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Yes, It’s Already Time to Buy Bulbs for Fall Planting

  • July 15, 2020

Another standby is the succulent-like Euphorbia myrsinites, with its blue-green foliage and acid-yellow early blooms, paired with Orange Emperor tulips, the arrestingly pale lavender-blue Muscari Valerie Finnis and a small Narcissus called Hawera.

Elsewhere, a bed of a sedge (Carex) is punctuated by the eight-inch-wide violet globes of Allium christophii; the two have been happy together for eight years.

Emerging hostas, or even peony foliage, Mr. Hsu said, can also make good companions.

“People forget how peonies come up at first with reddish-green tones,” he said. “When backlit, especially with tulips or alliums, it makes a very arresting combination.”

In his very public Philadelphia home garden, a 14-foot-long, sidewalk-facing bed, he uses other colorful foliage to set off bulbs, too, including dark-colored Geranium maculatum Espresso and a gold lamb’s ear, Stachys byzantina Primrose Heron.

There is one bulb, at least, that needs no outside assistance. Allium karataviense, the 10-inch-tall Turkestan onion, provides its own backdrop: wide, gray-green foliage that handsomely sets off its pale lilac, spherical flower. It has been growing nicely in the Gravel Garden for years.

Many gardeners want to cut off bulbs’ foliage too soon, but it serves a critical role, nourishing the bulb below for next year’s performance, so it should be allowed to photosynthesize until it fades in place.

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