Fall Bulb Planting at the Gardens
October kind of went to hell quickly. I've (admittedly) not quite been myself lately and a series of unfortunate events have put me slightly behind on the garden plan. I think all of your bulbs are supposed to be planted in October before the ground freezes... I just finished up yesterday.
And by "finished up" I mean that I still have around 300 bulbs to plant so I'm just going to throw that shit in the ground and hope for the best. There is a good chance I'm way too late and that I just wasted my money and killed all of these poor plants but I figured I wouldn't let my October pity party impact my ability to have a beautiful spring garden!
I really want the front yard to be amazing next spring. Last year was our “test year” where we just kind of waited to see what came up, what we liked, and what we had space for. It was a little underwhelming.
We have a 140 foot cement path (about 5' of garden per side) from the house to the street that has 17 peony bushes on each side.
Phlox, Black-eyed Susan and a few other plants fill it in during the summer but it looks pretty sad in the spring before the peonies show up so I really wanted to add some color. Last year, it looked like a long row of mud until the first week of June.
I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. I know nothing about bulb planting. I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials and read everything I could find online about bulb spacing, planting and upkeep to try and make sure I have pretty and healthy plants this spring. You basically dig a hole that is 6-8” deep (depending on the bulb) and then you toss the bulbs in and cover them in dirt and in the spring your yard magically looks like this:
Bulb planting sounds easy in theory but once you figure out how many bulbs it actually takes to fill all of that in... it becomes overwhelming and expensive. And a lot of math!
So I decided to break it up into sections. For now, I'm just planting bulbs between the peony bushes. Picking out the bulbs was pretty easy. I knew I needed a TON so I figured I'd get a few fancy ones and then fill in the rest with bargain bin bulbs.
I ordered a variety of tulips and daffodils from Floret. You have to get online the moment Floret’s bulbs go on sale because they sell out almost immediately. They only have a certain amount of each bulb for the season. It’s very exclusive—which I normally roll my eyes at—but look at how gorgeous these are! Totally worth fighting for!
Floret is pretty pricey for my budget ($16-$28 dollars for 20ish bulbs) but you can certainly tell the difference in quality. The bulbs were massive when they showed up and they threw in some free zinnia seeds.
I bought most of my bulbs from Walmart. You can roll your eyes at me all you want, Walmart bulbs work just fine and they actually have a pretty good variety. The bulbs don't know they came from Walmart. They just want a nice home in the dirt like the fancy bulbs from Floret.
I planted 744 bulbs yesterday. Giant Allium, tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, crocus and irises. I knew I didn't have enough bulbs to do what I wanted (even with almost 1,000 bulbs) so I figured I'd attempt to do some math and put bulbs between every other peony bush on opposite sides of the walkway. I did surprisingly good job of spacing these out!
The bulbs need to be in clumps of 6-8 to show up properly because it will look stupid if you just have one random tulip here and there.
I did this the extremely long and painful way where I opened each bag of bulbs and walked down the aisle putting them in little clumps until each pile had an even amount of bulbs (16-18 per pile). You could just put them in piles before you start planting and save a lot of walking.
I figured I'd put the prettiest and most expensive bulbs by the front of the house and the street and then fill in the rest of the holes with the bargain bulbs. I saved the super fancy schmancy red and pink ruffled tulips and orange/pink daffodils for the area closest to the street because I'm an attention whore.
I dug the holes first to make sure my spacing was even. So. Many. Holes. People kept doing the slow-crawl-drive-by because I looked like a crazy person digging random holes in the yard!
Anyhoo... then I filled the holes with Cayenne Pepper that Gary bought me in bulk at Sam's Club. Allegedly, this keeps the deer, squirrels, and other critters from eating your bulbs. With my luck, my deer moved here from a town with a Taco Bell so they like their bulbs spicy.
I also planted a few random things I bought from the Michigan Bulb Company. I was hesitant to order from them because they had a lot of negative reviews (and a lot of good reviews!) and they seemed too cheap to be good. I fully agree that you get what you pay for but I’m also on a pretty strict budget and I need a lot of flowers so I’ll take what I can get! Sign up for their coupons! I basically paid 33% of the normal price because it is late in the season. I also ordered bleeding hearts, pink astilbe, wisteria, and two hibiscus plants. I was shocked at how nice the plants were when they showed up. They were wrapped really well and seemed like perfectly normal root plants. Not that I have any idea what that means but nothing was dead or looked weird. I ordered pink phlox from American Meadows last spring and they showed up completely dead and dehydrated. They were the saddest little plants. So disappointing.
So I got about halfway through planting and, of course, it started pouring rain. Which I guess is a good thing because the bulbs needed to be watered anyway. So I just kept going and got super dirty and wet and covered in mud.
I have a few more clearance bulbs arriving this week and then I'm hoping to have everything planted and wrapped up by next weekend. Fingers crossed this all works and I didn’t just create an extra spicy bulb salad for my deer!
We shall see what happens in spring!