When building the foundations of a great garden, its best and easiest, to start from the ground up. Thus the bulbs go in first.
Most bulbs will survive in a variety of soils but prefer ( and often multiply in) a light, well drained sandy loam that has been enriched with a good general fertiliser, blood and bone and lime.
Compost is acceptable provided that it is well aged. Avoid fresh manures as they often cause bulb fungus and blights and can attract bulb flies and maggots that will ruin the bulbs.
A bulb is one of natures little miracles. It is actually a modified shoot surrounded by fleshy scales (an onion is a good example). The scales protect the shoot and contain plant foods held in reserve to keep the shoot alive during its dormant period and feed it once it starts into growth.
The shoot in the centre of the bulb contains the embryo leaves which later develop into the mature foliage. In the case of many spring flowering bulbs, this shoot is actually the entire plant itself! Miniature leaves, stem and flower(s) sleep protected within the shelter of the bulb scales awaiting the right conditions to awaken them into growth that will expand into the glorious spring flowers we so enjoy.
Thus it is wise to take a little extra time to examine bulbs carefully prior to purchase and planting to make sure that you have bulbs that will awaken from a “peaceful” sleep! Generally, the larger the bulb the larger the flower(s).
Select firm, well formed bulbs avoiding any that appear soft, shrivelled and dry, physically damaged or show signs of mould, fungus disease, or insect damage. Any of these problems could damage or kill the young embryo shoot and ruin the later spring show.
When planting bulbs, in general, place the pointed end upwards in the planting hole and plant to a depth equal to twice their diameter, measuring from the top of the bulb.
PLACE rather than push the bulbs into their planting hole as new tender roots more easily establish into soft earth rather than compacted soils. In heavy soils consider adding sand under and around each bulb for drainage and easier root penetration.
And plant a little deeper in sandy light soils and those that easily become hot and dry. Once planted, smooth the soil over the bulb(s) and water in well.
Some gardeners prefer to leave the beds bare until spring, while others prefer to plant the bulb bed with a suitable ground-cover to provide winter and spring flowers before, during and/or after the bulbs actually bloom.
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