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Mountain Gardening: Spring Forward for Early Garden Color

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Nothing lifts a gardener's spirits more than spring bulbs blooming after a long winter. Here are five species to plant now and enjoy later.

Dwarf irises are some of the earliest-blooming bulbs.

Contrary to daylight saving time, autumn is the time to spring forward. Gardeners who plant spring-blooming bulbs during fall planting will be rewarded next season, when flowers seem to magically appear in February and March.

One of my favorite early bloomers is a little bulb called Iris reticulata or reticulated iris. This hardy (Zone 5) dwarf iris grows on short stems and seems to pop up exactly when I need a reminder that spring is on the way. I've planted these bulbs close to the sidewalk so I'm sure to see them the moment they emerge.

Select and plant different daffodil varieties for nonstop blooming.

Spring wouldn't be the same around here without the cheery daffodils I've planted in every imaginable spot. I added daffodil bulbs to my landscape each autumn for years until I simply ran out of garden space.

The bulbs include different varieties of daffodils in all sizes and colors. I'm especially fond of the yellow daffodils with bright-orange trumpets, and the white Narcissus with pink trumpets. Some varieties, such as white 'Thalia', are fragrant too. The benefit of planting a daffodil collection is staggered bloom times throughout spring.

A mass planting of yellow tulips creates a splash of spring color.

In spring I also love the look of a garden bed filled with a mass planting of a single color of tulips. However, for a more spectacular display select large, classic blooms in a wild mix of colors, and plant tulips in long swaths through garden beds.

Giant flowering onion (allium) is a different kind of spring bulb.

If you're looking for something a little different than traditional daffodils and tulips, alliums are nice choices. A cousin to onions, allium has tall stems, and round heads made up of hundreds of tiny flowers that grow in a ball shape. You can use alliums as accent flowers in any garden.

Plant garlic bulbs in fall too.

While you're busy with fall planting in the flower garden, be sure to add a few garlic bulbs to the vegetable bed. Garlic planted in fall will be ready to harvest in midsummer.

What spring-blooming bulbs are you planting this fall? Please share your favorites here.