Friday, June 15, 2012


 Rocky Mountain Iris(Iris missouriensis)

Spring time in the mountains can bring many surprises for mountain gardeners.  It seems we are either inundated by late snows or, like this past spring, it was spectacular but dry.  It’s always exciting to see what nature will bring with the first warm days mixed with those late snow showers.

To assure flowers as early as possible, I have taken to planting wildflower bulbs in the fall.  It’s possible to find many interesting varieties with varying sun requirements and deer-resistant.  Mountain people with any experience know that is often an empty promise as the wildlife will take what they want and flowers are a sweet treat after a long winter.

Alba (Chionodoxa lucilae)

Last fall, I planted Wisley Blue (Ipheion uniflorum), White Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa lucilae) an Alba, Lavender Mountain Lily (Ixiolirion tataricum), Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum and Muscari latifolium) , Queen Fabiola (Brodiaea triteleia) and Spring Beauty (Scilla siberica).  Alliums and Narcissus are also good choices.

I have experimented and find that I like to mix colors and varieties and cluster them to make a bigger statement but they are just as precious individually.  It is also possible to layer bulbs in containers to have ongoing surprises.  It’s also possible to plant such that flowers come throughout the summer and fall, all in the planning.

Wisley Blue (Ipheion uniflorum),

The work done in the last days of autumn are long forgotten with the first blooms of the spring.  This spring, I had all sorts of surprises and felt it was my most successful “crop” so far.  I lost some flowers to elk and some whole bulbs to the dreaded voles but all in all it was a success!   My next experiment is fall blooming bulbs!

For general information on bulbs look at Fact Sheet 7.411 and for more specific info, check out Planttalk Publications #1012, #1011, #1067 and #1006