Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How To: plant a bulb garden

Spring will soon, well, spring, and at work we've begun to get a lot of orders in for bulb gardens. Bulb gardens are little baskets or planters featuring spring bulb plants like Hyacinth, Tulips, and Daffodils. This may just be my extreme bias towards spring flowers talking, but they're adorable. And as an added bonus, they're fun to make! That's why I put together a brief demonstration from a basket I assembled at work. View the visual how-to after the jump!

Things you'll need:
potting soil
at least a couple small bulb plants in 4"-6" pots
a container to plant in: this can be wicker with a liner, ceramic, or plastic
sheet moss
pebbles or nice-looking gravel
live curly willow or pussy willow
thin wire
any decorations: ribbon, fake birds, butterflies, etc.
Step one
If you're not working outside, spread newspaper on the surface you plan to work on. It will make clean-up much more savory. If you are using a basket, as I did, pull out the plastic liner. You will plant into this and them slip it into the basket so the wicker doesn't get dirty. Having a liner is very important with wicker, as the basket will get water damage and ruin without it, not to mention be very dirty looking. 

 Step two
Take all your plants out of their pots by gently gripping the bases of the stalks and wiggling them loose. Set them in your container and fill in between them with the potting soil. Be sure to arrange them in a way that makes sense. There should be a front to your bulb garden where the smaller plants are; the taller and stockier ones should go in the back.

Step three
Now that you've got all the plants secure in the dirt, cover the top with the sheet moss. You will have to rip little pieces off in some areas to cover odd-shaped soil patches, but in the end it will look like a uniform moss covering, as seen in the picture below.

 Step four
If you are using a basket, now is the time to slip the planted liner in. If not, move ahead to step five.

Step Five
Make sure your pebbles are washed and them arrange them on top of the moss. You can rinse them under a faucet by putting them in one of the small plastic pots from a 4" plant and running the water over the top. This also makes it easy to pour the rocks out over the moss. You will still have moss peeking out from under the pebbles, as seen in the picture below.

Step six
Time to decorate! For this particular handled basket I added a bird in a nest and ribbon-wrapped the handle. I made a little nest out of some spanish moss. Then I used a small wooden stake, sharpened on both ends, and stuck one end into the bottom of a foam bird. The other end I stuck through the nest and then straight on through into the soil to secure it, as you can see below.
Then I wrapped the handle of the basket with a sheer ribbon. I started on either side of the basket and met on the top right side, where I tied on a bigger bow using the two ends.

 Step seven
Place your willow pieces in the back of the planter in a whimsical way, like they are growing up out of the ground. These will act as stakes to stabilize the plants after they grow taller and are much prettier than the green plastic ones.

Just to give you an idea of how versatile they can be, here's a slightly higher-end one where we used a ceramic bird and put in pussy willow. You could also wire on a small bird in a nest where that pink bow is (one of my personal favorites!)
I hope you enjoyed this brief how-to! It's sure to make your home look like spring is here. -hil

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