The spring flower garden can appear like magic…if you wave your
trowel in autumn. Many of the traditional spring bloomers come from bulbs or corms and it is not at all too late to place an order from any of the online specialty bulbs dealers like Brent and Becky’s Bulbs or Old House Gardens. Just be prepared to do your homework and make certain that the bulbs you order will survive in Davis. Many tulips, for instance, do not return well here although they make a nice one year show. Local nurseries are another good source of the more common bulbs. Many other stores also sell bulbs but often these are not suitable for our climate and they are sometimes older or of lower quality so proceed with caution. Drastic price reductions might be tempting and often worth the gamble but only if you like to take risks and will not to be too sad if your spring display is less than lush.
Daffodils, freesias, crocus, byzantine gladiolus, Spanish bluebells, dutch iris, and many others are great choices for our climate and, instead of dying out, will increase yearly. Your initial investment will literally grow over time.
Choose a spot that receives a good amount of winter sun. Bulbs and corms don’t like to sit in soggy soil so choose a spot that has good drainage. One general rule to keep in mind is: plant the pointy end up. The second thing to remember is to plant bulbs at a depth of about 3 times their diameter. Larger bulbs might be planted 6 inches deep while smaller corms might be 3 inches deep. Therefore, they can even be layered with larger bulbs below smaller. Many of the bulbs and corms will begin to put up green growth soon after planting and will often brighten up the late winter garden, just about the time the foggy days start to make many gardeners crazy.
One last hint. Many spring bulbs are labeled early, mid or late blooming. When planning your bloom combinations check to see that the flowers you hope to have blooming together have similar bloom times. And then plant some of varying bloom times to extend the show!