In Bloom

Fall bulb planting provides the first blooms of spring
by Paula Levy

Debbie Reeves of T&D Nurseries in the Forties plants a bulb in her garden.
 FORTIES - By now gardeners are enjoying the fruits of their labour whether it be a bounty of vegetables or a colourful, lush blooming section in the backyard. But there is still one more dig left this year.

 Fall bulb planting can either be putting in new varieties that will bloom next spring or digging up the more delicate varieties that will likely not survive the winter.

 T&D Nurseries owner Debbie Reeves said when the frost kills the annuals, it's a good time to start putting bulbs in the ground.

 "In most cases you're pulling your annuals out to prepare for next spring so it's always good to amend the soil a little by adding bone meal or fertilizer," said Ms Reeves. "It's not really necessary because if the soil is good for annuals, it's probably good for the bulbs."

 Ms Reeves offered a tip to slow the blooms of some bulbs by adding a layer of bark mulch in the fall. She said it will delay growth by two weeks. She said it's nice to have bulbs blooming weeks after the first bulbs of spring have had their season.

 To maintain the colourful garden throughout the summer season, often people plant annuals around the bulbs once their flowering period has finished.

 "After they bloom, you need to leave the leaves on for awhile so they generate some food for the next year," said Ms Reeves. She said most people leave the bulbs' foliage until it turns yellow.

 But planting in the fall is a good activity that can be done the same time you're preparing the garden for next spring. Ms Reeve said it's important at the end of the season to remove any plants that have developed a disease or fungus. She said weeding in the fall will also help keep spring maintenance to a minimum. For plants that create seeds at the end of the year, Ms Reeves said it's a good idea to cut off the seed pods to minimize spread of a particular plant. However, she said many leave them to seed as a way of providing food for birds during the winter months.

 Ms Reeves added that perennials in this area can withstand Lunenburg County winters without much protection. However, she leaves the foliage on some of her perennials, namely hostas, for protection. For more delicate plants, Ms Reeves suggested using evergreen boughs or a layer of bark mulch. She said the key for plant survival is for the plants to freeze and stay frozen for the winter.

 Once the bulbs are in the ground in the fall and the plants that need protection are covered, it's time to put your gardening tools and gloves in the shed and refocus your attention on the houseplants while you wait for the first blooms next spring.

posted on 07/26/11