4.7.10 Narcissus 'Sweetness' in the Window Boxes at my House
4.7.10 Daffodils and Grape Hyacinths Freshly Planted at Peter's Gate
4.17.10 N. 'Sweetness' doing their thing
4.17.10 My office planters: N. "Sweetness' and Hyacinthus orientalis 'Miss Saigon'
4.21.10 Narcissus 'Fortissimo' blooming from 2008 Planters in the Ruin Garden
For about 10 years, I have been planting spring bulbs in pots and planters and giving them a second life in the garden. The secret is to trick the bulbs into thinking they are in the ground the first year. If bulbs are planted in a window box or planter in the fall, they can not tolerate the change in temperature and will fail but if they are planted in your compost pile and then transferred to a window box they will flourish.
Daffodils , grape hyacinths and hyacinths are good candidates. Tulips do not work well because they are vulnerable to rodents. I like to choose daffodils that are fragrant and are good perennializers. N. 'Falconet', 'Geranium' and 'Sweetness' are good examples. N. 'Kendron', 'Thalia' and 'Stint' are long lasting in the garden but don't have as effective a fragrance. Larger daffodils that have forced successfully are N. 'Serola', 'Ceylon' and 'Fortissimo'.
A favorite grape hyacinth is Muscari latifolium. I like it because it is two-toned: having light blue florets on the top and dark violet below on each stem. Hyacinths add another color and texture with the added bonus of a heavy sweet fragrance. H. 'Peter Stuyvesant' is a lovely dark blue and H. 'Miss Saigon' is a very nice pink violet color. We tried H. 'Chestnut Flower' two years ago and we all agreed it was a putrid pink color that not a single volunteer wanted to take home to plant in their own garden!
Bulbs in planters and window boxes may seem like an extravagance but when selected and planted properly, they can also be long-lived perennials in your garden. Another advantage to this scenario is that when the bulbs are placed in the garden in early June, the holes in your planting are obvious (rather than trying to remember where they are in late October) and one can come up with the best combinations possible.