Combining different kinds of bulbs

Ah, combining different kinds of bulbs is the most fun of all! A great coordinated burst of flowers is such a thrill to behold, especially after a long, cold winter. For maximum impact, you want a range of colors, sizes, shapes, heights, and bloom times. See Figure 8-7 for a mixed garden.

Figure 8-7:

Interplanting a variety of bulbs to extend your bulb season from early spring to early summer.

Figure 8-7:

Interplanting a variety of bulbs to extend your bulb season from early spring to early summer.

Interplanting Guide

What's the difference between a daffodil and a narcissus? None! Narcissus is the Latin name for the genus common to all daffodils.

Jonquil, another common name ascribed to daffodils, is proper only when you're referring a particular type, or division (Division 7), of daffodil called jonquilla. Essentially, the name refers to the species Narcissus jonquilla and its hybrids. These plants are the ones that have multiple flowers to a stem, and the blooms are usually very fragrant. In other words, all jonquils are daffodils, but not all daffodils are jonquils.

You can pull off this daring combination in two ways. The easy way is to buy the mixes offered by bulb merchants, often at quantity-discounted prices. The merchants do all the planning work for you; all you have to do is plant. If you're more of a do-it-yourselfer or you have some specific or creative ideas, by all means, research and make your own mix. All the information you need is on the bin or bag label or in the catalog descriptions. Exercise your creativity and design your own plan.

Here are few tips for success:

1 Make growing conditions as good as they can be: (See the upcoming "How to plant bulbs" section; the needs of most bulbs aren't that different). With properly drained soil and good lighting conditions, bulbs have the best chance of performing their best.

1 Buy good bulbs and plant them promptly. Cheap, poor-quality bulbs or ones that sit around drying out too long before going in the ground are bound to be a disappointment, thwarting your vision for a colorful display.

1 Planting at different depths is okay. Different bulbs are supposed to be planted at different depths, so a mixed planting will be pocked with some deep and some shallow — like a holiday fruitcake. That's fine, just so long as you don't plant one bulb right over another (and even if you do, the lower one will probably find a way around the obstruction and poke up and bloom anyway). See Figure 8-8.

1 Casual is better than formal. Mixed plantings that are laid out in neat patterns can be done, but they run the risk of looking rather stilted. A variety of bulbs cast about informally ends up looking livelier.

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