The Early Bird Catches the Bulb

Last week I placed my order for fall bulbs from John Scheeper’s. Normally I order bulbs right around Labor Day, so I was about a month later than usual. But it’s been a busy fall.

tulip suncatcher

Wouldn’t you know it, though: Tulip ‘Suncatcher’ was out of stock. I ordered this Tulip for the first time last year and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s yellow and scarlet flowers glowed brilliantly in the sunlight.

As a substitute, I chose ‘Annie Schilder’. Like ‘Suncatcher’, ‘Annie Schilder’ is a Triump Tulip, a cross between the Early Singles and Darwin Hybrids. I’ve grown this one once before, and it’s very good – but not as exciting as ‘Suncatcher’.

Otherwise, I ordered the Tulip varieties that have become my standards:

tulip ballerina

‘Ballerina’, a Lily-Flowering Tulip.

2015-05-04 08.24.14 couleur cardinal
‘Couleur Cardinal’

‘Couleur Cardinal’, an Early Single with rich plum color.

Tulip princess irene
‘Princess Irene’


‘Princess Irene’, another Early Single, soft orange flushed with purple.

tulip fostery king whte base
‘Fostery King’


‘Fostery King’, a Darwin Hybrid colored scarlet with a white base for startling contrast.

These Tulips are all for planting in containers. For our beds and borders, I ordered the following:

Persian Star – Allium christophii, at Toronto Botanic Garden

Allium christophii, also known as Star of Persia. These have lavender purple blooms that suggest exploding fireworks. It’s an Allium that Judy has wanted for a long time, though I have no idea at the moment where to put it.

Drumstick Allium


Allium sphaerocephalon, Drustick Allium. These will be planted at the front of the Sidewalk Border. They bloom in July, so as to take over from the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Glory-of-the-Snow at Lurie Garden this past March

Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa sardensis). As often happens, I developed a powerful impulse to buy this plant after seeing it at the Lurie Garden. It’s a very early bulb, but more colorful than Snowdrops and more rabbit-resistant than Crocus. I chose this variety because its blue flowers have the smallest white center, which Judy found unappealing.

DSC_0507 casa blanca
‘Casa Blanca’

Finally, I ordered a few hardy Lilies. All but one of the ‘Casa Blanca’ Oriental Lilies in the back garden have died, so I ordered a few more. Instead of planting them in a block, I’m going to split them up to see where they do best.

Finally, I’m trying a couple of the Martagon Lily ‘Sunny Morning’. The bulbs are expensive, but I just read an article claiming that Martagon Lilies were fairly shade tolerant, so we’ll see.

All together, I ordered 200 Tulips, 100 Glory-of-the-Snow, 75 Alliums, and 13 Lilies.

Were you late like me in making your bulb order for the fall?


58 Comments on “The Early Bird Catches the Bulb

  1. How nice that you grow tulips. I still will not grow them. It bothers me to spend so much on something that blooms so briefly, and is not really perennial in our region. I will go for it eventually; just not this year. When I do, I will probably stick with the simple ‘Maureen’.
    Allium christophii happens to be one of the bulbs that I almost got this year. I want to know if they will be perennial here. I get mixed reviews, so it is probably best to try it myself. There is another smaller one known as ‘Mount Everest’ that looked interesting. I believe that I can get both in a nursery in town, so would not even need to mail order them. Lilies I have no problem with. I know that they are very short term perennials (that may bloom the second year), but they are so pretty, and last well enough, that I do not mind spending a bit on them.

      • No way! That is SO excellent! It is still my favorite, even though many consider it to be a cheap and common variety. We are fortunate that with all the greenery here, white is a good color for our landscapes. However, I as still not so keen on tulips, just because even the cheap ones are more expensive than other cheap annuals or perennials. I would have not problem planting them if they were perennial here!

      • Yes, they are pricey to enjoy only once. Mine have been going strong for 5 years or so. I have them planted near lily of the valley and hostas with a white leaf margin, and all the green and white is stunning in late spring!

      • Yes, they are dramatic, but not as silly looking as some of the others. I like Mount Everest too, but I do not think that it would work well with the other flowers. I might try them later if the A. christophii does as well as I hope they do.

      • Ha! Although, the silly looking ones are really cool too. I mean, Alliums are the sort of flower that is at its best when it gets to look silly.

  2. I am so late that I haven’t ordered any and I might not this year. When I read your list of purchases it has given me an urge to purchase. I don’t know if I can resist.

    • I replace the Tulips in containers each fall, though sometimes I plant some of them in the parkway for the second year. I think this year I will try to give away the ones I don’t plant.

  3. I have been wanting to get casa blanca lilies in my garden for some time. Probably too late now. I did order some tulips for a new bed I’m planning. I’m hoping they will continue to come up every year, as my other tulips do.

  4. I didn’t place a bulb order this year but picked up a few at local nurseries. You’ve chosen some great ones to add this year and I look forward to seeing them bloom next year.

  5. as of today, Brent & Becky’s still have Suncatcher available & they are flexible on quantity.

  6. I love those little blue Chionodoxa too, and have a couple of packets to plant. I ordered my bulbs (including tulips) in spring and they were delivered in September… still got all the digging/planting to do!

  7. I just planted a few bulbs today. I don’t plant many, and just get them locally. Only crocus, and grape hyacinths, and my new one this year is anemone blanda. I’m not an adventurous bulb planter! My Tet-a-Tet daffodils continue to spread and flower reliably. I’ve never gotten into tulips, my mother’s always reverted back to plain red.
    The tulips you like are gorgeous!

    • I love Crocus but the rabbits seem to love them just as much. I have ‘Tete-a-Tete’ but they don’t spread. Maybe too much moisture where I planted them.

  8. That’s a lot of bulbs! Too bad they were out of stock on your favorite tulip. I normally order in August, but fall snuck up on me this year and I didn’t order anything! I ended up just buying some crocus and daffodil bulbs from Walmart. We’ll see how they turn out. I normally buy more tulips every year, but most of the older ones have still been coming up with nice sized blooms, so I decided to save a little money this year and hopefully spend it on some cold-hardy roses next spring!

    • How long Tulip bulbs can be counted on to keep blooming is an interesting question. I go on the assumption that the ones in pots need annual replacement, but I know that many Tulips are reliably perennial for years. A lot must depend on the local conditions, as well as species and variety.

  9. I’m always impressed by the number of bulbs you plant every year – something to aspire to! But ordering that Glory-of-the-snow variety because Judy finds it “unappealing”? That doesn’t sound like you, Jason! 😉

  10. Love the color of Glory-of-the-Snow. Your tulips always look fabulous. No bulb orders so far but I did pick up a flat of pansies yesterday. First garden purchase since early spring.

  11. Great bulb choices. You reminded me that I haven’t even put my bulb order in. I rushed off to do it before commenting here. Sone of my favourite tulips had sold out. The early bird catches the tulip. I look forward to seeing your fabulous tulip pots.

  12. Those are all lovely choices. You ordered quite a few. Do you ever re-use your bulbs? Do you dig them up and re-plant or just leave them in the ground/pots? I’ve been really happy with how the Daffodils seem to return year after year, although this year I did divide some and gave some away. I ordered a few more Alliums and some Camassias–I need to get going getting them in the ground!

    • Usually I don’t re-use the tulips. This year before planting the new ones I hope to plant some of the old ones and give others away. Many Tulips are reliably perennial, but I find they are highly variable.

  13. I love that suncatcher.
    So far I’ve been good with the bulb orders, and by that I mean I haven’t bought many… other than a few tiny things that can’t possibly be held against me.
    We will see if I make it through the next month.

  14. Hello Jason, I look forward to this point every year, I could almost set my clock to it. Your annual tulip orders remind me that I need to get a move on with my autumn bulb orders if I want to have a spring display.

  15. Good choice, Jason. Tulip ‘Ballerina’ is my favorite, it grows 3 years in my garden. I also love Chionodoxa, it’s one of the first flowers in spring.

  16. Such a wonderful selection! I will look forward to seeing them all next year. Shame about suncatcher

  17. Oh, they are all so beautiful! ‘Couleur Cardinal’ and ‘Princess Irene’ are my favourites.
    Tired with voles and frost issues, this year I don’t plant any bulbs in the ground. 🙂 My best risults ever were in Italy with ‘Queen of Night’ tulips that, almost neglected, were blooming every year better than the previous.
    Happy gardening!

  18. I ordered mine in mid-September, but they still haven’t arrived! I’m getting rather panicky because of last night’s frost and knowing I don’t have a lot of time in the next few weeks to plant bulbs. I may still be out there when the snow flies! I ordered more daffodils and alliums this time, partly to fill in a long space where I’m trying to create a “river” of daffodils and partly because I’ve given up tulips in one bed where the squirrels, voles, and whatever other critters seem to dig. But I will be planting more ‘Princess Irene,’ not only because they’re beautiful, but also in memory of my mother.

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