Category Archives: bulbs

Top 5 Deer Resistant, Early Spring Bulbs

The deer in our neighborhood of Victoria (the Mt. Tolmie black-tailed deer) have shown no interest in these blooms.

An added bonus is that all 5 picks have proven themselves drought tolerant through our long dry summers (even 100 days without rain).

1- Snowdrops (Galanthus) bloom as early as December, but are more common in January.

galanthus bus stop snowdrops in January, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 6-9 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone 3

special notes
– Divide snowdrops during their bloom instead of after the leaves die back.
– see also
Snowdrops – January Gems
Embarrassment of Riches
Snowdrop Meadow

2- Cyclamen coum present foliage in September, and often bloom from December through March.

hardy cyclamen coum, C. coum garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 4 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Part Shade
  • zone 5

special notes
– The autumn-blooming Cyclamen hederifolium is a bully that will out-compete C.coum (and most other hardy cyclamen).  I avoid planting the two in the same bed.
Ants are purported to spread the seeds.  In our natural park areas, cyclamen are unwelcome.  I can think of several other foreigners that would make my list long before Cyclamen.
– see also
Joy In The New Year
Winter Magic
Cyclamen Coum – February Romance

3- Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata) is another exotic looking surprise in the February garden.

iris reticulata, reticulated iris, dwarf iris garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • 4-6 inches high
  • naturalizing … or at least catalogs claim this.  Our old neighbor Don Smart said his spread like crazy, but mine hasn’t taken off
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone  5

special notes
– catalogs also claim these are fragrant.  Perhaps this is the reason the deer ignore them even when there is so little else growing
– see also
Flower Count – Day 4 – Iris
10 February Faves

4- Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) the blooms appear in January & February, just before leafs join the show.

winter aconite, eranthis in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  •  4-6 inches high
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun – Part Shade
  • zone: 3

special notes
–  The only way to divide these beauties is during their growing season.  The corms look like tiny clumps of dirt, so they’re impossible to find during dormancy. Sometimes I’ve shifted them unknowingly while moving something else.
– see also
Flower Count – Day 1 – Eranthis
Deer Proof

5- Crocus & Snow Crocus appear in lawns and borders during moments of February sunshine.

crocus cluster gardem Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  •  4-6 inches high (depending on cultivar)
  • naturalizing
  • Full Sun
  • zone:4 (a few are zone 3)

special notes
–  Snow Crocus top out at 4 inches high, so are great for naturalizing in lawns. Regular crocus are just a touch taller – – they don’t survive when the first mower cuts the grass, so they’re safer in beds.
– All of the Crocus in our yard are proven drought tolerant.
– see also
Flower Count – Day 5 – Crocus
Dandelion Dilemma
Meadow Blooms – Crocus

And yeah, I know, all of these super-early gems are called spring flowers even though, in this mild climate, they bloom before the spring equinox. Don’tcha just LOVE the promise of spring?

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Winter Magic

Life is magic.  Two days after the heavy winter storm, life proves itself.

winter aconite, eranthis in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

And magic begins.

The snow has melted!  In just 2 days?  Even here on the coast, that seems crazy-fast.

I tentatively wander through the yard assessing the damage.

snowdrops galanthus primula wanda after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

My muscles certainly remember shoveling sidewalks & shaking shrubs.  But the winter blooms?  They’re like children in a hospital ward.  Perhaps a little bent & broken, but mostly they’re just happy to be alive and enjoying the sunshine.

snowdrops and primula after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The yellow cups of the winter aconite (Eranthis) don’t seem to have noticed they’ve survived 33 cm of snowfall since they showed themselves in January.   (That’s more than 12 inches – a full foot – – radical for balmy Victoria  BC!)

cyclamen coum in early February garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The snowdrops (Galanthus) have also held up well.

The Primula Wanda leaves are super-sad, but who can’t smile at those tough purple flowers?

I hadn’t even noticed the crocus buds before the snow.  How did they arrive so quickly?

snowdrops galanthus after the big snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The Cyclamen coum unfurl their petals as the sun warms them.  More blooms are on their way, too!  Soon they’ll be a mound of pink.

I’ve just gotta smile.

🙂

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A Place for Crocosmia

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Many members of the garden club weren’t surprised that I’d planted Crocosmia.  It’s a pretty, summer flowering corm that hummingbirds flock to.

But those same folks seem absolutely aghast that I’d planted so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It all started with an empty garden, and a ‘free‘ load of soil.

We built large berms & planted shrubs in hopes of one day having lush borders.  Before much else even had a chance to grow, Crocosmia was popping up everywhere.

crocosmia Lucifer garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

What a delight!  The novice gardener in me was thrilled with the free plants.  I recognized the strappy leaves, and the cascading flowers from other gardens.  I admired them.

I thought the plants were wonderfully tenacious to recover from being buried 2-3 feet down.  They valiantly sent sprouts up toward the light, then as they grew leaves, they developed a new corm just under the soil.   Clever, eh?

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I was told that Crocosmia was a ‘persistent’ grower, but I figured I could handle it.  For several years the waves of Crocosmia  crowded out weeds & gave me time to concentrate on other parts of the yard.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’m still pleased with growing so much Crocosmia.

crocosmia montbretia garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • It’s disappointing that deer eat the blooms, but a good deer repellent takes care of that.
  • It’s disappointing that Crocosmia isn’t as drought tolerant as hoped, but I’ve found that Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) replaces it well (after strenuous digging &  meticulous removal).

Although I’ve swapped out some patches, many remain.  I like that their leaves start to show in March… and hold out through  most of December

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I’ve even welcomed another variety into the yard.

Crocosmia Lucifer is an architectural statement.  It’s easy to see how the flaming red flowers inspired the dramatic name.

Crocosmia Lucifer (montbretia) July garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The smaller, old fashioned Crocosmia, aka Montbretia, might not be as popular as it was a few decades ago, but I’d bet most members of the garden club keep a place for ‘Lucifer”.

It’s unlikely there’s room for more than a patch or two of these beasts in our yard.  Even one patch makes an impact.  I reckon it won’t be swapped out for anything else any time soon.

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