Planting Bulbs: The Highs and Lows of a Cutting Garden



Ranunculi in the garden.

I’m still planting bulbs in my cutting garden; this project started about a month ago and I keep discovering more and more bulbs I want to try.  I love planting bulbs—there is such joy in anticipating those first glimpses of green sprouting up from the soil. There’s a funky little area in our backyard that I designated as my cutting garden nine years ago. It’s bordered with a box hedge and is home to a little birdbath too. I had fantasies of running outside, barefoot, and quickly snipping tulips, daffodils and dahlias to make beautiful bouquets for the house.


In the spring and summer my barefoot dreams come true. In the colder months, however, this space becomes high maintenance and looks hideous. I try to counteract the lack of flowering bulbs in the fall and winter months with a planting of lizianthuses, anemones and chocolate cosmoses, but to just plug in plants, only to cut them off, is a lot to keep up and seems a little ridiculous, right? … right? This year I decided not to over plant this area and just wait for the bulbs in the spring to bloom—bad idea. Because right now it’s just flat out ugly, I don’t have any flowers to cut, and, if that weren’t enough, the raccoons attacked the lawn bordering the flowerbed, clawing it all to shreds. Wonderful.


It’s months like these that I’m tempted to rip the whole thing out and add a low maintenance beauty like a succulent garden instead, but then my toes twitch in my UGG boots and I remember the promise of tulips and daffodils. So, I remain the optimist, or maybe I’m just so stubborn that I’ve committed myself to winning the cutting garden winter battle. I’ve listed below what we planted this past month and with some tender, passive-aggressive love and care, we’ll see what greets me this spring.

35 white blooming double freesias

20 narcissuses (narcissi, if you prefer) “Replete”

20 narcissuses “Calgary”

20 narcissuses “Galilea”

Then in early to mid-December we’ll add:

15 tulips “Mount Tacoma”

24 parrot tulips

10 tulips “Maureen”

I’m also adding ranunculuses (try saying that after a gin cocktail) in all sorts of colors.


Last year's daffodils.


Spring ranunculi.


Summer dahlias.