My garden looks like this - really no kidding, come out to the farm and check it out. (This isn't a picture of mine - but I swear mine looks like this - I am amazed, can't you tell?). You plant garlic in the fall, and it actually sprouts and pokes it's little head out a few inches and waits for Spring. The first sign of longer days and warmer sun it shoots up so fast you can nearly watch it grow.
The softneck I have is a silverskin, Mother of Pearl. Silverskin garlics are usually the ones that you see in braids. Silverskins are generally the longest storing of all garlics and have a soft pliable neck that lends itself to braiding and holds up over time better.