Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 2
   April 2012
   Using Bulbs as Nature Intended

Naturalized bulbs are inexpensive, relatively low maintenance and self propagate by offsets and seed, rewarding us year after year. In this article, I include plants that have related underground food-storage systems, such as corms, tubers and rhizomes.

In the Woods
My first garden bordered a ravine and, while blessed with large trees, it lacked a diversity of understory plants. Plants that did bloom displayed a softer palette than I desired, which perceptually pushed the woodland further back into the distance. To visually draw the woodland closer to the house and to add focal-point plants, I experimented with bulbs with brightly colored flowers. I stuck with a limited selection of large yellow trumpet daffodils, including 'Golden Harvest', 'King Alfred', 'Dutch Master' and 'Unsurpassable'. These provided visual impact and appeared more familiar in the woodland than some of the more unusual exotic-looking daffodil varieties. Also, local squirrels didn't seem to favor snacking on them.

In the woodsIn the woods
Daffodils and muscari (foreground) with a hens and chicks covered log

Rather than throwing the bulbs in the air and planting them where they landed, as is sometimes done when naturalizing bulbs, I mimicked the trees' overhead branch pattern and their surface root pattern, as well as the meandering lines of the woodland paths. This resulted in graceful drifts, as opposed to a more random look.

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  • The Ethereal Iris
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