By Bonnie Manion
One of my favorite bulbs planted in my garden is Gravetye Giant (Leucojum aestivum), also known as Giant Snowflake and Summer Snowflake. It’s a winter-to-spring-blooming bulb, above. When blooming, Gravetye Giant can reach 1 to 2 feet tall. It has a clump-forming habit, with vivid green foliage and pendulous, bell-shape white flowers, punctuated with an emerald green dot at the tip of each petal.
It is best to plant Gravetye Giant bulbs in the fall, in a part-shade to sunny location. Gravetye Giant is ideal for flowerbeds, borders, naturalizing, woodland shade gardens and even water features. It is extremely showy and elegant in mass plantings. You can enjoy them inside as beautiful cut flowers too.
Gravetye Giant is a very forgiving bulb, and tolerates extremes such as frost and excess moisture. It is low-maintenance but will benefit when you deadhead blooms when finished, and cut back foliage only when it yellows. You can divide clumps, if necessary. Gravetye Giant also is relatively pest free, even rodent and deer resistant.
Spring-blooming bulbs are so beautiful with their vivid colors. Why not plant them in a favorite container and place it near your front door or favorite patio table?
Start four to six weeks before you want your container blooming. Choose a mixture of dormant spring bulbs. If pressed for time you can purchase ready-to-bloom spring bulbs. My favorites are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, freesias, amaryllis and lilies. Try mixing in ferns for softness, or perhaps some dainty violas.
Here are a few tips to help you plant a fabulous spring bulb arrangement:
1) Select your container, preferably with a nice, wide mouth or planting area. Let your container size, color and shape dictate what bulbs and plants would look best.
2) Be aware of your plant-to-bloom time frame so you coincide your arrangement. For a longer-lasting arrangement, stagger different bulbs to bloom at various times.
3) The sun wakes up dormant bulbs. Once you plant your arrangement, keep it in a sunny spot.
4) Bulbs like to be on the dry side or moist, but not wet. Plant your bulbs root-side down. Arrange them in good all-purpose potting soil and allow for proper drainage. If you don’t have drainage holes, line your container with heavy black plastic, and water sparingly.
5) Save your spent bulbs from your arrangement and plant them in your garden for next year.
6) Forced branches from your garden or market are beautiful in springtime too and make excellent companions to spring bulbs. Have fun with these beautiful pliable branches by shaping them, creating forms for support, and using them as structure.
Don’t overlook the amaryllis as a spring-blooming bulb—it’s not meant just for the holidays! Plant a deep-red amaryllis bulb on New Year’s Day and you might have a lovely blooming amaryllis to say “I Love You” on Valentine’s Day.
Plant an “Apple Blossom” amaryllis bulb on Ground Hog Day and you’ll have a beautiful soft-red and apple-green striped amaryllis to herald in springtime.