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Each flowering stem of this bulb produces eight to twelve flowers that open consecutively over a period of three to four weeks. The flowers are fragrant, white, and starry, and have a conspicuous red/maroon center. Its linear, sword-shaped, 2- to 3-foot-tall leaves resemble those of Gladiolus, but are more slender and graceful.
The purple or white pom-pom flowers of chives top aromatic stems in summer. The leaves are edible and have a mild onion flavor; the flowers can be used as garnishes. Plants grow in dense clumps to 2 feet high. Use chives in a cottage, herb, or vegetable garden, or in containers.
The drumstick allium has egg-shaped flowers in summer that start off green, then bloom and develop to pink and then clover red-purple. These plants are attractive in a bed or border, especially peeking up through other plants, such as roses, so that their nondescript foliage is hidden. Their vertical presence and eye-catching flower shape are valuable additions to the garden, and they naturalize freely.
Dutch crocus is one of the hardiest, if not the hardiest, crocus species readily available to home gardeners. A true harbinger of spring, it can be planted in borders, rock gardens, and even lawns. After flowering, the foliage must be left intact until it withers, which may cause lawn-mower anxiety in some gardeners. Often sold as "mixed crocus," cultivars of this species are typically white, lilac, or purple and white striped.
This species boasts maroon-speckled stems and green flowers with maroon margins. The flowers occur on thick, solitary stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
The giant snowdrop has larger flowers and broader leaves than the more common G. nivalis, but grows to the same 4 inches tall and wide. Its white, nodding blooms appear in late winter, signalling spring around the corner.
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs, and flowers in general, to bloom in spring. Galanthus nivalis is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to 4 inches tall and wide and flower in mid- to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. Flowers are nodding and white.
A native of South Africa, summer hyacinth sends up spikes of lovely white flowers in late summer amidst dark green, strap-like foliage, when many other perennials are done blooming. The tall spikes are fragrant and especially dramatic planted with darker foliage or flowers.
This bulb blooms in early summer with striking, sweetly-scented white and yellow flowers that appear on leafless stems up to 24 inches tall. Petals curve up to accent a daffodil-like cup, sometimes with green-striped tubes. Peruvian daffodil has long, strap-shaped, arching, dark green leaves.
Tall bearded iris tolerates dappled shade, but full sun promotes maximum flowering of deep red blooms. Spring or fall is the time to deadhead and cut the foliage back. This perennial makes a wonderful backdrop to spring bulbs. ‘Rip City’ is just one of hundreds of cultivars of tall bearded iris.
This beardless, crestless iris produces blooms in midspring that are the color of terra cotta. Quick growing, with long, swordlike foliage, this plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and works well in beds and borders.
One of the first plants to emerge, this 24-inch-tall bulb bears nodding white bells as early as mid-January. Blooms are faintly chocolate-scented; leaves are glossy, erect, and strap-shaped.
Often used by florists and for weddings, 'Casa Blanca' lily has large, pure white, scented flowers.
The first true double-flowering Oriental lily, this plant has delicate pinkish white blooms that open in July and August. They are as stunning in the mixed border as they are in the vase. Each bloom has 18 beautiful petals, making it unique among Oriental lilies.
Often used by florists, 'Star Gazer' lily has bright crimson flowers with purple spots and dark edges. These lilies grow to about 3 feet tall, so they generally don't need staking.
One of the oldest garden flowers, the madonna lily has bright green hosta-like basal rosettes appearing in winter and shallow-rooted bulbs that give it a distinctive appearance. In late spring, it thrusts up leafy torches topped with pristine scented blossoms in a raceme of 5 to 10 trumpet-shaped flowers.
From late August through early October, this lily bears eight or more 10-inch-long, deliciously scented, pristine-white trumpets (sometimes blushed pink on the outside) upon each stem. After the flowers fade, the stalks turn upward, opening elegantly as the seeds ripen and the pods dry to form a weather-resistant candelabra to adorn the winter garden or to use in dried arrangements
The brilliant blooms of these hybrid lilies boast the fragrance of Oriental lilies and the vitality and large size of trumpet lilies but with “hybrid vigor”—more strength and disease resistance and a higher tolerance of extreme cold as well as hot and humid conditions than their parents. Plants can reach a height of up to 8 feet and are covered with an abundance of blooms from July to mid-August, when many lilies have already faded. Scores of hybrids are available with varying blooming time, fragrance, form, and color, including 'Anastasia', 'Catherine the Great', 'Scheherazade', and the ever-popular 'Leslie Woodriff'.
Tazetta-type daffodils, including the paperwhites that can be forced into bloom indoors during the winter, are also fragrant. ‘Avalanche’ has a cluster of 10 to 20 tiny flowers, creating almost an entire bouquet on one stem. Its flowers, with white petals and pale-yellow cups, have a wonderful musky-sweet fragrance. Since it is hardy to Zone 6, it can be enjoyed in many gardens. It shows off even more when combined with plants like Tulipa ‘Pink Impression’, Ornithogalum balansae, and pansies.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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