The Bulb and Ground Cover Garden
Characteristics of Any Good Bulb and Ground Cover Garden
An excellent place to plant bulbs and groundcovers is in the shade of a deciduous tree. Since the leaves of the tree will not be out when the bulbs are above ground, the bulbs will not receive too much shade. Then, when the groundcovers become active in summer, they can be shielded from the sun by the tree. Select bulbs that are large, firm, and heavy. Bulbs should be planted about six weeks before the ground freezes so that they have a chance to root before the winter. This is usually about the time of the first frost. Bulbs should be planted in soil that is not overly wet. Bulbs rot easily, so good drainage is essential. Follow the directions on the package about planting depth, and remember to place the bulb in the hole with the pointy side up. A good bulb garden will be designed to show off the short bulbs in the front of the garden, with the taller bulbs toward the back. Also, different bulbs that bloom in early, mid, and late spring should be planted to extend the blooming period.
Maintenance of a Bulb and Groundcover Garden
Cutting back is the main maintenance task with a bulb and groundcover garden. Cut back the foliage of the bulbs only after it has become completely brown. The foliage will turn brown after the plant has absorbed enough nutrients into the bulb to flower for another year. Also, cut back the foliage of large groundcovers in the late fall to give the bulbs room to come through. It may also be necessary to trim some of the groundcovers throughout the summer if they are becoming too aggressive and invading the other groundcovers in the bed. To prolong the life of your bulbs, fertilize with compost or a bulb fertilizer when bulbs are dormant (mid-summer). Always add nutrients based on the results of a soil test.
Why Plant a Bulb and Groundcover Garden?
Bulbs, (meaning true bulbs, tubers, and corms) are most often recognized for the seasonal interest they provide with their blooms in late winter and early spring. Other summer and fall blooming bulbs also exist. Bulbs are unique in their amazing range of color. It is very satisfying to plant bulbs because they will usually bloom the first year after they are planted. A bulb and groundcover garden can be counted among the least labor-intensive types of gardens. Planting bulbs is very simple. In addition, once properly established, ground covers will shade out most of the weeds, reducing the need for weeding. Bulbs are a very versatile type of plant. They are suitable for planting in gardens or in containers. Bulbs are at home in a formal garden, but can also look quite naturalized coming up through turf, or arranged in a random pattern. Planting spring bulbs with groundcovers hides the yellowing foliage of the bulbs in summer and gives interest to the garden all year round.
Common Pitfalls in Bulb Gardening
Often, people wonder why their bulbs are not blooming. There are a few reasons why this may occur. First, bulbs are a favorite food of squirrels, voles, deer, and other animals during winter when other foods are scarce. To avoid this problem, plant daffodils which are usually not eaten, or plant bulbs enclosed in wire mesh. Another reason why bulbs may not bloom could be overcrowding. Every few years, bulbs create so many new little bulbs that they become crowded. The solution is to divide these bulbs and replant the little ones in their own area. This situation is easy to recognize because a lot of foliage will come up, just no flowers.
The bulb and ground cover garden is located in the island in the center of the turnaround directly in front of the extension office. A large Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima)
dominates the bed. Beneath this oak are planted bulbs that make a
magnificent display in the spring, and groundcovers which provide
lasting beauty over the summer months. The bulbs in the garden include
many varieties of Narcissus (Daffodils), Crocus, Scilla, and Hyacinthus, (Hyacinths). The bulbs were chosen for their ability to last and bloom for many years without being replanted.
There are two main types of groundcovers in the garden. First, there are several cultivars of Hemerocallis (Daylilies). These are clump type groundcovers, and could be planted in such a way that the roots are away from the bulbs. Other clump type groundcovers in the garden include Liriope and Veronica. The second type of groundcover in the garden is spreading groundcover. The spreading groundcovers, including Sedum, Ajuga, and Geranium among others, were chosen because they die back enough in the winter to allow the bulbs to germinate through them in the spring.