If the astonishing variety of spring-flowering bulbs makes it hard to decide which ones to plant, go with a mix. Pre-planned combinations offer a great way to get to know tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulbs. They’re designed to bloom together over a long season and to complement each other in the garden and in a vase. They’re sure to make even a first-time bulb gardener look good. It may take years to come up with successful combinations on your own: collections designed by experts take the guesswork out of bulb shopping, and they often represent a great value, too.
There’s no consensus on how many different bulbs it takes to make a good mix. The “Magic Hemisphere” combination only uses two tulips (‘Hemisphere’ and ‘Magic Lavender’), but ‘Hemisphere’ has elegant, multicolored blooms of white, pink, and a soft, feathery rose, which give the mix a subtle sophistication. The “Mardi Gras” blend includes purple and orange tulips and deep blue grape hyacinths, which add serene depth to the jaunty party colors of the tulips.
Some gardeners grow tulips as annual flowers, planting new bulbs every year, but many tulips are strong perennializers where conditions are right. The “Fire in the Sky” mix relies on the striking contrast between a vivid yellow tulip with bright red streaks and the deep blue grape hyacinth — and they’re both great bulbs that will come back and bloom reliably for years. A mix of Darwin hybrids is just as dependable: instead of replanting completely every year, you can simply build on your collection year after year.
A deft hand is often at work in pre-planned combinations. Classic Dutch tiles appear to have inspired the “Cool Blues” combination of white tulips and blue grape hyacinths. If white tulips aren’t dramatic enough to suit your spring fever, the “Red River” mix simply swaps out the white tulips for dazzling red blooms: traffic past your house will slow down noticeably.
Single-species spring-flowering bulb mixes demonstrate the great variety in the world of bulbs and give you chance to confidently plant colors and combinations you might not have thought to try on your own. A mix of daffodils will introduce you to colors and styles that go far beyond bold yellow trumpet-shaped flowers — and the combinations extend the bloom season considerably. A collection of hyacinths relies on the romance of pastel colors and the pleasure of fragrance that will rise to meet you along the garden path. These no-risk combinations make a gardener’s dreams of spring come true — in living color.