Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Disorganized bulb gardening

I'm not much of a spring bulb fan. Actually, I like the little or offbeat spring bulbs, like snowdrops and Persian tulips. It's the huge King Alfred daffodils, massed armies of hyacinths and the garish Dutch tulips on steroids that I don't really care for. So last year at this time, I was looking at posts on Linda's whatsitgarden blog and wishing I had some small species tulips in my garden. Tulipa hageri x aucheriana 'Little Princess' filled the bill. I bought some online and tucked them away, as usual forgetting about them completely until late in the year.

I was cleaning out the garden room some time in November and found them, along with several Camassia quamash bulbs I ordered at the same time. In desperation, I looked for any sunny spot to plant them and pretty much threw them into the soil. Records? Planting location? Ummm, no, I didn't make any notes.

So what do you think these are?

From their location in the Northwest Territory, I'm hazarding a guess they may be the Camas emerging. What do you think? Do these look like Camas sprouts to you?

I had several pots of Ornithogalum, known as Star of Bethlehem, a South African bulb I bought from New Seasons at Easter time. When I researched them, it seemed worth taking the chance and planting them out in the garden. Whether it was our mild winter (so far) or the bulletproof nature of the bulbs, they (I think it's them, anyway) are peeking out now. They usually flower in summer, as I remember. Of course, that would be summer in the southern hemisphere, so all bets are off after forced flowering last Easter anyway.

Do any of you know Ornithogalum? Does this look like it might be them?

I feel slightly more confident about the location of the aforementioned 'Little Princess' tulips.  My confidence is boosted by the buds I see forming in the centers of the bulbs.

This looks like a tulip flower bud, right? Of course, it would be nicer if it got a bit of a stem, but I'll settle for tulip flowers growing straight out of the ground at this point.

This last group is a dead giveaway because of the distinctive buds. It was a pot of Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' someone gave my dear old dad last year, that I tipped into the ground in late November. I'm not crazy about them, but I just didn't have the heart to toss them on the compost. At least they are the tiniest daffodils you can get.

So one out of four is my embarrassingly low ID count for spring bulbs.  And if they actually produce flowers and I can positively identify them, I promise myself I'll record the locations.

Yep, this is the year I'm really going to get organized.


  1. I'm just as bad at remembering what I planted where...especially since it seems the planting always happens in a frenzy in the middle of a downpour :-) I think those are Star of Bethelem...which, if memory serves, spreads quite a bit.

  2. And this is why I am scared of bulbs! Okay not really...the part about not cutting back the foliage until it's dead is what I hate. But this sort of thing is quite confusing too!

  3. Don't ask me...I 'm useless at IDing bulbs. I still have garlic from past years poping up to confuse me even more. The former owners of our house we're keen on bulbs , so I have so many massed around . It's gets difficult to remember what's what. Not that I'm complaining ..the more the merrier.

  4. Your species tulips look a lot like my species tulips last spring. The flower buds stayed very close to the surface for the longest time, and then suddenly the stems elongated just before they colored up and bloomed. Not as long as a big showy Darwin hybrid tulip, but definitely longer. Maybe yours will act the same way. I don't know enough to identify your other bulb foliage. I often forget to mark where I planted bulbs too.

  5. I'm so bulb-stupid that I have to consciously remind myself that they aren't "grey piacinths."

  6. Well, if it's any consolation... I'm constantly digging up or piercing unsuspecting bulbs in the garden. At this point I just chock it up to this being part of my dysfunction. The first ones do indeed look like Camas and the third ones, like species tulips. I'm not sure about the middle guys. But I say, hey if you get Camas and species tulips, you're doing great! It'll be a surprise. Please let us know.

  7. That whole east-coast cold-winter bulb thing...I just can't do it. We don't have the climate for it...too high a chance of blistering spring heat waves. Here bulbs are from South Africa, bloom in winter or late summer, and you plant and forget. But I love seeing them in cold-winter gardens! Congrats on your planting. What need is there of organization? Nature will take care of it.


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