lilac, red hot pokers, dutch iris, lupin Lupinus, with the ceanothus just about to come into bloom too, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest

Top 5 Deer Resistant, Late Spring Bulbs

The deer in our neighborhood of Victoria ( Mt. Tolmie’s black-tailed deer) have shown no interest in these spring blooming bulbs.

An added bonus is that picks # 1, 3 & 4 (and the bonus pick) have proven themselves drought tolerant through our long dry summers (even 100 days without rain).

1- Dutch Iris (Iris hollandica) starts to emerge from dormancy in early autumn.  It’s nice to see their green sprouts through winter.  The blooms fulfill the promise in May.

 Dutch Iris, Iris hollandica, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 22 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone 5

special notes
-Like Reticulated Iris, Dutch Iris is a bulb.  Other iris have rhizomes or regular-looking root systems.  So far, all that I’ve grown have been deer tolerant.

2- Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) joins the spring celebrations in April & May.

Leucojum, summer snowflake, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 14 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 5

special notes
-Leucojum is fairly new to me, but it’s delightful to find another spring flower the deer leave alone.  It reminds me of a snowdrop on steroids & blooms much later in the season.

3- Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii ) is a bulb I anticipate all spring.  It finally blooms in late May early June.

Great Camas, Camassia leichtlinii along Uplands Park path, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 36 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone  4

special notes
– Great Camas grow happily in full sun as well as along edges, so it suits my garden. Camassia quamash, the Common Camas, must have full sun.  It doesn’t survive in my beds & borders.
– see also

4- Yellow Onion (Allium Moly Luteum) bloom in June after most of the spring show is waning.

Allium Moly Luteum, golden garlic, yellow onion, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 10 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full sun – Part Shade
  • zone 3

special note
– Allium smell like an onion (so the deer leave them alone) but this is a decorative flower rather than one intended for the grill.
–  The most spectacular Allium are the giant purple balls, but they slowly disappeared from my beds. Moly Luteum  is steadfast, handles shade and drought, and grows easily in our garden — therefore it’s my fave.

5- Calla or Arum Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) appears around town as early as May, but the variety in our garden blooms in June.

Zantedeschia aethioica, calla or arum lily , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 36 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 8

special notes
–  This particular white Zantedeschia (not a true lily) is hardy to our area, but any of the colored varieties have never survived more than one winter outside in our garden.  Dad & Jane, in zone 3,  winter theirs inside the heated garage.
– Visually, I look at the underground part of the Zantedeschia, and it seems more rhizome-like than bulb-ish, BUT I’ve seen it classified as a bulb on some websites…  and it’s often sold at the same time as the spring-blooming bulbs… AND I like it… so it’s staying on this list.  🙂

Special Pick

 Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica & Hyacinthoides non-scripta) carpet gardens & parkland in May.

Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
Hyacinthoides hispanica – spanish blue bells garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 14 inches
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 4

special notes
-There is SO MUCH controversy about bluebells locally & in Europe.  They’re incredibly determined growers. Once in a garden it’s nearly impossible to be without them. (I once discarded a bunch in the compost & covered them with on 3 feet of garden waste – – they bloomed the next spring!)  I’ve heard claims that bluebells choke out our native Camas. I’ve also heard  warnings that the bluebell bulb contains toxins that kill off the competition — but I haven’t been able to verify that.  (Help me if you can.)
Either way, because Camas is a food source & bluebell isn’t I prefer Camas.
I have so many bluebells in my yard that my procedure is to enjoy the blooms until they show sign of wilt, then quickly pull flowers & foliage – – harsh, but that hasn’t reduced their abundance in any of the beds.
– aka: Scilla campanulataScilla hispanica and Endymion hispanicus.

To be honest, I’m almost exhausted after the spring bloom wraps up.  There’s so much excitement over the past few months.  Now instead of tending garden, my mind turns toward camping.  Fortunately, aside from tidying up after the ephemeral bulbs have died back, there’s little else to do with them – – except remember where they’re sleeping.  I don’t want to disturb them when I get the urge to planting something more.

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