Debra Prinzing

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Spring bulbs, this time in planters

Monday, March 7th, 2011

A galvanized flower bucket is paired with plum-purple tulips and shimmery pink glass as a soil topper

A year ago this month, I met my photographer friend Jack Coyier and his assistant Stuart Gow at a great location perched above the ocean in Malibu. My car was filled with flats of flowering bulbs – tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, grape muscari blooms — and an assortment of perennials and annuals as their companions. Oh, and lots of pots.

Color-coded pots, selected to match or coordinate with the blooms of spring bulbs purchased in 4-inch pots and nursery flats. It was a bulb garden in a Volvo station wagon!

March 2011 Better Homes & Gardens

We photographed a feature that I created for Better Homes & Gardens, which you can find in this month’s issue.

Called “Matched Sets,” the story gives hope and design inspiration to anyone who forgot to plant bulbs last fall.

It’s not too late to buy beautiful flowering bulbs, just peeking out of their buds. In Seattle at least, we have a variety of narcissus and daffodils, grape hyacinth, a gazillion tulip choices and at least three colors (pink, white and dark purple) hyacinth.

For a few bucks, you can plant these in a container, plunk it on your front porch or patio, and look like a genius who really did think about bulb-planting last October.

When you match the pot color to the bloom color, the design packs a punch. In some examples you see here, I tweaked the rules; in others, I didn’t deviate from the palette’s theme. It was fun working with Stuart and Jack, and seeing this story in print brings back some great memories of our day together on location in Malibu.

Two of the designs we shot didn’t make it to the pages of BH&G, so I’ve included them here. The first is above right. Below is a detail shot of how perfectly the glass marbles look as a color-matched soil topper, followed by a close-up of the not-used hyacinth design:

An affordable and reusable way to add color to any pot design.

The hyacinths didn't behave well that day, but I do love the checkerboard accent of white alyssum with dark purple ajuga at the base of each container.

My absolutely favorite design: Oval-shaped blue-glazed pot, with blue=green echeverias and sweet blue grape hyacinth (muscari) bulbs.

Simple tips to get started:

  1. Select bulbs with blooms that match your container’s color
  2. Add cool-season annuals, grasses, succulents, or perennials that match or complement the palette
  3. Plant bulbs first, then pack other plants around them so the bulbs seem to be emerging through the plants at the base.
  4. Remember the basics: Use potting mix and a container that has proper drainage.
  5. Water regularly.

Sources: Blue pot (Sperling Nursery & Gift Shop, Woodland Hills, CA), square wood containers (Rolling Greens Nursery, Los Angeles), galvanized flower pot (Michael’s Craft Stores).