Spring Bulbs

by AJ Wms

Spring Bulbs

The green shoots of spring bulbs forcing their way through the garden soil in February are a welcome sight. For not only do they foretell the arrival of spring, but their colourful flowers brighten the garden and lift our spirits.

Experienced gardeners know how to create a succession of bulbs flowering from January right through to early summer by planting a variety of different types. It’s not a complicated skill to learn and simply relies on considering the normal flowering time of the bulbs and arranging them as you plant them, to create bursts of colour throughout the season.

Among the earliest flowers to appear in early spring will be the snowdrops, followed on by dwarf irises, crocus, early daffodils and grape hyacinths, until the crescendo of spring is reached with wonderful, late flowering tulips dancing flamboyantly in the breeze.

Most spring flowering bulbs are planted in the autumn for the best results, but that doesn’t mean that you have missed out. Take a trip to your local nursery and garden centre in spring, where you will find pots of flowering bulbs for sale. No doubt these will have been molly coddled a little to bring them into flower a little earlier than normal but that doesn’t stop you buying a few to create instant colour and interest around the garden. Plant them into the bare patches of the garden or into pots and containers that may be moved around the garden for the best effect. A pot of spring bulbs viewed from the kitchen window may be enough to brighten the garden and gladden the heart. Add them to hanging baskets, window boxes and other pots and containers and place them where you can see them so you get the very best from every flower. Bring pots of scented flowers indoors for a day or so to enjoy their fragrance and then place them back out in the cool conditions outdoors. The great thing about spring flowering bulbs is that they live for many years. In the right conditions they will also multiply to increase the display. A small clump of crocus or snowdrops will quite quickly spread to become a generous display year after year.

To get the best from your bulbs, whether they are bought in pots this spring or existing in your garden borders, you need to help them to build up their food reserves. Healthy plump bulbs will create a much better flower display the following year.

When they have finished flowering cut off the dead flowers removing about 2.5cm of the flower stem. Don’t cut off the leaves until they die back naturally, as they will continue to feed the bulb while they are still green. Instead feed the bulbs with a long-term fertiliser such as Growmore or a controlled release fertiliser, which will feed them over the coming months and replenish their energy to ensure that they flower again next season.

For a dwarf daffodil that will perform brilliantly in pots, containers, beds and borders look no further than ‘Tete a Tete’, you’ll find pots and pots of them in the garden centre for planting now, or make a mental note to buy some bulbs to plant this autumn. It’s got an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, which means it is a great garden variety. Plant it into hanging baskets and bedding displays so that it brightens the early spring. The deep golden flowers, with two or three to a stem, are simply divine. For a scented narcissus consider Daffodil ‘Minnow’. It bears two or three pale, lemon yellow flowers on each stem. The elegant, small flowers have a short trumpet and look fantastic with bluebells, forget-me-nots, Scilla or other blue spring flowers.

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