TOW - Bulbs in the North Euroscape

Tue, 07 Oct 2003 00:28:05 PDT
Jamie Vande    Cologne    Germany    Zone 8

Maintaining the precious treasures in pots eventually leads to wishing to see more in the landscape, hoping they will overwinter and establish, but I find there are really only a handful of bulbs available at a price most can afford, that are also excellent landscape plants in wet, North European gardens.  It is getting better each season, but it is clear why certain bulbs have set themselves apart with their ease of culture and ability to mix.

Alliums are the first that are, for myself, indespensible.  A. hollandicum and it's offspring are one of the best, along with A. christophii, which I have planted between roses and other shrubby perennials.  Blue is such a great accent to roses!  A. giganteum is a good doer for less sunny locations, clumping nicely in a few years.

We mentioned Frittilaria imperialis earlier this year, and I still find this one of the most wonderful early bulbs in the garden.  For many problematic, but I find it dependable.  Personal bests are F. imp. Rubra and F. imp. lutea.  Other forms have been less successful.

Many smaller Tulipa are well established in my garden, such as T. tarda, T. clusiana, T. linfolia, T. biflora, T. batalinii, T. humilis, T.saxitalis, T. urumiensis and T. sylvestris.  I have them tucked between stones and along paths.  Simply wonderful, wonderfully simple!

My best shade geophytes are Cyclamen hederifolium, Arum maculatum (native) and Narcissus (summer shade).  A. maculatum is all over my neighbourhood and I just had to move a few in!  The clumps of purple-spotted, soft leaves are wonderful.  I have a unknown Ariseum growing between the Geranium, which is perfect.  Wish I know what it was!  Purple-spotted stems with 5-7 pinnifed umbrellas standing 40cm high.  A personal triumph! with no name....

Now that Autumn is here, I really appreciate the patches of Crocus bantanicus, C. ochroleucus and C. speciosus.  Much better than C. sativus!  As much as I love Colchicum, the seasonal rains and slugs just do them in!  Still grow them, mind you!

What does not do well for me is Zantedeschia (frost gets it before flowering), Eucomis, Lilium (except L. Black Beauty, which is fabulous and easy) and most other Frittilarias.  Just so you know!

OK, this is not just five, more like five genera, but they have settled into my tiny landscape so well, I've almost forgotten about them, until they bloom, when I think what a wonderful addition they are.

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