Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Meeting Topic: Bodacious Bulbs

September 10, 2013 7:30 PM | Anonymous member
Bodacious Bulbs

Featuring: Adam Pyle 

Adam delivered a timely and informative presentation on Bulbs that will undoubtedly help members select and plant a better bulb display in their garden, and help us close a few more sales during our annual fund-raiser.

Tonight's presentation materials on bulbs along with an array of photos and informative materials written by Adam can be found on his website,


Adam Pyle grew up in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, spending time withgrandparents who were avid gardeners. From a young age he was always obsessed with plants and knew that he wanted to work with them as a career. Later, at the University of Maryland, Adam intended to major in landscape architecture, but found himself drawn to horticulture and botany, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Natural Resources and Plant Sciences. He soon joined the staff at United States Botanic Garden, where for five years he worked as the lead gardener of Bartholdi Park, experimenting with new gardening techniques for the Mid-Atlantic region. He now works as a professional horticulturist there and spends much of his time planning and designing exhibits, displays, and programs for the visiting public. Adam particularly enjoys sharing his Washington gardening experiences in the hopes that others can learn from his successes and failures.

Synopsis of Adam's presentation:

Some basic recommendations for spring flowering bulbs are:

1) plant in full sun (may be under deciduous trees which come into leaf later)
2) moderate moistureundefinedwith excellent drainage is required
3) bone meal or an organic fertilizer is preferred
4) plant to a depth of three times the height of the bulbs
5) use a pine straw mulchundefinedor, if in a pot, overplant with pansies.

If you are planting bulbs in pots, the pots should be at least 12-14 inches deep and wide. Use a mixture of potting soil and perlite, fill half way up and then start layering bulbs as close as shoulder-to-shoulder covering each layer with soil before adding the next layerundefinedup to 7 layers in very deep pots. Experiment with color and bloom time.

When do you plant your bulbs? Usually when the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees. Practical hints: when the asters and mums are on the wane or you turn on the heater in your car.

In planning for use of tulips, Mr. Pyle recommends aiming for patches or splashes of color with no less than 10 tulips with similar heights and blooming times, but varied flower shapes and patterns in a color scheme of two or three variations. He also suggested staggering bloom times when planting larges swaths of tulips.

He very generously gave us his email address: (under the heading "Think Spring") for checking out blossom heights, bloom times, etc. on several charts he has created. This information can be enormously helpful.

He did not confine himself to tulips and daffodils, but included ideas about crocus, snowdrops, fritillaria, alliums, dwarf iris, and anemones. He especially recommended the multiflowering hyacinth ‘Anastasia,’ which multiplies readily and will last for yearsundefinedunlike tulips, which he treats as annuals, because hybrid tulips decline rapidly after their first blooming, losing size, color, or sometimes disappearing altogether. And yesundefinedhe recommended leaving the green leaves of perennial bulbs to die back naturally without cutting or tying so the bulbs can develop strength for their next year’s flowering. –Pat Driscoll

Many thanks to Pat Discole for planning, organizing and introducing this program.

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