The art of combining bulbs is truly the magic that makes all the difference in the late winter and early spring garden.

Master the art of combining bulbs

Both colour and blooming time should be taken into consideration to achieve magic in the garden.

Although it’s always nice to see the first bulbs of spring add their charm and brightness to an often wet, cold and sometimes snowy late winter, their first appearance could be so much more. A little value adding can bring the ordinary to an extraordinary level with just a little extra thought and planning.

The art of combining bulbs is truly the magic that makes all the difference. Most of us know how to blend colours, but we are a little uncertain when it comes to the timing of spring bulbs.

With so many varieties of narcissus and tulips, it’s very difficult to combine them if we’re not sure they will bloom at the same time. The latest trend in floriculture is creating stunning combinations, and major horticultural companies are taking a leadership role here, using brilliant designers to create beautiful combinations that come pre-packaged to make it easy to have that stunning display.

Brian MinterThis fall, more than ever before,  you’re going to discover how easy it is to purchase pre-packaged bulb combinations that have exact colour blends and timing and just the right number of bulbs to plant throughout our gardens.

The International Flower Bulb Institute in Holland and bulb importers have put together some pretty amazing combinations for planting this fall and for enjoyment in late winter through spring. Here are some of those beautiful combinations you’ll see in garden stores this fall.

‘City Chic’ will provide a late flowering splash using green tulips (Tulip viridiflora ‘Deirdre’ and ‘Virichic’), for a very upscale look.  The silver foliage of dusty miller or various artemisias would really add a further touch of sophistication.

‘Lemon Lime Twist’ is an interesting tulip blend of white, green and soft yellow, using green tulips, Tulip viridiflora ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Yellow Spring Green’. An underplanting of white pansies would put this combination over the top.

‘Sun Shower’ is an orange treat with large flowered orange ‘Emperor’ tulips and double yellow narcissus ‘Tahiti’ with its beautiful orange and yellow center. Add some yellow pansies and you’ve got magic.

‘Magic Carpet Ride’ uses one of the most underrated bulbs – the entire family of muscari or grape hyacinths. By blending together Muscari armeniacum, M. album and M. latifolium, a blue and white carpet that lasts for at least three to four weeks is created. A planting of tiny bi-colour blue and purple violas would bloom before, during and after this display and truly enhance this already delightful combination.

‘Peachy Keen,’ a real show stopper, features a very different colour combination, blending ‘Cool Flame’ narcissus and ‘Apricot’ tulips. A unique pansy combination called ‘Citrus Mix’ with white, orange and soft yellow would value add this combination brilliantly.

‘Diamonds and Sapphires’ uses another underrated plant, white Anemone blanda which has a long blooming habit and naturalizes beautifully. Blended with the very dark blue Muscari armeniacum, it’s quite stunning.  Adding dark blue primulas and the white button form of Bellis perennis to this blend would keep the look going well into spring.

With so many bulb varieties available today, the possibilities for combinations are limitless, but pre-designed packages make it so much easier.  These combinations do best in garden beds.   So try some of these delightful combinations for a fabulous display next spring.

Brian Minter is a master gardener who operates Minter Gardens in Chilliwack.

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