Bulb Basics - Cheekwood
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Bulb Basics

With virtual tours of Cheekwood in Bloom showing the 150,000 colorful bulbs covering our grounds, we’re getting down to basics about bulbs!

What’s in a Bulb?

True bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, contain five parts:

  1. Scales
  2. Flower Bud
  3. Basal Stem
  4. Roots
  5. Tunic

Notice how the diagram is a vertical cross-cut of a bulb, showing a miniature plant! If you cut a bulb horizontally, you will find rings formed by scales. You can try this at home with an onion, garlic, leek, or shallot!

Image courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Vegetable Bulbs

You might only think of tulips or daffodils when you hear the term “bulb,” but did you know there are other types of bulbs you may find in your kitchen? These plants all grow from an underground mass of food storage tissues. Bulbs store enough food to enable them to grow and flower with no additional nutrients during their first year.

True Bulbs: onion, garlic, leek, shallot

Tubers: potato, jicama, yam

Rhizomes: ginger, bamboo

Corms: taro, water chestnut, dasheen

Tuberous Roots: sweet potato, cassava (tapioca)


Garden Spotlight

Bradford Robertson Color Garden

Many of Cheekwood’s colorful blooms can be found in the Bradford Robertson Color Garden, including 30 different varieties of tulips. The Color Garden presents the current season, using color as its main element of design. An allée of crape myrtles leads into this garden where sweeping curves of colorful annuals, perennials, and tropical plants border a sloping lawn and give a view of the distant hills. By giving context to the time of year, its exuberant plant material and meandering path lead guests to walk beneath a set of verdant arches, setting a hospitable tone for the entire visit.

The garden was designed by Naud Burnett in 1998 under the leadership of Bob Brackman, who was then the Director of Horticulture at Cheekwood. Burnett is noted for designing the Color Garden and Fern Dell at the Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, Texas.

This vibrant display does not appear overnight; Cheekwood’s gardeners prepare garden beds and begin planting hardy spring bulbs in the fall. Interested in planting bulbs of your own? Check out our tip sheet!

Tulip Tips


Take a virtual tour of the Bradford Robertson Color Garden during Cheekwood in Bloom!

Virtual Tour

Follow along on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more virtual blooms!

We hope these educational coloring sheets can offer meditative comfort for kids and adults of all ages. Download one of our educational coloring sheets below, and use #CheekwoodinBloom for your chance to be featured!

Daffodil   Hyacinth   Tulip   Pansy

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