Spring is bulb time, right? Not en­tirely – au­tumn and win­ter bulbs are as glo­ri­ous and their blooms last longer, too, writes Jackie French.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - Contents - AWW

Win­ter needs the bright­ness of bulbs – spring has glory enough – so plant now if you want to have a bloom­ing beau­ti­ful gar­den this win­ter. Your bulbs will turn your gar­den from dull to de­light. And when sum­mer comes, the bulbs’ leaves will sen­si­bly die down, so they spring up again and con­tinue to mul­ti­ply for years to come. Here are my favourite win­ter bulbs.

Cro­cus If you plant the right cro­cus va­ri­eties, you’ll have blooms from au­tumn through win­ter. Plant lots, about 15cm deep. They are best planted in a shel­tered spot away from harsh winds, or un­der de­cid­u­ous or lightly fo­liaged trees where the del­i­cate leaves won’t be dam­aged by rain. You’ll find in­nu­mer­able species and va­ri­eties to choose from.

Saf­fron cro­cus Th­ese give the long red sta­mens that are the ex­pen­sive cook­ing spice. I grow them for their gi­ant au­tumn flow­ers, as our gar­den is a lit­tle too shady for a good crop of sta­mens.

Colchicum Th­ese bulbs are of­ten mis­tak­enly known as cro­cus, but have sev­eral flow­ers from each stem rather than a sin­gle flower per stalk. They are stun­ning in big drifts un­der de­cid­u­ous trees – they tol­er­ate full sun or dap­pled shade. The bulbs need a fairly dry Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, so avoid plant­ing in hu­mid ar­eas.

Fri­t­il­laria Tiny bell-shaped flow­ers dan­gle from 30cm stems. The flow­ers range from dusky pink through mauve to deep pur­ple. They suit sun or light shade. A massed dis­play is stun­ning.

Nar­cis­sus Choose early va­ri­eties of daf­fodils and jon­quils and they will

flower from mid­win­ter. Win­ter bloomers are for cold, cool and tem­per­ate ar­eas only. Plant un­der de­cid­u­ous trees or in full sun.

Ner­ines Th­ese are win­ter stun­ners, with big blooms on strong stems. Ev­ery win­ter, I wish I had planted at least 10 times as many, as they mul­ti­ply slowly. Choose au­tumn­bloom­ing as well as win­ter­flow­er­ing va­ri­eties such as Win­ter Cheer for a con­tin­u­ous dis­play of pinks, scar­let, red and white. They need full sun in sum­mer.

Snow­drops Th­ese cold-lov­ing bulbs need to be planted in drifts across the gar­den for best ef­fect. You can buy scented, sin­gle and dou­ble species, as well as many va­ri­eties. Plant lots of them. In the right place, they will mul­ti­ply. If they don’t reap­pear the fol­low­ing year, re­plant or choose a bulb that tol­er­ates more heat.

Snowflakes A stur­dier plant than snow­drops, but what th­ese lack in re­fine­ment and del­i­cacy, they make up for in vigour and tol­er­ance of hot, dry con­di­tions. Six white petals are evenly spaced, with a green spot at the end of each.

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