What to Plant This Fall: Inspiration from Holland
Part of the thrill of Holland’s grand display garden of spring-blooming bulbs, known as the Keukenhof, is its staggering scale: 35 acres and 7 million flower bulbs. Yet within this sometimes overwhelming floral extravaganza, there are many bite-size ideas that can be brought home to your own garden. Here are five that caught my eye this year:
Unexpected Color Combinations
This is of the things I really love about spring bulb gardens: there are few color combinations that don’t work. Here are some examples. If you were choosing pink flowers for your garden, you probably wouldn’t combine a cool pink with a warm pink (see the article How to Use Pink in Your Flower Garden). But as you can see in the photo above, it can actually look great!
With tulips, even orange with violet-pink is surprisingly appealing! Maybe our winter-weary eyes are simply so starved for color that everything looks good. Or maybe it’s something about the pure, saturated colors of these spring-blooming bulbs. For me, the appeal is similar to a big box of crayons (which I know dates me) or a bag of Skittles.
If you love color, spring-blooming bulbs offer a once-a-year opportunity to throw out the rule book and have some fun. It’s the best time of year to play with color because anything goes!
Dreamy Double Tulips
It took some time for me to come around to double tulips. I had the same disdain for them as I still have for double petunias and double hollyhocks. But once I began growing double tulips, I was smitten. Here’s the thing. They don’t look like an aberration of a tulip. Double tulips have a completely different personality. The flowers are as elegant and sumptuous as a peony. Most varieties are also fragrant.
This spring, Keukenhof featured dozens of different varieties of double tulips. Breeders are actively expanding the color range — partly because the flowers are so popular with floral designers. Another good thing about double tulips: there are early-bloomers and late-bloomers. The early ones open along with the first daffodils and the late ones open at the very end of the tulip season — just before the peonies. You can shop all of our double tulips HERE.
Split Corona Daffodils
This is another family of spring-blooming bulbs that might pull you out of your comfort zone. Unlike most daffodils, the cup (also called the corona) is split and pressed back against the surrounding petals. Most varieties have ruffles that add flair and interesting texture. Also, there’s usually an eye-catching color contrast between the corona and the other petals.
I have come to love these daffodils — especially for cutting. Their frilly petals add variety and a welcome softness to daffodil bouquets. I also find that split-corona daffodils are very long-lasting. You can see our selection of varieties HERE. Or consider starting with our Split Corona Mix, which includes several different varieties.
Ambrosial Dutch Hyacinths
When you’re walking around the Keukenhof, the fragrance of hyacinths is everywhere. In fact, hyacinths are so popular in Holland that during the month of April, it doesn’t really matter where you are in the country — everyplace smells like hyacinths.
At the Keukenhof, hyacinths appear in mixed plantings such as the one above with anemone blanda. There are also big swaths of them that wrap in and around beds of tulips.
Fortunately, you don’t need to go to Holland to enjoy the fragrance of hyacinths. For just $40 you can buy our Shades of Blue hyacinth collection and fill your own garden with the same intoxicating perfume. Planting 50 bulbs will also give you plenty of stems to cut and bring indoors. Cut them as the first florets begin to open and they’ll last for at least a week in a vase.
Bold and Bright Just Seems Right
For me, this final image explains why Keukenhof is the most popular garden in the world: full on floral exuberance. At other times of year, colors this bright and so different from each other would look harsh and jarring. But after five or six months of black and white, this is exactly what we crave.
It makes me happy to know that 1 million people from 100 countries visit Holland each spring, simply to see flowers doing their thing in the sunshine. We all need more flowers in our lives. Plant some spring-blooming bulbs this fall and spread the joy!