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Learning new trick with a bulb plan


Thank you to Longfield Gardens for partnering with me on this post.

I’m starting to think that old gardeners can learn new tricks.

I’m not sure what else would explain that for the first time, possibly in history, I have a bulb plan.

Allow me to explain: Typically my bulb-purchasing strategy is to order some of everything that looks pretty in the picture and sounds good in the description and then express dismay when thousands of bulbs show up on my doorstep and I rush to get them all in the ground.

Can this old gardener learn some new bulb tricks? Just maybe.

But this year I have a plan. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still have thousands (well, 2,000 or so) of bulbs to get in the ground, but this year I know where they are all going.


I designed new garden area (which I wrote about here and here and did a recent video tour of here) to be simpler than most of the rest of the garden. My goal has been to plant more plants of smaller palette for dramatic statement and easy maintenance, and that continues to my bulb plan. Instead of plunking in daffodils randomly one at time, I’ve selected a grouping of three varieties of bulbs that I’ll plant in large clusters (about 25 or 30 bulbs per clump) around the garden, rather than sprinkling them around.

Each cluster will include:

‘Silver Smiles’ daffodil

Silver Smiles daffodil
Longfield Gardens photo

‘Jetfire’ daffodil

Jetfire daffodil
Longfield Gardens photo

Muscari Armeniacum

Muscari Armeniacum
Longfield Gardens photo

And some will have Muscari ‘Ocean Magic’

Ocean Magic mascara
Longfield Gardens photo

All of these bloom in early to mid-spring so with luck they’ll all bloom together. I suspect Jetfire will bloom first but there should be overlap with the rest of the bulbs. 

I used marking flag to lay out where each clump will go.

flags marking bulb locations in garden

This year I paid way more attention to bloom time than I usually do, and I took a non-typical approach to planning as far as bloom time goes. Typically you would use bloom time to ensure that you have varieties that bloom in early, mid and late spring to make the most of the bulb flowering season. But I did it the other way. Because we have such late springs here, by the time the late bloomers are doing their thing I’m kind of over it and ready to move on to the rest of gardening. 

Longfield Gardens has handy bloom-time planning guides for a variety of bulbs:

I’ll also be adding some alliums to the new garden, particularly Christophii and Nigrum, both of which will be planted in groups of three to seven.

allium christophii
Longfield Gardens
allium nigurm
Longfield Gardens photo

And lastly, I’ll be planting Anemone blanda  in the shadier, more woodland area. I’ve never grown these before, so it will be to try something new. These are corms, rather than bulbs, but are also planted in fall like bulbs. 

anemone blanda
Longfield Gardens photo


For the past few years I’ve grown tulips and bulb collections in the raised beds that I reserve for cut flowers and it’s been wonderful. But my oddly late spring can cause issues, because some of the late-flowering tulips are just getting going when I need to be sowing early seed-grown flower varieties. 

tulips in raised beds
Planting tulips in my raised beds worked great, except that the tulips were still blooming when I wanted to plant early sown flower seeds.

tulips in raised bed

So this year I’m changing it up. Instead of putting bulbs in the raised beds, I’m going to plant them in the skinny beds along the sides and back of the vegetable garden, which is fenced, allowing me to plant tulips that would be decimated by deer otherwise. 

My plan is for a very bright and colorful mix on the sides, working tulips around the apple and pear espalier trees and the raspberries and strawberries in the center of those beds. I’ll be using a mix, along with some extra dark tulips and a bright orange:

Brilliant mix

Brilliant mix
Longfield Gardens photo

Monte Orange

Monte Orange tulip
Longfield Gardens photo


Continental tulip
Longfield Gardens photo

Again I’m relying on early to mid-season bloomers, which unfortunately eliminates some great varieties, but it’s not like any tulips are shabby.

On the north (back) edge of the garden where I started a Belgian Fence made from ‘Royal Raindrops’ crabapples this year, I’m going with a more muted palette that I plant to continue into summer. I’m going with white tulips—both a single and double variety—with a few pinks thrown in. 

White Emperor

Emperor White tulip
Longfield Gardens photo

Exotic Emperor

Exotic Emperor tulip
Longfield Gardens photo


Toronto tulip
Longfield Gardens photo

The best part of all these beautiful flowers is that I’ll have enough to pick and bring inside. Because by spring, a little color will be great to have around.

I’ll be doing some videos on bulbs this year as well, so make sure to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss any of the good stuff. 


Two lucky readers are going to win one of Longfield Garden’s gorgeous Blue and White bulb collections (90 bulbs in each collection)! There are lots of ways to enter by using the widget below. Entries close Sunday, October 25. Bulbs can only be mailed to addresses in the continental U.S. 

longfield gardens blue and white collection


Longfield Gardens Blue and White Collection bulbs

What would you like to know? Search, or jump to categories below. 

151 Responses

    1. My bulb budget was 1/3 of what I usually spend, damndemic! I ordered 100 white parrot tulips, and 50 of something which I’ve already forgotten. But I had originally planned to go big with camassia this fall, maybe next year. Looking forward to seeing yours!

    2. Love your posts and videos! So full of good info and real life gardening-I grew up in Wisconsin and enjoy your sense of humor! The bulbs will be beautiful-I particularly like the Toronto variety!

  1. I always do blue/purple and white tulips, so this collection would be a perfect addition to my garden! I know bulb planting can be tedious but it’s actually one of my favorite garden activities. It gets me really excited for the next growing season!

    1. I always do purple and white too but last year I added orange emperor tulips and purple dutch iris and the color combination of orange, purple, and white was surprisingly beautiful. I don’t normally like bright colors but a little pop of orange really made the other spring bulbs stand out.

    1. Excited to try out bulbs in containers this year. Just need to figure out a way to keep the pesky squirrels out of them. Might try cutting out hardware cloth.

  2. I would love to try some alliums. I’m making an attempt to plan better instead of just planting with no layout plan ?

    1. I am so loving your new garden area. And planting the tulips among the espalier ..brillant! As are those bright colors!!

  3. Can’t wait to watch your videos, Erin. I hope Fergus makes an appearance; his adorable meow is what encouraged me to pop over to your blog. And I must have White Emperor tulips this year!

  4. Oh it’s going to be glorious Erin! Though, I am going to miss you ‘bowling’! I need to buy all the daffodils, especially the super frilly ones.

  5. I do the same. Peruse bulb catalog, order more than I expected, with no real plan in place, just many bulbs to get in the ground. I have Ranunculous on order from Longfields. Excited to try these in pots.

  6. I only have a few daffodils planted since I just moved so I’m way behind in the spring bulb game!! Would love any bulbs that come my way. I really just want to say I love your videos and will continue to watch them all even if I don’t win any!! You have great style and are no nonsense which makes following you a joy!!

  7. Since I been following you and some other gardeners,I’m planting bulbs in my containers.I am trying alliums, tulips and daffodils .Thank you for the information you put out there.

  8. I’m planting muscari for the first time this year. I need to get more daffodil and tulips. I’m also think of add some alliums but not sure if they will work on the East side of my house.

  9. I think the daffodils in the new garden space are an amazing idea. They’ll look a lot more striking in big groupings and it’ll be a lot easier to plant in large piles rather than individually.

  10. Me and you are on the same brain wave when it comes to bulbs. I prefer the early to mid bloomers to and I’m anxious to cut it all back to start working on summer plantings. Can’t wait to see it come to this spring!

  11. I have the same issue! Once its time to get going for summer planting the late blooming tulips are in my way.

  12. Tulips are my favorite flower. I just bought some to plant but could use more. I’d also like to try some alliums.

  13. I don’t have 2000 Longfield Bulbs to plant, but I do have 796!!! And, I would love these to go with my Sylphide, Mr. Fokker and St. Brigid Mix Anemone that just came in!

  14. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, because it means warm weather and planting season is on the way.

  15. I love tulips, but so do the moles. I like planting different varieties of daffodils, they rarely fail to thrive and make for happy spring mornings!

  16. I can’t wait to see how things turn out in your garden. I’m a newbie and this is only my second year planting bulbs! I planted a few allium last fall which were absolutely lovely this past spring. I realized I needed more, so here is to planting next weekend!

  17. I love this post, and the varieties you chose! And that Blue and White mix is gorgeous! I am trying out Barcelona tulips this year, which I coincidentally ordered from Longfield Gardens.

  18. Great and informative post Erin!! I have always wanted to plant tulips in my tall troughs and raised beds in the vegetable garden here in zone 4b, but was afraid they might freeze. Have you had any issues with that in YOUR beds or do you somehow protect them? Thanks for any advice!!

    1. I really love the striking color of atropurpureum alliums. Ever since I saw them on an episode of Gardener’s World, I’ve wanted to try them in my own garden.

  19. I’m new at this bulb gardening, so I appreciate your very clear suggestions as well as your tips about how to plant. I’d really love to expand my little garden as I love the spring flowers! I’m hoping to follow your guidance over the next few months! Thanks, Erin. ?? ?

  20. I drew a rough blueprint of my garden then decided where to plant 240 bulbs. About half are in so far. I want to get more tulips. The Toronto tulip is beautiful!
    Do you plant any of your bulbs in part shade or shady areas? If trees don’t have leaves in early spring, would it be okay? Thanks!
    I watched your video today and really enjoyed the information.

  21. Those tulips in your raid bed this year looked wonderful. I can’t wait till spring! Woot zone 5 in Wi! ?

  22. I would love to plant some of the Narcissus Pueblo, but they are all gorgeous. It’s going to be nice to see all of the bulbs bloom after what is sure to be a doozy of a winter!

  23. Hello Erin! ? I get so much inspiration from you and I watch every YouTube video you post! Yes I’m a big fan! I have so many ideas for my yard now and what I want to expand and try to grow. I’m in zone 5-6a Michigan which is very much like your climate. The bulb giveaway would be a great addition to my garden and I’d love for a chance to win any of them! ??

  24. I NEED those ocean muscari! The color is so cool. I have one little grouping in my garden of the regular purple muscari but I can definitely find a place for those. I can’t wait to see your bulb display in the spring.

  25. I’ve never tried container bulbs before due to the critters but I’d love to try any of these. Going to figure out a way to protect the tops of the containers w/ open weave fencing.

    1. I generously sprinkled blood meal on top of pots and then covered then with hardware cloth. None were dug up or eated. Beautiful spring pots!

  26. This is my first year starting my bulb journey, so I’m anxious for spring to get here to see my hard work come alive! It’d be amazing to plant the white and blue collection, thats a favorite color combo of mine. Thanks!! 🙂

  27. I would love to plant the blue and white collection! Last year I planted tulips for the first time (loads of work) but it was a magical spring show.

  28. I would love to plant more tulips, as mine have all died out, but it’s hard to justify as they just don’t last very long. I always love more alliums, and seem to add more every year!

  29. I love Alliums and would love to plant some this year – they remind me of something out of Doctor Seuss! Last year we planted tulips and daffodils and when they bloomed in the spring it was AWESOME!

  30. Did I just rip out more front yard grass to turn into a bed? why yes, yes i did. Do I need some early color for dreary Pittsburgh springs? Yes, yes I do. Would I love to do this with longfield bulbs? yes, yes I would.

  31. It is hard to narrow down what I would plant. I feel it is more a question of what I wouldn’t plant. Pretty much I don’t plant any red or yellow flowers because they are not allowed in my garden (restricted color palette). The only pink I allow is dark pink/purple. Everything else in the world, I want to plant. One thing I am excited to plant is galanthus. I currently only have 1 kind of daffodil (stainless) and I don’t have any tulips. Honestly I have been a little hesitant to plant tulips and I can’t tell you why. They are beautiful bright jewels. I think winning a collection would help me over a mental block and would open a gardening door. I am also 1 year into the gardens at this house and have large areas with absolutely nothing. I am building from scratch.and my husband is in full dismay all the time with what I have been spending on gardening. I would love to be able to say “But honey, these were free!”

  32. The Blue and White collection is beautiful and would look wonderful in our gardens. Thank you for all that you do – teaching and inspiring! We love watching your videos and reading your blog! And Longfield Bulbs are the best!

  33. Great idea. I really like the concept of fewer varieties in more clumps. I was just planning my cutting garden that way the other day.

  34. I love the idea of planting groups of spring flowers vs a large bed of tulips – thought that can be dramatic, I like the look that bunches of spring flowers popping up in various places in your yard bring a naturalized look. It also is fun to see pops of color all over your yard – you have an excitement that when you round the corner of your house, will there be more pockets of surprises in spring!

  35. I’m loving all the Instagram pics of Penhill Watermelon dahlias. They are now on my list to grow next year. Great to see that Longfield carries them!

  36. Wow. 2000. Your woodlands will be marvelous. I like your plan and using the locator flags. Last year was my first time ever planting tulips. It was so successful and we loved the spring show. Our neighbor even asked us if we were Dutch since we had planted so many. Haha. Only 250 But they provided a long show because we did early, mid, and late bloomers. So we had tulips for about six weeks. They were yellow and white. This made us just want to plant more of course! We have daffy and tulips to plant yet this fall. We are adding pink to the mix. The purple and white blend is so beautiful. What a nice give away.

  37. Love this article! My favorite new combo are the orange tulips with the dark ones mixed in for contrast. Plus orange and black are Oregon State University’s colors (in my hometown).

  38. I have ordered flowers from Longfield Gardens. In our area, MD. , the brand is sold in the Costco stores. I would love to plant more allium since the deer leave them alone. I too, have planted tulips in flower boxes behind a fence. The impact of the flowers is just gorgeous. Lynda

  39. I love the muscari!! I’ve been waiting to see your blub plan since you mentioned it! The Toronto tulips are a fun color, too. I got bulbs from our local farm store and ordered some with my mom online and now we’re planning on how to group them. Have you tried using chicken wire to protect the bulbs from wildlife? I want to line my driveway eventually but don’t want all my tulips eaten. Cannot wait to see how everything looks this spring! Thanks for sharing your garden?

  40. I am so starved for color when early spring rolls around. I love the crocus and my Mother, who was from Germany, told me to just “throw the crocus bulbs all over the yard” and you will find sweet surprises throughout the grass!!

  41. I strategically plant some bulbs in certain places but then I take a bucket ,mix them all in together and just plant holes with various bulbs and I have something popping up at all the time and it looks very natural. Ok,the hub digs the holes, 🙂

  42. What a nice giveaway! This post is so helpful since I was struggling with a bulb plan ? I know I am going to do some tulips in pots, so I can keep them away from the deer ?? Also I am going to try the Anemone Blanda. Thanks so much!

  43. I have a plan too. It remains to be seen how closely I stick to mine. I have hundreds of bulbs to plant and actually cleared the central bed in my garden and will be packing them in. Early, mid and late bloomers. I figure we are in for a tough winter and we’ll need a spectacular show in the spring. Love your blog and videos.

  44. I am having to start all over with bulbs as the voles ate them all except the daffodils, they even ate the Alliums! So I am putting tulips and alliums in raised beds with wire protection beneath and surround the raised beds with daffodils. So I am happy to get any kinds of bulbs to rebuild my bulb garden areas. I love Longfield Gardens too, always great quality!

  45. With our deer population, I can only plant certain types of bulbs. Usually the daffodils and grape hyacinth are left alone. Planted allium this year, as they are ‘deer resistant.’ Nope. They ate every one.

  46. I love those ombré muscari and the Toronto tulips together. Your gardens will be spectacular and I can’t wait to see everything blooming

  47. Planted my first bulbs this year and bought them from Longfield. Would love more to add to a hill in backyard!!

  48. Its going to look great Erin! Thanks for all the inspiration and education. I would love to add these beautiful tulips to my collection.

  49. This will be my first year adding in alliums and while I’m looking forward to the end result (hopefully) figuring out where I want to plant them is giving me all kinds of stress. Liking the cluster approach- can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  50. Love the plan…. I’ve taken more notes in my garden journal and have a plan to print pics of this year’s garden but that’s as far as it goes! ☺️
    I have ordered tulips for first time ineons bc the deer devour the tasty snacks, so I’ll try in pot and maybe out front
    I’ve also ordered some daffodils and allium .
    I have plants and shrubs to move this fall so ma be the busiest one I’ve had yet, garden is 14 years old and I usually don’t do much more than putting garden to bed. thank you for extra motivation !

  51. I already have some Purple Sensation allium bulbs to plant. I wasn’t going to do anything else, but, after reading this , I have gone to the Longfield Gardens site to peruse other bulbs. I’m very tempted by the Orange Princess tulips and the cobalt blue grape hyacinths

  52. I very much enjoy your blog and videos. You are very funny and truly honest in your postings. It is much appreciated. Thanks to Covid 19, I have decided to move my life in a new direction. I have become a small scale flower farmer. My flowers go mostly to market and small weddings. I am working with a very limited budget and would greatly appreciate the tulips. I have been shopping from Longfield. Their product is very reliable. Thanks for all your recommendations. PS. I love what you have done with your vegetable/tree garden. It is well thought out .

  53. In the fall of 2019 I planted bulbs for the first time after being inspired by Garden Answer. I just ordered what I liked and did not pay attention to bloom time. Fortunately for me it all worked out perfectly as I had tulips blooming all through the spring time here in Illinois. I was going to plant tulips at our second home in MI this fall but I learned that the deer love them. So I decided to dig up the day lilies around our cottage and I planted 200 daffodils, 50 hyacinth and 5 alliums. I am looking forward to seeing how it all works out in Spring 2021 . Now if the squirrels would just leave the bulbs alone in the ground. Any advice?

  54. Love the Narcissus Double Lingerie mix. I said I wasn’t going to buy bulbs this year but after seeing this and watching Laura plant her’s this week I’m going to have to get some!

  55. One of these years I’m going to pull the trigger on grape hyacinths. It just wasn’t this year though, because you know…dahlias.

  56. I would like to plant allium Gladiator in the front garden. I have one single allium there now which was planted years ago. The garden is now being redesigned and the area is calling out for the drama of alliums!

  57. I like your planning! I think I will also skip the late bloomers this year, it’s those early bursts of color that are exciting here in Michigan 🙂

  58. Wow I’ve never planter anemone blanda I have the perfect spot for them! Off to go shopping! Beautiful plan can’t wait to see it in the spring. I just planter 300 daffodils and have room for other bulbs! So exciting!

  59. You have given me some great ideas for next years gardening plan. I especially love the suggestion that I plant tulips in my raised beds that I later plant annuals in. Timing in my planting zone would be perfect for this!

  60. This year I’m trying fritillaria Persica and foxtail lily for the first time. I’m also planting more martagon lilies, galanthus and mini daffodils. But I must ask, why don’t I see Sailorman daffodils in your plan?

  61. I just planted my first bulbs (gigantium alliums–so excited for these big showstoppers) since the ones I planted as a little girl. I hope to expand my repertoire as I get more experience!

  62. Can’t wait to see it! Have been a longtime follower of you and also love Longfield Gardens. Already so excited for spring! ?

  63. Hi Erin, I am really enjoying your blog! I live in Canada and am passionate about gardening. A daffodil I have always had no matter where I lived was “Geranium”. It is so fragrant, I just love it. Surprizingly I have been very sucessful growing tulips in pots the last few years. I gave them good soil with compost, sand and seasoil and I fertilize with bulb fertilizer before and after flowering. Your garden is lovely.

  64. You know, that is a smart idea to stick to the early to mid bulb varieties. I too, get a little tired of the late blooming varieties which seem to hang on forever. I don’t know why I get slight annoyed. I think next year, I will just cut them for inside, while I am getting on with the rest of the garden. I did plant this evening a really early daffodil, February Silver, so the blooming season should start earlier and I won’t get frustrated waiting for my later varieties to bloom.

  65. I planted a few of bulbs this year and hoping to see they come up. I have a lot of squirrels and they are horrible about digging them up. Interested in planning more and trying some of the suggestions you had in the video and blog above to lay them out in the landscape and garden.

  66. These are some great ideas on bulb planting, definitely something I want to try myself. Have you ever grown Snowflake (it’s common name, I don’t know how to spell the proper name)?

  67. For the first time I planted Dahlias, bought at Costco and they were from Longfield. Just got thru digging them up for winter storage thanks to your video. I have fallen in love with them, so easy to plant and grow, looking to plant one of your mentions Cafe AU Lait and other varieties. I love everything you are planting – daffodils, tulips, allium, and anemone. I would love to try the black and white tulip collection.

  68. I love tulips. I grew up in Holland, Michigan and have pictures of my brother and I dressed in Dutch costume for the parades of Tulip Time. I would love to grow the Happy Generation Tulip Triumph!

  69. I want to try allium pinball wizard and graceful. I did 70 purple sensation and 3 globemasters and some mt everest 4 years ago and it was glorious, but they have sadly gotten smaller and fizzled away. I think because ground is too wet and maybe deer nip them at times. I love your youtube as I am in Zone 5 Pa with lots of deer and woods so similar to your conditions. Love Longfield-got dahlias from them (supposed to be orfeo and worton blue, (but it was orfeo and a crayon red, still pretty though). Just got more purple sensation and globemasters from them. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  70. I actually made a plan for planting tulip bulbs this year! Went in on an order with a friend for 200 bulbs to split. Ended up giving some to my mom and planted 60 bulbs. Fingers crossed they all come up in the Spring!

  71. What a great plan! I finally grew tulips for the first time last year (they were from Longfield). Really enjoyed them and look forward to planting many many more.
    I love the tulip Salmon Dynasty!

  72. You know that lovely house/lot on 32/Spring Street as you come into Port Washington — the one with the massive blue planting of scillia. I loved driving past each spring when I lived in the area. I am trying for a similar look in my small front garden. I have planted over 300 of those little bulbs in through the grass. We have deer here as well and I made the mistake the first autumn to plant tulips. I have very heathy plants with few blooms. All the rest are in the raised beds in the back which is fenced. Your garden will be lovely in the spring. Make sure to take pictures for us.

  73. anxious to see the results. we just moved this year into our home in Siskiyou county, Northern California. Deer are also abundant in the area.
    I planted 500 daffodils along the front property line of our home, 275 tulips in back in my garden barrels and pots. I plan on putting in 50 muscari in fron around the path to the front door. I love spring color.

  74. I have a raised bed along the “ugly” side of my house, you know, electrical panel and air conditioner. However, it’s located against a brick wall with great sun and late afternoon shade and it retains heat. It’s my bed dedicated to Shishito peppers and 2 basil plants. For three years that was my plan but I wanted another interesting crop. I filled it with yellow and orange tulips for cutting in the Spring. They are lovely and I’m so glad I did it. The peppers don’t go in until after Memorial Day. I’m one of those crazy people that loves orange. You name it – orange iris, orange daylilies and now, thanks to the Impatient Gardener I ordered HS Date dahlias. Curses! I need to stay off the internet.

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