My Favorite Spring-Planted Bulbs

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Spring bulbs won't be shipping for a few months yet but smart gardeners know to get their orders placed ASAP or risk the disappointment of missing out on that coveted heirloom variety they are dying to try.

Here are some recommendations of things that I have grown and loved or things that are on my wishlist this season...



We are in dahlia heaven here and many of the world's finest varieties are grown right here in Oregon. Portland's Swan Island Dahlias is America's largest dahlia grower, selling over 350 varieties and their prices are great since you are buying straight from the source rather than a reseller. I'm really fond of the dark-foliage varieties as well as the collarettes (they have an orange and red one named for Winnie the Pooh!). Each year they introduce new hybrids. From their 2013 introductions I'm particularly excited about Ice Tea. I love the tidy shape and the nuanced shades of pink and salmon.

Dahlia Ice Tea from Swan Island Dahlias


Talk about bang for your buck--tropical flowers AND striking architectural foliage AND incredible single-season growth. Cannas are really easy and great for pots or in the ground. I dropped the ball on growing them the last few years but I really, really want to try this upright (and to 8'!), dark-foliage variety from Brian's Botanicals. Incredible, right?

Canna Intrigue from Brian's Botanicals


My first lily, the classic white Casablanca, has multiplied so much by my porch that it's becoming almost overwhelming to sit there when they are all in bloom. While I think the Oriental Lilies really are the most luscious, I wish I had more room for some of the statuesque Trumpet Lillies which always make me think of John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. 

Regale "Album" Trumpet Lily at K.Van Bourgondien

Elephant Ears

I can't live without the speckled lime and black Colocasia Mojito and I'm dying to try this new introduction from Brian's Botanicals Colocasia Red Eyed Gecko. Can you imagine the stunning high-contrast combinations you could create with burgundy and black and pink?!

Colocasia Red Eyed Gecko at Brian's Botanicals


Poor gladiolas, they are so out of style these days just like irises and yet so lovely and indispensable as cut flowers.  It was Old House Gardens that got me to see the light. I fell hard for their tropicalisimo Starface.

Gladioli Starface at Old House Gardens


I always regret not having these in my garden when they bloom in Portland in late Summer and hopefully this is the year I rectify that. They are just so graceful and pretty. I'm just starting to learn about the different varieties (including some doubles for those who like things blousy!). The variety Richard Ahrens looks particularly nice--it starts off pink and fades to white with a contrasting yellow center.

What are your favorite Spring-planted bulbs or what are you eying for this year? I would love to hear! 


  1. Nice selections!

  2. I'm kicking myself for not grabbing a few dahlias at the YGPS. They had many that are hard to find. Thanks for the I can still get them. They are spectacular in bouquets, as are glads. Your home and garden will be well dressed this year.

    1. I'm running out of sunny room or I would have been going nuts at the YGPS Swan Island booth!

  3. I can't wait to try the Hybridizer's Pink Daffodil Mixture at Along with their Dahlias and Tulips!


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