The first colors of spring are provided by the brilliant blooms of bulbs, flowering trees and shrubs. Bulbs are most rewarding because all of that work from the fall has been forgotten and then , “Voila!” Spring has arrived. One of my favorite areas in the yard is a slightly raised bed in the front that is next to the driveway. I can tell you what time of year it is by what is going on in this one area of the yard. One fall, about 5 years ago, I planted 100 daffodil bulbs. The main reason that they went in this particular area is because I am lazy and this soil is soft. I put the bulbs in a bucket and using the bucket as a launching device scattered them into the bed. I planted the bulbs wherever they landed, correcting the spacing on the ones that were literally on top of each other. This installation method gives a natural look due to the irregular spacing. I am not a big fan of a formal layout in my own yard so this works well for me.
Four months later I was rewarded with the emergence of robust green shoots. I had forgotten that I had planted them and was so excited to be reminded of last fall’s endeavors. Eventually the shoots erupted, flower buds swelled, and a symphony of yellow daffodils exploded across the bed. Now and then a few daffodils made it inside into vases or into the hands of my youngest to take to her teacher. The color lasted a full 4 weeks and was quite a cheerful welcome as I drove into the driveway.
Usually the next task is clipping off the faded blooms and tossing them into the compost heap. Notice I said clipping the “blooms” because I like to leave the stems. This leaves a stand of linear leaves and stems that contrast with other activity in that bed. Aster foliage and Fountain Grass are starting to push up and as they flush out they cover the yellowing foliage of the daffodils. This method of “companion planting” enables me to keep my maintenance tasks to a minimum. The daffodils fade and the asters take over, with the nearby fountain grass foliage providing a textural contrast. Lovely and easy, I am just too busy in your garden in the spring to work on mine. This fall I plan on extending the bloom time in that space by adding more daffodils that bloom earlier and about 100 grape hyacinths that would punch up the display with purple. A little work this fall, lots of excitement in the spring!