A Mother’s Day Garden Story

Senior gardener Deanna Buvala shares a meaningful (and beautiful!)  Mother’s Day tradition along with tips on how to do it yourself.

20160319_120728-2Many years ago when we moved into our new house, I felt compelled to purchase some spring bulbs. I wanted to try some Crocus with the little Tulipa tarda in my back yard. As it goes, I never seemed to find the time to actually plant them. Thanksgiving was coming up, so I took those bulbs to my mother’s house thinking she would get a surprise come Mother’s Day. My husband and I chiseled up chunks of frozen earth and replaced the frozen ground over the bulbs. The cold came early that year, and I was skeptical on how they would survive over the winter, but when I traveled back in the spring I was amazed at the tenacity of how those bulbs came up in the beds. My mother was thrilled!

So, a tradition was born. For the last 15 or so years, we’ve made the trip and are now aided by my own grown children. With many and varied bulbs, we make a different choice each time. This year we’re awaiting the blooms of 50 narcissus ‘ambergate’, 100 muscari armeniacum, 300 chionodoxa lucilleae, 50 Tulip ‘Orange Emperor’ and 50 Camassia ‘Blue Danube’ (plus a few others!).

We have planted everywhere in the yard, and massive clumps now come out of the lawn. The combination of new with surviving bulbs make a cornucopia of color that still entices my now 91-year-old mother to wander outside to see what we planted this time.

Here are three tips for planting bulbs so they look natural:

  1. Keep it random & diverse 

    Random spacing and diverse quantities of bulbs in each hole make spring bulbs look the most natural. Our favorite method for planting is to dig randomly-spaced holes and then toss a crate of bulbs into the air over the planting area. Then, sweep the fallen bulbs into their closest hole.

  2. One variety per hole 

    Don’t mix multiple varieties in a single hole. Though they may grow and bloom just fine, this doesn’t occur naturally. If you’re planting a mix, just make sure to give each type its own little home. 

  3. Take photographs

    Photography helps you plan where to plant. If you’ll be making this a tradition, remember to take photographs in spring of your blooming bulbs so you know where to plant more in the fall. Before you start, take photos of your home/garden from favorite vantage points. Where would bulbs be a beautiful accent or create an especially pretty view from inside?

Happy Mother’s Day!