© Janet Davis
When Mother Nature landscapes a meadow with indigenous spring bulbs, she doesn’t plant them in regimental rows or geometric carpets; instead she lets a breeze scatter them in drifts.
To create this spontaneous look in our gardens, we need to mimic her “designs”.
Start by choosing reliably perennial bulbs that multiply over time to form large colonies, or look for bulbs in catalogues that are labelled suitable for naturalizing. Don’t waste money on costly cultivars; they’re often less vigorous and may be too bold or stiff-looking in a natural setting.
Especially lovely in a meadow setting are daffodils, properly called narcissus. The Netherlands Flowerbulb Information Center recommends the following narcissus cultivars as best for naturalizing: Actaea, Barrett Browning, Birma, Carlton, February Gold, Flower Record, Fortune, Hawera, Ice Follies, Jack Snipe, Minnow, Mount Hood, Peeping Tom, Salome, Suzy, Tête-à-Tête.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to naturalizing daffodils in your lawn:
Other spring bulbs that naturalize well include snowdrops, scilla, puschkinia, chionodoxa, crocus, grape hyacinths, anemones, leucojum, camassia and small tulip species.
Plant the bulbs by early October to allow time for root growth before winter sets in.
Naturalized bulbs look attractive scattered beside a walkway, under a deciduous tree, on a rocky slope, near a stream, in an orchard, or simply planted in a patch of lawn that’s not subjected to frequent foot traffic. For unmown, rough grass areas, consider introducing later-flowering meadow species, such as oxeye daisy, goldenrod, purple aster or a native columbine such as Aquilegia canadensis.