The Best Bulbs for Summer - Garden Voices
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May 23, 2012 7:57 AM

The Best Bulbs for Summer

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The Best Bulbs for Summer

 

By Phyllis Gricus

 

Are you dreaming of a vacation in a lush tropical environment, but know you'll be spending summer closer to home? Then give your garden its own exotic ambiance with summer-flowering bulbs!

 

In cooler climates, summer bulbs (a group that also includes corms, tubers, and rhizomes) are grown as annuals or dug up in the fall, stored overwinter, and replanted the following spring. When? Right about now, actually: The best time to plant them is when your tomato plants can go outdoors.

 

You can also pot them up indoors to get a jump on the season before it's time to transplant outside. An even faster way is to have colorful and fragrant tropical-like blooms in your garden is to purchase pre-grown bulbs. Stokes Tropicals is a good source.

 

At Stokes, I found the honeysuckle-like fragrant White Butterfly Ginger Lily. Late in summer, it produces a large exquisitely, delicate flower which perfumes the air until the first frost.

 

 

Hedychium c  'White Butterfly' Stokes.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Stokes Tropicals

 

An old-fashioned flower that adds an element of mystery to a tropical "staycation" garden is a dark burgundy, almost-black gladiola, Gladiolus 'Espresso.' It's available through Brent and Becky's Bulbs.

 

 

Gladioulus Espresso BrentandBecky.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Brent and Becky's Bulbs

 

Dahlias come in a wide range of flower shapes and sizes that are alluring, colorful, and fit right in to our tropical theme.  My choice this year comes from Old House Gardens: Dahlia 'Mrs. Le Boutillier' is big and lush, with sensual deep red petals the backs of which are elegantly highlighted with gold.

 

 

MrsLeBoutillier dahlia OHG.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Old House Gardens

 

I can't imagine tropical without thinking foliage plants. Unique, colorful leaves and stems define "jungle" forest for me. Elephant Ears is always a top choice in foliage plants--and Plant Delights has extraordinary selections. My pick is Blue Hawaii, which isn't blue at all, but medium green with the most dramatic purple veins in front and cranberry color in back. Its only grows 30" tall ... perfect size for a container.

 

 

Colocasia_esculenta_Blue_Hawaii plant delights.jpg

Photo Courtesy of Plant Delights

 

There now! I'm all ready to go on my own tropical staycation--soon as I get all these plants in...

 

 

Phyllis Gricus is the owner of Landscape Design Studio in Pittsburgh, PA, creating sustainable and imaginative gardens for all seasons. Subscribe to her Facebook page or contact her at DesignTeam@LandscapeDesignStudio.com

 

 

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