...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sometimes they come back...

And no, I don't mean zombies in a horror flick. I'm talking about those spring flowers that rise again each year from a bulb that keeps house in your garden soil.

Here you see the mini-garden that surrounds my front lawn's street lamp. I sat doing a spring cleaning on it a while back; and as I did, my across-the-street neighbor wandered over to see my work. I offered her some of the Iris rhizomes (like bulbs) that are now spreading west of the garden bed. It's not the best time of the year to move bulbs--fall is--but I'm not picky about whether I get an immediate bloom or not. I have plenty of other eye-candy ready to bloom out in the front yard so I'm fine with moving things around now.

She chuckled and shook her head. "No thanks. I'm the one who brought those Irises over in the first place. That was a few years before you moved here."

The spotty showing of purple hyacinths were also here before we bought the property, but the tulips are my own addition. Last year, I received the red tulips around Easter in a temporary potted display. I chose this spot to replant them as it had so little color in the early spring. They held their blooms nicely through their typical season. Obviously, they likewise saw fit to return this year, so I'm adding to that tulip population with yet another Easter color--a grouping of yellow ones that graced our table before moving to this more permanent home.

I also moved a couple of the Iris rhizomes inside the circle, but a few were right under the ring, so for now, I trimmed back the foliage and am considering whether they should stay or find a new home, possibly near the mailbox. For one option, I could reconstruct the rock-filled ring to a more organic design that pulls the Iris spread gracefully into it's dimensions. For another, I could briefly pull up the ring and move those rhizomes, then reform the tight, tidy circle minus the overflow. Fortunately, these recurring flowers don't put me in a panic of urgency as they'll keep returning year after year, leaving me time to make a decision without a great rush--again, as long as I'm willing to sacrifice their most current blooming potential.

One thing I must keep in mind, however, in the overall plan for this little flower patch is that these new tulips might not naturalize. In other words, they may be lovely for a few years, but die down after that. Bulbs that naturalize, however, return year after year and even spread out over a larger territory. (As in the previous dilemma with the Iris population.)

Two weeks later, and despite frequent torrential rains, the new residents are well established--proving how very easy bulb-growing is for the novice gardener. I'm far more a vegetable gardener than an ornamental one, but bulbs are often the least fussy of all your gardening options. That said, I'm offering several links to bulb-gardening info that is vastly superior to my own experimental know-how.

Some great how-to videos for bulb planting both in the ground and in containers:

A good link for gathering ideas for bulb-planting based on what grows best in your region:

A nice listing of bulb options along with a bit of explanation regarding the distinction between naturalizing and perennializing bulbs:

A diverse list of questions and answers to Iris care along with links to more info:


  1. We have some iris at our house too. They came from my Mother in law who had so many, they were throwing them out. She said they threw them in a pile behind the barn, and the next year They grew...without even being buried!

  2. If only we could let the little flowers teach us about not being negatively obsessive! That was so much the lesson I needed today: just relax and let the good things grow! (smile)

  3. I love the early spring blooming bulbs. And thanks for the subliminal reminder...I need to move some of the Iris to our new house. My Dad gave them to me before he and Mom moved to a condo.

    Cindy Bee