Submitted by Lanark County Master Gardeners
I look out the window at Mississippi Lake and think that spring is officially here. It’s snowing out and the lake is frozen solid, but yes, spring is almost here.
The silver maple buds are almost in bloom and back on February 28 there were two, count them, two snowdrops in bloom. These ephemeral bulbs are the first to flower. That’s why when thinking every fall about which bulbs to buy, you will find that the small minor bulbs are the best value for your dollar. They may be small but make a nice show after a long hard winter like this one; and there is such a good selection to choose from at local garden centres.
Some examples of small bulbs to plant every fall are Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), Netted Iris (Iris reticulata), which come mostly in shades of blue, and Dwarf Iris (Iris danfordiae) which are mostly yellow. And there is Squill (Silla siberica), which naturalizes itself freely; there is a lawn in Appleton that’s completely blue with Squill every spring. Don’t forget Crocuses as they come in quite an array of colour, including one of my very favourites, Snakes Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) which is a mottled mauve colour. Although there are many more, I must mention the Russian Snowdrop (Puschkinia libanotica), white with blue striping. They all do well in flower beds but do even better when planted in the lawn in large groups.
This is a beautiful time of year and I’ve been anticipating it since the fall. So far I haven’t had any bees a-buzzing; if they were out today they would need their snow shovels to get at my snowdrops. But I have no worries, as these spring flowering bulbs will be there for the bees when the time is right.
Paul Pietsch is president of the Carleton Place Horticultural Society and active member of the Lanark County Master Gardeners.