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Bulbs to Brighten the Spring Border

When I started the garden 18 years ago, I was surprised to learn that two of my favorite spring bulbs were underutilized and not very well known. Sadly, I feel that same bewilderment today. Both add structure and sparkle to the spring border. They ask for little yet give weeks of pleasure. So it’s time that you meet them.

The first is the ‘Purple Sensation’ Allium. The earliest of the large-flowered alliums with 4 inch globes made up of hundreds of violet purple flowers compressed into round balls atop straight stems 24 to 36 inches tall. Purple Sensation is one of our best-performing bulbs, you cannot have too many.  I flooded my borders with this bulb years ago and never regretted doing so. Think of them as punctuation marks, focal points that shine against more conventional mats of foliage. Alliums are resistant to deer, mice and chipmunks. A reliable source for ‘Purple Sensation’ alliums is the Colorblends catalog.

The second is Camassia leichtlinii. I grow both blue and white varieties. Starry, purplish blue flowers rise in loose spikes on tall stems. Most effective when planted in dense colonies in a shrub border or grassy area where it looks perfectly natural. It requires full sun and thrives in damp, or even wet soil. This bulb looks very good paired with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and likewise can be found in the Colorblends catalog.

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Alba’ is a wonder. Imagine adding a thousand stars to your garden. Upright flower spikes of star-shaped creamy flowers push through the grassy leaves of this elegant perennial in late spring.  It’s vigorous enough to use in a wildflower meadow but requires damp soil.  ‘Alba’ can be ordered through Brent & Becky’s catalog

So this fall, while perusing the bulb catalogs, don’t let these beauties get away. With minimal effort, you’ll be rewarded with years of color, texture, structure and most of all, satisfaction in knowing you made a wise decision.

Gerard PampaloneGerard Pampalone

I am not a professional garden designer, landscape architect or horticulturalist. I am, for the most part, self-taught.

I don’t garden for a living, I live for gardening.

I came to gardening late in life, so I am making up for lost time.

I hope to share my insights, resources, and gardening experiences in the coming months.

My aim is to educate, enlighten and inspire gardeners to take chances, break new ground, dig deeper and stretch themselves.

As seen in:

Westport Magazine, July 2007
athome Magazine, March/April 2008