Bloomin’ Bucks

Brent and Becky’s & Keeler Gardens

Keeler Gardens is officially part of the Bloomin’ Bucks fundraiser at Brent and Becky’s.

This is a where GG, our lead horticultural specialist, orders many of the bulbs for Keeler Gardens. If you place your bulb order through this link and choose Keeler Gardens, NFP from the list…

25% of the sale is donated to Keeler Gardens!

This is an excellent opportunity to help support our community programs!

Please help us spread the word by sharing this information with your friends and family. You can even download a flyer here to help spread the news.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at

Planting Bulbs

A few posts back I mentioned planting bulbs.  Now is the time!

I plant my spring booming bulbs in the fall when the temperature drops and the ground is still workable.  You can plant up until the ground freezes and you should wait until the temp gets down below 55 degrees.  Keep your bulbs in a cool dry place until then and if you can bear it, plant them as late as after the first frost.  Make sure your bulbs are firm.  If they are soft it can be an indication of rot and you will not see plants in the spring.

When planting bulbs with the goal of having perennial blooms, the bubs should be placed at a depth of 3 times their size.  For example, if you have a bulb that is 2” tall, aim for a planting depth of 6”.  You can mark this depth on your shovel or you can use a bulb planter/soil knife with inch markings on them.  Another easy trick is to stack three bulbs on top of each other.  As long as the top bulb does not clear ground level you are fine.  Of course the stacking is just for measurement, unstack them before burying.

You can fertilize bulbs after planting.  Do not put fertilizer in the hole with the bulb, this can burn them.  Bonemeal is also an option.  You may choose to check your soil before you add fertilizer to determine which nutrients you need.

I do not water my bulbs after planting as my soil is very damp and high in clay.   Too much water can cause the bulbs to rot.  Depending on your soil, watering the bulbs after planting may be beneficial.

Make sure you label or mark on your map where your bulbs are planted.  During spring cleanup, depending on the bloom time of your bulbs, you will need to be aware of their presence to preserve their sprouts.  Another reason to mark your plantings is that you can plant summer blooming annuals and perennials over bulbs.  For example, I have a patch of crocus bulbs (which are actually corms, but that’s for another post) that sprout very early, as early February.  Once the flowers are spent the striped leaves hang around for a while and as these leaves are basking in the sun and storing up energy for next year’s blooming, companion plants around them are just sprouting. As the annual Alyssum and perennial dead-nettle start to fill in the area, the crocus leaves have naturally faded away.  With this plan, this area in the garden is full and lush from early spring to all the way through the summer.

If you have a problem in your area, one more important step is to protect your bulbs from critters.  You can protect bulbs underground by either planting them in a cage or laying a single layer of chicken wire over them before you cover them with topsoil.  If you use this method make sure the open spaces in the chicken wire are thick enough for your stems to easily grow through.  Another option is to apply a fresh mulch layer over the area in which the bulbs are planted.  Make sure that this is a very strong smelling mulch.  The smell will deter pests.  Composted leaf mulch is very effective.  For added protection you can lay plastic mesh or chicken wire over the mulch and tack the edges down with sod staples.  There are also many bulbs which are less likely to be dug up by wildlife.  Try Allium, Chionodoxa, Colchicum, Muscari, and Narcissus to name a few.

In addition to being wildlife-resistant like those named above Anemone and Fritillaria meleagris are good choices for shady places.  Two very versatile bulbs are Galanthus and Leucojum, both being wildlife-resistant, good for shade, and tolerant of wet soils.

All the links for the bulbs are to Brent and Becky’s, a great supplier.  Another good supplier is Van Engelen.  If you have a favorite supplier let me know and I will share the link.  Bulbs do sell out so it’s good to plan ahead.

So now the bulbs are planted, the mulch is down, maybe you are thinking about a perennial or annual overlay for the area for next summer.  Make some notes in your journal while you sip hot cider and look forward to your spring blooms.


Building a New Garden

I just finished a nice-sized garden for a friend and wanted to share the process with everyone.  Here is what the space looked like when we started…

As you can see there is no garden, just lawn.  My friends had a specific design in mind for the new garden.  They wanted a break between the porch and the yard, since there is no railing, multiple levels of plants, and color all season long.  Oh, and the ground needed to be raised near the house and sloped away since flooding can be a problem in their area.  This meant adding a good 4 to 6 inches of soil in a large part of the garden to build it up and create a slope away from the house.

The first task was removing the grass.  The outline of the garden took shape once the grass was gone.  Then, as plants were added soil was also, to bring the ground up to the desired level.

I put together a design that offered tall plants on the flanks and smaller plants in the middle so as not to block their big front window.  I also included a multitude of bulbs for the spring and perennials for the entire season.  Many of the plants are evergreen or offer winter interest.

Here is the garden now, after the plants were installed and the ground graded…

On the far right is a Cotinus ‘Grace’, under which is Carex ‘Ice Dance’.  The three round shrubs are boxwoods and tucked in the back is a barberry ‘Rose Glow’.  The large shrub on the left is Viburnum ‘Mohican’, which is surrounded by daylilies on the left and Siberian iris on the right.  There is a small shrub in the front that is hard to see, oak leaf hydrangea.

There are many other perennials, including Sedum, Hellebore, Campanula, HostaPeonies, Grasses, and ground covers like Lamb’s ear, creeping buttercup, chameleon plant, and periwinkle.  And under all those perennials are many spring blooming bulbs.  We chose Tulip ‘Cashmir’, Corydalis ‘Greg Baker’, and Narcissus ‘Segovia’ for one area; Camassia accented with Muscari ‘Blue Magic’ for another area; and Triteleia ‘Starlight’ to accent the Hellebore mix.  Oh, and there is a carpet of 100 Crocus “Cloth of Gold’.  They will have flowers from the bulbs all spring and as that foliage dies away the summer perennials will take over.  Next year is going to be stunning for them.  I will be sure to post pictures as things start to bloom.

Hope you enjoyed the before and after pictures, it was an exciting project to design and install.  As always let me know what you think, comment or suggest, I am up for anything.



Fall Gardening

It may seem that the garden season is winding down but this is a great time to be gardening.  There is much to do in this cool wet weather.  It’s the perfect time to divide and transplant.  If you find you have extra plants, there is always a neighbor that can use them.  Do some trading and next year you’ll have more to show.

It is also a good time to plant trees and shrubs.  I will be posting pictures and plans for a project that is being installed next week that has seven big plants and hundreds of bulbs going in.

There is still plenty of time to plant bulbs.  As long as the ground is not frozen you can get the bulbs in and they will bloom in the spring.  We’ll talk about planting bulbs in a future post.

This leads me to remind everyone about their garden journal.  We talked a while back about documenting your garden in every season.  Go back and look at your spring photos and notes.  Where do you want to add plants?  Where do you have bulbs that you need to be aware of when transplanting?  What areas in the summer, and even now, need work that you can address so next year you reap the benefits?  See, so much to do still!

Any fall projects you would like to hear about or talk about let me know and I’ll post. Enjoy this blustery and exciting time of year and come back to see the how the big install is coming along.