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Don’t Forget to Include Bulbs in your Rock Garden Landscaping Plan | Gaithersburg, MD

Dec 1, 2014 | Gardens, Lawns

For the most part, a rock garden landscaping plan includes perennial succulents, low-growing herbs and some drought-tolerant annuals such as portulaca and California poppy. However, there are a number of flowering bulbs that grow very well in the Washington, DC area and that are appropriate for growing in a rock garden.

Most of these flowering bulbs bloom during the spring. There are a few that flower during summer and fall that should be considered in order to round out the growing season.

Northern Virginia and Maryland experience fairly warm winters, but luckily, there are enough winter days during which the temperature falls below 32 so spring-flowering bulbs develop blooms. Some of the best choices for a rock garden include galanthus, species crocus some species tulips, miniature narcissus and grape hyacinths. Both galanthus and the species crocus burst into bloom when the last of the snow melts. At times, these very hardy flowers will bloom in the snow. Species tulips such as the Kaufmannia varieties open in April. Although the stem length of the species tulips tends to be very short (4″ to 6″), the flowers can be used for arranging as long as they are sunk into floral foam. The miniature narcissus share the stage with species tulips, and provide white and gold highlights to the tulips’ overwhelmingly red, pink and purple shades. Finally, grape hyacinths flower during mid-spring. The most familiar grape hyacinth is a blue-purple color, but there are other varieties that bloom in white, pink, pale blue and deep purple.

The rain lily, or Zephyranthes, is the next in line to bloom. These dainty flowers send up flowering stems just after a late summer rain. They are a member of the Amaryllis family, so each flower stalk contains one or two showy blooms in shades of pink or white. There are some hybridized Zephyranthes that come in vivid orange and yellow, but these may grow too tall to include in a rock garden. Rain lilies naturalize easily and are an excellent choice for a maintenance-free garden.

Finally, the autumn-flowering crocus provides visual interest and, for the patient person, a source of culinary saffron. This bright lavender crocus grows only 4″ tall and pops into bloom during autumn. Its tiny stamens contain threads of saffron, which is actually the pollen. The dedicated kitchen gardener will have to compete with the bees to harvest this delicacy.

It’s not too late to consider adding bulbs to an existing rock garden or to begin a miniature bulb rock garden. For some excellent rock garden landscaping plans that include flowering bulbs, contact us.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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