This because Master Gardener Sherry Wilson was intensely informative, oftentimes amusing, and full of stories about the ups and downs of getting plants to bloom during her talk “Daffodils and Daylilies: Combining Perennials with Bulbs for Long-Season Bloom.”
Sherry has been an avid grower for 45 years, and, for 30 of them, she penned the gardening and home column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and Amherst Bulletin. She said her passion began while she was living in Washington, D.C., regularly driving along the Rock Creek Parkway, which in spring was lined with masses of striking yellow daffodils in bloom.
After moving to Amherst, Massachusetts, Sherry moved into an 1871 farmhouse and started a garden from scratch, and she began it with 100 daffodils in 30 varieties. She expected her yard to then look as stunning as the parkway, but alas, it did not; building a garden takes time—as well as patience with such things as woodchucks and slugs, and Sherry had some advice about those creatures as well.
In addition to recommending a day trip to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston in the next few weeks to see the assortment of 25,000 bulbs in bloom, Sherry also offered the following advice:
- Buy your spring-flowering bulbs, which are planted in fall, as soon as they are available in September to get the best selection and most unusual bulbs.
- Plant smaller bulbs, such as crocus, iris reticulata, glory-of-the-snow and ipheion, in clusters of 10, 25 or 50; plant larger bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, in clusters of a minimum of five. Plant the smaller bulbs in October; daffodils and tulips in November.
- Never cut the foliage of your bulbs until it yellows as doing so will discourage future blooms. Crocus foliage tends to disappear quickly. Daffodils will take two months to die. Plan ahead to include new emerging plants close by, such as peonies or daylilies, to mask the dying foliage. Other companion plants include primrose, forget-me-nots, iris and hostas.
- Fertilize in fall but also in spring when foliage emerges using a product such as Bulb Booster or Bulb-tone. It’s fine to fertilize even when your bulbs are in bloom as you are fertilizing next year’s flowers.
- Use something like tongue depressors to mark your bulbs’ locations, so when the foliage is gone, you’ll remember where the plants were and what color they are.
- Consider the conditions of your yard—sun or shade, moist or dry—when choosing plants. And plant in groups. Also make sure you don’t encroach on your bulbs.
- Gladiolus are spring-planting bulbs that make great cut flowers but aren’t a favorite garden addition of Sherry’s. Other spring-flowering plants include cannas, very large plants with large reddish foliage, and callas.
- In addition to local stores such as Andrew’s Greenhouse in Amherst, Sherry recommended catalogs and White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut, for buying new plants.
- Call the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association with your questions.
Next month’s Glenmeadow Learning program will be offered May 20 at 2 p.m. in partnership with the Springfield Museums Planetarium. During “Astronomical Appeal: The Splendors of the Spring Sky at Night,” participants will have a tour of the museum’s Seymour Planetarium and hear about identifying celestial objects, planets and constellations in the springtime sky.