The weather’s starting to cool off, and anytime after Labor Day is a great time to be planting spring-blooming bulbs in gardening zone 8. You want to plant the bulbs out as colder weather approaches, because many of them require chilling before they will bloom, and thus the cold weather serves as your “refrigerator” for this purpose. If you are forcing bulbs in containers indoors, you can actually put the bulbs in your refrigerator to chill prior to planting them up, but you will need a pretty big refrigerator to accomplish this and hold any food for your family!
You could consider which shrubs you have in your garden and when they bloom, and then add some bulbs that bloom at the same time, for a very pretty and easy to accomplish vignette in your garden. In my garden, Ribes sanguineum, or Red Flowering Currant, blooms its pink clusters of flowers at the same time that hyacinths, ‘Thalia’ narcissus and grape hyacinths bloom, so they work well together. I also noticed that apple trees bloom at approximately the same time as tulips, so you could add some pink and white tulips near your apple trees for a lovely display. Bright yellow forsythia shrubs can be underplanted with blue scilla and ‘Tete-a-Tete’ narcissus bulbs. ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary, which is covered starting in the end of January and through March with bright sky-blue flowers that the hummingbirds love, could easily have snowdrops, or mini blue iris reticulata or yellow winter aconite added around it for a lovely composition.
Also, even if you don’t have a lot of room in your garden, don’t forget to add some of the smaller minor bulbs. They often bloom quite early here, and are so beautiful. They can include crocus, anemone blanda, Chinodoxa luciliae, Pushkinia ‘Libanotica’ to name a few.
Another bulb-planting tip: You will want to add some bulb fertilizer to your planting holes. This is also the time to weed your flower beds and top-dress any existing bulb plantings with some bulb fertilizer, which will help them to bloom better next spring.
As you plant your bulbs, get a package of golf tees from the hardware store, and stick them in the ground, making a circle around where you have planted your bulbs. This way, next fall when there is no folliage on the bulbs, you will know where you have them planted, and will run less risk of damage from a wayward shovel slicing into them.
Bulbs and fertilizer are available for purchase online, or at hardware and discount stores, and garden nurseries.