With the sunshine making some guest appearances and the days getting longer, you really can start to notice the garden coming back to life after the winter dormancy, with some of the first signs of spring showing their heads – the bulbs!
Snowdrops always start the season off and are now nearing the end of their flowering season. Always divide up now after flowering and water well after re-planting. Never buy as dried bulbs as the fail rate is phenomenal, always choose established plants or growing pot plants.
Crocus provide a vibrant rainbow of colours, from whites and blues through to oranges and yellows, great for also planting among the grass to give some early colour or at the front of a border, rockery, or even in some containers and window boxes.
The common sign of Spring is the flowers of the daffodils, edging the verges and hedgerows throughout the countryside and in the towns, they are unmissable. When planting in your garden, make sure to plant them at a depth of four to six inches. This way you can over-plant with summer bedding or other shallow rooting plants and the bulbs won’t be in the way.
In the wild they get fed by mother nature, falling leaves and rotting down debris all help to give them the nutrients to produce flowers. In the garden, to stop them flowering blind, feed them straight after flowering with tomato feed or use a pellet-based feed like Vitax Q4 as this is the time the bulb is swelling for next year, and don’t chop off the leaves until you can see brown die back from the ends. As my old taxi driver used to tell me, tie the old leaves in a knot to stop them looking too untidy!
Tulips which flower a little later on really are beautiful, however not as easy to grow as a daffodil or hyacinth. Make sure to give them a freely draining soil in a sunny aspect, also plant to a depth of six inches as they like the depth, but with that depth it still must be well-drained ground to ensure success. Again, like daffodils, top up with feed after flowering to ensure yearon y-ear colour. All bulbs give colour in containers and then, after flowering, plant them out in the garden to give colour for next year!
Other bulbs include Scillas and Chionodoxa, with their well-known striking blue flowers, but also available in other colours, they make a great addition to tubs and rockeries. With it being so early on in the year, perennials and shrubs have had little time to grow and produce a show, whereas bulbs have the energy and colour to fill this gap, so throughout the garden bulbs play a big part in linking that colour throughout the year. So always spare a thought for making space to fit them.