Hurry Spring with Early-Blooming Bulbs
I don’t care what the calendar says. At my house it’s not spring until I can see a flower in bloom. That’s why I count on snowdrops, crocuses and chionodoxa to fill my year with more spring and less winter.
Snowdrops are the first spring bulbs to bloom in my garden. In fact, I start looking for them while there’s still snow on the ground. I need to be out there daily, because one day there’s no sign of them and the next day they’re in full bloom. Maybe one of these times I’ll catch them as they emerge from the frozen ground.
Though there are dozens of different varieties of snowdrops with subtle variations in petal size and markings, all have dangling white parasols and a single or double row of petals. On sunny days they lift their petals and appear as if they could take right off. You may find it takes a couple years to establish a nice clump of snowdrops, but once they have naturalized, they’ll be around every spring for generations to come.
Next to bloom are species crocuses, sometimes called snow crocus. Their flowers are even more delicate than the standard crocus varieties that bloom just a little later. Bees are mad for crocuses, and these extra early bloomers always attract a crowd. Two of my favorite varieties are Firefly, with lilac-colored petals and neon orange centers, and Romance, with petals that are ivory on one side and buttery yellow on the other.
Depending how quickly the weather warms up, giant crocus bulbs may start blooming before the snow crocuses have finished. Their flowers are definitely larger, though “giant” is overreaching. The colors are more intense, with the most popular varieties being purple Remembrance, golden Yellow Mammoth and pin-striped Pickwick.
Chionodoxa are the third leg of my goodbye winter program. Also known as glory-of-the-snow, each of these little bulbs produces several stems topped with a cluster of 3 to 10 star-like flowers. My favorite is bluebird-blue Chionodoxa forbesii, but there are also white, pink and lavender varieties. The bulbs multiply quickly, so planting chionodoxa is a good investment. In just a few years you’ll have big puddles of color on which to feast your winter-weary eyes.
The best location for early spring bulbs such as snowdrops, crocuses and chionodoxa, is a well-drained, south-facing slope. The combination of warm sun and not-soggy soil is all it takes to awaken these flower bulbs and send them rocketing to the surface.
Planting bulbs is something you can do any time from September through November, and planting these early bloomers takes no time at all. Stick a shovel in the ground, lift it up a bit, toss in some bulbs and let the soil back down. Very little work and very little money to buy a few extra weeks of spring!