Column, Looking Back

Color in the garden

By Mary Ellen Shaw

If you have been waiting for color in your gardens that time is here! It will only get better as the weeks move forward.

The first blossoms we see are from bulb flowers. They offer wonderful and varied colors. They begin to pop up and bloom in April and continue into late May. These flowers need a cold period in order to bloom in the spring. They had a nice long winter for that requirement and are now ready to greet us and brighten our day.

It’s fun to visit gardens and get ideas for next fall’s planting. I always get inspired as I take a stroll through the gardens at Rutland Regional Medical Center. There are pathways to follow and benches that you can sit on as you take in the beauty around you. Most of the flowers have markers so you will know what to buy if you would like them in your own garden.

I also enjoy viewing the gardens at Christ the King Church. There is always something blooming along the south side of the church. If you go into the parking lot on the Engrem Avenue side you will have easy access for checking out the beautiful blooms.

It’s always worth your time to visit gardens every couple of weeks because bulb flowers bloom at different times. Blossoms are short-lived and you don’t want to miss something. Besides, flowers always make your day happier!

If you want early color then crocuses are for you! They come in yellow, blue, purple, white and even striped. In Rutland everyone looks for the crocuses that burst through the grass on the Woodstock Avenue side of the Godnick Center. While you sit at the red light they provide something pretty to look at as you wait!

Shortly after the crocuses burst forth the daffodils and tulips will follow. They both are available in early, mid= and late season varieties. If you choose bulbs with various bloom times you can extend your enjoyment of these flowers for a few more weeks.

I love hyacinth because of their fragrance. I purposely place some near the city sidewalk so that people walking by can enjoy the fragrance. Often mothers will stop with their children and explain to them where the delightful scent is coming from. If I am nearby the mothers sometimes ask if their children can get closer to smell them. Of course, my answer is always, “Yes!”

When it comes to flowers blue can be a hard color to find. Muscari, also known as grape hyacinth, is one bulb flower that is available in both a light blue and a deep blue. They are a short flower, maxing out at 8 inches. Planting them in the front section of a flower bed is a great place to showcase them. They also come in a light pink color which is attractive combined with the blue.

Siberian squill, a type of scilla, is another option for blue. They spread quickly and provide a sea of blue when in bloom. I have a short variety — about 4 inches — in the front of my garden. They show off the daffodils nicely. There are other varieties that are taller so check those out if you would like more height.

When planting bulbs you will get the best effect if they are planted in circular groups and not in a single row. The more bulbs that are in the cluster, the greater the visual impact will be. Planting the same type of bulbs in the same color will create a superb impression. A

s tempting as it may be to cut off the leaves of daffodils and tulips when the flowers have finished blooming they need to remain. Their leaves continue to absorb nutrients for about six weeks after the flowers have gone by. This process creates next year’s flowers.

Perennial flowers can hide the unsightly leaves as the bulb flowers fade away. My daisies and coreopsis do a nice job of covering up my daffodils and tulips as they become unsightly.

In a future column I will share some ideas about perennials that can assume the task of providing color once the bulb flowers have turned that role over to them.

So check out some public gardens and jot down the names of bulb flowers that you would like to plant this fall. “Spring has sprung” so get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. We have all been indoors too long!

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