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Are your fall bulb orders in?

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Who doesn’t love bulbs, especially daffodils, a sure sign that we have made it through winter. You can fill an entire spring season with daffodils by choosing early through late bloomers. But if you want a more diverse display consider adding some other spring and summer bulbs to the garden this fall.
Some of the earliest bulbs to bloom are actually Crocus, Galanthus, Chiondoxa and miniature Iris, especially Iris reticulata. The common names of these bulbs give their characteristics away, Galanthus are called Snowdrops and Chiondoxa are called Glory of the Snow. If we get a late snow in early March these sweet flowers won’t mind.  
Galanthus are my favorite among all the early bloomers. They have drooping white flowers that are tinged with emerald green on the inside of each of the three petals. A close relative to Galanthus is Leucojum. Leucojum has umbels of bell-shaped white blooms that dangle along the stem. The white bells are tipped with a green bead that looks like it was placed there by a jeweler. Both naturalize well and will come back year after year and they are both tolerant of wetter soils, especially the Leucojum that actually prefer a site near a stream or pond.     
I also like Anemone Blanda, the Grecian Windflower, for early spring impact. The foliage will blanket the ground and the daisy like blooms, in white, blue or pink, will top the green throughout the month of March.
In early summer I am always anxious to see the emerging Allium display, so much so that I have ordered close to 250 individual Allium bulbs over the years for our perennial beds. I plant in large groups so the summer display makes a splash as the purple globes poke through the ‘Fireworks’ golden rod. Close your eyes and envision this, 25 Allium Firmament planted against a hedge of lush green boxwood. The long lasting blooms are purple and silver 8-inch globes that reach at minimum of two feet in height. Or the crazy variety called ‘Hair’ with its green tentacle-like flowers, looking quite odd in fact, grouped among the more tamed habits of peonies, hardy geraniums and salvias.
The hybrid Allium called ‘Mars’ is a three-footer with six-inch globes of reddish-purple set off by silver anthers. Allium albopilosum, synonymous with A. christophii, has the same silver highlights but the globes are larger and the plant is shorter. In fact, there are many species of Allium to choose from and new introductions are being made each year, which is exciting for bulb enthusiasts. Gladiator and Globemaster are fun ones to start with because they get as tall and as big as a child’s head. For the more refined stick with A. albopilosum, A. atropupureum, A. sphaeocephalon and A. karativiense, you won’t be disappointed.
As with most bulbs your alliums will perform best in well-drained, rich soil. Some will take full sun while others can tolerate some shade; and when planting remember the rule of thumb…plant bulbs at a depth three times that of their diameter. Oh, and one last word of advice…don’t ever order Ornithogalum umbellatum, this wonderful naturalizer is a fast spreading and hard to control weed known to many gardeners as “Star of Bethlehem”.