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When Lilies Take You By Surprise

As a kid, when I saw the naked ladies pop up in the yard, it was always bittersweet.  Their bold presence always made me smile, but I also knew it was almost time to go back to school. The ever-present surprise lilies, also known as spider lilies, naked ladies or naked lilies, were a sad reminder that summer was coming to an end. They are “naked” because the blooms arrive before the foliage and their stems are bare.

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Paperwhites with Heart

This Valentines’ Day give paperwhites with “heart.” Follow these three easy steps to decorate potted paperwhites with a pussy willow stem heart.

Materials

  • Paperwhites planted in a 6-inch container
  • (2) fresh pussy willow branches (available at florists)
  • Wired green floral stick (available at florists or craft stores)
  • Red ribbon
  • Decorative container

Directions

    1. Insert the wide ends of the pussy willow branches into the soil at an angle so they make a V.

Paperwhites for Valentines

  1. Draw together the upper ends and tie with the wired floral stick.
  2. Pull the floral stick all the way down to the pot and push it into the soil. Insert it at an angle to make it secure.
  3. For a pop of color wrap the willow stems in red ribbon.
  4. That’s all there is to it!

Tabletop Spring Garden

Welcome spring into your home with a tabletop garden planted with spring blooms from your local garden center or grocery store.

Materials:
Potted flowering plants
Plastic baggies
Decorative container
Sheet moss

Directions:
Remove each plant from its pot and slip it, soil and all, into a plastic baggie. This is optional. If your decorative container is large enough to accommodate the plants in their pots, simply slip them into the container. Otherwise the plastic baggies make it easier to arrange the plants.

Once the plants are in the container cover the bags or pots with sheet moss to conceal. That’s it!

For the longest life, place your tabletop garden in a spot away from source of heat. Water the soil with a spray mister.

For this arrangement I used pots of forced ‘Tete-a-tete’ narcissus, primroses and variegated ivy. After the blooms fade I’ll plant the ‘Tet-a-tete’ in the garden. This variety is a prolific multiplier.

Dahlias

Several years ago, I visited a dahlia farm in Holland and was able to see these festive flowers blooming on a massive scale. The fields of cheery, bright colored dahlias were breathtaking. You can imagine my surprise when I saw that the growers were actually lopping off the blooms, leaving behind stems and foliage. It turns out that this practice makes for better dahlias for our gardens because removing the blooms shifts the plant’s energy inward producing big, healthy tubers.

Although the farm I visited was in Holland, dahlias actually hail from Mexico. They love warm weather and abundant sunshine typical of their native land, but they can be grown just about anywhere for summer color. After all Holland and Mexico are diverse climates.

Choices, Choices

There are so many varieties of dahlias available I don’t know where to begin in describing all the choices. They can range in height from dwarfs, only 15 inches tall, to the giants that reach 6 feet or more. Bloom shapes include anemone, ball, cactus, orchid, decorative, collerete, single, waterlily, pompom and fimbrated, which has delicately forked petals. There is almost every color under the sun save blue and flower sizes go from giant dinner plates to miniatures. Whew! That’s a lot to choose from!

Planting Dahlias

Plant dahlia tubers after the last frost date in your area and soil has had a chance to warm up. I plant them about the same time that I plant tomatoes. Select a place with full sun. Dahlias aren’t fussy about soil, but they don’t like “wet feet” so it’s important that the area drains well. Amend heavy clay soil with sand or grow your dahlias in containers. Dwarf dahlias are perfect for pots and you can get the soil just right.

Plant the tubers about 6-inches deep and about 24-inches apart. Add some compost and a spoonful of bone meal or soft rock phosphate to the planting hole and place the tuber horizontally with the eye pointing upward. Backfill the hole with soil and water lightly. Once the green shoots emerge from the ground,give the area a good soak.

If you selected a variety that grows over 3 feet tall, set up supports at planting time.

Caring for Dahlias

Give you dahlias a deep soak once a week, more if this weather is especially hot and dry.

When dahlias are about 12 inches tall, feed with a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will cause plants to produce weak stems and fewer blooms. Apply as directed on the package. Pinching back the stems at this time will make the plant full and compact.

About a month before blooms appear start a routine of feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer high in phosphorous every 7 to 10 days. Continue this until plants die back in autumn.

Dahlias will bloom from late summer until the first frost. Removing faded flowers helps keep the blooms coming.

What to Do With Dahlias in Winter

Dahlias are perennial in regions where winters are mild. Simply cut them back in fall and cover with mulch.

If you live in a part of the country where cold winters and hard frosts are the rule, it’s important to lift dahlia tubers from the ground and store them. I suggest digging them with a one-foot diameter root ball, lift soil and all and put them in a cool, dark, dry place. Cover them with dry sand or sawdust until you are ready to replant them in the spring. The way I see it, these flowers are worth any extra trouble you may have to go through to keep them from one year to the next.

Warm Climate Bulb Planting

I’m in California, do spring flowering bulbs need to be pre-chilled in the refrigerator? When should I plant?

In most areas of the country you can plant your bulbs anytime during the fall. In my zone 7 garden, I start planting in October and often continue as late as Thanksgiving.

However, in warm gardening zones, you will need to take special measures. Tulips should be grown as annuals in your area, as is the case in most parts of the country.

First, with the exception of the daffodils and narcissus, you need to cool your bulbs in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks.

Place bulbs in a ventilated bag (best choices: paper bags, mesh bulb bags, or new open weave vegetable baggies) in a refrigerator at the usual fridge temperature of 40 degrees F to 45 degrees F for a minimum of six to eight weeks. Don’t worry if you bought the bulbs early in the season and need to store them for several months before planting: keep them chilling – even up to 12 to 16 weeks if necessary, until it is time to plant.

Remove any fruit (especially apples) in the refrigerator, for the ethylene gas given off by all ripening fruit will kill the flower inside bulbs.

Keep bulbs in the refrigerator until planting. Take them directly from the fridge to your planting site.

Be sure to select a planting area that drains well, as standing water can rot bulbs.

Plant the bulbs three times their height. For example, if the daffodil bulb is approximately 2 inches tall, dig a hole 6 inches deep. Once covered with soil, a two-inch thick layer of mulch is optional to help retain moisture and keep the bulbs cool. Just remember that if you do plan to add mulch factor it into your planting depth.

Water the garden after planting to help the establish root growth. If you live in a dry area, be sure to water the garden about once a week.

Fantastic Foliage from Summer Bulbs

Do you have a blank spot that needs filling or a border that needs a little pizazz? Tropical summer bulbs are a quick fix. Corms and tubers planted in spring will grow by leaps and bounds during the summer bringing color, pattern and texture to the garden.

Many summer bulbs have lovely blooms, but look at the foliage too. The patterns, textures, and sizes create interest without much maintenance.

Rex Begonia – One of the most interesting plants when it comes to fabulous looking foliage. Available in shades of greens, white, burgundy, red, pink, silver and deep maroon-black.Rex Begonia The patterns are almost endless. There are spirals, concentric circles, dots, stripes and shields. In addition to these variations there are different leaf shapes, textures, and stem colors. With names like Escargot, Iron Cross, Fireworks, Denver Lace, Capricorn, Miami Storm, Fire Flush and Mimi Boston how could you go wrong?

Hardy to zones 10 and 11, these plants prefer shady, humid conditions and rich, aerated soil with plenty of organic matter. Too much water and fertilizer and you will have a very unhappy plant. Soggy soil will lead to rot and high fertilizer will burn the foliage.

Yellow Calla LilyCalla Lily (Zantedeschia)– Grown mostly for its Art Deco style flower that blooms white, pastels, vibrant red, purple or yellow with a very narrow red margin. While the flowers are quite beautiful, the upright glossy leaves are what I am drawn to. In addition to bright green some varieties boast foliage with white centers, polka dots or green and yellow stripes.

Hardy to zone 9 an ample layer of mulch applied in the fall can get these plants through winter in zone 8 or possibly zone 7 where the temperature is not likely to fall below 10 degrees F. Otherwise dig the rhizomes when frost threatens and store them indoors or bring in the plant to grow as a houseplant. Calla Lilies like a moist, almost wet soil and warm temperatures and will grow in full sun (partial afternoon shade in the South.)

CannaCanna – With its large, majestic stature and foliage, the beautiful blossoms of these plants almost go unnoticed. The tropical looking foliage with its large leaves, upright growth and interesting colors make a huge statement in the garden. Look for foliage that is purple, purple with green veining, yellow and green stripes and one of the most striking I have seen has burgundy, green, yellow and red/orange stripes. A few varieties I like include ‘Tropicana’, ‘King Humbert’, ‘Pretoria’ and ‘Black Knight’.

Hardy to zone 7, cannas grow from a rhizomatous rootstock that allows it to spread slowly outward from where it is planted. They prefer full sun in most locations but partial shade in regions where sunlight is intense may help keep the flowers from bleaching out or the foliage tips from burning. Cannas prefer a rich soil high in organic matter that drains well but stays consistently moist. They are heavy feeders. If your cannas begin to look ratty, it’s a sure sign that it needs to be fed or that the soil is too dry. You can grow cannas in containers but the containers will need to be large. As they become pot-bound they become weak and need to be divided and repotted. Cannas are root hardy in places where the soil does not freeze and can survive in air temperatures down to 0 degrees. In areas where the temperature may drop below 10 degrees, adding deep mulch will help protect the roots by keeping the soil surface from freezing.

Elephant EarsColocasia, Alocasia, Xanthosoma – Collectively known as elephant ears, these plants have large, fleshy leaves in solid green or purple/black. Many varieties have interesting variations in color with splotching and veining patterns of green, white and purple/black. Reaching anywhere from 2 to 6 feet or taller some show a distinctive, upright growth pattern while others are more spreading. Look for names like ‘Black Magic’ (burgundy-black foliage), ‘Chicago Harlequin’ (green foliage randomly blotched with lighter green), ‘Illustris’ (green foliage overlaid with black with lime green veins and margins) or ‘Lime Zinger’ (chartreuse foliage). Elephant ears can be planted in a summer border or grown in containers on the porch or patio.

Elephant ears are sub-tropical or tropical plants but some are hardy as far north as zone 7b. They prefer a bright, indirect light or partial shade. The leaves may scorch in full sun or become too green in deep shade. They generally thrive in hot, humid conditions as long as they receive consistent moisture. They prefer a moist, rich, deep, organic soil. Be sure to feed them often as they are heavy feeders.

OxalisOxalis – A favorite plant of many, commonly called the Shamrock plant because of the clover-like leaves. Oxalis is available in green, white/silver, burgundy or purple. You can select oxalis solid colors, interesting patterns or variegations. The flowers range from white, yellow, pink, orange and red. Oxalis can be tucked into your flower borders, grown in containers on the porch or patio and also as a houseplant on a sunny windowsill. Their diminutive size fits easily into smaller spaces and in the front of borders where they will show off throughout the summer. These little bulbs will bloom on and off from spring until fall.

Fairly petite in size oxalis range from two to 16 inches tall and depending on species they are tender, half-hardy or hardy perennials to zone 6. Oxalis can grow in full sun in temperate climates. If you garden where summers are hot give it some afternoon shade or plant it in light, dappled shade. These little bulbs have a preference for well-drained soil that is a little on the acidic side. They are drought tolerant but do water them during extended periods without rain.

CaladiumsCaladium – Gardeners choose caladiums for their long lasting, colorful foliage that adds interest to lightly shaded areas. Color combinations include various shades of red, pink, white, green with colored midribs and contrasting margins. The leaves are heart shaped and many have contrasting patterns. They are a mid-sized plant perfect for planting in clumps in a border or in containers. Look for the varieties ‘White Christmas’ (white leaves with green veins), ‘Pink Beauty’ (pink leaves with dark pink veins and green margins), ‘Frieda Hemple’ (red leaves with green margins)or ‘Brandywine’ (deep red leaves).

Growing 18 – 24 inches tall, caladiums perform best in moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. They enjoy warm weather but do not tolerate dry conditions. Caladiums are only hardy in zones 10 to 11. Everywhere else they should be treated as an annual or dug up after the first frost. If you choose to dig up your caladiums allow the tubers to dry thoroughly, and then layer the tubers in dry peat or vermiculite and store them in an area that remains around 50 to 60 degrees F. Check the tubers occasionally to make sure they are plump but dry.

Purple hyacinths growing in pots in a kitchen

How to Grow Hyacinths Indoors

Forcing hyacinth bulbs to bloom indoors is simple; it just takes a little patience. It can take as long as 13 weeks for the bulbs to come into flower.

Hyacinth bulbs require a period of cooling before they will bloom. Florist suppliers often have precooled hyacinth bulbs available, ready for forcing. If you can’t find those, just store the bulbs for 8 to 12 weeks in a cold frame, outdoor shed, garage, or other dark area with temperatures from 35 to 45 degrees F. It’s important that you don’t expose bulbs to freezing temperatures and if you put them in the fridge, don’t place them next to apples. Apples produce a gas that will cause the bulbs to rot.

 

forcing hyacinths into bloom

Once the bulbs have been precooled, you can force them into bloom in almost any planting medium: potting soil, gravel and water or just plain water. To make it easy on yourself try using glass “forcing jars.” You can find these at florist shops, hobby suppliers or garden centers. They look like hour glasses with the tops cut off.

To begin, place the bulb in a glass container and add water up to, but not touching, the bottom of the bulb (about 1/4″ below the base of the bulb). Bulbs sitting in water are prone to rot. This is where the forcing jars come in handy because they are cinched at the waist and the bulbs sit nicely just above the water.

growing hyacinths in forcing jars

Place the bulb and jar in a cool, dark area (about 50 degrees F – a cool cellar, an unheated garage or a regular family-style refrigerator) until the root system is well developed and growth from the top has begun. Do not store these in a refrigerator with fruits, especially apples. As fruits and some vegetables ripen, they release ethylene gas, which can kill or damage the flower.

Keep cool for 10 weeks. Add water periodically, always keeping the level of water close to the base of the bulb.

When the shoots are about 2 inches tall and the root system extends to the bottom of the glass, remove the jars to an intermediate area that has low light and slightly warmer temperatures. Over the next 3-4 days, gradually move your jars into a sunny window.

When the flowers appear, keep them in bright, indirect light. Temperatures of 60 degrees F to 65 degrees F will ensure longest flowering. Turn the jar a bit each day so that the flowers do not lean to one side as they reach for the sun.

Indoor Spring Flowering Bulb Garden

There is something truly magical about spring flowering bulbs. And you know you don’t need an outdoor garden to enjoy them. You can make a garden to bring indoors.

The Idea

Pot up bulbs in fall to force into bloom indoors in late winter or early spring. Arrange the pots in a shallow container to create a spring flowering bulb garden.

P. Allen Smith Spring Bulb Indoor Garden

How-to

Step one of this project is planting the bulbs. Keep in mind that the bulbs used in this arrangement need 16 to 18 weeks of chilling time. If you pot the bulbs in early October you are likely to have blooms by January.

Materials:

  • (5) white hyacinth bulbs
  • (5) pink tulip bulbs
  • (16) Tete-a-Tete daffodil bulbs
  • (4) 6-inch pots
  • Potting soil
  • Shallow decorative container (wide and deep enough to accommodate the pots)
  • Sheet moss

Directions:

Fill the pots with soil leaving about 2-inches at the top.

Plant one type of bulb per container. Place the bulbs shoulder-to-shoulder and bury them 3 times deeper than the bulb is wide.

If you live in a region where winter temperatures stay above 25 degrees F, place the pots in the garden near the foundation of the house. Gardeners in colder winter climates should keep the pots in an unheated storage area like a garage or shed. Water the pots about once a month if Mother Nature does not provide moisture through rain or melting snow.

P. Allen Smith Spring Bulb Indoor Garden

After the required chilling period bring the pots of bulbs into your house. Place them in an area that receives indirect light. When the foliage emerges arrange the pots in a decorative container. Be sure to line the bottom of the container with plastic or use plastic saucers to prevent water damage on tables. Hide the tops of the pots with sheet moss. Move your garden to a sunny location. You can place the garden in any room in your house once the flowers begin to open. I find the flowers last longer if I keep them away from source of heat.

P. Allen Smith Spring Bulb Indoor Garden

Good to Know

If you don’t have any outdoor space for storing the bulbs choose varieties that don’t require chilling such as paperwhites, amaryllis and pre-chilled hyacinths.

Leucojum

While visiting an old homestead we discovered some flowers that grew from bulbs and have tiny, white, bell-shaped flowers with green tips. They have come back for the last two springs. Do you have any idea what they may be called? They grow just like a narcissus. I would appreciate your help.

The flower you have seen is a leucojum or summer snowflake. I love the dainty blooms of this plant. Looking at the perfect green dots painted on each white petal reminds me of how truly intricate nature is.

This plant is often confused with galanthus or snowdrops. But you can distinguish the two by the little green dot. Also the petals of leucojum are an even length while galanthus has three long petals and three short petals.

Leucojum bloom between April and May, so they need to be planted in the fall along with other spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Plant these bulbs in partial shade about 4 inches apart. Snowflakes like consistent moisture and will even tolerate soggy soils.

One of my favorite varieties of leucojum is ‘Gravetye Giant’. It has larger blooms and long sturdy stem, making it perfect for cutting to bring indoors.

10 Spring Bulb Questions

Every year I receive lots of questions regarding tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring flowering bulbs. Most of these questions either come in the spring when these garden beauties are in bloom, or mid-fall when gardeners are trying to get them planted.

This year I thought it would be helpful to get ahead of the game and answer 10 of the most frequently asked questions now, before the fall rush.

1. How can I prevent squirrels and rodents from eating my bulbs?

Planting bulbs in fall for spring bloom can be a bit of a chore, even if the results are well worth the effort. I’ve come up with a way to make the job a little easier and prevent four legged visitors from disturbing all my hard work.

Bulbs should be planted at a depth that is 3 times their height. For example, if a daffodil bulb is approximately 2 inches tall, dig a hole 6 inches deep. And remember that if you plan to add mulch, factor it in to your planting depth.

Rather than dig individual holes for each bulb I dig out the entire area that I want to plant. I dig it to the required depth of the largest bulb. If I have smaller bulbs I create little mounds of soil for them to sit on that will bring them up to the proper planting depth. I place my bulbs in the dug out area with the pointed end up and the flatter, usually larger end sitting at the bottom of the bed. I then add my bulb food and refill the area with soil. I use a synthetic bulb food because it is less attractive to animals than bone meal, another commonly used fertilizer.

 

This is the point where I add a piece of chicken wire to further prevent squirrels, raccoons and other neighborhood creatures from getting to the bulbs. I simply cut a piece of chicken wire 1 inch larger on each side than the size of bulb bed. I bend the edges to create a shallow box top shape and set the chicken wire on top of my newly planted bulbs. I then push the 1 inch edges down into the soil. To complete the planting I add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch. Now this does 3 things. It hides the chicken wire, further insulates the bulbs and gives the beds a finished look.

In the spring when the bulb foliage begins to emerge, I’ll remove the chicken wire so that the plants can grow freely.

2. When should I plant spring flowering bulbs?

Spring flowering bulbs can be planted anytime in the fall before the ground freezes. They must be planted in the fall rather than in the spring because they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark their growth process that causes them to flower. In cold climates (zones 1 – 4) this can be done as early as late August or September, while in more temperate areas (zones 4 – 7) planting can be done any time between September and November.

For best results, plant bulbs as soon as possible after you purchase them. Your bulbs need to establish strong root systems, before the frosts of winter set in and the bulbs enter a new cycle in preparation for spring blooming.

3. Why don’t tulips come back year after year?

A frequent misconception about tulips is that they don’t come back year after year. Actually, tulips are perennial in their native environment in central Asia. In American gardens, tulips don’t come back with the same vigor because the foliage dies back too soon, particularly in the South. It’s this foliage that reinvigorates the bulbs; without the foliage dying back naturally, there’s little chance of the tulip coming back.

In northern gardens, there is a greater chance for tulips to be perennial because the spring is cooler and longer, but even in the north you need to plant a few bulbs each fall to keep the display as effective and beautiful as it can be.

You should also know that there are some varieties that are more reliably perennial than others. Both species tulips and Darwin hybrids are known to return. The darker hued Darwin hybrids do better than the pastel ones.

To encourage tulips to come back plant them in an area that gets good drainage and plant them deep, about 8 inches from the bottom of the bulb to the top of the soil. Fertilize in the fall and spring. After the blooms have faded remove the spent flowers and allow the foliage to die back naturally. This helps the bulbs store up energy for next year’s bloom.

In my zone 7 garden I grow the species tulip T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ and it has reappeared in the spring for several years now. But the modern hybrid tulip should be treated as an annual in southern gardens. You have to plant it each year, but the blooms are so beautiful, it is still worthwhile.

4. I live in a warm, zone 9 climate. Can I still plant spring flowering bulbs?

It is a bit more challenging to grow spring flowering bulbs in a warm climate because the winters don’t give the bulbs the chilling required to bloom, but, if you take special measures, you can still add their beauty to your garden.

First, with the exception of the daffodils and narcissus, you need to cool your bulbs in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks.

Place bulbs in a ventilated bag (best choices: paper bags, mesh bulb bags, or new open weave vegetable baggies) in a refrigerator at the usual fridge temperature of 40° F to 45° F for a minimum of six to eight weeks. Don’t worry if you bought the bulbs early in the season and need to store them for several months before planting: keep them chilling – even up to 12 to 16 weeks if necessary, until it is time to plant.

Remove any fruit (especially apples) in the refrigerator, for the ethylene gas given off by all ripening fruit will kill the flower inside bulbs.

Keep bulbs in the refrigerator until planting. Take them directly from the fridge to your planting site.

Water the garden after planting to help the establish root growth. If you live in a dry area, be sure to water the garden about once a week.

5. How should I store my bulbs until I am ready to plant them?

I often get into a situation where I can’t get my bulbs planted as soon as I would like. In such instances I keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place, such as my garage, or basement. Warmth and moisture will signal the bulbs to start growing. I check on them occasionally to be sure they aren’t getting moldy or soft and plant them as soon as I can.

6. What should I do with the foliage after the blooms have faded in the spring?

Well if you are dealing with perennial bulbs such as daffodils and want flowers next year you should treat the foliage with respect. It actually restores the bulb’s energy through photosynthesis and helps the bulb prepare for blooming next year, so don’t cut it back. It’s okay to remove the spent flower but be sure to leave the stem intact.

After a while the foliage may begin to look a little rough but keep it in place for at least 8 weeks after the flower fades or until the foliage withers and dies back.

One solution to camouflaging the fading foliage is to over plant your bulbs with cool season annuals such as pansies or even perennials, which will emerge and begin to gain height about the time the foliage is beginning to appear unsightly.

This is also an excellent time to feed your bulbs. I just use about a tablespoon or so of a well-balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20 or triple 13 and sprinkle it around the base of the plants.

7. When can I transplant daffodils?

If you have daffodils that are in need of relocating, spring is a good time to transplant them. Because the foliage is visible you will have no trouble seeing them in the ground. Just remember the name of the game here is to keep the leaves green as long as possible to recharge the bulb for next year’s flower. For the best results, wait about 8 weeks after the blooms have faded to move your daffodils. When you do move them, take care not to do damage to the bulb, and make sure that the bulb and foliage stay intact.

8. Are there any deer resistant spring flowering bulbs?

Believe it or not there are a few plants that deer tend to pass by. I’ve had the most success with daffodils, but alliums, crocus, chinodoxa, scilla, grape hyacinths and snow drops are all supposed to be deer resistant. But what I’ve found is that if deer get hungry enough, they’ll eat anything, even these varieties. About the only full proof system is a very tall fence or a dog trained to keep deer away.

9. What do recommend planting in addition to the standard tulips and daffodils?

I must confess that the bulbs I plant the most of are tulips. I guess I just love the classic bloom and wide range of colors available. However, for variety there are some other, less typical bulbs that I plant every year as well.

Allium schubertii – Large, spidery blooms comprised of purple star-shaped florets. These are great planted in drifts and make an elegant statement as a single cut flower in a vase.

Anemone blanda – I have to say that I don’t actually grow this bulb, but have always appreciated its simple daisy-like bloom. They are great for forcing to enjoy indoors. I like the ‘Blue Shades’ variety because, well, I like blue.

Arum italicum – This is really a three season plant. Good for gardens in zones 5 – 9, it produces mottled arrow shaped foliage in the winter, chartreuse ‘Jack-in-the-pulpit’ like blooms in the spring and bright red berries in summer.

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’ – This North American native plant produces tall spikes of blue star shaped flowers in late spring or early summer.

Eremurus -The plume shaped blooms are similar to a foxtail giving it the common name of foxtail lily. The stature of this plant makes a statement. Depending on the variety it can grow up to 7 feet tall.

Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ – The white bell-shaped flowers of this plant are edged with a chartreuse green. I like this variety because the blooms are larger than other leucojums.

10. What bulbs are good for forcing to enjoy indoors?

The easiest spring flowering bulbs for forcing are amaryllis, paperwhites, hyacinths, muscari and large flowering crocus. Other bulbs that can be forced but may require a little more attention are tulips, miniature daffodils, lily-of-the-valley and freesias.