Once your garden bed is thoroughly dug, fertilised and made ready to plant we are confronted with the really fun part… what varieties to plant… there are so many beautiful bulbs to choose from!
Let’s look at some of the easiest and most beautiful varieties that are sure to grow with a minimum of fuss.
Tulip is a spring classic that should be planted much more often. They come from the Old World where conditions are colder and drier than here in winter.
So for best results give them good drainage and plant them in a situation that remains shaded and cool much of the winter but is sunny by the first of spring when the shoots and flowers appear.
The south side of a shrub, hedge or low wall that will provide cool winter shade and spring sunshine will suit them perfectly. They flower in a rainbow of colours and forms and look great in clumps, beds, borders and clumps and some grow well in pots.
Narcissus, commonly called daffodil, and it’s multi flowered form the jonquil are favourites of the season. Probably for the reason that they are so dependable and easy to grow and their happy, bouncing flowers appear in such a variety of pleasant forms.
They prefer a deep, rich, well-drained soil and multiply best where lime and minerals are freely available. Plant as little as 3” deep in heavier soils and up to 7” in sandy land in a sunny or lightly shaded spot.
Because the leaves should be left to ripen undisturbed on the bulbs after flowering, many gardeners plant daffodils in a bed or in clumps on their own where the ripening foliage does not interfere with the growth of later spring flowers.
Other gardeners over plant the daffodil bed with annuals or perennials to hide the ripening foliage: calendula, cineraria, perennial asters and shasta daisy all work well for this purpose.
Dutch, Spanish and English Iris need almost identical conditions to daffodils. The dutch forms start flowering about the same time in spring as the early yellow daffodils, followed by the spanish and late dutch forms and then the english varieties that often bloom nearer to early summer.
Colours and forms of the new hybrids are exquisite… like orchids on a stick… and deserve a place in every garden!
Hyacinth is the most fragrant of the classic spring bulbs. They require the same conditions as daffodil if perhaps a little better drained, especially if in part shade and they love lime.
Nothing is easier in pots and they make a charming effect in clumps perhaps near the base of a spring flowering tree.
Next time we’ll talk about the “minor” bulbs that make a major splash of colour in the spring garden.
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