Small gems can make big show next year

Bulbs: From snowdrops to windflowers, these plants are great for accents and a natural look -- and squirrels don't like the taste.

October 28, 2001|By Danny C. Flanders | Danny C. Flanders,Cox News Service

Some little bulbs just want the chance to shine on the gardening stage.

But when the fall gardening catalogs hit mailboxes, it's the big, blazing red tulips and lemon-yellow daffodils that grab the spotlight. That makes it tough for minor bulbs, mostly small ones, to compete. To help, marketing gurus have come up with a name for them: "special."

These spring bulbs, all planted in fall, offer advantages many of their showy cousins do not:

* Special bulbs make great accents in a rock garden.

* Many suit shady woodland settings because they receive adequate sunlight in early spring before trees leaf out.

* Most of these bulbs naturalize, returning year after year.

* Most are not tasty to garden pests, including squirrels and deer. Special bulbs include:

1. Dwarf narcissus, Narcissus triandrus 'Hawera': Dainty yellow daffodils on 8-inch stems. Bloom in early spring. Prefer full sun or part shade.

2. Drumstick allium, Allium sphaerocephalon: Reddish-purple fuzzy balls top slim 24-inch stems in lollipop fashion. Full sun. Bloom May-June.

3. Glory of the snow, Chionodoxa forbesii: Blue flowers with white centers. Bloom February-March. Full sun or part shade. Great in rock gardens.

4. Cyclamen, Cyclamen hederifolium: Pink flowers with variegated, ivy-leafed foliage. Bloom late winter. Prefer part to full shade. Can take rocky soil.

5. Summer snowflake, Leucojum: Pendulous pure white bells with green tips. Bloom mid to late spring. Moisture tolerant. Plant near a stream or pond.

6. Spanish bluebell or wood hyacinth, Hyacinthoides hispanica: Bell-shaped flowers in light and dark blue, white and pink on 16-inch stems. Bloom in May. Full sun or part shade.

7. Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis: Dainty white flowers on 10-inch stems. Bloom in February. Plant in lawn, woodland or rock garden. Full sun or part shade.

8. Grecian windflowers, Anemone blanda 'Blue Shades': Long-lasting daisylike flowers in white, pink or purple. Low-growing. Bloom in March-April. Full sun or part shade.

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