Thursday, March 15, 2018


I am in two minds over which spring bulbs will be in my garden next year. I have to weigh up how they look for weeks after the bloom has finished. I know the large public gardens and parks yank their bulbs when they are over, planting new ones every year. For me that is not an option. Or is it? I had never thought of doing this myself.
I have a few favorites which I think are definitely worthwhile leaving in the ground. Number one is the Species tulip Tulipa clusiana, Lady Jane.

Originating from the rocky poor soils of Afghanistan and the Caucuses, it is ideally suited to the poor, dry, limey soils of the Texas Hill Country. It naturalizes well and although I was told the seed are not viable it pops up in several places away from the original bulbs so I think it does reseed occasionally. And the seed pods are what makes the plant tolerable during its bulb regeneration mode. They are one of the few bulbs where I leave the seed pods to mature. It doesn't seem to harm them.
I have tried several of the species tulips including Tulipa clusiana Cynthia, and Tulipa humilis, Persian Pearl, but none return quite so faithfully as Lady Jane.
The flowers close up in the evening and in the early morning their pretty pink undersides are visible until the flowers open once again.

The spring star flower, Ipheion uniform, a native of Argentina and Uruguay, will always be a keeper. It's short grassy leaves are easily hidden among summer growth. It is a great plant for the front of the border.

Why is this next bulb called summer snowflake? It is one of the first spring blooms arriving at the same time as snowdrops in northern climates. The blooms of Leucojum aestivum are similar to the nodding blooms of snowdrops and last for at least two weeks. I have never divided this large clump so I may try to divide 'in the green' this year.

Each of the nodding tepals carries a characteristic green dot.

I love the fragrance of the narcissus family, particularly those with multiple flowers but once the flowers are gone their wide strappy leaves become rather messy as spring progresses. I find the blooms to be fleeting and often damaged by heavy rainfall and late frosts. Maybe they are best grown in a pot where they can be removed from the garden after the blooms die. That is what I did with my paper whites this year.

But it's hard to resist the fragrance of Narcissus tazetta 'Erlicheer' with its double flowers and sometimes as many as 6 flowers on each stem.

and the pretty delicate flowers of Narcissus 'Thalia'

Or this unknown multi-flowered stem.

I certainly have preference for the multi-stemmed flowers with the later flowers Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' yet to bloom.
My personal feeling is that the perfect place for daffodils in in a woodland setting or in grasslands where their foliage can be left to die back. Will I have the heart to pull mine out? I really don't think I have it in me.


  1. Glorious! I tried species tulips in my former garden and they did come back, albeit in slowly dwindling numbers each year. I haven't tried them in my current garden but your 'Lady Jane' may have changed my mind on that score. I tried planting Leucojum aestivum this fall but it's yet to make an appearance; however, I may have the digging operations of the raccoons and the skunks to blame for that.

  2. Out of the bulbs shown, the tulips win hands down. I have Crocus, hyacinths, daffodils and ornamental onion. The ornamental onion ‘Globemaster’ go beautifully when planted among daylilies, so that when the foliage dies back it is not unsightly. The purple Allium blooms tower over the garden and are gorgeous!

  3. Your bulbs are lovely. Can you have the summer snowflake outside the walls in deer territory? I have a small patch of cluisana and only one is 1/2 open. I would like to have more - will have to add some more to the garden later this year.

  4. Tried the species tulips but no go on returning. Summer snowflakes all over my yard from a clump carried home from my mom's 45 years ago. She always called them Lily of the Valley but I know they are not & are definitely Summer Snowflakes. Starflowers & Thalia still blooming here but since we will be in the 80's on Monday not sure how much longer Thalia will bloom. Erlicheer is a keeper here. I planted it maybe 5 or 6 years ago and it is very pretty every year. I have that unknown as well. It is sort of mixed into a clump of Erlicheer so not sure exactly where it came from.

  5. Lovely spring bulbs! It’s really nice to see unusual varieties. I love ‘Thalia’ but mine won’t be out for ages.