Bulb Design Notes 2020

Look Through the Eyes of Garden Designers,

To Learn What Makes Spring Plant Partnerships Work

One of the trickier skills for a gardener to master is creating plant partnerships that perform beautifully together in spring, then transition smoothly into summer. How often has what seemed like “a perfect combination” of spring bulbs and perennials either underwhelmed or overwhelmed? Garden combos can fail in many ways. They may bury their neighbors, struggle with incompatible sun or water needs, leave unforeseen gaps in the bloom season, not relate to nearby flowering shrubs — or just grow up to be boring. Worst of all, poor plant choices are costly, time wasting and frustrating.

Gardeners who want to up their plant-partnering game may find Colorblends’ collaborative BulbDesignNotes.com of interest. The online project was created to address one subject: What makes spring plant partnerships work? Launched last August and now newly reworked and expanded, the project takes visitors behind the scenes to explore how four talented garden design professionals create spring plant combinations that achieve their design goals. Project sponsor Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs is a Connecticut-based flower bulb company that serves landscape professionals and home gardeners, nationwide.

The four designers are: Jacqueline van der Kloet, garden designer and plant specialist, Weesp, the Netherlands; Janie McCabe, residential garden designer, Northford, Connecticut; Mark Konlock, landscape designer and director of horticulture at Green Bay Botanical Garden, Green Bay, Wisconsin and, new this year, Linda Vater, small-garden designer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“The Bulb Design Notes Project focuses on the thinking that goes into creating plant partnerships that work,” says Tim Schipper of Colorblends. “In sharing how they approach spring plant combinations, the four designers present varied points of view, plus many workable ideas. For home gardeners and landscape pros, it’s an unusual opportunity to see the design process through the eyes of different design professionals.”

The expanded project now features 36 design scenarios, each a freestanding case study. The designers contributed photos of plant combos they designed or admire. Each photo depicts a mix of spring bulbs, perennials and/or annuals, biennials and flowering trees or shrubs. In their notes, they elaborate on how the combos achieve beautiful spring color followed by early summer interest. The photos can be enlarged and viewed using the site’s new slideshow feature. The four designers — each an active garden communicator — address everything from design concepts through practical details such as work arounds for bulb foliage dieback and dealing with foraging animals. For more on the project, see BulbDesignNotes.com.

Media Note:

Bulb Design Notes is offered with two uses in mind:
1. To suggest to gardeners as an idea resource

  • to explore what makes spring bulb and perennial combos work

2. To use as raw material in other editorial projects or presentations

  • All 4 designers have authorized attributed use of their photos and design notes
  • Feel free to adapt their BDN notes as quotes
  • Copyright-free for editorial/educational uses
  • Please credit the designer(s) and Colorblends.com