Experimentation is key to figuring out what works. At two years old, my own garden is an endless game of musical chairs. It is located in Montlake, near the Washington Park Arboretum and the University of Washington, with a 1922 craftsman house sitting four feet above the street. The sloping front garden is a small meadow laboratory, with a mix of plants that is predominantly perennial alliums, cone flowers, sedges and grasses. Additionally, even in this small space, there are 8,000 bulbs planted amongst the perennials. Crocuses, snow drops, and winter aconites bloom in late January and early February, and the succession goes on from there.
The summer color palette is mainly cool, with light lavender, icy white and mint green, cold pinks, and steely blues. Cadmium yellow daffodils provide an early shot in the arm, and burnt orange from the California fuchsia, Zauschneria, adds a fiery touch late in the summer.
My favorite new bulb is the July flowering garlic, Summer Drummer. The pale pink, softball-sized flowers on six- to seven-foot stems are amazing. Two years ago I planted six of them, and added another 24 last fall. It is vigorous and eye-catching.
Lately, I have been adding Pacific Coast Irises, to learn about these drought-tolerant, wildly colored and patterned hybrids. They are currently only available through specialty nurseries, but are durable and worth searching out. We have found commercial sources for mixed hybrids, and are starting to use them on projects. To have the control of a range of color in a composition would be amazing.
So with that, wait for the sequence of bloom in my garden, and detail on specific plants as they emerge and blossom.