We welcome the first signs of bulbs in spring. After a long cold winter, they are a sight for sore eyes and provide the first splashes of color to brighten up the landscape after a gray and white winter. Daffodils, tulips, alliums, and more are all easy to grow and take the harsher climate of Chicago’s early spring in stride.
These are some of the very first flowers to bloom in spring. While we often associate daffodils with the classic school-bus yellow flower that you see available in grocery stores, they are actually an amazingly diverse group of bulbs. Besides varying shades of yellow, some have peach, salmon, white, and apricot-colored blooms. Each stem might have one large trumpet bloom or lots of miniature ones. On top of that, they’re also deer and rabbit-proof. You can count on daffodils to put on a show year after year. What else could you want out of a wonderful spring-flowering bulb! Here are some of our favorite varieties.
Barrett Browning: White outer petals surround tangerine throats. A touch of yellow radiates out from the center which gives the flowers a glowing quality. Barrett is a small-cupped variety growing 14-16” and will bloom early through mid-spring.
Salome: Creamy outer petals on this long-stemmed flower surround a peachy, funnel-shaped throat with a touch of yellow at the base. These beauties grow up to 16” and bloom mid-spring.
Yellow Cheerfulness: This variety has an unusual shaped flower. Rather than a cup, these blooms have a beautiful double ruffled center. This cheerful bloom has multiple buttercream blossoms on tall stems (16”+). They are highly scented and will grace your garden in mid-late spring.
Some tulips are fringed, some are pointed, and others are so ruffled that the flowers can be mistaken for peonies. On top of that, they make a wonderful cut flower that can be enjoyed in your home as well as in the garden. You’re probably more familiar with hybrid tulips, but there are also species tulips that, in recent years, have become more widely available to gardeners. While hybrid tulips put on an amazing show the first season, they are not our most reliable repeat bloomer year after year. Species tulips, on the other hand, are more perennial and can even naturalize and spread under the right conditions. While we currently are only offering one variety of species tulip, we hope to expand our selection in the coming years. Here’s more about that, and two of our tulip favorites.
Clusiana Peppermint Stick: A new offering this year, Clusiana Peppermint Stick is a species tulip that might be small in stature, only growing to an 8” height, but provides a beautiful and long lasting show early through mid-spring! Elongated pink and white petals will close at night, but will completely open on a sunny day forming a perfect star-shaped bloom.
Triumph Mix: A beautiful selection of medium height mid-season blooming tulips with one of the widest ranges of colors that we offer. Enjoy the colorful show in the garden or pick a bouquet to share with a friend.
Angelique: This late bloomer is a showstopper. Large and long-lasting flowers that resemble peonies. One of our most popular blooms, its pink flowers fade into creamy-pink edges. Order them early as these beauties sell out fast!
Starting the show for the season, Scilla and Winter Aconite are two of our favorite minor bulbs. Naturalizing quickly, you’ll often see scilla in large swaths of brilliant blue blooms. Pair scilla in beds with the dainty yellow buttercups of Winter Aconite for a colorful and early spring display. These, like other minor bulbs, are critter-resistant too.
At the opposite end of the spring season, we have Alliums. They might test our patience, but their display is worth the wait. After the rest of the bulbs have faded, these provide continuing color and are a great companion to plant with existing perennials. Mount Everest is a new variety that we’re offering this year. Their puffy, round, white flower heads create a soft and whimsical appearance and look great when planted in large groupings. Alliums are also disliked by deer and rabbits.
While it might feel like spring in Chicago has only just arrived, we hope this compilation gives you something to look forward to and provides some inspiration for your own backyard. Spring is an ideal time to make note of varieties you see blooming, take pictures and plan ahead for what you want to add to your garden for next year. Our crews install bulbs later in the fall. Order ahead for the best selection!