Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spring on a Budget

The Rockery at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario last spring.

There is a touch of color in the trees now. 

Though the afternoons have been gloriously warm, the nights are chilly and I find myself reaching for a sweater or light jacket as we head out for our evening walk with the dogs.  

One of the ironies of gardening is that we need to be thinking about the beginning of the next gardening year at the end of the present gardening season. Along with thoughts about adding simple fall flourishes, I have been trying to wrap my head around what I need to add to my flowerbeds for next spring.

Darwin Tulips at the RBG. The orange tulip is Tulipa, 'Daydream'. 
Sorry, I couldn't see an I.D. on the deep magenta tulips.

I  would love to open the glossy catalogues that I received in the mail and order just about everything, but the reality is that I have a limited budget for spring bulbs. So how can I get the most spring color for the least amount of money? Time for a bit of strategy!

And apart from monetary considerations, what would compliment the collection of bulbs I already have?




I absolutely want to add snowdrops, both the common single variety and the more interesting doubles. I have admired them in Carolyn's nursery's blog for a number of years. Recently, I noted that I can now find some of these more unusual varieties of snowdrops through Botanus in Canada.

I also want to add yellow 'Winter Aconite'. Not only do they flower earlier than most other bulbs, they can also handle the shade, which I have in abundance in the back garden. I hope to leave them to naturalize the under huge maple tree. ( Botanus has them on sale. Bonus!)


I love, love blue scilla. I have them in the front garden, and would like add more, so they can colonize the back yard as well. I often find these bulbs on sale in area stores and so I am going to buy them locally to save on shipping. 


I got these Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' last year from Gardenimports (I notice they are already sold out at Gardenimports, but are still available at Botanus).

My picture does not due them justice. They were really, really pretty.

More please!

There is also a crisp white, deep sky-blue and a gentian blue options available at both Gardenimports and Botanus if I have any funds left over.


....And while I am still thinking small scale, maybe I should order a few of these 
Anemone blanda 'Blue Star'.


I have no Muscari in the garden at the moment. The blue ones are affordable and relatively easy to find. There is also a pink variety, pale sky blue and multi-toned Muscari that are more a bit expensive, but hard to resist.

Gosh, I am beginning to feel poorer already! 

Better start thinking about some larger bulbs before all my budget disappears.


Narcissus 'Ice Follies' was one of my favourites in my garden last spring.

There always seems to be standard daffodils and narcissus in the clearance bins at local stores, so I am going hold off and wait for the sales.

Narcissus, 'Soestdijk' at Edwards Gardens

Specialty varieties seem disappear early, so I would like to get a jump buying some of these.

Narcissus, 'Thalia' and white anemones, which I admired at Edwards Gardens this past spring.

I adored these simple white Narcissus that I saw on a number of blogs 
and in local area gardens. 


These yellow and white ones were also pretty at Edwards Gardens. Narcissus 'Avalon' or 'Pipit'  are also going on my wish list. 


One of the most beautiful Narcissus in my garden last spring was called 'Amadeus Mozart'. With its ruffled orange cup 'Amadeus Mozart' is as pretty as a summer party dress. I didn't manage to get a picture of it but you can find see it at Gardenimports here.  

Daffodils and Narcissus that will naturalize themselves in the garden seem like a worthwhile investment (over most types of tulips which are good for 3 or 4 years). 

Although squirrels will to dig them up if you don't plant them properly, they prefer tulips as snack food. I plant my bulbs extra deep (about 8 inches) and stamp the soil down firmly with my foot after I bury them. If the squirrels are going to dig them up for fun, I want the little beggars to have to really work hard to find them. 

I see that garden writer, Judith Adams (Garden Making magazine) also recommends in a recent post that you avoid setting bulbs on the surface of the soil as you work. She also suggests that disguise your work with a thorough drenching with a watering can and then add a covering of leaves to hide your buried spring treasures. Read more here.

More spring planning in another post to come....

54 comments:

  1. Jennifer, you're thinking about future, it's so nice! I would like to add more Pushkinia and pink muscari, too. When the snow melt they bloom immediately.

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    1. Nadezda, I agree that it is nice to have some bulbs that bloom the minute the temperature starts to warm.

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    2. I have not seen crocuses in your plans, do you have them?

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  2. I'd better do a little thinking about spring as well.

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  3. Beautiful flower photo's, it's always wise to plan ahead. I am glad we don't have squirrels, i have enough problems with dogs and cats.

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    1. Karen, I envy you not having to worry about squirrels. There are lots in my neighbourhood. Thank goodness the dogs are pretty good about not digging up my bulbs!

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  4. Hi Jennifer
    What a lovely selection of spring bulbs! I notice that you are not planting tulips. I always cave and end up buying some only to find the squirrels steal the bulbs in fall and then they bite the stems in half in the spring. Grrrr…
    I DO adore how they look though (like in your header).
    The daffs you have chosen are great! One of my favourites is Thalia - exquisite little thing and so fragrant. Also does very well as a cut flower.
    The small bulbs are always worth picking up because they often naturalize and are the first to show up.
    Hope you have a few $$$ left - maybe try a hellebore? I only have one but I just adore it!
    Happy planting!!

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    1. Astrid, Squirrels can certainly be a challenge! I always make my posts too long so I figured I would consider tulips and other bulbs in a second post.

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  5. I bought a lot of tulip bulbs this year, and I cannot wait to see them next spring.
    Gorgeous photographs, you have made me wonder if I need to buy more bulbs!

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    1. I am sure your tulips will be wonderful Tracey. And there is still lots of time to pick up some last minute bargains.

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  6. I wasn't going to buy any bulbs this year, and spend my money elsewhere. But I've started getting the catalogs in the mail, and it is soooo tempting! I think I'm going to just buy a few daffodils and maybe just a few more lilies, and I'd love some irises.... Oh, it's so hard to stop once you get started!

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    1. I agree that the catalogues are hard to resist Holley. I am going to try to limit myself to $100 dollars.

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  7. I just got my Brecks order delivered this morning!! Muscari, tulips "monet garden" and narcissus - I should have ordered some anemone - need to add those to the garden.

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    1. Your well ahead of me, Heather. I hope to get a bulb order organized tomorrow.

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  8. How refreshing to see these spring bloomers in your post. Especially those delicate wet snowdrops, they look so cool and fresh!

    I ordered only daffodils this fall, and only white ones, for a drift I want to put in at the top of the driveway. We'll see how that effect works next spring. I love the simple white daffodil you show here.

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    1. Laurrie, I bet the drift of white daffodils will look terrific!

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  9. I have never had luck with growing winter aconite from bulbs (corms I think). If you do order them, soak them overnight before planting.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Carolyn. I admired the winter aconite this past spring in the garden up the street, where they seem to persist despite neglect (the original gardener passed away sometime ago). I can get some bulbs for under ten dollars so I am willing to take a risk.

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  10. Holy cow! I wish I knew that tip about bury them before! Thanks for the informative post! We have a crazy squirrel problem due to the lady behind us hand feeding them peanuts...drives me nuts! I have lost so many plants and bulbs because of these little buggers! Thanks for the tips and bulb suggestions!

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    1. Right now, all the neighbourhood squirrels are feasting on our black walnuts. There are always some in the tree tops watching my every bulb planing move.

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  11. I also love so many of the small bulbs - snowdrops, scilla, muscari, and crocus, etc. For next year, we ordered crocus and tulips, the tulips will go in containers. Can't say these were the most budget conscious choices, although crocus and the other small bulbs all tend to spread and so give you good value if you have a little patience.

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    1. Jason, I agree that some of my choices here are not as budget conscious as I would like. This is just a wish list at this point. I am sure I will add and subtract things, and compare prices before I come up with a final order/purchase.

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  12. I have planted some tulip bulbs, red and orange ones. Maybe I'll get some more. It's so lovely when tulips among others start to bloom in spring. Have a nice Thursday!

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    1. Red and orange will look terrific I am sure. Hope you had a nice Thursday too!

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  13. We are on the same wavelength - bulb buying has been on my mind too - it needs to be done very soon - and I have to get my last years bulbs out of store and planted. Going to be a busy time.

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    1. Elaine, I agree it is a busy time. I have black walnuts to lift off the lawn, leaves to rake, weeding to do, cuttings to take, divisions to make...etc, etc. I feel a bit tired just thinking about it!

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  14. Spring isn't far away, time to get planting, no matter how many bulbs we already have, there is always room for more! You are going to have a wonderful spring garden with all the bulbs you are buying, it will be worth the back ache planting them!!

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    1. To help get my bulbs deep enough I have taken to using a shovel not a trowell, Pauline. I find it is a little easier on the old back too!

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  15. I think I am only getting snowdrops this year. I also need to order some garlic to plant this fall as well.

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    1. Mary, Thanks for reminding me about garlic. I must add that to my wish list as well.

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  16. I can't wait until I get my bulb order, too bad I can't remember all that I ordered! I do have Thalia and Ice Follies but great bulbs to come up year after year.

    Eileen

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    1. Forgetting what you ordered is bound to add a nice element of surprise to unpacking your mail order shipment Eileen!

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  17. At first I thought it's spring over there and Oh that's the Keukenhof in The Netherlands with all the tulips. But this is all for next spring. I've just planted 200 crocusses and tulips are ordered. May be I buy some more special daffodils, but I have already lots of them.

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    1. Janneke, Planting so many bulbs is a lot of work, but I am sure your garden will be amazing come spring.

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  18. I have a love affair with spring bulbs, but don't we all? My Muscari have been increasing their footprint nicely, though the Sky blue ones seemed to have disappeared, maybe they will show up again in the spring. Might not buy more daffs this fall, have put in almost 300 since moving here (maybe more). I have an order of crocus waiting to ship...think that is what I will stop with....for this year.

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    1. 300 daffodils! Wow! I bet spring is amazing at your house Janet. The sky blue Muscari are a favourite grape hyacinths. Hopefully, yours will return in spring.

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  19. I've enjoyed this look forward with you. Last year and this year I finally ordered some bulbs, from Van Elegen, which has excellent prices. My first thought when looking at bulbs is, will voles eat them? So mostly it's been daffs. You've so many beautiful bulbs here that when I place another order I'll have to be more adventuresome.

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    1. I hear you Sweetbay! I had a terrible time with voles eating my bulbs the winter before last. They can be a huge problem with it comes to bulbs!

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  20. Well first of all I''m impressed that you remembered what you saw last spring, made a note about it and then FOUND the note!

    We have such similar tastes - I had my Mum mail bluebells from a Welsh farm when we first moved to Seattle because I couldn't find Scilla non-scripta locally. Before the internet days for most of us! I love Eranthis too - very popular in the UK but less so here. Chionodoxa remind me of my son - they open around his birthday.

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    1. Karen, One of the great things about having a garden blog is that you do find yourself paying close attention and there is lots of inspiration on the internet.

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  21. Wonderful photographs, sensational flowers, admiring such views are a great pleasure. I am greeting

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  22. You just reminded me that tulip bulbs are edible and during hardship in the past people used to eat them too. Gorgeous photos. I would love to sit on the bench on the first photo and just lazying around.

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    1. I have always wondered if tulips have the slightly nutty flavour that I imagine in my head. In present day, tulips are packed and shipped all over the world. I believe they are treated with fungicides, so they wouldn't make a great snack food.

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  23. Un jardín espectacular, increíble!! Yo quisiera tener todas esas flores!! Un abrazo grande.

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  24. Your header photo is so gorgeous, Jennifer--it's making me think spring already! I have the same problem every fall; I want to order everything in all the catalogs! I finally ordered some bulbs, but I tried to keep in mind how much room I have left and just how much time and sore knees planting them will take:) I'm also going to wait for some local sales for the more common varieties instead of having to pay shipping costs for them.

    Definitely add some Muscari--I've been adding a few more each year to try to get enough to create a mass effect. Thanks for the tips, too, on foiling the squirrels; judging by the number of them running around my front yard right now, this is something I'd better do.

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  25. I too have been thinking bulbs lately. and thinking about what compromises I could make. I only bought a few squill this year as those I have will hopefully start to seed and produce offsets. The rest of the budget went to new daffodils. So glad you posted that anemone and daffodil photo again, I haven't forgotten it since I saw on your blog in spring. I planted Golden Echo daffs throughout my hostas and next to my anemone. I'm hoping the daffodils carry the image of the anemone on through the hostas.

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  26. Bulb planting, just what I am up to at the moment Jennifer, it does get rather expensive. My saving grace is the fact that I have very little space left in the borders for planting. I still cant resist them though, so it has to be container planting. Fabulous photos you have posted, making me think of Spring already.

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  27. Every year I think I've planted enough bulbs but come spring there is never enough! I've had to totally give up on tulips because of all the deer, so now I'm trying out the different daffodil varieties. Between the deer and the rodents no one seems to like them( poisonous).

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  28. Hello Jennifer girl!
    Even though today is Oct 1st (my Halloween month: )this is a nice post to see about what next Spring may bring ? .. I stopped with the crocus .. we have a persistent chipmunk that loves them way too much to stress me out.
    Tulips .. Ballerina was my favorite last Spring (might sneak some more of those!) but I have a BIG bag of narcissus 'Fortune" which is a very pretty one with a brilliant butter-yellow perianth and a darker, broad funnel-shaped cup with a reddish-orange rim.I'm planting them out front following the border of the raised bed .. 90 for $21 at our Costco ! .. I also wanted to dabble in another peony. My one and only "Flame" the foliage stayed gorgeous even in the heat and humidity without rain all summer .. so Green Lotus from Garden Import caught my eye .
    See ? you have me all excited about Spring and I have Halloween to enjoy yet! haha
    Joy : )

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  29. I bought a big bag of mixed pastel tulips on sale that I plan on sticking in my pots. I treat my tulips as annuals. During recent redesign/transplanting I accidentally dug up a ton of daffodil bulbs that I'm going to replant. I love bulbs but prefer the type that multiply and naturalize. They seem cheaper.My fall gardening money went to soil amendments, plants, and compost. :o)

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  30. You can never have enough bulbs. Every year I want to plant more and just never find the time late in the season due to jobs I am finishing up for the year. Each time the catalogs come, there is good intention, but this year I have been traveling too much. I did enjoy all the blooms that you showed, especially the tulips in the header.

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  31. Next year is my landscaping year! Can't wait to make something out of the mess of plants I jammed into the little garden space that I had :) Thanks for the inspiration!

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  32. Hi Jennifer, now that I am back in Barbados and finally have internet again, I am catching up on my reading. As you might now, snowsrops are a passion of mine, still torn on the quantity vrs quality (rarity) dilemma, so I think I shall have to go for both. I have a few of the more unusual varieties, and I would be happy to share some with you when I am home in the spring, drop me an e-mail.

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