It might seem strange to say this in July, but you should be thinking about your spring garden. It’s true that you could wait until next March then bop on over to the nursery and see what they have, but wouldn’t you rather choose your own favorites instead of what the nursery manager ordered? If you’re getting more serious about a beautiful garden, you’ll want more interesting varieties and for those you need to plan ahead. Local nurseries will order the best-selling bulbs and seeds, but if you want to make your own choices you have to order in advance. July and August are last call for the best varieties. As a farmer-florist, I plan early and get my orders in before the best things are gone. Here’s what we’ll be growing for next spring.
Daffodils and heirloom narcissus
These start in late January. Brackenhurst is first, it’s brilliant yellow and orange. Then Golden Salome, Avalon, Pippit, Thalia and Minnow, which is the cuter than kittens. Order bulbs early – Colorblends is a great source.
These appear by Valentine’s Day, and with that in mind I ordered Meron Red and Jerusalem Red-White. Jerusalem Blue-White is beautiful, but I didn’t order it this year. I know I’ll get a few returning in a spot where I planted them last year. Anemones and ranunculus come back sporadically for a few years.
With Valentine’s Day in mind I ordered some pink, white and red varieties (now that I’m a farmer/florist as opposed to a home gardener, I’ve learned the importance of February 14!). For February, we’ll grow Columbus, Design Impression and Mondial. For later in the season we’ll have the orange blend Amazing Parrot and the double tulips Orca and Angelique.
These are probably the best thing we grow all year if you judge by beauty, vase life and flower production per plant. The only bad thing you can say about ranuncs is that they have no fragrance. For 2022 we’ll have Porcelaine and Chamallow (both delicate pink blends), LaBelle Gold (a brilliant gold-yellow) and a limited mix of red and white LaBelles.
I love this stuff – easy to grow by direct seeding and wonderfully fragrant. It reminds me of my childhood in Phoenix, Arizona, where there used to be big flower fields of stock, blooming together and perfuming the air. That was back when Phoenix was much smaller – those fields have long since been swallowed up by subdivisions. The varieties I’ll plant are Buttercream, Malmaison Pink, Avalanche, Apricot and Vintage Brown (which is actually a dusty rose color). I buy seeds at Johnny’s and Floret.
Spring flowering annuals such as sweet peas can be reserved early too. You may not plant them until Thanksgiving, but seed for many varieties will be gone by then. This year I’ll grow my old favorite Spencer varieties that will bloom in April, but I’ll also try some Winter Elegance types that may bloom by late January. In case you want to know, the most fragrant sweet pea ever is called April In Paris, and I grow it every year. My other picks for 2022 are Restormel, Charlie’s Angel, Mollie Rilestone and Dynasty. Seeds for these are available from Floret and Sweet Pea Gardens.
Top row, tulips from Colorblends, including lily-flowered blooms in their 'Merry Go Round' mix and parrot tulips in their Parrot Blend.
Middle row, l to r: daffodil mix, Agrostemma and Nigella, sweet peas
Bottom row, l to r: Ranunculus and sweet peas, ranuculus 'Porcelaine'