By Paul James
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.
Dainty and diminutive, the flowers of this bulb range from lavender to purple. Think of them as an alternative to crocuses. Or better yet, mix them with crocuses.
The most striking thing about these beauties is that their flowers hang upside down. Some fritillarias are small, while some are fairly large. But all are worth growing.
Bright white flowers rise above foliage that only grows to about four-inches tall. I’ve had these pop through snow in February. They look great in masses, especially when combined with daffodils.
This has been a favorite of mine for decades, yet it’s not well known. It produces stunning flowers in white or blue atop dark green leaves that grow to about 30” tall. Try it. You’ll like it.
Better known as ‘Naked Ladies,’ these bulbs produce spring foliage that suddenly disappears, only to be followed in late summer to fall by a scape topped with lily-like flowers.
Although they only grow to about six-inches tall, what these tulips have going for them is the fact that they come back every year. That, and the fact that they’re also beautiful.
Saving the best for last, I absolutely adore the alliums. I especially like the large ones such as ‘Gladiator’ because of the bold statement they make and the astounding number of pollinators they attract. But you can’t go wrong with any of them.