For many years I’ve had fun experimenting with minor bulbs, meaning those small bursts of color other than tulips and daffodils. Being smaller in stature, that means a smaller sized bulb to begin with, and that means digging a shallower hole! Fall planting goes much more quickly that way. In these photos, you’ll see a carpet of blue flowers which is Glory of the Snow, or Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant.’ This minor bulb tolerates my dry, part shade conditions and naturalizes freely, now spreading into the lawn and tumbling through various beds. It is tough and didn’t blink at last weekend’s snow. Glory of the Snow also comes in pure white, light pink, or a mixture of the three colors.
As companions to this great little bulb, I have been collecting Primula varieties in my travels and even grew a few from seed. These have been in bloom for two weeks and will continue well into May. Helleborus orientalis are the tallest plants in the photos, with deep pink and purple colors selected for contrast with the other plants. Hellebores send up their flower stalks in late March and begin to bloom shortly thereafter. Their color will persist until early June, by the time that the pink fringed bleeding heart, Dicentra eximia, will be in bloom.
In a nearby nursery bed, I have a large clump of Lungwort, or Pulmonaria officinalis. This plant gently spreads and self-seeds a bit around the area. It is important early forage for bees. As the flowers age, they will turn from blue to light pink. There are many cultivars grown for various shades of blue or pink, leaf shape and degree of spotting on the leaves.
Not that I don’t like daffodils or tulips – note the daffodil foliage in the photos. The varieties I planted many years ago are late bloomers, usually blooming around Mother’s Day weekend once the April show is beginning to fade. And deer would eat tulips in such a spot – so I reserve them for an area at the side foundation by the walkway to the back door!