Bulbs are such a good investment because they multiply underground every year then burst out of the ground in spring to reward us with even larger clumps of colour. Just when it seems that winter will never end up pop the snowdrops and crocuses.
The snowdrops dainty white bell-shaped flowers with a green spot on the outside of each petal are well suited to being planted under deciduous trees where they can spread their pretty white skirts in the first rays of sunshine.Crocuses are also one of the earliest bulbs to flower which don’t need full sun and will flourish in semi shaded areas. There is always room to squeeze a few crocuses in the garden or rock garden pockets where they will tempt you outdoors after a bleak winter.
Daffodils can provide the mainstay of a spring display and that daffodil bulb can last up to eighty years. The first to flower are the ‘Paper Whites’ and ‘Soleil d’Or’ with four to eight flowers on a stem and a strong fragrance.
Where as the leaves of snowdrops and crocus fade away quietly the leaves of daffodils can be unsightly an lean all over the garden. Either grow smaller varieties such as ‘Tete-a-tete’ or grow your larger trumpet daffodils near the back of the garden so that taller summer plants will grow up and hide their dying leaves.
Hyacinths and Freesias welcome spring with a perfume to die for. The hyacinths show off their giant spikes crowded with flowers in colours of white, yellow, pink, light blue, dark blue, purple and apricot. Plant some hyacinths in bowls filled with bulb mix with their noses just at the surface. Water, set aside in a cool place and when the flower buds start to push out of the bulb bring the bowl to your entrance way and enjoy the perfume.
Freesias have long been highly prized for their perfume.
When planting a container with bulbs, plant for a succession of flowers. In a good sized container plant crocuses, early and late daffodils, early and late tulips all together. Plant the bulbs in bulb mix at different depths such as large daffodils at a deeper level and little bulbs like crocuses nearer the surface. Because bulbs are little ‘power houses’, they can live on them selves until they have finished flowering so cram them into the bowl and create a mass of colour that all hold hands together. After they have flowered empty them into the garden to multiply over the summer.
Bluebells with their lavender-blue bell shaped flowers will give a stunning display, clump planted under trees, where they will naturalise into larger hazy blue drifts.
Tulips with their large beautifully formed bell shaped flowers can be elegant, subtle, even wayward and unpredictable in the garden. What flower dies as elegantly as the tulip? Then there is the crazy parrot tulip ‘Rococo’ with red and pink petals feathered and flared in crinkly lime green!
During the 1630s the tulip was such a rage of fashion that a handful of bulbs was worth thousands of dollars. The Netherlands had such a mania for tulips that staggering sums of money were paid for their bulbs. Some were recorded at having been sold for over 5.000 guilders, the equivalent of twenty years wages for a bus driver today!
When planting the bulbs plant at a depth equal to twice the size of the bulb in soil that is well drained and not too rich. Avoid planting where the bulb would be in direct contact with sheep manure. Tui Bulb Food contains all the necessary nutrients including calcium needed for growing bulbs.
Flower plants to plant now for spring flowering with your bulbs are for-get-me-not, bellis daisy, pansy, viola, and dwarf wallflower. As summer colour fades this is a good time to plant aquilegia, lupin, antirrhinum, wallflower, poppies, Sweet William and aubretia to bloom during late spring when the bulb show is over.
In the vegetable garden hoe earth up around leeks and celery as well as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to stop them from being flattened by the wind. To stop white butterfly attacking your winter greens keep the Derris Dust handy and re apply after rain.
If tomato plants are still madly producing greenery and fruit is not ripening reduce watering and this will shock the fruit into ripening.
And then there is keeping weeds under control. There is no such thing as doing a bit of gentle weeding unless you have only one window box. Weeds are such great colonisers and if it is simply broken off, it will be invisible for a while, then grow back bigger and better than ever. You have to take your hat off, even salute their capabilities because with out the slightest bit of help they grow faster than our other plants and breed massive families that smother our garden plants.Autumn is the best time to sow a new lawn. For more information, refer to our Handy Helper on here.
Happy gardening everyone