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Planting Bulbs


Plant bulbs in the autumn for spectacular spring colour

The comforting thing about the march of the seasons in a garden is the inevitability of change and with it the opportunity to plan ahead for the following year. In this way gardening is a hopeful hobby. Few things give more hope than bulbs, which are like flowers in a packet. You put them in the ground at this time of year and have faith that winter will pass and they will bloom in the spring. It’s a wonderful thing.

Design a Garden with Bulbs

No particular expertise is required for cultivating most bulb varieties – they are incredibly forgiving. Even if planted upside down or at incorrect depth, bulbs will do their best to push their way through to flower in spring, even in the most inhospitable of environments.

A good way to enjoy spring bulbs in a garden, whatever the size, is to plant up a few containers with different varieties of bulbs this autumn. By growing bulbs in pots, you can provide temporary colour where they can easily be substituted when they are past their best. I like to grow spring bulbs in a container with a foundation of evergreen foliage plants to give some winter interest. A good combination is to plant the early flowering narcissus ‘February Gold’ with a periwinkle, Vinca major ‘Variagata,’ or ivy, Hedera helix ‘Kolibri.’

A pot of bright yellow narcissi contrasting with one filled with vivid blue grape hyacinths epitomise spring for both colour and perfume. Over-winter the pots in a corner of the garden and come spring place them near the entrance to your house where you can inhale their lovely perfume.

A good way to get a succession of bulbs throughout the spring is to plant one large container with layers of different bulbs. As a rule of thumb, the larger the bulb the deeper it should be planted in this way you build up the layers in the pot using compost between each. Try growing the elegant, purple Tulipa ‘Negrita’ for April colour with Narcissus ‘Rijveld’s Early Sensation’ to flower in March and for very early colour, the Iris Reticulata. Top the pot off with some pansies for winter colour and in one container you will have flowers to enjoy for over six months of the year.

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