Spring Blooming Bulbs in a Desert Garden

Spring is just around the corner as I write this post. All my labor spent planting bulbs in the

Crocus are usually the first bulbs to bloom in my desert garden.

Crocus are usually the first bulbs to bloom in my desert garden.

Daffodils are start blooming after the crocus are open.

Daffodils are start blooming after the crocus are open.

fall is now baring fruit. The crocus started blooming about two weeks ago and my daffodils are just starting to bloom. Except for putting bulbs in the ground last fall, very little care went into getting these beautiful flowers to bloom in my desert garden.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from gardeners who move to the desert from some more humid climate is “nothing grows here” but that isn’t true.  The problem is most plants sold in the conventional gardening market are not adapted to desert environments such as Turkey, Greece, Iberian Peninsula, and Northern Africa. One exception is many of the cultivars of bulb species originated from plants native to arid regions and do quite well in desert gardens. This is especially true of spring bulbs that evolved under a climate of relatively wet winter and spring weather and dry summer and fall weather.  Wet winter and spring also describes the climate in northern Nevada where my garden is located so it is no wonder that spring bulbs do well here.

More crocus. I really like these striped crocus.

More crocus. I really like these striped crocus.

Among the spring flowering bulbs that do well in my region are tulips, daffodils, crocus, Dutch iris, and Muscari. I don’t get very many tulips because I have a lot of mule deer wandering through my property and they eat tulips.  I finally gave up trying to plant tulips since I rarely get to see them after I planted their bulbs. Mostly I saw munched up tulip leaves.

Daffodils, Dutch iris, crocus, and Muscari are great in my garden since deer find them unpalatable and gophers seem to avoid them as well. In fact, I’ve had daffodils come up unscathed through a gopher hill and even come up in subsequent years in that same spot with no apparent damage. The gophers apparently ate all the roots of plants around the bulbs but avoided the bulbs.

Yes, the challenges of my desert garden are many but the spring flowering bulbs make all those efforts worthwhile and give hope that I may be able to have a beautiful garden in spite of the alkali, dry climate, and extreme temperature variations.

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