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Planting for spring

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Planting bulbs is one of the most difficult undertakings for a gardener.

Not the actual planting — it’s getting yourself to rally that’s tough. By summer’s end, especially when it ends with such a hard hit of heat, most of us are done. The watering, the weeding, the snipping, primping, planning... all done. Sadly, no matter how done you might be, now is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs.

Come early spring, when you are so tired of the snow and the cold, and so certain it will never go away, those first green shoots that magically transform into brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges might as well be life preservers.

As a general rule for the spring flowering bulbs, the more sun, the better. As well, those located in full sun locations will be the first up, as these will be the first places to warm and thaw. Crocus, daffodil, grape hyacinth, and scilla will tolerate light shade.

In the climate of years’ past, it was completely reasonable to put sun lovers into the shade of deciduous tree canopies. The assumption was that the bulbs would mostly have finished up their cycle before the trees leafed out.

That was then. This is now. Given the peculiar and very late springs of the last couple of years, hedge your bets and base the sun-shade pattern on trees being fully leafed out for all except the early flowering bulbs.

The early flowering group includes crocus, early daffodils, snowdrops, and early tulips. Most likely these will be flowering it up alone. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, pairing them up with some low growing junipers will give the whole yard a kick-start.

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