Puttin’ on a show with summer bulbs

Well, you know how much I love spring-blooming bulbs right? My front garden is a kaleidoscope come Easter.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'

A few years ago, I also discovered I have a penchant for summer bulbs. After I had such good luck with ‘Atomic’  and Byzantine glads and G. callianthus, Abyssinian glads, I can no longer see my garden without summer bulbs. The bright red of ‘Atomic’ a/k/a  ‘Atom’ glads or ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlias really make a summer border. I don’t try to grow the dinner plate dahlias anymore. Our heat makes them not want to bloom, and the insects make a light lunch of them. However, the smaller, more branching dahlias perform very well here. I found the gorgeous red ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ dahlias along with the yellow w/chocolate button-eyed ‘Lolo’ and pink and orange ‘Pablo’ at my local nursery. You can also find many of these diverse summer bulbs at Old House Gardens or Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Both have a good selection of summer favorites.

Gladiolus 'Atomic' Hemerocallis 'Mauna Loa'

I like the shorter glads because they don’t need as much propping up as the taller ones in our wind. I’m also trying lilies again because I miss the trumpet shapes once the daylilies are through at the end of June. Oriental lilies and Orienpets usually bloom here in July. I chose ‘Black Beauty’ last year, and this summer I’m trying Lilium ‘Casa Blanca,’ a white. I’ll let you know how they do later in the summer. Note that although many sources will tell you lilies are easy to grow, but I find they are not that easy or reliable here. Our heat makes for a first-year show, but they often dwindle in years thereafter. Still, nothing smells like a true lily. I hope the ‘Black Beauty’ lilies return. It was such a hard summer I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t.

'Black Beauty' lilies from last summer.

Asiatic lilies, Lilium asiatic, on the other hand, which bloom earlier, I find easy to grow. Too bad I don’t like their foliage. Remember, daylilies aren’t true lilies at all, they are just called such because of their flowers’ trumpet shape. They are instead, Hemerocallis.

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, 'Antique Montbretia' with a Griffith Buck rose in front 'April Moon' (not blooming), coleus and red 'Ruby Throat' daylilies in back.

These are some of the new summer bulbs I’m trying this summer, along with crinum, crocosmia, calla lilies, cannas, caladiums, Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ and Colocasia (elephant ears). Interesting that so many summer bulbs have names which start with the letter “C.”

I’d also like to try Hedychium, a/k/a butterfly ginger. I wonder how it would perform in hot, dry Oklahoma. Perhaps, I’ll see.

To bring a bit of mystery to the summer garden, try summer bulbs because not everyone grows them. You can be the first one on your block to try butterfly ginger. Perhaps, you’ll start a trend.