Top 5 bulbs for your home garden
A Dal News Top 5
Stephanie Rogers - March 22, 2013
The snow may still be on the ground, but at the moment more than 70 varieties of tulip are beginning to blossom amid 20,000 bulbs across Dalhousie’s Agricultural Campus in Truro.
“Bulbs grow in almost every country in the world,” explained Sherry Chaisson, a technician in the Department of Environmental Sciences.
“Most people envision tulips with Holland and that's where the hysteria started in the 16th century. At that time, collecting rare and unusual plants was all the rage. A single bulb could sell for hundreds of dollars. Tulip bulbs were brought to Holland from Austria via Turkey and the bulb industry was born.”
The Faculty of Agriculture is home to specialist plant collections including an Herb Garden, Native Plant Garden, Alumni Gardens, Rock Garden and the Watson Bulb Garden.
Spectacular vegetable and ornamental gardens serve as a living laboratory for Plant Science and Horticulture students, a testing ground for new ornamental plants and repository for over 3,000 types of trees, shrubs and plants — many of them unique to this region.
The Rock Garden, along with shade and herb gardens, a butterfly meadow, an apple orchard, a turf production area and other unique features shelter important collections and create quite havens amid the bustle of campus life.
“Our grounds are a source of learning, pleasure and pride for the university and wider community,” added Chaisson.
Planning for your own garden
Vibrant daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths and other flowers and shrubs can help kickstart your home gardening season and add a splash of colour to your landscape before summer arrives. For spectacular spring bloom, Faculty of Agriculture experts recommend the following top five bulbs which need to be planted before the ground freezes in the fall.
Tulips are available in almost every colour imaginable and bloom from early to late spring. In addition to a variety of colours, petals can be scalloped or fringed. Tulip bulbs need to be planted 15 cm (6”) deep and 15 cm apart in a well-drained area of the garden with lots of sun.
Daffodils tolerate more moisture than tulips and may be a better choice if your garden does not dry out quickly. Most people will recognize daffodils as a yellow flower, but they are also available in white, cream and some have pink ‘trumpets.’
Snowdrops are one of the first bulbs to appear, often through a layer of snow. When purchasing these bulbs in the fall, soak them well before planting. When they fail to grow, it's often because the bulbs dry out. Their favorite spot is at the edge of a tree line or a planting of shrubs. Over time, snowdrops will multiply and spread with very little maintenance required.
Crocus seems to signify the arrival of spring. Their colours also spring-like with variations of white, yellow, blue and purple. Crocus are easy to grow in full sun and a well-drained soil.
Hyacinths are the most fragrant of all bulbs. Situate them close to an entrance or pathway, where the fragrance can be enjoyed by everyone. Hyacinths are available in red, white, blue, orange and yellow. For a great show of colour, plant the bulbs in a group of five or more.
Bulbs can also be forced by planting in pots and stored in cool or cold temperatures for 13-15 weeks.