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"The Best Specialty Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths"

Even though it's autumn, for gardeners it's already time to be thinking about spring. Some of the very first flowers of spring come from bulbs and in order to enjoy their colorful blooms, then now is the time to plant them.

There are many different types of spring-blooming bulbs with a long bloom period from early spring right to summer. Daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips are some of the most popular spring-blooming bulbs.

Of course, one of the most recognizable signs of spring are daffodils and there are a number of different types of daffodils ranging in size from six inches tall with tiny flowers to large, foot-and-a-half tall varieties with very large flowers several inches wide. Wonderful mass-planted in a flower bed or naturalized in a woodland, daffodils are a sure sign spring has arrived. In recent years, there have been some color breakthroughs with daffodils and some of the most interesting ones have not yellow or white cups, but shades of pink. The color is quite different from the common daffodil and are quite eye catching.

Some of the earliest fragrance in the garden comes from hyacinth. These short flowers have a sweet, heady fragrance that perfumes the air. Standing just about a foot tall, hyacinth looks best mass planted in large groupings. Hyacinths are also good as an edging plant along a walkway where their fragrance can be enjoyed during the daily coming and going. Some of the most fragrant hyacinths are the multiflora hyacinths. These hyacinths bear multiple flower stems from one bulb, unlike the common hyacinth that bears just one stem, providing even more fragrance in the spring garden.

Tulips are some of the last of the spring-blooming bulbs to bloom. There are many different classifications of tulips with a blooming season from mid spring to late spring and by planting a combination of different types, it's possible to enjoy their flowers for many weeks in spring. In addition to a long bloom period, there are also different flower shapes including parrot-flowered varieties with ruffled petals and lily-flowered varieties with pointed petals. A new type of tulip that's been developed in recent years is the bouquet tulip. Instead of bearing one flower per stem, these tulips bear three or more flowers per stem, providing a bouquet of flowers on a single flower stem.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Fall is the Perfect Time to Improve Soil"

Q. I have a real problem. My garden is old, but not very good. The soil is clay (not one single rock or pebble). My plants look sparse even though I work hard. I would like to take out everything and start over. What do I add and when should I start over?

A. Now through fall is the perfect time to work on improving the soil. The best way to improve the soil is to add as much organic matter as you can. Peat moss, cow manure, humus, compost, and any other organic matter you can get your hands on will help improve the soil. Autumn leaves are in abundance now and can be added to the soil as organic matter. Large leaves, such as oak leaves, should be shredded before mixing them into the soil. Add as much organic matter as you have and rototill or spade it into the soil so it is thoroughly mixed in. Since soil in our area is naturally acidic, it's a good idea to do a soil test to see if you need to add limestone. Doing this soil improvement now will have your garden ready for planting time next spring.

Click here to read more about the soil test kit and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

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