Colourful Spring Bulbs
Bulbs can be grown in any garden situation - in planters, garden beds and borders, rock gardens and your lawn. They appear from out of the soil and then withdraw again in just a season, displaying highlights of interest in the garden while the rest of your garden is sleeping.
To get good-quality flowers in the first year of planting, choose bulbs with a circumference of around 8cm for crocus, 28cm for hyacinths, 12cm for narcissus and 11cm for tulips. Special offers can be tempting Bargain stocks of bulbs sold in bags often contain mixed varieties, predominantly the most common colours (for example, red and yellow tulips, or yellow narcissus). These bulbs usually differ in size, which means that they will not all flower at the same time and will not produce a uniform visual effect. The smallest ones may not even flower at all. Take advantage of special offers like this only if you are buying bulbs for naturalising.
Take care when you buy loose: Bulbs sold loose are often high in quality and large in size. You can find interesting varieties, and buying in this way means you can select the exact quantities you want. But be careful - it is all too easy to go home with a mixture of varieties, as they can be difficult to differentiate. You could even end up with a mixture of species. If you are in doubt about the identity of any bulbs, plant them in rows in a corner of the vegetable garden and use them for cut flowers. Then any surprises will be pleasant ones.
Save money with multi-flower varieties: Some varieties of crocus, hyacinths, narcissus and tulips produce several flowers per bulb. By choosing these varieties, you can increase the impact and length of their flowering period, as the individual blooms do not all open at the same time.
Five months of brilliant bulbs: For a continuous display of bulbs throughout the spring, plant a range of species and varieties. Begin with snowdrops, then move on to crocus, hyacinths, narcissus and tulips, and try some unusual species too. By mixing the earliest and latest flowering varieties, you can enjoy a succession of flowers from January until June.
- Bring spring indoors by growing bulbs for cutting. If you have space, plant some in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden, and stagger them so you have cut flowers all spring.
Bulbs in your garden
A natural effect: Plant bulbs in drifts about 30cm wide, letting them meander between flowering shrubs and clumps of perennials. The spring growth of the other plants will hide the yellowing foliage of the bulbs after they flower.
- Try to mimic the way bulbs grow in the wild by scattering them at random over a patch of ground before planting, rather than arranging them in rigid rows.
Planting bulbs intended for display in a lawn into baskets, instead of directly into the lawn, has a number of advantages. It prevents the bulbs spreading into the areas where they are not wanted and you can lift them and refresh the soil for the next year, or even change the bulbs completely.
Cut out a piece of turf the same size as your bulb basket and dig down to the depth required for your bulbs.
Arrange your bulbs in the basket, making sure they are evenly spaced, then place it in the hole.
Fill the hole with fine soil and replace the turf. After flowering, remove the basket and store the bulbs indoors.