Ideas in the Garden

I love bulbs and have literally thousands of daffodils, tulips, wood hyacinths, miniature irises and crocus.  The problem is what to do with all that real estate when the bulbs are done and the whole summer stretches in front of you.

Gardening books advise overplanting with something else, but in my experience, the bulbs are not willing to give up their space until June and, even if I had the patience to wait until then to plant, I run the risk of digging into them.

My solution is to put plants in pots.  For the area under my large oak, I have the pots in the small free spaces between the drifts of bulbs.  They cohabit well and I don’t have to move anything.

But in the other garden areas, the blank spaces are ugly.  Last year I found some little metal plant holders with feet only a couple of inches tall.  I could put them down over the dyeing bulb tops and put the pots on top.  In the fall, it was easy to tell which pots to move so the bulbs could come up next spring.

Wire holder on the left, plastic holder on the right

Sadly, this year I could not find anything like that in a price I was willing to pay.  What I did find was plastic paper plate holders.  They are not solid, but rather have a lattice structure in the center.  As you can see in the picture above, they clearly identify this pot as one that will need to be moved in the fall.  Not as classy as the metal holder, but they will do the job and there are now 6 of them placed around inside the garden spaces.

Another thing we discovered this spring was the eco friendly edging you see at the bottom of the picture above.  It is made out of recycled tires and has a flat flange that comes out in the front to keep it from tipping forward and allowing you to run your lawn mower wheel over it if you have grass beside the garden.

It replaces the wooden edging you see below.  This is what is left of hundreds of dollars worth of edging put in about 6 years ago.  It appeared to be treated and I expected that it would hold up for 10 years or more.

disintegrating_border    disintegrating_border2
Rotted remains of wooden garden edging

Instead, it began to rot by the end of the first season.  It became a magnet for termites and I sprayed repeatedly.  I reported the problem to both Home Depot and Lowe’s, both of whom still carry the product.  In my opinion, this is simply outrageous in an area like ours where termites are endemic.

The eco border is about the same price, comes in easy-to-handle sections and snaps together.  Spikes can be hammered into the ground to hold the sections in place.  Be sure there are no rocks where you will be hammering the spikes.  It makes gentle curves but not sharp turns.

Our winter was so mild the snap dragons lived through it and were blooming like crazy by the first of April.

This large pot needs to be lifted over the bricks to stay by the porch steps for the summer.  The potato vine is a favorite for pots as it trails down and has that bright chartreuse green.


This is just one of the six pots of Knock Out Roses that are arranged on the western drip line under the big oak.  They cast enough shadow to protect the hosta.  If they just had that wonderful rose smell, they would be perfect!


13 thoughts on “Ideas in the Garden

  1. I also fill in empty spaces with pots, but I never thought to put pots where the bulbs are (only daffodils and bearded irises in my small yard). Do you go ahead and cut off the tops, as soon as the bulbs quit blooming? I leave them there and then usually cut them off later in the summer or not at all. I read somewhere that it is best to keep the leaves there, but they are not very attractive, especially the daffodils. I like the idea of the pots to put more color in the flower beds.

    • Judy, no, I never cut off the greenery. While they are green, they are storing nutrients and making the bulb for next year. Once they get brown and icky, you can move them or just cover them with the pots. I never yank on them but when they are done, (which is right about now where I live) they will come up when you run your hands through them like hair. The really early bulb greens are already totally gone.

      • Thanks for the information. The irises stay green with only a few leaves turning brown, but I can put pots over the daffodils before long.

        • Ah, yes, irises are different. They will stay green all summer. My daughter has them along her house but I am not willing to give up that much space to something that blooms once and then is not so appealing all summer. She likes anything that doesn’t require care. Those were there when she moved in. I am sure they need dividing but she will never do it.

        • Judy, I realized that I referenced miniature iris in my own garden, which might be confusing when I turned around and said I didn’t have any. The miniatures are about 3″ tall, bloom in late February and the green part is more like a crocus and disappears by the time I can plant anything else. The big iris, that look like orchids, are actually not bulbs, but corms.

      • I have a friend who has a huge yard and collects irises, and she gave some to me one year when she was dividing them. They take up a lot of room in my small yard, but I have managed to scatter them enough to have some blooming plants around them all summer. I had forgotten that they are not bulbs. I did not know what miniature irises were, but I knew they must be different than mine if they turned brown. Thanks again for the information. I am really enjoying your blog.

        • I don’t remember where I got the mini irises although the first place I saw them was our local botanical garden. Lovely that you have space to plant others things between them. I can remember being fascinated by my mother’s iris – it was like the corms are fighting to get out of the ground! — glad you are enjoying. I really appreciate it when people take time to comment – makes me feel less like I am talking to myself.

  2. I have been wanting to plant bulbs and now I know what to do when they die back.


    Barbara in Texas

    • Of course, check what likes to grow where you are but I bet you can put in daffodils. And you won’t have to put them 6″ down, either, since that is a protection against frost heaving the soil. You won’t have that problem, will you? LOL

  3. Carol,

    I love all your posts on gardening and your gardens are beautiful. You should conduct tours of them. I rememeber all the pictures of your gardens you posted on Quilt U last summer. Are you planning to do that again ?

    I love having beautiful gardens, but the drawback to that is that I don’t particularly care for or have much time for working in the gardens. I have quite a few gardens but have mostly perennials that are quite close together so you can really tell the weeds from the flowers.

    I really don’t know where you find the time or energy to run Quilt U and do all your gardening. I’m hoping when I retire, which isn’t for 8 more years (Boo Hoo!) that I will have lots more time for both quilting and gardening. Maybe when I do have more time, I will enjoy gardening more. It’s not enjoyable when you only 30 – 60 minutes once a week.

    My one garden on the side of my driveway is so overgrown that I wince every time I come home from work and pull in my driveway, but I just haven’t had time to prune the bushes.. It’s a drag working full time.

    Pat Templer

    • When I worked away from home, I had things that took less work. I mulch a LOT as i make my own compost. Once I get set up in the spring, the most time consuming things are watering, which I do by hand in most parts of the yard, and deadheading things like the campion, which produce literally thousands of blooms.

      Plus, we have turned a lot more of the yard into garden in the last 10 years.

      I go out by 7:30 a.m. and work for a couple hours. Honestly, it rarely seems like that long, although today by back objected to the funny angle I must stand in to snip the flowers.

      Bush pruning is Roger’s job – that, and mowing the grass.

  4. (I have quite a few gardens but have mostly perennials that are quite close together so you can really tell the weeds from the flowers.)

    Whoops, meant to say in my previous email–in the line I have copied above–that you CAN’T really tell the weeds from the flowers. I should really proofread my posts. You would think being a secretary I would do that.

    • I wondered if you had magic flowers! Mine are also planted close together which can mean I don’t notice a weed until it starts blooming!

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