Plugging a few numbers into a calculator can cure the first-time
homebuyer's sticker shock.
Blooming bulbs bring great colors to your spring garden, but fall
blooming bulbs can brighten up a garden just as most plants are fading.
The middle of winter, while your tulip and daffodil bulbs are lying dormant
in the ground, is a good time to plan your impending garden. It's easy to
imagine that great burst of color when spring arrives, and also easy to
think about how quickly it will end, leaving you a fall garden with little
color. Enjoying a few colorful blossoms in the fall is also an option,
though. Planting fall-blooming bulbs will give you some color in your
garden in addition to the fall reds, yellows and browns.
Fall-blooming bulbs are not as well known as their spring cousins, so
finding them may be a bit more challenging. Seed or bulb catalogues are a
good place to look. As you search for fall bloomers, you may also encounter
the term "corm." A corm is similar to a bulb although the shape is slightly
different. A corm has a swollen stem base, which acts as the food reserve.
Crocus and gladiolas are common corms (although only the saffron crocus
variety will bloom in the fall).
Plant fall-blooming bulbs in early spring, or after the danger of frost is
passed. The bulbs should be planted four to six inches deep, in
well-drained soil. Consider adding sharp gravel around the corms to
dissuade pesky garden scavengers. Because these bulbs can be planted so
deeply, ground covers or other plants with an open nature will not harm the
bulbs buried beneath.
The most commonly available fall bulb is the saffron crocus, also available
in a white variety. As fall approaches, the leafless flower stalks of the
crocus grow out of the ground and clusters of flaring, four-inch purple
blooms appear on the stems. Other varieties of crocus include: medius,
pulchellus, and speciosus. Speciosus, or "Showy Crocus" produces violet
blue blooms with yellow anthers and deep orange stigmas. The plant will
grow to five or six inches high. Also look for varieties of the showy
crocus which include 'Cassiope' (aster blue flowers with yellow bases) and
'Conqueror' (clear, deep blue flowers).
Spring is not the only season that welcomes new life-fall blooms can
brighten your yard, and your mood, just at the time other plants are turning
Sources: Eleanore Lewis; Horticulture and Home Pest News; Sharon S. Bale.