Lots of good discussion on this topic. The one suggestion that captures my attention is growing portulaca over the bulbs... a showy low-impact annual cover. Portulaca haven't much up a root system, so that could work well, plus the flowers make a good season-long show until cut back by frost. And they'll reseed year after year. How about another portulacaceae, namely Talinum. The perennial, mildly invasive eastern USA talinum species (teretifolium, parviflorum, et al), have almost no root at all, pull out with ridiculous ease, yet provide a flurry of tiny magenta cups all season long. The issue of "what follows bulbs" invites a couple other considerations: 1. If one grows a genus like allium, it's possibly to have alliums in bloom from early spring to late autumn... natural succession. In my Allium beds, it's difficult to be diligent enough to deadhead to prevent seedlings of various species from mixing in, thus promoting the mix of species. So, late summer blooming alliums (like A. stellatum) seed into beds with earlier flowering allium or spring-flowereing-summer-dormant alliums. With careful planning however, it would be possible to have a garden of alliums that always had bloom and leafage, from spring to fall, yet without obvious empty spots where certain species are dormant. 2. Share the same space with at least one other plant. I like the idea of underplanting small trees and shrubs with bulbs, and can attest to the success of bulbs grown in this situation. The species of tree and shrub does have an important role, as some trees are just too surface rooted to allow sharing the space right around the tree or shrub. I make generous "rings" around each tree or shrub, which is mulched. I particularly like to use late-sprigging shrubs (like Hibiscus syriacus, rose-of-sharon), allowing the crocus, frits, dwarf tulipa, etc., to flower and ripen, enjoying their season, to be followed by the shrub leafing out and taking the center of attention in mid to late summer. In my experience, keeping large generous rings around trees and shrubs, well mulched, significantly benefits the health of the woody plants growing in them, but at the same time, provides a terrific microcosm to underplant with a rich variety of bulbs; the bulbs able to dry out and prevented from becoming overly sodden because of the thirsty roots of the host shrub/tree. Some trees are too aggressive in this manner (such as Stewartia pseudocamellia), but other more deeply rooted trees/shrubs seem to provide the perfect symbiotic relationship (such as Magnolia, Hibiscus, Chionanthus, Oxydendron). I uploaded 3 photos to my website taken in the yard today, in the rain, showing the Hibiscus and Oxydendron tree rings. Normally I make webpages for images I upload, but below are the 3 individual links direct to the JPG images. In the 2nd picture, you'll notice lots of little green labels in the soil around the base of Hybiscus syriacus 'Blue Bird'... the labels marking the spot for more than a dozen crocus species, plus some allium and tulipa as well. http://www.plantbuzz.com/buzz/shrub_rings_1a.jpg http://www.plantbuzz.com/buzz/shrub_rings_2a.jpg http://www.plantbuzz.com/buzz/shrub_rings_3a.jpg Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States firstname.lastname@example.org "New England" USDA Zone 5 ============================================== >> web site under construction - http://www.plantbuzz.com/ << alliums, bulbs, penstemons, hardy hibiscus, western american alpines, iris, plants of all types!