Landscaping with Bulbs

Paul Tyerman
Wed, 08 Oct 2003 15:56:19 PDT
 At 08:05  7/10/03 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear All,
>I'm really finding all posts to the topic this week to be very interesting. 
>And I am glad to hear about Australia, European gardens, and other areas we 
>haven't heard from before. I think I left out New Zealand. Will any of our 
>New Zealand members tell us which bulbs can be used for landscaping? I 
>would imagine that the list would be very long.

Mary Sue et al,

Another Aussie here.....

I'm not actually sure what is meant by "landscaping" with bulbs?  Are you
meaning permanent planting in garden beds rather than pots?  If so then I
have various bulbs and perennials throughout the garden.

From a "major contribution" to my gardens point of view I have in flower at
the moment a short row of purple Tulips that have now been undisturbed
in-ground for about 5 years (there must be about 35 blooms from 6 clumps
which starte out as 6 bulbs).  These curve along the edge of my path.
Behind them but as a straight line along a previous garden edging is the
common blue Ipehion, with Narcissus 'Erlicheer' (finished flowering now,
but was beautiful a little while back in combination with the Ipheions) in
a similar row behind them.  These two rows would be around 6 metres long or
so.  Behind the Erlicheer are now various clumps of various Daffodills, a
few more clumps of Ipheions, and 3 clumps of 3 different coloured
"bluebells" (i.e pink, white, blue).  Behind all those are a line of roses
(shooting madly but not yet in bloom), surmounted by a single, fairly
massive now, standardised pink floribunda wisteria currently in full bud.
Behind all that is an establishing Escallonia hedge.  

The reason most of these are built on straight lines is that used to be a
garden running along the edge of a square piece of lawn.  The lawn went a
number of years ago, replaced by a winding path with gardens throughout.  I
did not alter the existing garden edging of bulbs, but rather added
different stuff along the edges of the paths to define them.  It actually
works very well to have this established garden with the front lines of
Narcissus and Ipheions as it gives a back structure, then there are smaller
things that sit lower than that garden bed and highlight the paths.  The
curve of Tulips looks brilliant as it ISN'T the straight line that is
behind it, but curves away from it.  I have also recently put in a small
Lavender hedge which will establish over time to curve perfectly along the
path.  The path edge itself is small blue granite pieces which defines the
path beautifully.

I have tried to loosely draw a diagram here of what I have described above.
 R = rose, W = standardised wisteria, D = daffodil, i = ipheion, T = Tulip,
e = Narcissus 'Erlicheer', B = a different colour of bluebells.

------------------------------- Hedgeline

   R     R     W     R    R
 D   D B  D     B   D B   D
    i   D  i  D    i  D   D
           T  T
        T-  -  -  - - 
      T/                \
    T/     --------       \
  T/      /         \       \

I suppose I have outlined all this to empahsise that the bulbs themselves
can be used as delineation within the garden, creating borders and "vistas"
to draw the eye.  From the bottom right of my diagram above the effect is
rather nice (others have commented as such... not trying to blow my own
trumpet <Grin>).  The fact that the edging of a previous garden was
unaltered and did not match the new paths did not matter as it worked very
well.  None of these things are lifted, although some will need dividing
soon as they're starting to crowd a little.  The roses, hedge and
standardised wisteria give height and backdrop to the masses of colour
produced by the bulbs.  The bulbs give an early "fill in" effect that gives
a riot of colour which later is produced by the roses etc.  It worked out
really well.

Also in other areas of the garden I have defined my paths by edging with
bluebells or muscari, both of which never need lifting yet give a good
solid colour to the path edges at their time.  I know many people feel that
the muscari foliage is ugly, but as a garden edge it is a solid dark green
"line" for a long time and it tends to blend in with what is behind it.  I
am very glad I did this edging as it means that paths stay clearly defined.

I also have Freesias and Sparaxis naturalised in a couple of areas of my
garden, plus planting of dutch iris interspersed with my roses which are
the "backbone" of the front garden bed.  While the roses are dormant the
dutch iris leaves are produced and give a bit of an echo of the
regimentality of the roses, then as the roses are just starting to shoot
the duth iris are coming into flower (right now) producing clumps of
flowers at about 2 foot tall to give height to the garden.  By the time
they are finished the roses are budding and ready to take over for summer.
The strappy leaves of the dutch iris are then unnoticed as the roses tend
to cover them over and they aren't noticed.  A good large clump of dutch
iris in the garden can make a VERY big statement and providing you think
about the placing it can become a focal point in your garden "landscape".

So.... I've rambled on about permanent plantings in my garden, and
hopefully it may give some ideas to others.  Hopefully the rest of you
haven't nodded off by now <grin>.	


Paul Tyerman
Canberra, Australia.  USDA equivalent - Zone 8/9

Growing.... Galanthus, Erythroniums, Fritillarias, Cyclamen, Crocus,
Cyrtanthus, Oxalis, Liliums, Hellebores, Aroids, Irises plus just about
anything else that doesn't move!!!!!

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