I know. It’s been colder than a well-digger’s foot lately, and for that reason I haven’t spent much time in the garden since the holidays. But I have been thinking a lot about my garden and trying to imagine what changes I want to make once the weather warms up. And thankfully, finally, it looks as though it’s about to do just that.
When it comes to spring-flowering bulbs, the stars of the show are daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and hyacinths. But the supporting cast of players, although less familiar, are no less beautiful and deserve a spot in every garden. So when shopping for bulbs this month, you owe it to yourself to consider the following, all of which are easy to grow and come back year after year.
Every year for the past 30 years or more, I’ve tried to convince my friends and fellow gardeners that now is the perfect time to plant all kinds of things. So here I go again. But to be clear, I’m not talking about things that most folks know to plant in fall – mums, pansies, asters, ornamental kale and cabbage, cool-season veggies, fescue and rye grasses, spring-flowering bulbs – the stuff that practically defines fall planting. I’m talking about practically everything else, in particular trees, shrubs, and perennials.
No other plant on the planet gives you more bang for your buck than a single, solitary, spring-flowering bulb, be it a daffodil or a hyacinth or a crocus or whatever. (Yes, I intentionally excluded tulips for the moment – more on them later.)Think about it: in most cases you shell out less than a buck for a gorgeous flower that will return year after year for decades. And in that time all the plant requires is an occasional drink and a light snack.
Fescue is originally from Europe. It didn’t actually arrive in this country until the mid-19th century, but it’s been happy here ever since, first as a pasture grass and later as a turf grass in lawns across America, including Alaska and Hawaii. It’s even planted on the South Lawn of the White House. And here in Green Country, fescue is the go-to turf for shady spots, where it thrives with a little fertilizer and regular watering.
Carrie and I bought our first home in 1979, and before we’d unpacked all the moving boxes I was busy preparing my first vegetable garden. Step one involved removing (by hand) roughly 400 square feet of Bermuda grass, which took two weekends. Step two involved rototilling the entire area. Problem was, I didn’t own a rototiller. Nor did I have a way to transport one.