by David Salman
Tulipa 'Little Beauty'
The fall-planted, spring-blooming flower bulb planting season is just around the corner. I always order my bulbs in August or September, and wait to plant until the first couple of frosts in the fall. In USDA Zone 6 Santa Fe, this usually in late October. I always remind folks that when you see the bulbs blooming in spring, it’s too late to get them planted. You have to plant in the fall to get color in the spring.
What I like best about bulbs is the ease of their care. Few other groups of plants provide so much with so little effort. I always say I’m planting myself a “spring surprise.” Invariably, you forget what and where you planted your bulbs, so all through the spring, it‘s a continuous source of pleasure and delight to see all the bright colors and cheery combinations you’ve created.
Spring flowering bulbs are outstanding companion plants to mix into your perennial flower beds. The bulbs provide the early season color, as well as nectar for pollinators, and go dormant as the perennials are growing upwards and coming into bloom.
'Lilac Wonder' Wildflower Tulip (Tulipa bakeri)
High Country Gardens specializes in perennial Fall-Planted, Spring-Blooming Flower Bulbs. It seems we all are more time constrained than ever, so it makes sense to plant bulbs that come back year after year, more numerous and beautiful.
For this reason, one of my favorite spring bulb groups would be the Wildflower Tulips. These smaller growers will amaze you with their huge flowers in many extravagant colors. They are strong naturalizers (meaning they increase in numbers during each growing season by propagating more bulbs) and are an essential source of early season nectar and pollen for hungry honey and native bees.
My favorite Wildflower Tulip varieties that we currently offer include ‘Lilac Wonder’, ‘Little Princess’ and ‘Little Beauty’.
Plant wildflower tulips into blue blooming groundcovers like Veronica liwanensis (Turkish Speedwell) and Veronica pectinata (Wooly Speedwell) to create a blooming carpet decorated with the tulips that push up through them in spring. Easy and colorful!