Design New England

Spring Garden Glory

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By Tovah Martin

If you happen to be whisking along Interstate 95 between Westport and Southport, Connecticut, this month and see a billboard with an invitation to visit a spring garden in Bridgeport — take a detour. In fact, if you are anywhere near Bridgeport, make haste to the Colorblends House & Spring Garden. For those of us who didn’t get tulips planted in a timely manner last autumn, Colorblends is comes to the rescue with a major dollop of spring, free of charge. Just set your GPS for 893 Clinton Ave, Bridgeport, CT, 06604, veer off the highway, and enjoy the show. You won’t regret it.

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Tulip mixture at Colorblends.

Back in December of 2013, Tim Schipper, owner of Colorblends, an offshoot of Schipper & Sons, a seller of spring bulbs founded in 1912, bought a white elephant Greek Revival house in Bridgeport for a song. He is renovating the 5,000-square-foot behemoth, originally built in 1903, but, he says, he bought the house for the acreage around it. On a generous lot, Schipper planned to plant bulbs. Lots of bulbs. Some 15,000 bulbs, to be specific. To make it happen, he collaborated with Dutch landscape designer Jacqueline van der Kloet who specializes in orchestrating bulb displays, and together they planned a garden that would strut Colorblends’ stuff as well as convey design principles. The general public reaps the benefits, no strings attached.
Now at its prime, Colorblends takes the unique approach of selling bulb combinations with an emphasis on tulips, specifically configured to blossom simultaneously. (This might sound easy, but synchronizing tulip displays takes supreme expertise.) With names like Stop the Car, Quantum Leap, and Hot, Hot, Hot, these mixtures are the synthesis of spring’s radiance.
The Spring Garden is meant to be educational. To draw the crowds, Colorblends planted daffodils for naturalizing along the road. Deeper into the property, van der Kloet designed a rolling display of bulbs starting with snowdrops, moving into crocus, followed by glory-of-the-snow, merging into daffodils, shifting to tulips, and finishing with Spanish bluebells. The progression should continue for eight glorious weeks. And that’s only one bed. Another is composed solely of species tulips. Behind a berm of windflowers and Spanish bluebells, there’s a garden specifically for procrastinators, what Schipper calls “Time’s Up” or “the emergency bail out garden.” It is where he dumped boxes of bulbs in December when the bulb-planting window was technically shut. That shebang is the scene stealer.

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Colorblends garden with one of the eight nearby churches across the street.
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Tulip mixture named “Ala Ska.”

Elsewhere, there are beds displaying combinations of single and double flowering tulips going berserk and narcissus obliging with a late show.
It’s a major dose of springtime within the city limits and so far, the “plant it and they will come” theory has borne fruit. The first visitors were a couple of nuns who happened to be strolling by. Word quickly got out and a flood of 300-plus visitors who strolled the paths during the tulips’ first weekend on stage. On Cinco de Mayo, the mayor of Bridgeport paid a call.
Colorblends warns that exact timing for blossoms is hard to predict because flowering is governed by the weather, and that’s in Mother Nature’s hands. But, according to its Facebook posting, “the display garden is now peak, peak, peak. If weather stays cool display could go for another 17 days. If it heats up, above 75 degrees, things will be over much faster. Come and take a stroll in the yard/garden.”

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Spring on parade.
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Bulb progression planted to perform for 8 weeks.

Colorblends House & Spring Gardns, 893 Clinton Ave, Bridgeport, CT; www.colorblends.com; 888-847-8637. Open daily during daylight hours.
Great design is always at your fingertips! Read Design New England’s May/June 2015 issue online!

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