If you’re like me, every spring you walk around the garden looking at the fresh leaves of emerging perennials, thinking that you should really plants some spring flowering bulbs nearby to take advantage of the lovely foliage. But I never write down my ideas, and I always forget.
Fortunately, researchers with the Horticulture Department of Cornell University have done the remembering for us. Cornell Bulb/Perennial Combos showcases “examples of combinations that have shown to be successful in our trials at Cornell University, and [they] aim to motivate and entice gardeners and industry professionals to try, experiment with, and promote the use of flower bulbs with perennials in order to enhance the landscape.”
The Cornell trial gardens, located in Ithaca, NY, are in USDA Zone 5, and many of their combinations will work in colder climates as well. They are a great source of information, even if you don’t have the exact plants specified in their combos. For example, one of their top fifteen bulb and perennial combinations is ‘Jan Bos’ hyacinth with ‘Husker Red’ penstemon. Seeing that reminds me that I have ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon, which also has dark red foliage, and now I just need to look for a hyacinth whose flower color complements–or contrasts with–the ruby spring leaves of the penstemon.
What combinations do you want to try in your garden?