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Succession with Bulbs Returns: Gypsies and Early Sensations


I’d actually intended that this combination planter would be tulip ‘Gypsy Love’ with crocus ‘Gypsy Girl’. But as life would have it, the ‘Gypsy Love’ tulips had either died out some time ago or, in a night of passion, thrown their label into an entirely different pot. Instead, I’d planted the hyacinth ‘Gypsy Queen’   These are some of the problems a literary-minded gardener faces.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have planted a crocus with a hyacinth: the bloom times are just too close. Fortunately, ‘Gypsy Queen’ is always the latest of my hyacinths to bloom, so I may just squeak by with this combination.


Meanwhile, over in the ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ pot,  the mix with Ornithogalum nutans ‘Silver Bells’ is working out more the way I’d imagined. Little tufts of ornithogalum (I’d thought they were crocus before I looked at the label; I haven’t grown ornithogalum before) have popped up amid the sturdy stems and leaves of Rijnveld.


Up on top, it looks like this:


 As usual, bloom time has not been the only consideration in making these combinations (well, in making one and having one made for me). Plant height is something that needs to be kept in mind, and I’m still experimenting with that one.  It’s easy to see that the hyacinths will have no trouble rising above the little crocuses, but I’m not sure if the ornithogalum will suffer from the shade of looming daffodils. Time will tell.

Another consideration is the requirements of the bulbs you’re planting together. All of these bulbs come from the Mediterranean, where they have the same rainless summers we do here. So I plant them in containers that get no water in summer; after the bulbs die, I drag the containers out back where the foliage can die in peace, and leave them, except for fertilizing and transplanting, until next spring.

Planting two kinds of bulbs in one container not only saves me buying more containers; it also means I don’t have to drag containers to the back until I get the second show. (I can move them off the porch, though, to give room to something more spectacular, until the second flush of flowers presents itself.  Then I shuffle the pots around again.) When the hyacinth and ornithogalum bloom,  I’ll be taking pictures of them in with their defunct buddies. So far, these are two combinations that seem to be working – even if one of them is an accident.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Frances March 20, 2009, 3:25 pm

    Hi Pomona, what a great title. I am glad to hear about the Gypsy Girl hyacinths being later than other too. I thought mine were somehow demented. I planted hyacinths and crocus in a large pot last fall and am noticing the blooms are together. Throw in some violas and it is a bit of a mess. If they do end up all opening together, it will be a wonderful mess though. I like to plant the bulbs out in the garden after they are finished blooming to use the pots for summer fun. Next fall it will start all over again with bulbs. I will remember your silver bells experience though. :-) Thanks for the link love whenever it appears.

  • cyd March 20, 2009, 5:56 pm

    Hi Pomona, beautiful photos as usual. What is the emerging bulb in the 3rd photo? Have you tried the deer repelent, or have they left you alone? Thanks, Cyd

  • Northern Shade March 21, 2009, 7:35 am

    The music from Carmen was playing in my head as I read your post. It was easy to imagine the jealous intrigue between the bulbs.
    It’s tricky getting the bloom sequence with bulbs, since their flowering time is relatively short, but what beauty when they appear. Your system with sharing the pots sounds like a good way to maximize the space, and porch blooms.
    The golden ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ looks lovely in the dappled light. Every spring, I wish that I had planted even more of the earliest flowering plants.

  • kerri March 23, 2009, 4:23 am

    Hi Pomona,
    You’ve inspired me to put a few bulb combos in pots next fall. Your crocuses are beautiful with their bright cheery petals and don’t seem to mind keeping company with ‘Gypsy Queen’ :)
    I found a Star of Bethlehem growing in my garden last year and had to do some research to ID it. I think it snuck in with plants given to me by a friend. Pretty little thing but apparently invasive, according to my friend. I’ll see what it does this year before I get rough with it.
    I can’t wait to see my spring bulbs. Nothing is flowering yet, other than the dear little snowdrops, which are braving the cold.
    Happy spring on this very chilly morning!

  • Pomona Belvedere March 23, 2009, 1:39 pm

    Yep, that emerging bulb in the third photo is Ornithogalum nutans ‘Silver Bells’ which apparently is a little different from Ornithogalum (don’t know the varietal name offhand) ‘Star of Bethlehem’ . I had heard that Star of Bethlehem spreads, but didn’t see the same warnings about ‘Silver Bells’. They’re safely in a pot, so it’s not a huge issue, but I’ll keep an eye on them…

    Having said my Gypsy Queen hyacinths bloom latest, they fooled me by coming out earlier than I expected this year. Definitely after the earliest ‘L’Innocence’ hyacinth, but not as long after as usual. Some of my tulips are blooming in odd sequence this year, too.

    Glad to hear my combinations are inspiring to others. I think we all get a lot of satisfaction out of putting plants together and seeing what happens, and there are so many combinations to try, it’s lucky we have plenty of blogs to display them all!

  • Pomona Belvedere March 23, 2009, 1:42 pm

    Oh sorry Cyd, I neglected to mention that I spray the foliar deer deterrent on everything at intervals, just as part of my garden upkeep (read: if I don’t, I won’t have a garden to upkeep). This pot is also on my porch close to my door while it blooms; deer seem not to venture quite as far as the porch in their food search.

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