Summer Bulbs

Tom Weaver —  July 10, 2014 — 2 Comments

Spring is done and we’ve finally moved into summer bulb season! The annual beds have been replanted with sweeps of dahlias, cannas, caladium, and begonias to showcase these nonstop workhorses of the summer garden.

PHOTO: Caladium plantings under the crabapples.

Caladium bicolor ‘Raspberry Moon’, Begonia ‘Million Kisses Honeymoon’ and Cretan brake fern (Pteris cretica) light up the shade under the Selkirk crabapples.


PHOTO: A raised planting of caladium and begonia under a tree offer a chance to sit in the shade.

Caladium bicolor ‘Miss Muffet’ and Begonia × tuberhybrida ‘Illumination White’ make a great pairing for shady areas.

On the perennial side of things, we’re moving into lily season. The very first lilies to bloom are the martagon lilies (Lilium martagon) and their hybrids (such as Lilium martagon ‘Mrs. R.O. Backhouse’). Martagon lilies are terrific plants for the shade garden because they provide both structure and color at a time when little else is blooming in the shade. The leaves emerge in a layered whorl, giving the plants a pagoda-like structure. We’re also moving into Asiatic lily season with the first of those beginning to bloom in bold shades of pink, red, yellow, and orange. 

PHOTO: The orange blooms of a martagon lily poke up through a bed of hosta.

Lilium ‘Nepera’ is a vibrant orange martagon hybrid that lights up a shady corner.

PHOTO: Foxtail lilies poke up from a planting of bayberry.

Pale yellow foxtail lilies (Eremurus ‘Lemon Meringue’) provide a fun summer surprise when planted among shrubs such as this bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica).

In addition to the lilies, we’re also seeing some unusual bulbs such as Eremurus ‘Lemon Meringue’ in bloom. Eremurus have tall, bottle brush-like flowers that add an exotic flair to the garden. Smaller alliums such as Allium tanguticum ‘Balloon Bouquet’ and Allium senescens do not have the giant flower heads of their springtime relatives, but still provide a welcome change of pace from the more common flowers of summer. 

PHOTO: Asiatic lilies just beginning to open.

The Asiatic lilies are just starting to bloom in the sunnier areas of the garden. Photo by Bill Bishoff.

PHOTO: Lilium 'Sterling Star'.

Lilium ‘Sterling Star’ Asiatic Lily. Photo by Bill Bishoff.

PHOTO: Lilium 'Red Velvet'.

Lilium ‘Red Velvet’ Asiatic outfacing lily. Photo by Bill Bishoff.

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Tom Weaver

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Tom Weaver is an assistant horticulturist who takes care of the Graham Bulb Garden, Aquatic Garden, and viburnum walk. He has a bachelor's degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus.

2 responses to Summer Bulbs

  1. Sharon Zulkie July 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    BEAUTIFUL!!!

  2. rosa hernandez July 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    son hermosas y muy buenas fotos.

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