Summer blooming bulbs

The garden’s hydrangeas and roses bloom off and on from late spring through the summer into early autumn. Other blooms last for weeks, and some only days.

‘Jane’ magnolia flowers early in the spring so that occasionally blooms are damaged by late freezes, but it also flowers sporadically through the summer (above). In July the flower buds fade in the heat before opening fully, and a handful of blooms on a large shrubby tree make little impact.

There is little danger that the blooms of drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalum, above) will be lost in dense foliage. The robin’s egg sized red-purple flowers stand firmly on gently nodding stems for weeks late June into July. The small bulbs are inexpensive so that twenty or a hundred hover handsomely just above the foliage of daylilies or other low growing perennials.

Fiery red blooms emerge just above clumps of sword-like foliage of Croscosmia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Lucifer’, above) that arches over a dwarf blue spruce in the garden. The small bulbs were planted in full sun twenty years ago, but neighboring evergreens have grown so that the roots are fully shaded and the foliage must take a few twists and turns to find any meager amount of sunlight. Still, the clump increases in size by a bit each year, and it flowers dependably.

Earlier in the spring I divided the offsets from bulbs of ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, above). The bulbs were planted beside a variegated caryopteris that has spread enough that the bulbs are partially hidden. With the clump doubling in size this spring there was no reason to leave them in place, where they could barely be seen.

As soon as the new dark burgundy foliage emerged I dug the mass of bulbs and offsets, and broke the clump into two pieces. One part was replaced and the other moved where it will be enjoyed more readily. Both clumps seem healthy, and the distinctive pineapple shaped blooms are a week or two from their peak. From start to finish the pineapple shaped blooms are ornamental for more than a month, and the burgundy colored foliage is delightful even if the bloom was unremarkable.

The hanging, bell-like blooms of Galtonia (Galtonia viridiflora, above) stand like a candelabra above the foliage, and I regret that I planted these marvelous  bulbs where they are not more easily seen. With my autumn bulb purchases I’ll be certain to plant a few more.

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