Bulbs: spring, summer and fall

Beckie Fox

Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall. (Garden Making photo)

Bulbs are on my mind these days. I’m awaiting the arrival of an order of spring-blooming bulbs, hoping the weather and my energy will be in synch when they do arrive. Everyone has their least-favourite garden task; planting bulbs in the fall is one of mine. If you haven’t purchased your bulbs, here are suggestions from gardeners across the country, compiled by Heather White: “25 recommendations for favourite bulbs.”

Fall colchicums are now in bloom. One day, they were little white nubbins poking out of the ground and just a few days later, their long-necked lavender blooms are nodding along the front path. “Fall-blooming colchicums” by Lorraine Flanigan will convince you to add these to your bulb order.

Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall. (Garden Making photo)
Colchicums are a welcome surprise in fall.

Summer tubers such as dahlias are still blooming, but I know their days are numbered. Storage bins are prepped and ready to receive the tubers once they’re dug up. I’ve even reserved a few new varieties from specialty growers to be shipped next spring.

Usually, I wait to divide dahlia tubers in the spring, just before planting them out. However, I know dahlia growers who divide their tubers in the fall or in mid-winter. This year, I’ll experiment and divide a few before storing and leave the rest undivided; I’ll compare the results next spring. Some of the clumps dug in the fall are so large, dividing them now might make storing them easier. We’ll see.

“How to divide and store dahlia tubers” by Dugald Cameron and “When and how to store dahlias and cannas” by Judith Adam offer two viewpoints. If you’re intrigued by the idea of wrapping tubers in plastic wrap before storing — a method some growers swear by — check out “No fuss: Store your tubers in plastic wrap” on the American Dahlia Society website.

Other garden news and views

  • For those of you who enjoy mixing a craft project in with their gardening, Flower Magazine has step-by-step instructions on how to make a decorative wreath using air plants and dried grasses.
  • Here I thought the popularity of growing and eating kale was a relatively recent obsession. According to an article posted on Atlas Obscura, 12-foot kale plants had been growing until relatively recently on Jersey, an island off the coast of France, since the 1800s. However, this mammoth kale was mainly grown to feed cattle, which is what some people believe is the best use for the leafy green.
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