It started with a media release that I was about to delete, but first I needed to google a term I’d never heard before: stinzen gardens. The release concerned bulb planting, so this seemed like something I should know.

After much clicking and browsing, the results were perplexing. Stinzen is Frisian for “brick house.” But stinzen plants/stinzenplanten/stinzen gardens (pick your fave) have nothing to do with bricks or houses, except that they may appear near one. The phrase is applied to a vast group of smaller bulbs—galanthus, species tulips (like those above), scilla, small allium, fritillaria, crocus, chionodoxa, eranthis, small narcissus, and more—that are more likely to naturalize and can create a wildflower field effect when planted en masse in front of a country estate (or similar structure). The name was first applied to Dutch estates with brick houses, where such plantings had gone wild and created a picturesque effect. The idea for us is that we could also create such effects in front of our modest properties.

If it works, that is. Ideally, the bulbs would come up on schedule, starting with snowdrops and ending with, I’d guess, alliums. If planted in grass, mowing would need to wait until every bulb was good and done. And that’s where warning signal #1 goes off. First off, planting bulbs in established turfgrass is not so easy. And even smaller varieties like these do have foliage that will get crappy-looking as time goes by. On one site, lily of the valley was suggested as an inclusion. What a mess that would be!

I’ve tried this, sort of. (I do have a brick house after all.) I plant snowdrops, scilla, eranthis, species tulips, chionodoxa, erythronium, muscari (not on most stinzen lists, why?), and a few others. There is no grass; the bulbs are succeeded by shade perennials and shrubs. Not at all stinzen-y. (as you see in this back bed)

This is one of those things that seems great on paper and on websites with images like this:

It seems as though you would need a big space. A fully staffed botanical gardens could likely pull it off. The initial planting would be a lot of work and the mowing (you’d have to) wouldn’t be too much fun. And I wonder about the effect if too many different varieties are included. I’ve planted so many bulbs in the hopes that different types would come up at the same time, creating impressive combos and contrasts, but, more often than not, it just doesn’t work.

Think of all the gardeners these estates must have had. So long, stinzen. I just don’t have the staff.