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Bonnie's Garden--Summer Favorites

I’ve spent a crazy few days unpacking boxes and boxes of summer-blooming bulbs.  Yes, spring is almost here!  I got to thinking about some of my favorite bulbs and decided to share them with you.  So here they are, in no particular order, from the sublime to the downright strange…

Bletilla striata aka Hardy Orchid.  This is a real orchid that is tough, durable and truly perennial.  It has sprays of around a dozen rosy flowers atop 12 to 20” flower stems and pretty pleated leaves that will last all summer—thereby not leaving a bare-spot in a summer perennial bed.

Crinum powelii aka Cape Lily.  Crinum is an amaryllis family member, like daffodils, so is never bothered by deer or voles.  It blooms mid-summer on approximately two foot flower stems topped with pink lily-like flowers.  I do mulch it lightly once the leaves begin to die back and it has made it over even the last few winters with nights in the teens.

Ismene aka Peruvian Daffodil.  Ismene is yet another amaryllis family member.  It looks like a big spidery daffodil flower.  It’s also very fragrant.  This one is not necessarily reliably winter-hardy here so I grow mine in a pot (when the bulbs start to divide, I just leave them all and pot up a size—more blooms in the pot next year!)and store dry in my attached tool shed over the winter (cool but not freezing).

Dahlias.  How can I not love a bulb that forms a bush AND blooms all summer long?  There are dahlias in nearly every color and sizes from 12 to 18” all the up to nearly six feet in height and flowers that range from a delicate three inches across to a stunning 10” or more!  For about five bucks, I get an entire summer of color—and they’re great cut flowers, too.

Begonias.  Another one that blooms all summer long AND tolerates shade!  There are some that have fluffy double flowers that look like roses and others that are trailing and good for hanging baskets.

Caladiums and elephant ears.  Awesome for the shade garden.  Caladiums provide tough durable summer-long color under the maple tree in the front yard, along with some red and white begonias tucked in.  Advantage?  I used to have to water impatiens twice day—they didn’t compete well with those thirsty maple roots.  With caladiums and begonias in there, I water about once, maybe twice, a week!   My six-foot tall elephant ear, adds drama in a pot in the back yard.

Lilies.  From the June/July blooming Asiatic lilies to the July/August fragrant flowers of the Oriental lilies, I love these hardy perennials.  There are “pixie” varieties suitable for pots and tall (six feet) for drama.  Most are in the three to four foot range, however.

Now for the “really strange.”  Arum Cornutum aka Sauromatum Venosum aka Voodoo Lily!  Boy, does this one live up to its name!  Weird 18” tall calla-lily like flowers in creamy yellow heavily spotted with reddish-purple!  It’s followed by very tropical looking foliage with purple stripes on the stems.  It’s winter-hardy here and can make big clumps over time.  Caution:  The first day or so the flower is open, it, well, it stinks!  After that, the odor fades.  This is a shorter relative of the eight foot tall Corpse Flower (Titan Arum) that blooms at the National Arboretum.

There are other bulbs I love, too.  I love to cut flowers so gladiolus really come in handy.  They're beautiful and durable in the yard and superb in a vase indoors!  Mexican Shell Flower (Tigridia) with it's brightly colored heavily freckled flowers is both pretty and fun.  Eucomis or Pineapple Lily has a flower that looks for all the world like a pineapple!  This long-lasting flower always has a place reserved for it in a pot on my deck.  Anemones, cannas, agapanthus--I love them all.  It's just too hard to choose--and I'm glad I don't have to!
Posted: 3/7/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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