As Autumn evenings set in and that distinctive chill is in the air we are well and truly in bulb planting season. Now is the time to ensure your flower beds come to life early in the Spring and provide you with some much-appreciated colour after a long Irish Winter. There is really nothing like the first precious flowers to appear amid frost and even snow, letting us know brighter days are always ahead.
Bulbs are an interesting gardening topic as they are equally adored by garden experts as by small children, they are accessible to and appreciated by almost everyone. They are affordable, low maintenance and require minimal effort, & yet they can be an art in themselves. Imagination is the only limit on what can be achieved with bulbs. They are the perfect introduction to planting for budding gardeners and yet have a back catalogue of the most rare and unusual cultivars that you can spend a lifetime enthralled.
They bring wonderful colour to the garden: from delicate whites to vibrant yellows & bold pinks. The first step is to think about where you would like to introduce these pops of colour. Would you like them to be in blocks of colour? Or planted as a composition of complementary tones? Bulbs can have a Traditional Heritage look or a Contemporary sleekness depending on your preference.
You can opt for the classics, masses of yellow Daffodils, or you can compose unexpected features. For example, Albus Narcissus (white daffodil) used alongside white tulips gives a very clean and minimal look, and lets you add a dash of your favourite accent colour if wanted. The wide variety of even the common sounding Daffodils is extensive. Daffodils, or Narcissus as is their true botanical name, come in all shapes & sizes. From the classic trumpet cups to ruffles or even doubles, with heights anywhere from 9 to 16cm, their scents too can be as diverse as their appearance, some hold a deep Musky tone while other have a Citrusy freshness.
When planting the key is to remember that Groupings work best. A cluster of bulbs will give more impact and structure to a space rather than too sparse a scattering. Be strategic in where you plant, think about where you would like to bring interest to and what are the views you see most when arriving home or viewed from the most used windows in your home (remember its still going to be chilly outside so most likely this will be your arrival to the front door or view from the kitchen/living room windows). You can use bulbs in clusters either side of a pathway, along a border planted in linear repetition, edging hedgerows or underplanting for a grove of trees. Pots are another excellent option for these early flowers.
Pots allow flexibility and ease of maintenance; you can move them into position as flowers bloom and take them away discreetly as they begin to fade. By having multiple pots at the ready your front door can be picture perfect from February right the way through to May.
Bulbs look best and grow happily together when Layered. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘Bulb Lasagne’. Sounds delicious right. A good rule of thumb is that the larger the bulb the deeper the planting depth. So as an example, start with a base layer of soil & your Allium at the bottom, add in some more soil soil and then move on to the Tulips & Daffodils, as you get toward the top of the pot you can still fit in the smaller bulbs closer to the surface, choose your preference of Iris, Crocus or Anemone. Play around and enjoy your own unique look. My personal favourite combination is a wide pot layered with Tulip at the bottom, then Daffodil & Crocus by the surface.
One important note is that for bulb flowers they must be allowed retain their wilting green leaves after the flowers have faded, cutting them back too soon or ‘tidying’ them up with the lawnmower will jeopardise their energy stores for the coming year. With pots just tuck them away somewhere discreet and for lawns or flower beds just allow them have some time in the sun after their performance, so as that they have time to photosynthesise and make the reserves they will need to see them through the Winter into next Spring.
Most bulbs enjoy a well-draining soil with adequate sunlight. 6hrs+ daylight is enough for most varieties, but please do double-check your particular bulb as you select their exact aspect in the garden. It goes without saying that the higher the quality bulb the better the flower will be, at LandArt we use West Cork Bulbs, in combination with Jacks Magic potting compost.
The last consideration will be to choose your bulbs to ensure interest throughout Spring. The Spring Season starts with the Snowdrops, these will come into flower first with the Crocus soon to follow. Both very small and sweet they are the first signs of Winter easing. The larger flowers will then start to come on as the days lengthen, Iris, Anemone & Daffodils will begin to make their appearance followed swiftly by Tulips and, the largest of all, the spectacular globe Alliums.
At this time of year we sow bulbs for a succession of early colour to all our Garden Designs and Planting Jobs. If you are thinking to create a new Garden for 2023 let us know and we can book in an initial consultation, or if you want to bring these Spring beauties to your own garden then it is well worth a visit to your local garden centre. Wishing all the best to you & your garden.
A quick guide to flowering periods:
Snowdrop – February – March
Crocus – February – March
Iris – February – March
Daffodil – March – April
Anemone – March – April
Tulips – April – May
Bluebells – April – May
Allium – May – June