NOW’S THE TIME TO GET BULBS GO­ING

IF YOU WAIT TO SEE THESE PRETTY FLOW­ERS IN OTHER GAR­DENS, IT WILL BE TOO LATE IN THE SEA­SON TO PLANT THEM

Life & Style Weekend - - GARDEN - GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN

Iknow that massed dis­plays of spring-flow­er­ing bulbs are re­ally not a fea­ture of sub­trop­i­cal gar­dens. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share the joy of planting at least a few of these un­re­mark­able lit­tle things and en­joy­ing the magic that is the first shoot emerg­ing, fol­lowed by the plump bud and – at last – the flower. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, jon­quils, daf­fodils and freesias do re­ally well here. You can leave them in the ground and they will mul­ti­ply and flower again year af­ter year. Freesias will nat­u­ralise beau­ti­fully in gar­den beds, lawn ar­eas and un­der­neath de­cid­u­ous trees. An­other good per­former that will nat­u­ralise for you is the rel­a­tively un­known ixia, a native of South Africa. These pro­duce tall, slen­der stems with many flow­ers in dif­fer­ent shades of cream, yel­low, pink and scar­let. They take lit­tle wa­ter and are well suited to coastal gar­dens, al­though they will also do well in cooler ar­eas.

I find tulips, ra­nun­cu­lus and anemones will flower in the first spring, but may not reap­pear in fol­low­ing years. But they are so pretty, so easy to grow and so in­ex­pen­sive that it’s worth planting them ev­ery year if you like them. You should find bulbs in gar­den cen­tres, and this is the time to plant them. They will flower in late win­ter/early spring, but by the time you see the flow­ers in gar­dens, it is too late in the sea­son to plant. So do it now, or at least be­fore the end of May. Se­lect an open, sunny lo­ca­tion with well-drained soil and en­rich it with some well-rot­ted an­i­mal ma­nure or com­post. As a gen­eral rule, bulbs should be planted at a depth that is twice the height of the bulbs, and the same dis­tance apart. They look best when planted in in­for­mal drifts or clumps rather than in straight lines. Ar­eas be­neath de­cid­u­ous trees are es­pe­cially suit­able. Most bulbs need to be planted with the point fac­ing up­wards, al­though anemone and ra­nun­cu­lus should be planted with their lit­tle claws point­ing down. The depth is im­por­tant, too, usu­ally two or three times the height of the bulb. Check the in­for­ma­tion on the pack to make sure you get the cor­rect ori­en­ta­tion and depth. When the flow­ers fin­ish, feed the bulbs with a com­plete plant food and al­low the leaves to die down nat­u­rally. This will en­able the bulbs to re­plen­ish them­selves and pro­duce flow­ers next year. Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­[email protected]­nat­by­ron.com.au

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