I suffer from an addiction that reaches a peak each year when it's time to place my fall bulb order. Someday you might even see me on one of those distressing intervention or rehab shows on television where I will grumpily submit to having my room searched for catalogs from Brent and Becky or Van Engelen and bonemeal instead of booze or drugs.
This year, in a salute to the economy, I scaled back a little. But still, somehow hundreds of eager little bulbs arrived last week to be planted. So on an overcast day last weekend, I added hundreds of them to the front lawn upstate. With the help of Chad and our friend Clay we were able to do the job in just a couple of hours. I already have a large number of daffodils planted from previous years, so this time I decided to experiment more with the smaller iris and fritillaries that did so well in the lawn last spring (above photos and blog post here.) I also went back to anemones, crocus and the native camassias for another try, hoping that they will naturalize more successfully.
Here's my easy technique for planting right in the turf:
•Plant the bulbs in groups by digging fairly large half-moon slices out of the turf and pulling back the sod layer like a piece of carpet. I have a rough country lawn of mixed grasses and weeds so I don't too much worry about disturbing the appearance of it in the fall.
•Each hole gets a single variety or a multi-tiered arrangement of large and small bulbs that will bloom over a period of six weeks or so. Follow the listed planting depth instructions for each type.
•Add some bulb food. Refill the hole water them, lightly tamping down the “lid” of sod with your foot.
•It’s a hard autumn day’s work to get all the planting done but so incredibly worth it in the spring when the first shoots start to come out of the ground, lifting bits of dead leaves on the stalks as the grow. Over time, the bulbs will naturalize if they are happy and get enough sun, but I can’t help but order more each year.
200 Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’
100 Camassia quamash
200 Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’
100 Fritillaria assyriaca
200 Fritillaria meleagris
10 Fritillaria pallidiflora
25 Fritillaria pontica
200 Galanthus elwesii
50 Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’
50 Iris reticulata ‘Clairette’
50 Leucojum aestivum
250 Narcissus—All Pink Mixture(small bulb photos from vanengelen.com)