Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Joy of Bulbing


I almost titled this post "Why don't Bulbs Read Books" - because I'm actually breaking the number 1 rule for bulbs in my garden - plant in containers.
I have in a container:
  • Colochortus luteus 'Golden Orb', the yellow Mariposa lily, above, which really does need perfect drainage. 
  • Erythronium Pagoda, a 50% native trout lily, that really does need more water than my garden offers. I planted about 10, and most of them come up with shiny glossy leaves, but only the one in a pot, watered twice/week, blooms. 



The rest of my bulbs are in various places in the garden - some years they so spectacularly well, and others, well, they seem to at least survive. Most of them. Here's what we had this year.



Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola (above), which I planted mostly in the front garden, usually does spectacularly well. This year, though, it's been mostly dry since the big rainstorm in December. I got a decent amount of leaves, but very few flowers.



In contrast, Allium unifolium has outdone itself this year. Big flowerheads in several locations in the garden, starting an attractive light purple and still looking good when faded to white. I put these bulbs in 2 years ago and thought them a loss initially, but there they were, a delight for all.



Also quite impressive is Dichelostemma ida-maia 'Pink Diamond'. At least 1 1/2 feet tall and very attractive to hummingbirds - just a bit showier than its cousin the red and lime green species.



Also quite spectacular this year is Triteleia ixiodes 'Starlight' - I planted quite a few of these bulbs this year and have been delighted by their pretty faces popping up in different locations in the garden. Fairly long blooming, this is definitely a winner. What's even better is that nobody thinks they're Agapanthus - and I get that comment a lot for Queen Fabiola.

So, how can these bulbs do all right in my clay soil, with mostly pretty poor drainage?
  • Where possible, I've planted them at a bit of a slope.
  • More  importantly, I've planted them in areas with no summer water
  • Finally, I've probably lost some, and there are good years and bad years for the different species
If you have a "normal" garden that receives regular water, I urge you to follow the advice of planting in pots. (One of the tips in Ms Country Mouse's last post.) On the other hand, if you have areas where your California natives grow happily without water, you might be fine planting in the ground. As for the critters, they seem to mostly go to my neighbors gardens, where fruit and vegetables are tasty treats (and they will not eat the Allium).

 Let's hope it stays that way...

4 comments:

Country Mouse said...

That's quite a show! Wonderful late spring color, and nectar too. I've also got meadow onion popping up this year - and from nowhere - blue dicks, dichelostemm
a! It's good to hear about success with bulbs in the ground - up here on the ridge we probably have a lot more critters tunneling around -- though putting the bulbs in those nice mesh metal "socks" has helped some of my bulbs grow this year I think.

Jason said...

I had no idea the number one rule for bulbs is don't plant them in containers. I have tulips in containers for the first time this spring, they are doing fairly well. You have a lot of lovely bulbs in bloom right now, as usual you have a unique selection.

Country Mouse said...

Jason I think you read that back to front - the rule for native bulbs is that they do better in containers, simply because they can be kept dry in summer (moved to a shady dry spot) - and also to keep burrowng critters and slugs away from them. However, it IS possible, as Ms Town Mouse said - to have success with in ground plantings!

ryan said...

Brodiaea didn't do as well as usual for me this year, same as you. Allium unifolium has been great, though, and I noticed how well it was doing in your garden too. Good to know about the Trout Lily. I want to try growing them some time. I might try the Dichelostemma too. I've never grown that, but it looks good.