Thinking ahead in the garden is a bit like fashion houses preparing to show us what we will be wearing next year… you need to plan ahead to be suitably ‘dressed’ for spring!
There is nothing better than new colour bursting into the garden in spring, it promises so much of what we have to look forward too
So now is the time plan your spring colour and interest, to source and plant your bulbs so their root systems can develop and produce good, strong, colourful blooms.
Of course the two main contenders for early colour are fresh, vibrant Daffodils followed by glorious, dazzling Tulips…..
SEPTEMBER is the time plant DAFFODILS.
My main thoughts when it comes to deciding what to plant where are they should look natural and be size appropriate, think about them forming natural swaths of colour, either mid way through your border or planted under trees and in lawns.
In your border my advice is to choose more delicate daffodils, something a little subtler than the obvious daffodil with its coarse, loud trumpet flower. I’m fond of Narcissus ‘Geranium’ with multi heads of flowers, ‘Poeticus’ with its tall stems, and ’Thalia’ with it’s white trumpets, they are all scented and will cut well for an indoor vase. Add some early delicate yellow to the soft creamy mix with some Narcissus ‘February Gold’.
Narcissus tete-a-tete, at the front of the border is an absolute must with its graceful, smaller blooms.
LATE OCTOBER TO EARLY NOVEMBER is the time to plant TULIPS.
Tulips are my favourite spring flowering bloom, they flower much later, following on from Daffodils and offer more structure and form than Daffodils, therefore, requiring more thought and planning.
To create a show stopping display my advice is to choose your colour palette, strong, dramatic and contrasting or soft, complimenting and gentle. Either way include creamy white Tulips with flashes of green, I’d recommend Tulipa ‘Spring Green’. If you don’t want multi colour, choose a single palate planting different varieties.
My recommendations for a dramatic colour contrast of dark purples, blacks with orange varieties includes: Tulipa ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Black Parrot’, ‘Purple Doll’, ‘Paul Schere’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Artist’, ‘National Velvet’, ‘Ego Parrot’ and ‘Apricot Parrot’.
For a softer palate choose from; ‘Blue Parrot’, ‘Groenland’, ‘White Trumphator’, ‘Ivory Floradale’, ‘Apricot Beauty’, ‘Bruine Wimpel’, ‘Pretty Princess’, ‘Eternal Flame’ and ‘Flaming Spring Green’.
Of course if you are going to choose one colour I’d say it has to be a traditional Red; Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’, ‘Tambour Maitre’, ‘Abra’, Couleur Cardinal’, ‘Red Impression’, ‘Red Spring Green’ and ‘Red Shine’.
My tips for sourcing and planting bulbs:
Mail order your bulbs from specialist, recommended companies; the RHS has a great selection, also Sarah Raven and Crocus.
As a rule of thumb, plant daffodils at a depth three times the size of the bulb. Tulips four times, especially if they are a tall variety.
If you are planting in lawns pick an area where you don’t mind seeing the leaves for a while after flowering, depending on the size of your lawn I’d choose one or three areas to plant.
Don’t plant bulbs individually, dig a good-sized hole and plant 5 or 7 at a time. It’s quicker, and you see the results when they grow, more natural and less regimented.
You will notice Tulips have different flowering times, generally I’d choose have half and half of early and late flowering, that way you will have a long flowering season.
If you are on heavy, water retentive soil, add grit to the bottom of your hole before adding your bulbs.
Add Bonemeal to your planting hole.
As the flowers fade, leave the foliage to decay naturally. This returns goodness to the bulb for the following years flowers.
Mulch Tulips with well rotten manure after removing decayed leaves to encourage nitrogen back into the ground and bulb for strong growth and good flowers the following year.
You can change locations of bulbs after flowering and add to your collection each year, so spend some time planning and then out in Autumn sunshine planting, in the spring you will be so pleased you did!!