Choose your color
scheme - plant in staggered patterns or clumps, not rows. Unless you want an absolutely
formal garden, which is not really the Dutch style. Staggering allows you to stick a perennial in here and there to
cover those bald spots left behind when bulbs are done flowering. I do not like
planting in "rows". I plant my bulbs in clusters of 5-7-9, and
staggered. I know the
bloom dates of the bulbs, so there's a rotating bloom. I solved a lot of the
bare spot problems after blooming by planting ground covers between the flower
clusters. My favorite ground covers for under the flowers are creeping jenny,
Snow-In-Summer, and creeping phlox.
Mass Plantings - For the look of
a traditional Dutch Garden, it
is best to plant your bulbs en masse. Whether you're planting 5 or 5 dozen, they
make the best display when planted together in loose, informal clusters. By
planting bulbs of one variety or color en mass, you will achieve greatest visual
impact by providing uniform color and texture. Avoid planting in a single straight row or in a
single circle around a tree or bush. Bulbs look better when they are planted in
staggered and free-form arrangements. Unless you have a huge, formal landscape,
as shown in the garden photos above.
Shrubs and Trees -
Spring-flowering bulbs can be planted under shrubs or dwarf trees in
the landscape. Don't plant Spring bulbs under evergreen shrubs or large trees,
or they will not have enough light to grow and bloom. Early-blooming bulbs
receive plenty of light because they start growing long before trees
and shrubs start to develop leaves. Some bulbs that perform well under trees and
shrubs include: grape hyacinths, crocus, winter aconite, snowdrops, bluebells
and early tulips and daffodils.
By carefully choosing bulbs to match blooming dates with the bloom of
a shrub, they can provide a beautiful color contrast with early flowering
shrubs like forsythia or flowering quince. They can also be used in
combination with smaller flowering trees like Crabapple, Cherry or
Repeat Shapes and Colors
-Landscapes are more pleasing and come
together well when the same plant or grouping of plants appears in a lot of
spots. In a formal setting, plant in squares,
rectangles or circles. For a more natural or informal look, use ovals,
triangles, kidney shapes or a free-form shape. I like spirals.
Foundation Planting - You
should plant bulbs in a grouping of 12 or more bulbs to add color to a foundation planting. Evergreen shrubs planted in the
foundation planting will provide a nice background for the bulbs. Pay attention
to the foliage color of annuals and perennials, as they too will become a
backdrop for your bulbs.
Grouping Bulbs - With spring flowering bulbs
such as Tulips or Daffodils, plant at least 12 bulbs of one variety in a
grouping. The more bulbs planted of one variety and color, the greater the
impact. I plant in odd numbers, in a circular clump. The small spring bulbs, like crocus, should be planted in
groups of 50 bulbs or more to have impact. Smaller bulbs need to be viewed up
close, so they should be planted along sidewalks, patios or entryways. 5-9 bulbs are
my suggested minimum number of summer bulbs of
the same variety to plant in a grouping.
Border Planting - A border of low-growing
bulbs like Hyacinths or small Daffodils planted around the
edge of a vegetable garden or flower bed adds interest to these areas. A border
of bulbs planted along the edge of the lawn will add a color to the
lawn area. I don't do lawns, so that doesn't apply to
me. I'll edge my vegetable gardens, container and focal points plantings.
the pic to download a Gardens Illustrated
bulb garden border design plan in .pdf format
Bulbs can be incorporated in a perennial bed or border to add areas of spring
color. The bulbs will bloom during March, April and May before perennials start
to flower. Locate the bulbs in the flower bed so that the dying foliage will be
hidden when the perennials start to come in. When planning borders, consider the heights and spacing needed by different
plants. Plant groups of bulbs among perennials to help hide the foliage as it
Slopes in the landscape
are difficult to mow and maintain. Many gardeners use early spring bulbs on steep slopes to add early spring color to the landscape.
Plant Small Spaces
- Plant bulbs of one
color in small spaces in the landscape. One color will have greater impact, and
make the planting space look larger. Mixed colors planted in a small space tend
to make the space look smaller.
Plant large spaces - In large areas of the landscape where you have a lot of
planting space, plant two or three different colors.
Concentrate the bulbs for each color together and do not intermix them. Be sure to select colors that blend together. White flowers can be
used to blend colors together or to brighten dark corners.
Mingling Plants - The
color of spring-flowering bulbs is enhanced when they are planted with other
compatible early flowers. The color of summer-flowering bulbs will be enhanced
when planted with summer flowering perennials and annuals. Extend your spring
bulb display by planting similar-looking bulbs and plants with different bloom times.
Many summer bulbs are tall and the lower part of the plant unattractive after
bloom. Plants like Lilies and Dahlias can be mixed with perennials, annuals or
shrubs to hide the lower stem area.
below to view and save
a large version of a bloom time chart for
Ground Cover - Some bulbs can be planted
with low-growing ground covers like ajuga, violets, vinca minor or English Ivy.
Just be sure to keep in mind the height relationship between the ground cover
and bulb flower. As a general rule, the ground cover should be no more than half
the height of the bulb flower.
Containers - Both spring and summer bulbs
can be planted in portable containers. If spring bulbs are planted, the
container can be moved to a location out of sight while the foliage matures,
once the bloom time is past. If summer bulbs are used, they will add color all
summer to areas like a patio or a deck. Containers are portable and they
can be moved around. My favorite aspect.