as the soil is well-drained. For something really different in a “woodland” setting, try Corydalis solida or dwarf Fritillaria.
For a selection of more than 60 bulbs, attend the Durango Botanical Society’s sixth annual Bulb Sale, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Durango Public Library, 1900 East Third Ave. Expert assistance will be on hand, and Mike Smedley will offer his informative and humorous lecture at 9:30 a.m. Organic local garlic and decorative pottery will also be offered. Come early for best selection.
Melanie Palmer has been a Colorado master gardener since 2012. She lives in La Plata County.