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GARDENING

Flash! Bulbs Make Summer Days Photo Opportunities

June 15, 1996|From Associated Press

For fun in the garden, try summer bulbs such as elephant's-ear, pineapple plant, lilies-of-the-Nile, caladium, canna and calla lily.

"They're so easy, and the results are outrageous," says Frans Roozen, who represents the International Flower Bulb Center in Hillegom, Holland. "Just bury them in soil, most only 1-inch deep, then water and . . . stand back! Some of these are small; some are enormous. None are boring in the garden."

He says the calla lily comes as close to perfection as one flower can, with a texture so smooth and velvety that one suspects it is unreal.

"Officially known as Zantedeschia, the calla has sheath-like flowers in pink, yellow or white or one of the newer shades of bronze, gold or deep rose. Plant callas in full sun, sheltered from the wind," he says.

He likes elephant's-ear (Colocasia esculenta) for its green, gargantuan leaves and overall height of 5 feet: "They do best in partial or full shade and must be kept moist in hot weather," Roozen says.

"For a foliage favorite with a can-do attitude, plant canna in full sun," Roozen says. "Hot weather-loving canna has distinctive foliage of large brown, bronzed, green or variegated leaves and red, orange, pink or yellow flowers that look like wildly plumed tropical birds clinging to air perches. It grows to an impressive 3 to 5 feet, staunch and upright, [and] requires no staking."

He calls lilies the queen of the summer garden.

"Plant different types of lilies to enjoy flowers all season," he says. "Asiatics bloom first, followed by trumpets, then Orientals.

"Full sun is preferred, light shade tolerated. Lilies like their head in the sun, their feet in the shade. Plant among hostas, coral bells or other low-growing leafy plants to provide a lower tier for shade. Grow extras to provide cut flowers."

The lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus), Roozen says, looks equally lovely when out of bloom, with glossy strap-like leaves that have their own appeal.

Native to the Nile Valley, agapanthus has brilliant blue flowers in clusters atop 3-foot streams that tower above a whorl of green blade leaves. It's best in a large container, with one to three bulbs per container. In colder areas, protect the container over winter. Expect increased flowering the next year, and give it full sun to partial shade. Peak bloom is midsummer to early fall.

The pineapple lily plant (Eucomis bicolor) looks like a pineapple, with a stiff-leaved tuft atop a 15-inch spire of tiny, greenish-white flowers edged with a fine, lilac-red line and a base of broad, green, strappy leaves.

"For a fun effect," Roozen says, "plant an odd number of bulbs in a large pot or barrel. The flowers bloom in July and August. Place in sun or light shade."

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