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A Few Bulbous Plants

No garden should be without a bed of bulbs. Beginning so early in the season,—weeks and weeks before the blooming period of the earliest annuals,—their brilliant and beautiful flowers are enjoyed more than those of summer.

— E. B. Rexford

Nothing can exceed the brilliancy and variety of color displayed by their flowers, and nothing can be more simple than their culture.

— Mrs. Loudon

Along with the herbaceous perennials naturally come the hardy and half-hardy bulbous plants. They have in general the same requirements and the same capabilities as the herbaceous perennials. Many of them will live untended in the open border quite without protection, and thrive and blossom year after year. Some require winter protection, but all of those named here will last without replanting for several or many years.

It is to be noted that few or none of these plants are desirable for their foliage. They are all grown for the brilliancy of their blossoms. This requires that they be judiciously set to show against shrubs or such other foliage-covered plants as shall give them a suitable background. This is seldom taken into consideration. Lilies, gladioli and irises are almost always planted by themselves. They are left without support. They look lost and out of place. Anyone can see, as soon as it is mentioned, how much better they would look comfortably grouped with other plants.

The following list includes the best bulbous plants, with a few which do not grow from the bulbs, but which, in view of the Use we make of them, may be best understood just here.

CROCUSES.—Almost the first flowers of spring, and always welcome for their earliness and freshness. Where shrubs and herbaceous plants are grown in an open border, crocuses may be thickly planted in narrow rows along the extreme edge next the grass. One of the most satisfactory ways to grow crocuses is to scatter them thickly in the grass, where they will usually come up every spring without further care.

DAHLIA.—The dahlia is enjoying just now a well-deserved renewal of public favor. Many fine new varieties are being offered by the dealers, and great satisfaction is to be got out of their culture. The cactus varieties are the most informal and appeal more strongly than the older types to most tastes; but the single varieties and the smaller pompons, as well as the mammoth blossoms of the most regular outlines, have all their various agreeable expressions.

ERYTHRONIUM, Dog's-Tooth violet.—These little early flowering plants are very delicate and beautiful. There are several fine species and varieties, nearly all of which are hardy.

GLADIOLUS.—The gladiolus is one of the most striking and effective flowers in the garden when nicely grouped with other plants. When put by itself and with no company but an unpainted stick, it is one of the most awkward and ungainly sights on the lawn. The gladioli are especially useful for grouping in small masses among shrubs. There are hundreds of fine varieties, in many colors, but yellows and reds are best, especially reds. The bright reds and carmines seem to be the best suited to the character of the plants.

IRIS.—There are some fine, hardy, native irises, and a great many hardy and tender species of great beauty from all over the world which may be grown with a little care. Among the best are I. Susiana and I. Siberica. The many varieties of German iris are all desirable and the Japan irises, I. Kæmpferi, are among the most gorgeous flowers ever seen in temperate climates.

LILY.—The noblest of flowering plants. Lilies should be scattered liberally in every flower border. They harmonize well with shrubs and herbaceous perennials, and the annuals may be mixed with them to great advantage. The following are a few of the best species for garden culture: L. auratum, Gold-banded Japan lily, one of the most popular and magnificent; flowers very large, white, banded with gold and spotted with red; requires replanting from time to time. L. bulbiferum, a moderate sized European species; flowers red. L. Browni, one of the finest, bears three to four flowers, seven to eight inches long, chocolate brown outside, pure white within. L. Canadense, the common meadow lily, hardy, abundant bloomer, useful, in several shades of red and yellow. L. elegans, a very showy species, with large flowers in several shades of red and orange. L. elegans fulgens (Batemanniæ) is especially showy and fine. L. Grayi, a fine, delicate, native species, small flowers. red. L. puberulum (Humboldti), very strong and handsome, bears large orange-red flowers. L. Henryi, a new and rare species, but one of the most magnificent; should be planted by everyone who can afford it; flowers large, orange. L. Japonicum Krameri, large flowers of a very delicate pink tint, quite unique. L. longiflorum, a fine, large, white lily. L. candidum, the common white lily, nearly hardy, a free bloomer and very attractive. L. pardalinum, flowers orange, with lighter center, a good sort. L. superbum, a strong native species, bearing large numbers of red or orange blossoms. L. speciosum, one of the very best, especially the variety rubrum. L. tenuifolium, the Coral lily; somewhat dwarf, with many brilliant, coral-red blossoms; very desirable. L. tigrinum, the well-known tiger lily; good. Most of these are better if covered in winter with a mulch.

NARCISSUS.—This genus includes several plants of great usefulness in the hardy garden. The trumpet narcissi, often called daffodils, are especially fine, either in the general border or naturalized in the grass. Some of the best sorts for outdoor culture are Horsfieldi, Emperor, Empress, Bulbocodium, Poet narcissus, Trumpet Major and Incomparabilis. Narcissi can best be transplanted in June and July.

TUBEROSES may be planted in the flower garden or border with considerable satisfaction. They should be set in fall and covered with a mulch.

TULIPS make fine displays in early spring, and for a week the open bed in mid-lawn is almost bearable, so that we forget the manure heap which has been there all winter and the inharmoniousness of the plan in general. But tulips may also be scattered in the border with other plants, or even set into the turf. There are many magnificent species and varieties listed and described in all catalogs.

YUCCA.—Nurserymen usually classify the yuccas with the bulbous plants, and perhaps they are as much at home here as anywhere. They must be used with caution, but in surroundings somewhat picturesque they may be introduced with fine effect. Yucca filamentosa is the species most generally used, but Y. angustifolia is also desirable.


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