Hyacinths fill the spring garden with an intoxicating perfume. Start your bulbs in the fall, planting them 7-8” deep in soil mixed with lots of good organic matter. The planting site should drain easily, so the bulbs won’t rot in soggy soil or standing water. Mulch them if you live where the winters are very cold, or where the ground might freeze in spring. As with other bulbs, don’t remove the foliage when the flowers fade. Let it grow until it dies naturally, so it can store energy up for the next season’s flowers. Shown here: Hyacinth Blend 'Etouffee.'
An heirloom allium, Atropurpureum is a great choice for a cutting garden, with stiff, tall stems that support burgundy-purple to wine-red florets. Watch for the blooms to appear from late spring into early summer.
You could almost mistake beautiful ranunculi for roses. If you live in USDA zones 8-10, plant the bulbs 2" deep in the fall. In cooler climates, ranunculus won’t survive the winter, so wait until spring to tuck them into the garden or containers, and expect the blooms to open in late summer. (You'll need to buy new bulbs next spring.) Plant the bulbs with the claw-shaped side facing down.
Commonly called 'Star of Persia', Allium christophii has fuchsia to pale lavender flowers and strappy, gray-green foliage. The plants open from late spring to early summer. Let the blooms dry for indoor arrangements.
Another heirloom allium, ‘Nigrum’ has softball-sized, silvery to grayish-white heads with six-petaled florets. Bees and butterflies visit the flowers, but deer tend to leave the plants alone. Expect blooms from late spring into early summer. Allium atropurpureum is also shown here.
Most cooks value fresh garlic, and many a gardener also enjoys its large spring Allium flowers. The ones that grow best locally are often shared between gardeners, who plant individual cloves in the fall and harvest and dry the bulbs the following spring.
Cheerful daffodils are classic spring flowers. For a natural look, toss them around your yard or landscape and plant them where they fall. Choose big, healthy bulbs and plant them 6" deep about 2 to 4 weeks before your ground freezes. They need sun to part sun and will come back year after year; they're hardy in USDA zones 3-8. 'Sunshine Boys,' pictured here, is a blend of early-blooming daffodils.
Plant crocus bulbs just underneath your grass in fall for early spring color. 'Hokus Crocus,' shown here, is a mix of purple, white and purple-white striped varieties. These dainty flowers like a sunny garden spot and typically multiply as time goes by. Wait six to eight weeks before you mow over their foliage so you'll have repeat blooms next year. (The small bulbs usually flower before the grass needs mowing anyway, and the thin, narrow leaves blend in with your lawn.)
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils are hitting their stride. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse in the garden. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils strut their stuff. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including pink, purple, blue, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
‘Sorbonne’ Oriental lily unfurls large blooms that exude a rich perfume. Petals are a pure deep pink with a white edge. Oriental lily grows from a bulb that can be planted in fall or spring. Top-heavy stems grow to 3 feet and benefit from staking. Use care not to pierce the bulb when you insert stakes. Adding them at planting time helps avoid bulb damage. Flowers appear in midsummer and can scent an entire yard on a sultry summer evening. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Most bulbs can’t take moist soil, but camass lily (Camassia leichtlinii 'Caerulea') is an exception. This heirloom beauty dates to 1853 and goes by a host of names, including wild hyacinth, quamash and Leichtlin’s camass. It’s a must-have bulb for spring color because it brings strong blue tones to the garden during the time between spring daffodils and tulips. Flowers open in spikes surrounded by deer- and rabbit-resistant leaves. Plants naturalize readily to form drifts of color when conditions are right. This beauty grows 24 to 30 inches tall. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
These perennial weeds smell like their namesakes, and there’s no mistaking their presence when you mow over them. Wild onion has flat leaves, while garlic is round. They both grow from bulbs and form clusters similar to chives. To remove them, avoiding hand-pulling. It only serves to separate the main bulb from the tiny bulblets surrounding it, which remain in soil and sprout. To dig wild onion or garlic, excavate about 6 inches deep to get the whole bulb. Otherwise, spray with herbicide. The kind that kills nutsedge works on wild onion and garlic. In late spring, these weeds produce small bulbs atop long stems. Snip these and destroy them. They contain new bulbs—they’re this weed’s way of spreading and covering new ground.
‘Stargazer’ Oriental lily unfurls large blooms that exude a rich perfume. Petals are deep pink with a white edge. Oriental lily grows from a bulb that can be planted in fall or spring. Top-heavy stems grow to 3 feet and benefit from staking. Add stakes at planting time to help avoid spearing bulbs. Flowers appear in midsummer and can scent an entire yard on a steamy summer evening. Grow Oriental lilies in planting beds or containers. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
By moving away from minimalism in preference for a widely diverse planting scheme, the house achieves a very eye-catching effect in the neighborhood. The plant scheme is designed to always have something in peak of color, whether its beautiful Japanese maples and other ornamental trees in the fall and winter or gorgeous swaths of perennials and bulbs in the spring and summer.