ISSUE 90  |  The Modern Root Cellar

5 Quick Fixes: Essential Garden Bulbs

September 18, 2013 7:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Share This:

There’s more to life than tulips and daffodils. When planning next year’s bulb garden, find a spot to tuck in a clump or two of our five hardworking favorites:

In what growing zone is your garden? (If you don’t know, enter your zip code at USDA Hardiness Zone Map to find out.)

Above: Allium Globemaster; photograph by Hans Runge via Flickr.

God, I love a showy spring bulb. And Allium Globemaster, a great big purple lollipop that stands 4 feet high in the middle of the garden and screams, “Look at me!” fits the bill nicely. Hardy in growing zones 5-10; six bulbs for $49 from White Flower Farm.

Above: Allium bulgaricum Nectaroscordum; photograph by Nicole Franzen.

Clusters of tiny bells dangle from the 3-foot-tall stems of Allium bulgaricum Nectaroscordum, punctuating the flower beds rather dramatically in May and June. They will grow in zones 4-9; 25 bulbs for $13 from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Above: Formosa lily, hardy in growing zones 6-10WC; photograph by Dave W. Wilson via Flickr.

A native of Taiwan, Formosa Lily arrived in the US in the late 1800s; it looks “like a tall slender Easter lily,” according to the catalog copy from Old House Gardens, which offers five bulbs for $54.

And it smells divine. With multiple flowers on 7-foot-high stems, this lily should distract the eye from the more frazzled perennials of late summer. This fall I’m planting a clump behind a 4-foot-high oakleaf hydrangea. Will report back.

Above: Ixia Pink; photograph by Karl Gercens via Flickr.

One of Jeanne’s favorite bulbs is Ixia Pink which, at 16 inches high, blends well when interplanted with purple and white spring-flowering plants; hardy in growing zones 7-10, it’s $10.95 (for 30 bulbs) from Home Depot.

Above: Camassia in the grass at Cottesbrooke Hall in the UK; photograph by Kendra Wilson

As at home in a meadow as in a formal garden bed, Camassia Sacajawea is one of the few bulbs that will tolerate poorly drained or heavy soil; hardy in growing zones 5-9WC, 25 bulbs are $73.75 from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Yes, of course, we still love tulips. See DIY: A Modern Tulip Garden.