Bulbs all blooming in mass

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sun, 02 Apr 2006 12:18:30 PDT
Whether one admires mass bulb displays such as those at Keukenhof and many 
other public gardens depends on individual taste. I like to see "masses" of 
flowers in the wild, where they are mingling with other vegetation and 
elements of the natural scene, but a solid block of uniform blossom, even 
in well-shaped beds, leaves me cold. One reason is that I know how it got 
that way and what will happen to it once the flowering is done: mass 
planting and mass demolition.

I'm sure visitors to my garden expect to see a "prettier" sight with more 
flowers in mass, but the only such sights here are the naturalized 
daffodils and muscari in April and the alstroemerias in summer. The rest is 
very spotty and always subject to experiment and revision. I'm always 
trying to create natural-looking associations of plants, as rock gardeners 
tend to do, but it takes many years to find which species will flourish 
just to the right extent, without becoming invasive.

And once I identify them, the predators seem to also! I was pleased to have 
a flowering stem on Notholirion thomsonianum in the open garden this 
spring, but two nights ago a rabbit ate it (just the scape, not the 
leaves). Fortunately, those in the bulb frame will flower, and rabbits 
rarely invade the frames -- though they have done so, as evident from their 
droppings. My recently acquired collie is keeping the deer out, but the 
rabbits are too elusive (or too numerous) for her.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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