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BONNIE’S GARDEN – My Top Ten Favorite Spring-Blooming Bulbs

By Bonnie Pega
Bonnie's Garden

Ah, another fall and another chance to share my top-ten favorite bulbs. Give me a minute while I think about this past spring’s garden—how it looked, what did especially well, were there any surprises….

Okay, I’ve reminisced and I’m ready. So here they are:

#10: Alliums

From four foot tall giant alliums with 8 to 10” diameter flower heads to 10” tall sweethearts on the well-draining slope behind my house, I have great respect for these pest-resistant “ornamental onions.”

#9: Hyacinths

Fragrance, fragrance, fragrance! Did I mention they’re incredibly fragrant? And pest-resistant! What else do you need?

#8: Peonies

More fragrance here! And huge showy flowers. And, if deer don’t eat them either, well, so much the better! They’re durable long-lasting perennials.

#7: Bearded Iris

They come in a rainbow of colors from glistening white to purple/black. And pest resistant! (Notice how many of my favorites are pest resistant? Yes, you can have beautiful flowers in your yard if you have deer.)

#6: Snowdrops

I hate winter, so an early blooming flower that reminds me that winter doesn’t last forever is definitely appreciated. Dainty but durable snowdrops will often bloom in February or very early March and—again—are pest resistant!

#5: Crocus

More early spring bloomers. There are two kinds—specie crocus (often called “snow crocus”) bloom very early—about the same time as snowdrops. Regular crocus will bloom two to three weeks after their early blooming relatives—a nice extension of color.

#4: Tulips

Such a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors they come in, though I have a fondness for a traditional bright red (my way of thumbing my nose at winter, I guess.) And, if you’re bothered by pests, simply interplant them with daffodils—which our four-legged pests hate!

#3: Daffodils

Any daffodil, anywhere. From 6-inch tall Minnow to 16-inch tall Dutch Masters, I love them. They’re hardy, they spread gently (without being a bully about it) and nothing eats them (notice that theme again?)

#2: Bluebells

Also known as Wood Hyacinths, Spanish Bluebells or English Bluebells (and botanically known as Hyacinthoides) these are fabulous, long-lasting naturalizers that actually tolerate shade. And (what else) they’re pest-resistant.

And the #1 bulb: Ipheion aka Spring Starflowers

Absolutely my favorite for many reasons. Yes, it is also pest-resistant, but it’s also very long-lasting—lasting over a month—and tolerant of a wide variety of conditions from sun to shade. While it loves the nice soil in my front garden bed, it’s just as happy on the nasty red-clay-mixed-with-granite-gravel slope behind my house.

Of course, there are some other favorites that just didn’t make it into the top-ten. Chionodoxa has sprays of pretty blue flowers and blooms about the same time the crocus bloom (love those earlier spring blooms). Miniature iris— six-inch tall showy flowers that, you guessed it, critters don’t bother. Winter Aconite—a bright yellow buttercup relative that blooms early spring. Fritillaria—tall elegant flowers that earn the name “Crown Imperials”—and the bulbs are said to actually repel voles and moles.

I love all spring-blooming bulbs—they’re tough, durable and perennial—and a little bit like magic. You plant a little brown blob and next spring get a miracle of a flower. Come in and let me help you find a favorite.

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