Fall planting of bulbs anticipates a wonderful harbinger of spring. As long as the ground is not yet frozen, bulbs can be planted.
How to Deter Squirrels from Digging up Your Bulbs
I tend to wait until mid-November so the squirrels don’t raid my bulbs. As well as waiting until as late as possible to plant your bulbs, there are a few other ways to guarantee spring-blooming:
use bloodmeal: sprinkle a handful in the hole, over the bulbs. Be sure to wear gloves when using bloodmeal. Bonemeal is a fertilizer that will help them grow, but will not deter rodents.
cut squares of chicken wire and place a square in each hole. I plant my bulbs in groups of five, so a one foot square piece of wire is sufficient. It can be purchased in a role at most grocery, DIY stores.
banana peels over the bulbsin the hole also works. I have done this in the past with success, crisscrossing the strips of peel over the bulbs like spokes on a wheel.
plant alliums, members of the onion family, or daffodils as squirrels don’t like either of these.
I generally order my bulbs from Brecks, this year was no exception. Their prices are reasonable (especially if you buy in bulk as I do) and the variety of bulbs is amazing. I love looking through their catalogs picking and choosing colours, bloom time, height etc. These are the tulip and allium bulbs I chose this year:
Spring is my favourite season. I love the fact that the plants in gardens, roadsides and parks start strutting their stuff, with changes every day. My own gardens don’t disappoint me every spring, in fact I am known to just wander/putter around enjoying the new growth.
If you too love spring blossoms, here are a few plants that bloom in spring for your yard and gardens…
My spring starts off with the star magnolia in my front yard. From afar, the blossoms look like pom poms, brightening up my yard even before the leaves emerge. Up close they are even more spectacular:
Another magnolia blooms a bit later in my backyard. This beauty is the Ann variety, with blossoms that change in shape as they progress…
After my white star magnolia blooms and drops its flowers, forsythia bushes brighten the neighbourhood with their striking yellow blossoms. My neighbour’s is especially pleasing to me as I enjoy this view from my front windows:
I have a forsythia in my backyard too, but it is still small and not as effectively placed as the beauty above.
Next to bloom in my gardens are my plum trees, usually. This year their blossoms were barely therethanks to the birds. This is what they are supposed to look like:
Plum trees are very fragrant when blooming too, another sign of spring. Unfortunately my husband suffers from seasonal allergies, so he does not find them as appealing as I do.
Apple and Crab Apple Trees
Next up to bloom are my McIntosh apple trees. This year they are particularly gorgeous…
…perhaps because the plum trees were not. The apple trees are loaded with bees too; I’m doing my part to keep them thriving!
Around the same time as the apple trees in my backyard, the crab apple tree in my front yard and in yards all across this city are in full bloom, ranging from the palest of pink, to light pink to my own darker almost-wine-coloured version. Whatever the variety, they are all beautifully spring-like.
Lilac Trees and Bushes
While most lilac trees and bushes are in bloom by now, with their distinct and fragrant blossoms, mine does not bloom until early June. After the plum and apples trees have shown off. These lilacs are still spring bloomers by calendar standards, but not quite a harbinger of spring in my yard.
Shrub roses (usually) bloom earlier and for longer than rose bushes, but of course there are exceptions. My favourite shrub rose, with pale yellow five-lobed petals and lemony yellow centers is just starting to bloom now while my crab apple tree is still going strong.
A few other varieties of pink shrub roses throughout my gardens will wait a few weeks before they decide to bloom.
Roses of the climbing or bushes type wait for the hotter days (and nights) of summer to perform.
Spring bulbs, are planted in the fall to provide early spring colour in your gardens. Early tulips and daffodils are currently blooming, with allium still working on their strappy leaves and tall stems. The alliums will be blooming soon too, with the later variety of tulips. With summer still a month away, these later tulips and allium are still considered spring blooming bulbs.
Another spring blooming shrub is the rhododendron, fast becoming one of my favourite for all of my gardens including my own. They too range in colour, including white, pale pink, hot pink, red and a purply pink.
I have a story that I tell anyone who will listen of how I was introduced to rhododendrons. Currently I choose them for most part sun gardens, especially eastern and northeastern facing ones, their preferred exposure. I have two in my own backyard too, ready to burst out in blossoms any time now…
Other Spring Blooming Perennials
A few perennials bloom in spring too. A few examples in my gardens are garden sage with pale purple flowers and Jack Frost brunnera which sports green and white heart-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers:
There are also several groundcovers that bloom in spring. In my gardens that includes sweet woodruff with delicate leaves and tiny white flowers, as well as lamium with varigated leaves and pearl pink blossoms:
These ferns don’t flower as such, but their fronds are fascinating to watch unfurl. Apparently fiddleheads are delicious to cook and eat, although I have not tried them. This bed is full of ferns, turning into a lush, green focal point in summer:
There are lots of plants to choose from for spring colour in your gardens. Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials and shrubs anytime the ground is warm enough to dig in.
Our Canadian Tulip Festival, an annual event here in Ottawa since 1953, is a true harbinger of spring. Thousands of tulips, in every colour imaginable, line the flower beds stretching along the Rideau Canal, the same canal, by the way, that becomes the world largest skating rink in the winter, but I digress. Back to the tulip festival…
The Canadian Tulip Festival was established to celebrate the historic Royal gift of tulips from the Dutch to Canadians immediately following the Second World War as a symbol of international friendship. The Festival preserves the memorable role of the Canadian troops in the liberation of the Netherlands and Europe, as well as commemorates the birth of Dutch Princess Margriet in Ottawa during World War II—the only royal personage ever born in Canada.
This year, thanks to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, a virtual tour of the tulips is available. There is an advantage to these restrictions; those of you who live too far away to visit the splendor of these tulips in person can peruse this international symbol of friendship and peace from your own home.
This past week, with Ontario taking baby steps to reopen their economy, we were granted permission to walk along the paths to view the tulips in person. That is as long as we are practicing social distancing and not loitering in large groups.
If the Covid police are out, as I’m sure they will be, it might be less stressful to watch the video…Enjoy!
Yes, you read that right. Now is the time to save your banana peels for bulb planting. Over the years I have tried many things to deter squirrels from digging up the bulbs I plant in my clients’ gardens as well as my own.
Placing a few strips of banana peel over the bulbs in the hole you have dug seems to be the best method I have found, especially for single (and expensive!) bulbs like Lily trees …
Another trick is to plant daffodils and tulips in the same hole as that seems to deter squirrels too because they do not like daffodils…
We eat lots of bananas in my home, so I collect the peels in a plastic baggie and store the baggie in my freezer until I am ready to plant the bulbs…
Try my banana trick and let me know if it works for you. Now is the perfect time here in zone 4 to 5 for planting bulbs!