Landscaping with Bulbs

Judy Glattstein
Fri, 10 Oct 2003 06:14:49 PDT
First, says my husband, define your terms. To me, "landscaping" implies that
aesthetics are a major part of the desired goal. Style is immaterial at this
point, so landscaping can include informal: country, cottage, naturalistic,
as well as formal design. Keukenhof is wonderful, but totally artificial. It
is, however, a landscape. Agriculture has production as its end result, so
bulb fields in Holland or a farm stand's field with a row of gladiolas for
cut flowers fit here. Plants grown in pots as ornamentals are part of the
landscape. Those grown in pots as a means of cultivation: nursery
production, bulb frame, and so forth, fit more into the agriculture
definition than that for landscape.

Since I do not have "staff", my focus is on plants that care for themselves.
I do enjoy growing lachenalia and veltheimia in my greenhouse, but do not
consider this part of the garden. Gardeners in Mediterranean climate regions
who can grow them in the ground are using them as landscape plants. The
cannas that go into the ground in May and are boxed for winter storage
sometime in October are, in my opinion, landscape plants.

Since my preferred style is naturalistic (plant community but not restricted
to native plants) I try to grow an assortment of plants placed in an
informal manner that provides the appearance of nature. Irregular groupings,
and the partnership of bulbs with perennials and shrubs growing under larger
trees are part of the stylistic focus.

Certain bulbs look "gardenesque" to me: pretty much anything with double
flowers, certain tulips such as the parrots and lily-flowered, the latest
cultivars with variegated foliage - Camassia 'Blue Melody' and Tulip
'Uncium' for example.

After that I think it is pretty much anything goes. Personal taste and style
is the deciding factor. The most difficult part of designing someone else's
garden, for me, is developing their garden, rather than the one I would have
if I lived there.

So yes, bulbs are very much a component in my landscapes, but I believe it
is what the gardener does with them rather than specific bulbs that create
that landscape. Design drives the landscape, not the plants per se.

Judy in the Garden State of New Jersey, eastern deciduous woodland with
summer temperatures as high as 90° Fahrenheit (or a tick more) and winters
that can dive into the single digits, precipitation all year round with
irregular snow in winter.

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