This spring, plan for a colorful garden with these ideas


GARDENING

This spring, plan for a colorful garden

For me, few things are more inspiring than the arrival of early spring blooms. One of my favorite harbingers of spring is flowering quince. Its bare, sculptural branches typically come alive in February with charming clusters of red, pink, apricot or white flowering buds. This year, mine also bloomed through most of the winter.

Native to China and Japan, Texas scarlet quince typically reaches 5 feet to 8 feet, and offers endless opportunities for creative pruning to showcase its stark and leafless splendor. Its blooming branches make dramatic indoor arrangements as well.

Combining the bright and colorful pop of the Texas scarlet quince with contrasting yellow daffodil and grape muscari bulbs creates a vivid vignette that boldly signals spring’s arrival.

Unique among daffodils, one of my favorites is the miniature tête-à-tête, which stands only 6 inches to 8 inches tall. It grows in dense clumps with upright stems that can handle the often-windy spring Hill Country weather.

A perky and prolific bloomer, it puts out two to three lemon-yellow flowers per stalk at once. These bulbs return happily year after year and require less dividing than most other daffodils. Tête-à-tête is perfect for planting along borders or in the foreground of other spring-bloomers.

Tiny muscari, also commonly known as grape hyacinths, pack a powerful punch of color and scent. At only 4 inches to 8 inches high, muscari’s bunching blooms look like miniature grapes and evoke childhood memories of summer days spent sipping grape Kool-Aid. Having them in the garden at the same time as our native Texas mountain laurels is a scented twofer. They grow happily in both sun and light shade, but give them plenty of room, as they can spread quickly to fill beds. Very winter hardy, muscari should be planted in fall in an area with good drainage.

Our winters here in Central Texas aren’t cold enough for some bulbs, but daffodils and muscari are both suitable for planting here and deer typically leave them alone.

After they’ve bloomed, don’t forget to let the strappy foliage of the daffodil and muscari bulbs die back completely. This allows the energy from photosynthesis in the leaves to go back into revitalizing the bulbs for next year’s growth. This food is then stored in the white fleshy part of the bulb for next spring.

You can buy a flowering quince now and let it get a good start before the heat of summer arrives. You might even find a blooming one at a nursery right now. The time to plant daffodil and muscari bulbs in Central Texas is in the fall, sometime around Thanksgiving or later. So, make your list now and add bulbs into your garden in the fall for a brilliant burst of color next spring.



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