There are some splendid bulbs, corms and tubers for your summer garden. Most are well known, with some surprise inclusions that botanically belong in this section. The stars include richly scented, beautifully colored lilies and gladioli, beautifull Allium, Begonias, Agapanthus and Dahlias.
Summer bulbs are seldom used in large drifts, or with other bedding plants, as are spring bulbs. The majority of them are best treated like ordinary plants in herbaceous or mixed borders, or perhaps used to add foreground interest and color in a shrub border.
Allium are incredibly popular, especially those called ‘drumsticks’, which have vertical stems and a ball of color on top consisting of hundreds of tiny flowers. The genus includes onions, garlic and chives, and the decorative varieties are often known as ornamental onions. They produce short to tall umbels of mauve, pink, blue, white or yellow flowers, usually followed by attractive seedheads.
Lilies are one of the oldest established plants in gardens. There are more than 100 species of bulbs in the genus, which come mainly from scrub and wooded areas of Europe, Asia and North America. They have given rise to scores of excellent hybrids, many with wonderful scents, and there are lilies for sun, shade, acid or alkaline soils. The most dramatic lilies, they bear large, star-shape flowers in shades of white, yellow, crimson, and pink. These blooms are ideal for cutting. And many are perfumed with a spicy scent detectable from yards away.
The dahlia is one of the showiest flowers in the summer gardens. They are essential and provide magnificent flashes of color through the second half of summer, sometimes until the end of fall. Dahlias are available in many colors, including both strident and pastel shades of yellow, orange, red, deep purple and pink as well as white. they vary in flower size from about 5 cm (2 in) across, as with the Pompon dahlias, to enormous flowers, almost 30 cm (12 in) across. They are also available as dwarf patio cultivars and large exhibition dahlias. Dahlia corms are planted out in early summer, dug up, and then kept dryish over winter in a frost-free place.
Agapanthus is well-known for being a great summer-flowering, butterfly-attracting perennial in warm climates. In full bloom, its umbels, ranging in colour from deep violet-blue to pure white, spell love at first sight, which may account for its botanical name, an adaptation of the Greek words for love (agape) and flower (anthos). Commonly known as the lily of the Nile or African blue lily, this genus contains about 10 species of eye-catching clump-forming plants with fleshy roots, and originates from southern Africa. The plants produce strap-shaped, arching leaves and rounded umbels of blue or white flowers, followed by wonderfully decorative seedheads.
Begonias are an obvious choice to grow in a semi shaded or shaded area. The most glamorous bulb for shade, tuberous begonia produces gorgeous roselike flowers in a wide range of shades. It grows particularly well in containers such as window boxes and hanging baskets. Like true queens, tuberous begonias aren’t inclined to relinquish their throne after a single season. These tubers are easy to lift and store for many years of magnificent displays. There are over 1200 species of begonia grown for their often lovely flowers or for their attractively marked foliage.
Gladiolus are attractive, perennial herbs and semi hardy in temperate climates. All gladioli are easy to grow, colorful and make great cut flowers, hence their popularity. With very little work needed, your Gladiolus will burst into bloom in August, adorning your garden with bright colorful tall flowers that will make for a wonderful addition to any scheme. Gladiolus has rightfully earned its reputation as a top cut flower. The blooms (up to 40 of them) burst out of an upright spike and hold up as well in the vase as they do the garden. They run the gamut as far as flower color goes – from bright, bold colors to soft pastels. And they come in different sizes; miniature gladioli stay under 3 feet tall but larger varieties may exceed 6 feet.