Category Archives: bulbs

Perennial Hanging Basket

Early last year, I made 2 perennial hanging baskets to rescue licorice ferns. The voracious deer in our neighbourhood were browsing them into oblivion. I peeled the moss & ferns off our rocky outcrop & used them to line the wire baskets. Dangling just out of Bambi’s reach, the ferns are recovering nicely.

Now, my challenge is maintaining seasonal interest in the baskets.

iris reticulata, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter, I’m desperate for early colour. Because these new containers hang within view of my breakfast table, I look at them with hope. Planting several types of spring bulbs only makes sense.

perennial hanging basket in February snow garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Iris reticulata & snowdrops bloomed in early February, just a few months after planting. That got me excited about spring. Then a dump of snow insisted it was still winter.
Bummer. 😦
But the bulbs took it in stride & were still showing off their colours at the end of the month.

iris reticulata, galanthus, snowdrops, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This winter, the snowdrops returned, but sadly there was no sign of the tiny iris. On the bright side, comparing how much the licorice fern fronds grew through the 2 winters without browsing is nice.

snowdrops, galanthus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In mid-March of that first year, narcissus, creamy crocus & snowdrops decorated one of the baskets.

galanthus, snowdrops, crocus, narcissus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The narcissus carried the show well into April.

narcissus, galanthus, snowdrops, crocus, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I experimented with some native bulbs in the other basket, hoping to help out the native pollinators & beneficials. Northern Riceroot Fritillary bloomed simultaneously with annual sea blush as the grape hyacinths were finishing up. Through May, the blooms matured and set seed.

Northern Riceroot Fritillary, Fritillaria camschatcensis, northern rice-root, black lily; Kamchatka fritillary; northern riceroot, sea blush, spring bulbs bloom in licorice fern, perennial hanging basket, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

By June, the white stonecrop gave me hope for a summer show. The big challenge is finding drought-tolerant plants that survive while we’re away camping.

Sedum album hanging basket, white stonecrop, Oreosedum album , small house leek, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

As the bulb foliage died back, I planted a few Salvia seedlings for late summer & autumn interest. Fingers crossed that they’re more established for this year.

Isn’t that what makes gardening so fun? It’s all one experiment after another. 🙂

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West Saanich Snowdrop Meadow

A friend told me about this roadside delight last year but I wasn’t able to get out to see it.

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Today, I had the chance. We drove out of Victoria & wound our way along West Saanich Road. North of Brentwood Bay Village but south of the airport turnoff, we came upon it. 🙂 We had to pull over and marvel at the abundance. Even in the rain, these snowdrops made my day feel a little sunnier.

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Doesn’t it just make you wonder who planted the first bulbs in this patch? How long ago was that? It hasn’t been tended in a very long time, but I’m glad it survives.

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other snowdrop patches I admire:

Yellow Flowering Onion, Alium moly luteum

One of my favourite spring ephemerals is the lesser-known Yellow Flowering Onion. It’s native to southern Europe (Mediterranean), but it’s a tough little bulb that rates at zone 3. It also grows well here, in the Pacific Northwest.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The strappy leaves appear in spring. They look quite a bit like bluebell leaves but have a faint oniony odour if bruised. (Ditto for the bulb). Once the flower buds come out, it’s easy to see the difference.

Bluebells flower here in May and finish up before Golden Garlic blooms emerge in June.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Alium moly luteum blooms as an umbel of flowers at the top of the stem, similar to other onions. It typically reaches mid-calf rather than knee or thigh height of the large purple alliums.

At first, I figured the short Allium moly luteum was best at the front of the border. Unfortunately, the foliage dies back shortly after the bloom does. As it’s declining, the leaf is still feeding the bulb for next year’s flower production. It’s better to let that foliage fade naturally. But that looks pretty sad.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

These days, I’m shifting some bulbs further into the border & mixing with asters. The hope is the emerging aster foliage catches attention as the allium fades. If it works out, it’ll mean we get 2 seasons of bloom from relatively the same location.

Here are a few other reasons why Lily Leek is a keeper:

  • Our neighbourhood deer have never touched it. (I guess Bambi doesn’t want onion breath.)
  • The bulbs survive our incredibly arid summers & very wet winters.
  • It seems just as happy in dappled, dry shade as in full sun.
  • It’s basically NO maintenance, if situated somewhere that other plants distract from the onion’s fading foliage.
  • Allium moly luteum looks lovely blooming alongside red hot pokers, California lilac, foxglove & peony (other drought-tolerant & deer-reistant plants).
Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

With that much going for it, Golden Galic is assured of its space in our garden.

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Othe Allium on my Keeper list::