A garden that blooms year-round is an achievable goal. You will need to research the flowers that thrive in your area specifically. Pay attention to the soil requirements, depth and time of dormancy for each of the flowers you choose. Pair up flowers that will work well with each other, planting late-flowering bulbs directly under early bloomers. Seems overwhelming, but one you get a season or two down, continue to add on and it won’t be long before your garden is colorful year-round!
1. Study garden catalog to find the region your live in and the bulbs that do best in your area. Create a list of flowers that bloom in different seasons. Sketch out a plan for your garden. Depending upon your climate you can choose perennial bulbs or bulbs that will naturalize in your area. Perennials means the bulbs will return up to three years. Naturalizing means the bulbs will become a more permanent part of the garden and spread. Flowers that work in Southern California often do not have a chance in New England, so it is important to read the details before choosing your plants.
2. Plant early blooming spring bulbs in the autumn. Snowdrops pop up during the late winter-early spring. These will return each year stronger than the last if left undisturbed. Other early blooming flowers include the Iris reticulata and winter aconites. Blue Siberian Squills blooms early and flower for many weeks. Place these under other Spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia and azaleas.
3. Create a naturalized area of daffodils under trees or fill in a corner of your yard. Mix them in between evergreens and yew for a bright contrast. Naturalizing an area requires planting dozens of bulbs in one area or among other annual plants. Overtime these bulbs multiply and spread.
4. Plant small bulbs in your yard. They will pop up through the snow and can be mowed down within six weeks. Use smaller bulbs, also referred to as corns, tuber or rhizomes, such as crocus, Spanish bluebells, grape hyacinths and snowdrops. They grow approximately as tall as grass and will brown about the same time as the first mowing is necessary.
Plant bulbs by peeling back the turf with a spade or by punching individual holes into the grass.
5. Dig holes for tulip bulbs. Tulips bloom toward the end of spring. In general the bulbs should be planted two to three times deeper than the diameter of the bulb. The depth protects the plant from animals and frost while it is growing. One technique for planting a multitude of bulbs at once is to dig an area, laying the misplaced dirt on a plastic tarp. Set the bulbs upright in the garden bed and then
cover with the dirt from the plastic tarp. One hundred tulip bulbs will fill a 20-square-foot bed.
6. Squeeze bulbs in the gaps between other plants using a bulb dibber, bulb planting tool or shovel. Flowers such as alliums, agapanthus, gladioli and camassia can be placed in existing flower gardens, or along a fence during the summer months. Pay attention to the individual bulb packaging to determine how deep to plant these bulbs when the weather is warm.
7. Continue to plant bulbs throughout the summer to produce a display of color in fall. Crocus sativus can be naturalized to return each year stronger than before. Other possibilities include pink nerine bowdenii and white autmnale f. Album. Dahlias bloom when everything else is fading.
8. Purchase a few cyclamen coum to plant in the spring or summer. It has green and silver leaves throughout most of the year and then in the winter blooms a vivid pink.
Pioneer Thinking: How to Plant 100 bulbs in 30 minutes; http://www.pioneerthinking.com/ara-100tulips.html
Organic Gardening: Naturalizing bulbs; http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-5-19-889,00.html