Magic Of Spring Blooming Bulbs Planted In Fall

By Teo Spengler | September 28, 2020
by Teo Spengler
September 28, 2020

I like flowers in general, and bulb flowers in particular. Why bulbs? The logistics of the plant’s growth astound and delight me every time I think about it, with everything the plant requires packed compactly into a bulb. How does that papery thing that looks like garlic send up a shoot, leaves, and blossoms?

There must be something magical going on there, and in this weary world, magic can get you through when nothing else can. To my mind, spring bulb plants offer a little bit more magic than summer bulbs. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

Spring Bulb Magic

I remember how surprised I was to learn that spring bulbs get planted in fall, not spring. Of course, they do, giving the bulb an entire winter to settle in, put down roots, and send up that slender stem in early spring, sometimes even in late winter.

Yet, the time seems long. You have to wait an entire winter from bulb planting to see the spring action and nothing is longer or slower than the part of winter after the holidays. If I’m in France, winter means snow; in San Francisco, it means heavy fog and rain.

You almost stop believing that spring will come and certainly forget about those bulbs you planted. Then, one day, the flowers poke their way up and amaze you once again. You don’t get this effect with summer bulbs planted in spring. That’s because you’ve had lush foliage and pretty flowers for months when the summer bulb flowers blossom.

Favorite Spring Blooming Bulbs

I’m surprisingly traditional when it comes to spring bulb plants. So much of my life is wacky – living in the French Pyrenees, touring the West Coast in a purple VW van, rescuing pit bulls, riding a motorcycle. With bulb preferences, however, I’m old fashioned. Give me sweeps of golden daffodils, fields of crocus, and dreamy heads of allium.

I particularly love the spring bulbs that naturalize. By now I have a swath of daffodils that swirls across the hillside just above my home in France. The crocus and muscari also reappear reliably, year after year. 

Every now and again I try something new and sometimes I like it. I enjoyed the parrot tulip bulbs (Jan van Nes Parrot Tulip and Parrot Pink Vision Tulip) a friend gifted me. The flower petals were large and feathery, like bird’s plumage. The blossoms appeared in late spring though, rather than leaping off the snowy field like the daffodils.

Tulips haven’t naturalized at all in my garden in France, so if I want a good display, I have to go to great lengths, year after year. Daffodils are the best and there are hundreds to choose among. I’ve added a few new varieties to my collection recently. Two that I dote on are the Ice Baby, a petite star-shaped flower that arrives very early, and Bridal Crown, a double daffodil that is very romantic. Still, in my heart of hearts, I like the traditional yellow daffodils the best.

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