After the long winter, flowers are a welcome sight. The parade of blooming flowers in Routt County started in mid-April with a few native blooming wildflowers, then a variety of bulbs, continuing with flowering shrubs and fruit trees. The view down Lincoln Avenue with crabapple trees in bloom is spectacular!
Spring blooming bulbs in my garden have put on quite a show as well, thanks to a previous owner. Appearing first were native glacier lilies and pretty blue glory-of-the-snow, then crocus. Next came the daffodils, along with grape hyacinth. Last to appear were the tulips. Miraculously, the tall tulips have remained largely intact, overlooked by hungry moose and impervious to more than one snowstorm.
Seeing color in the landscape as the snow melts is a cheerful sight. CSU Extension Fact Sheet No. 7.410 Fall-Planted Bulbs and Corms (https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/fall-planted-bulbs-and-corms-7-410/ , https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/07410.pdf) provides instruction on how to select and plant bulbs. It also reminds gardeners to remove the withered flowers but do NOT cut the foliage until it completely dies back. Until then, photosynthesis continues and energy is stored in the bulb for next season.
Bulbs are easy to plant but have a couple of requirements that might be tough for the Routt County gardener. First, the bulbs must not be eaten by critters. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, voles, and pocket gophers will happily make a meal of certain bulbs. In some parts of the county, gardeners will have no success growing tulips or crocus and will have better luck with less tasty daffodils, alliums and hyacinths. If the bulbs survive, though, they may not actually bloom. Moose have been known to eat the tulip buds in my neighbor’s yard, leaving beds of healthy but flowerless plants. Other critters enjoy the buds as well.
I get tripped up by the requirement that spring blooming bulbs must be planted in the fall. At that time of the year, my love of gardening is waning, the open spots for bulbs have disappeared beneath the foliage of other plants, and digging is harder. But I have a plan: 1) Take photos now of the available spots. 2) Have Fact Sheet No. 7.410 ready to follow and calendars marked for September planting. 3) Cross fingers the neighborhood critters will not eat the bulbs or buds.
Fortunately, if our efforts fail, we can count on Nature to provide next year’s Parade of Spring Flowers.
Vicky Barney gardens for wildlife and is a member of the Master Gardener Class of 2011.