When considering bulbs, most people think of spring with its assortment of tulips, daffodils and crocuses. However, there are more bulbs than those to choose from--many blooming in summer, fall or even winter--and others known primarily for foliage. Plan bulb arrangements on paper first, considering bloom or foliage type and color and season of interest to save time and insure attractive arrangements year-round.
Winter Rock Garden With Miniature Bulbs
Create a pretty display in your rock garden with a colorful carpet of miniature bulbs, all under 8 inches in height. Among the rocks, cluster bright blue grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.) together with tiny wild daffodils (Narcissus asturiensis), whose diminutive yellow trumpets stand only 3 to 5 inches above the ground. The blue and yellow display is quite striking in late winter (February to March in USDA zones 4 through 7) when there is little other color. These also go well with early crocuses (the orange-yellow Crocus flavus, or white to lavender C. laevigatus) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).
"A Host of Golden Daffodils"
William Wordsworth's poetical reference inspires the planting of this lovely flower in drifts among deciduous trees, where they will produce masses of color before trees leaf out and shade them. For best effect, plant King Alfred daffodils (Narcissus 'King Alfred') which look quite showy in the landscape with their huge golden trumpets on 22-inch-tall stems. This is an especially effective arrangement on a larger, sloped property, as it is most attractive seen from a distance.
For a dazzling early to midsummer display, pair one of the red-hot crocosmias such as 'Fire King' or 'Lucifer' (Crocosmia crocosmiiflora) with the bright blue Siberian iris 'Blue King' (Iris sibirica). The blue and red color combination is eye-popping against the deep green, swordlike foliage of these members of the iris family. Extend the display with another iris family member, the blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis). This florist's mainstay produces exotic-looking orange, speckled flowers in late summer, and then finishes with shiny, blackberry-like seed heads lasting throughout the fall. All three plants exhibit the typical iris grasslike foliage, and when interplanted will give the impression of three different blooms from one plant.
Color in the Shade
Bring out a dark corner in late summer with a combination of tuberous begonias (Begonia X tuberhybrida) and caladiums (Caladium bicolor). The large flowered 'Giant Ruffled Red' looks especially nice in front of the green and white 'Aaron' Caladium (Caladium x horulanum 'Aaron'). Both make an attractive border for the larger elephant ear caladium (Colocasia esculenta) or around the bases of large trees.