Fall frosts and fall bulbs

J.J. Strong
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We have had the first few frosts and again I noticed many gardeners took up their tomatoes, carrots and beetroot, yet it was a mild frost and we are again having many days of frost-free weather for continuous growing conditions.

A careful protection would have allowed their crops to keep growing.

Fall bulbs

It is time to seriously decide on your choice of fall bulbs for planting in the coming weeks. There are several methods for selecting such as whether they will bloom in the winter, early spring, late spring, early summer or midsummer. Also consider the height of the flowers, location, indoors, or outdoors, colours and shape of the blooms.  

Remember, in many categories the varieties range from a few to hundreds, and in the case of tulips, thousands, and daffodils, hundreds of thousands of named bulbs.

You will notice there are always a few boxes of daffodils, tulips and a few hyacinths of common varieties for sale in supermarkets and some stores. Other hardware stores and small local nurseries will have a slightly larger selection of bulbs.

A large selection of most commercial varieties will be found in large nurseries in St. John’s such as Holland Nurseries and Gaze Seed; O’Neil’s Gardenland in Spaniards Bay. Murray’s Garden Centre in  Portugal Cove.

For an even larger selection and for special varieties, try the various mail order companies of the large national and international suppliers.

The first to bloom outdoors are the snowdrops (Galanthus) and the crocuses. Next are the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips.  Later are the chinodoxia, fritillaria, eranthus and others. Last are the various varieties of alliums.

Snowdrops (galanthus)

These tiny bulbs, following their winter hibernation in the ground, push their flowers through to the surface early in the year, between pairs of leaves, and are truly the harbingers of spring. Quite often they are so early they are surrounded by snow.                                                      

Hundreds of years ago, the galanthus were taken from the Mediterranean regions, across Europe by the Romans, and are now naturalised in many areas of Europe and the world. They are members of the amaryllis family (amaryllidacae) and a close relative of the narcissus (daffodil).

Galathus in the wild is now an endangered species and today more than 95.5 per cent types of the bulb for sale come from commercial growers.

The Royal Horticultural Society listed 28 species and 77 varieties and Plantfinder lists more than 100 named varieties. Galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop) gets its Greek name from “gala,” which means milk,  “anthos,” which means flowerand “nivalis,” which is the word for snow.

Snowdrops will grow in sun or part shade. They like a moist but not waterlogged soil and will do well in most soils irrespective of the acidity.

They dislike recently manured ground. Plant the bulbs three inches (7.5 cm) deep and the same distance apart. They are suitable for the garden, rockery, beds, or naturalising in lawns. They will grow better and multiply if left undisturbed for a few years.   

The site and the weather, as well as the species characteristics, will affect the size and the flowering size.

J.J. Strong is a longtime member of the Newfoundland Horticultural Society.

Organizations: Garden Centre, Royal Horticultural Society, Newfoundland Horticultural Society

Geographic location: Europe, Spaniards Bay, Portugal Cove Mediterranean regions

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