Spring flowering bulbs lift the spirits after the dark winter days and bring hope that summer is just around the corner. I am lucky enough to live on a beautiful country lane lined with colourful bulbs. These start early in the year with clumps of delicate snowdrops popping up along the grass verges. The little white dots are the first sign of spring and I love to plant these in gardens for my clients to enjoy. Planted in February in the green ensures successful uptake of these delicate plants.
In April the lanes are brimming with daffodils; the many different varieties flower in succession extending the display for many weeks. All varieties are delightful but for wild areas I do have a preference for the native daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, it is more delicate and a softer yellow which sits much better in the landscape.
There is a myriad of garden worthy daffodils but again I lean towards the softer yellows and whites, two particular varieties are, Thalia which has clear white petals and looks lovely en masse and the small Elka which is a creamy yellow. The miniature daffodils such as Elka and Tete a Tete are very useful in the garden as they can be planted in large drifts and as they die back the foliage becomes hidden by the emerging perennials. Daffodil foliage shouldn’t be cut back after flowering, it needs to be left for a few weeks to send goodness back to the bulb to make it strong for the next season.
April also heralds the appearance of tulips, these are my favourite garden bulb. Tulips take some dedication as they are short lived so the display needs topping up each year but this is a great excuse to indulge in pouring over the bulb choices and trying something new.
I was a bit late in choosing tulips for my garden last autumn so didn’t get in as many as I would like but I am looking out onto the newly emerging flowers which are just beginning to show their colour. I have gone for a rich jewel coloured mix of Tulips Mascara, Merlot and Negritta Double. The deep red merlot are opening in front of a climbing rose, Rosa Mary Delaney, which also has deep red new growth which is a very happy coincidence.
As the tulips fade and get lost in the perennial growth it is time for the alliums to emerge. There is a vast choice of alliums on the market loved for their striking globe shape with some resembling an exploding firework. My go to alliums are ‘Purple Sensation’, a good sized purple ball on sturdy stems which are tall enough to float amongst the perennial plants without being too showy. Allium sphaerocephalon has a smaller oval shape in a deep wine colour and when planted in swathes through a perennial border brings colour and form. Alliums also work beautifully with airy ornamental grasses in naturalistic planting schemes, they always bring the wow factor.
August is a good time to start planning your bulb order with planting starting in September. I must admit planting bulbs isn’t something I enjoy but the beauty of the display makes up for the pain!