Bulb­sre­ally are a bright idea

If you want a stun­ning wash of colour in spring, then now’s the time to get plant­ing

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

Last spring I vis­ited the bulb gardens of Keuken­hof in Hol­land. The place was crammed with peo­ple and full of colour. I would imag­ine the gardens aren’t to ev­ery­one’s taste – acre af­ter acre of vi­brant colours set out in broad strokes sweep­ing around trees, down slopes and re­flected in still water. But I was se­duced by the pure joy of the place and mes­merised by the fact that vir­tu­ally all these colours came from bulbs.

They are amaz­ing lit­tle pack­ages of hope with a flower fully formed inside its own en­ve­lope. As au­tumn ar­rives and the soil is still warm, it is time to start plan­ning, buy­ing and plant­ing these lit­tle mar­vels. I’ve been brows­ing the cat­a­logues and here’s my pick of the best for you.

Bloms have been in the gar­den­ing trade for more than 150 years since Wal­ter Blom started his ap­pren­tice­ship in the bulb in­dus­try in Hol­land back in 1850.

This year they won their 66th Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, so you can be sure of top- qual­ity pro­duce from here.

Their spe­cial­ity is hy­acinths – if you like in­tense colours, look out for ‘ Dark Di­men­sion’ with blooms so pur­ple they’re nearly black, and ‘ Wood­stock’ with rich wine pur­ple bells. They also have some won­der­ful frit­il­laria species such as ‘ Adiya­man’ – a mag­nif­i­cent bor­der plant grow­ing to 90cm in height, pro­duc­ing large num­bers of dark plum pur­ple bell- shaped flow­ers in April and May ( bloms­bulbs. com, 01234 709099).

Sarah Raven’s pas­sion is for cut flow­ers, and her col­lec­tion of bulbs re­flect her delight in blos­soms that look won­der­ful in vases and will last. She has some very pretty Ra­nun­cu­lus such as ‘ Pauline Pink’ in an ex­quis­ite shade of shell pink and ‘ Pauline Cho­co­late’ which is a lus­cious deep red.

The corms are some­times re­ferred to as claws due to their ap­pear­ance – plant them in au­tumn or spring with their ‘ fin­gers’ fac­ing down­wards ( sarahraven. com, 0345 092 0283).

Jac­ques Amand is al­ways a good hunt­ing ground for un­usual bulbs, in­clud­ing rare his­tor­i­cal tulips ( jacque­samand­intl. com, 020 8420 7110).

There’s a very ex­u­ber­ant dou­ble late tulip called Vaya Con Dios, which starts life as mainly yel­low, gain­ing apri­cot, or­ange and red hues as it ma­tures. ‘ Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret’ has deep pur­plish blue flow­ers with a touch of laven­der and vi­o­let run­ning through it, and the cen­tre of the flower is an at­trac­tive royal blue.

I love par­rot tulips with their fringed edges. ‘ Par­rot Sweet’ has bright pink flow­ers suf­fused with white and green­ish yel­low which flow­ers in May.

‘ Cop­per Im­age’ is also de­light­ful with large dou­ble flow­ers of a cop­per colour flushed with salmon, also flow­er­ing in May.

No bulb plant­ing ses­sion is com­plete with­out daf­fodils. J Park­ers has a great bun­dle of orchid- type daffs – this is where the flower is split into seg­ments giv­ing it an orchid ap­pear­ance. ‘ Le­mon Beauty’ is very strik­ing – its ivory white blooms have a star- shaped le­mon- yel­low cen­tre and the flow­ers of ‘ Mon­dragon’ are a rich egg yolk colour ( jpark­ers. co. uk, 0161 848 1100).

So whether you have pots and con­tain­ers, bor­ders or ar­eas of grass, pop in a few parcels of bulbs and give your­self a nice sur­prise next spring.

A few tips to re­mem­ber – plant bulbs as soon as you get them, with the ex­cep­tion of tulips which should be planted in Novem­ber.

Gen­er­ally you place them two to three times their own size deep in soil – a bit deeper in free- drain­ing soil that tends to dry out in sum­mer.

Place them with their shoot fac­ing up­wards – but don’t worry if you can’t fig­ure it out, the bulb will still grow to­wards the light.

Fi­nally, throw in a lit­tle bit of slowre­lease fer­tiliser to help it on its way. Good luck!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.