In last week’s blog, I discussed planting large and small bulbs in the same hole to create a skirt for the smaller bulbs. It is difficult to use the same technique to create a succession of bloom because later blooming bulbs like the large Fritillaria imperialis, Allium, and Lilium are planted in the back of the border where earlier, short bulbs would not show.
It is possible, however, to have some side by side bloom of short and taller bulbs in the same genus. An example of this would be Allium unifolium (roseum) and Allium christophii blooming at the same time in the same bed with perennials and short roses.
I do not layer smaller bulbs on top of large flowering hybrid tulips because the small bulbs perennialize while the tulips need to be treated as annuals. Although tulips may be perennial in areas with well-drained soil and little summer moisture, that is not usually the condition of most of our Ohio gardens.
Mentioning hyacinths leads me to share with you a special hyacinth that I am using. First, you have to understand that one of my personal prejudices is a dislike of hyacinths. To me, they are large blobs with a scent that is overwhelming. After reading about the blue cultivar Hyacinthus multiflora ‘Borah’, I decided to give it a try and discovered that I love its more informal look of loosely arranged florets on multiple stems. This hyacinth is an heirloom bulb that is still quite fragrant, but I don’t find the scent as offensive. Unfortunately, it has not naturalized and I have to replant it every few years. I have also been impressed with ‘Festival Pink’ that has a similar form.