(Mostly) Bulbs in the Late Spring Garden

Firecracker Flower (Dichelostema ida-maia)
As spring turns into summer, the gardener especially appreciates those plants that just show up every year. No special treatment, no fertilizer, no extra handwatering - and bulbs and annuals completely fit the bill. The beauty with bulbs is this: In the fall (October or November) you stick them in the ground. Then they either come up, or you never see them. The ones that come up often double in number the next year, and double yet again the year after. They might even show up in unexpected places, transplanted by an adventurous squirrel.

In my garden, I've been able to grow Firecracker Flower, and it comes back reliably (though the one in the photo above is from a friend's garden).

Triteleia (Queen Fabiola, I think)
I've been very successful with Triteleia, both the species and the Queen Fabiola cultivar. The two bloom at different times, so you can enjoy beautiful 3-4 inch spheres of blue flowers from early April until late May (and beyond).

I've also been successful with Pretty Face (Triteleia ixoides). Considering my front garden is heavy clay and gets no summer water, I'm really very impressed how this bulb seems to multiply every winter. The groupings of maybe 10 plants are such an enjoyable sight!

Another very rewarding bulb has been the one-leaf onion (allium unifolium). Here, the leaves and buds start very early in the season, looking so promising form maybe a month. Then the plants unfold - and now that I have maybe 10 or 15 in each spot, it's really an impressive show. Even the dried out plants are attractive in a dried-flower-arrangement kind of way - I always wait until everything is truly dry, then I pick everything up and toss it in the compost.

One-leaf Onion (Alium unifolium)

Together with the annuals that are going through the sequence of the season - poppies, phacelia, clarkia (primarily) - there's always some visual interest in the spring garden but I do think that the bulbs add that special little something, like a piece of jewelry on a pretty dress, that makes everyone stop and want a second look. 

Elegant Clarkia (annual)