Time To Think About…Spring?
The following is a regular column that addresses basic issues facing the ever-inquisitive back- and front-yard toiler, proffered by someone who knows best; one of the fertile master gardeners from the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Brian Cruey.
Photos courtesy of the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
The past couple weeks of rainy, humid weather have been great for my garden. Know what else it has been great for? My weeds. I feel like I can’t keep up. I start weeding at one end of the flowerbed and by the time I reach the other side it’s like I have to start all over again. Same goes for mowing the grass, clipping the hedges and deadheading. It’s relentless.
Honestly, I think I’m just suffering from a little bit of general, summer fatigue. It’s not just the garden — it’s the house guests, the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the events. There’s always so much going on that I can’t believe we’re almost into August.
Which is why you’re probably going to want to punch me in the face when I say that it’s time to start thinking about next spring. I know, I can’t wrap my head around it either. Next year’s garden? You’re kidding, right? Can’t this wait until January when I‘ve got nothing better to do than sit in front of the fire dreaming about the garden while eating gingersnaps and drinking (Irish) coffee?
No. It can’t. Not when it comes to spring bulbs.
True, your daffodils, crocus, tulips and other spring bulbs don’t need to be planted until the fall. However, if you want to get the “good stuff” (hard-to-find cultivars, rare varieties and unusual colors) you’d better bust out the catalogs and start ordering. Yes, you can always make last-minute stops into your local garden center, but chances are you aren’t going to find a whole lot of selection and will have to stick with more run-of-the-mill stock, which, admittedly, includes proven cultivars that are all beautiful.
But it’s not just variety you want to be conscious of. I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to bulbs: MORE. Last year I planted 2,200 daffodils in an area of my yard that I’d dug up for another, unrelated project. While the soil was loose, it was the perfect time to plant that large, drifting field of daffodils that I’d always dreamed of. I was surprised at how limited I was in my selection because I was ordering so many. Granted, 2,200 is a little extreme, but I still wish I’d planned better. I placed my order in late August thinking I had plenty of time, but at the numbers I was looking to purchase, I was disappointed to miss out on a few varieties that I was really looking forward to.
If you’re ordering in really large numbers, talk to a landscape designer or garden center; they might be able to help you get better pricing. Designers will usually have the ability to buy at wholesale and get you a much better bang for your buck. The same goes for garden centers. The more you order and the farther in advance you plan, the better deal you’re likely to get.
So take a break from weeding in the humidity and turn an eye towards spring. If you’re looking for a great selection of bulbs, the horticultural team at the Berkshire Botanical Garden has chosen some favorites for 2014 and made them available for sale via their website. All orders go to benefit the Berkshire Botanical Garden and will be available for pick-up in late September. Click here for more information.