Planting bulbs in turf, was Bulb planting tools

Makiko Goto-Widerman
Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:44:11 PDT
*Robin and Jane,*

I used to make a meadow garden in Southern California.  I removed the old
thick turf, and planted annual and perennial Rye grass seeds. The soil was
heavy clay, and there were sunny spots almost all day long.
Narcissus Hawera multiplied well under the grass.  Many early blooming
wildflowers (short blue Bonnet) performed very well.

Now, I am working on new small-scale meadow garden with native glasses and
only white wildflowers (milkmade/ Cardamine californica) and natural
Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoiata).
The turf was so pretty during winter, but now it has died down.  Fresh
green grass needs to be added.

Santa Cruz Mountain
Portola Valley, CA

On Sun, Jun 9, 2019 at 9:10 AM Jane McGary <> wrote:

> Rather than the sandy coastal soil Robin has, the soil at my present
> garden is clay. Here, too, cyclamen tubers haven't gone to a deeper
> level, except for Cyclamen repandum, which has a reputation for growing
> deep (Cyclamen graecum does also, but I have it in a sandy, gritty
> medium). Cyclamen hederifolium are coming up in the bulb lawn and also
> in regular lawn grass nearby, and I have the mowing service set their
> blades high.
> As for competition from turf grasses, this is limited where I have my
> bulb lawn by the presence of three very large Douglas firs. Their root
> systems and shade keep the grass thin most of the year, and probably the
> soil is drier and cooler too. It would be difficult to plant bulbs as I
> described in the "tools" discussion if the turf were typical lawn
> grasses. The main problem I have with this area is invasion by weeds
> such as dandelion, Hieracium (hawkweed) and in the past 2 years, an
> annual geranium or erodium. I can't use a lawn herbicide for fear of
> damaging the bulbs, but I spot-spray the perennial weeds in summer. The
> immediate drip zone of the trees is grass-free and mostly Cyclamen
> hederifolium, but some other bulbs are showing up there as volunteers.
> Debris shed by the trees mulches this area.
> As for criteria in choosing bulbs, I keep them short, except for
> Narcissus obvallaris, which flowers very early and can be mown by early
> June. Because I threw a basket full of miscellaneous bulbs down before
> replacing the sod, there are a few taller things, such as Fritillaria
> acmopetala and Gladiolus tristis, but they just have to deal with the
> mowing schedule. I am concerned about the survival of Anemone coronaria,
> which is so pretty in the later part of the bulb season but may need
> more time to ripen its foliage. You can also look at whether a plant has
> lax leaves or erect ones, since the former will lie beneath the mower
> blades; I think this is one reason Crocus tommasinianus is so common in
> lawns in the Pacific Northwest (check the McClure & Zimmerman
> catalog/website for select varieties, which are much prettier than the
> common pale lavender type). That crocus does self-sow but I can't call
> it a "pest." If you can get the low-growing species of Ornithogalum
> (easy from seed), they're very attractive in grass, but avoid the common
> Ornithogalum umbellatum ("Star of Bethlehem"). The common snowdrop
> Galanthus nivalis might also work. Puschkinia is good, and perhaps some
> Muscari (not armeniacum or azureum, which are invasive here). I have a
> few of the small autumnal Colchicum species in grass, mostly Colchicum
> boissieri, which spreads horizontally.
> When you see bulbs in their native habitats, many of them coexist with
> grasses and grazing animals. A couple of weeks ago I saw huge flocks and
> herds being moved up overland to the alpine meadows in Georgia, where
> great populations of spring bulbous plants were flowering. Many of the
> plants are probably avoided by grazers, however, being toxic (e.g.
> Galanthus, Scilla (sensu lato), Trollius). Too bad Fritillaria
> worldwide, and Calochortus in North America, are not as poisonous.
> Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA
> On 6/9/2019 6:31 AM, Hansen Nursery wrote:
> > When planting bulbs in turf, how do you determine which bulbs can handle
> the
> > conditions involved, not so much moisture, but competition from the turf
> > itself?  I notice that my cyclamen, at least under the sandy soil
> conditions
> > I have, stay on top of the soil and don't root in sometimes. (I just
> threw
> > out seed and waited to see what happened.)
> >
> > What criteria do you use, especially in the Pacific Northwest?  I'm
> assuming
> > some bulbs can't handle the conditions we have, others are too big and
> some
> > become pests...
> >
> > Robin
> > Hansen Nursery
> >
> >
> >
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