The Q&A Archives: Planning a Bulb Bed

Question: I'm planning a bulb bed (rectangular shaped) and would like all season color from spring through fall. Can you please give me suggestions on bulbs for summer and fall flowering. I love color! Also, any tips you can give me on preparing the bed would be appreciated.

Answer: In general, bulbs need average, well-drained soil with at least some humus content. Whenever you prepare a bed, it's a good idea to incorporate compost or other source of organic matter, which increases nutrients, drainage and moisture retention. Bulbs of various species should be planted anywhere from 3-8" deep, so you can "layer" them in the bed. These days you can find iris, daylilies, oriental and asiatic lilies with a wide variety of bloom times (and colors!) to keep your garden alive with flowers all summer. For late summer and fall, there's oxalis, crocosmia, tuberous begonia, lycoris, and autumn crocus (all but the last two bloomall summer long!). I highly recommend this book, which was written with gardeners like you in mind: "Bulbs: Four Seasons of Beautiful Blooms", by Lewis & Nancy Hill (Storey Communications, Pownal VT 05261; ISBN # 0-88266-877-3). It has a table showing bloom times of all common (and some uncommon) bulbs, as well as design ideas and in-depth cultural information. Enjoy!

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