It’s Bulb Time!
Get planting now for a splash of Spring colour!
It’s bulb planting time again and the garden centres and nurseries are stocking up with some stunning bulbs for next spring! After a hot summer where we’ve escaped a hosepipe ban it’s great to get back into the garden and be planting something that actually copes with dry conditions.
What should we start with? Well the snowdrop is the first bulb to really show and the perfect flower to lift your spirits in the coldest and darkest part of the Winter. Imagine clumps of strappy leaves with nodding heads of white, creamy white, even white tinged with green. The double headed Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’is a robust double headed variety and naturalises brilliantly. Grow them from dry bulbs but for the best establishment rates buy them “in the green” in February/March. They are the only bulb that I’d recommend you wait to plant, be patient and this way they’ll establish much easier than the ordinary dry bulb.
Big swathes of crocus coming through the lawn are great but I’ve found that they are consistently destroyed by birds and squirrels. It’s almost like the squirrels are watching me plant them and then dig down just an inch or two to eat them. You can plant by laying chicken wire over the top of the bulb, then topsoil and re-seeding but it’s a big job!
Favourite bulbs for everyone are the daffodils and the early Narcissus ‘February Gold’does what it says on the packet, consistently flowering in early February and sometimes even in January. You can plant a whole range of varieties of daffodil to get flowers right through to May with varieties such as Narcissus ‘Pheasants Eye’peaking in Chelsea week!
For something a little more unusual I love Snakeshead Lillies Fritillaria meleagris. They look great in the border but also plant some in a pot so that you can get right up close and see their amazing shapes and colours. Bulbs like reasonably dry conditions and if you’ve got a sandy, free draining soil they’ll love it. Two of the best bulbs for this type of soil are Cyclamen and Tulips. Cyclamen coum pallidum ‘Album’is the most fantastic clear white flower and despite its name is also a very simple form and easy to grow.
Tulips are also a must have and the absolute best for very dry sandy soils. They are perfect for pots with good drainage, especially the parrot tulips such as Tulipa ‘Fringed Beauty’and for borders I always find that the Darwin hybrids such as Tulipa Apeldoorn and Tulipa Apeldoorn’s Elitewill come back year after year.
And finally a little tip about dying daffodil leaves because everyone has a theory on this. They look untidy but you shouldn’t cut them back, tie them up or lift the plants. Let them die down naturally but plant amongst ferns and foxgloves and the new growth of the plants will disguise the dying leaves of the daffodils in no time at all.