After a long cold winter, often the cheeriest sight a gardener can spy is spring-flowering bulbs coming up through the snow in her garden. Many bulbs can be planted in the fall and will come up as a harbinger of warmer weather to come. From the unobtrusive crocus to the showy tulip, spring-flowering bulbs give a welcome splash of color to what is often an otherwise drab muddy landscape early in the season.
The most common of the crocus bulbs is the Giant Dutch crocus. This name is a relative designation, however, as the flowers are anything but giant. Coming up often through the snow, these plants are often the earliest to bloom in the year. They come in a variety of purple, yellow and white versions, sometimes with stripes or spots.
Perhaps the best known of spring-flowering bulbs, tulips come in thousands of different varieties. There are classic tulip shapes in many colors, blooms in lily shapes, fringed flowers, double blooms, multicolored hybrids and many others. Tulips are grown well in many different climate zones, but generally do best if dug up and planted fresh after two years or so.
The spring-flowering daffodil, also known as the narcissus, is a bright yellow, white or orange bloom on tall stems with strap-line leaves. Very showy in drifts or along borders, these flowers can become naturalized and spread over fields or down hillsides.