BEST BULBS FOR A NEW SPIN ON SPRING
Why not try something different? We offer nine options
SPRING is all about bulbs: crocuses transforming the ground beneath trees; bright cheery daffodils covering lawns; tulips painting our borders with a spectrum of shades. But make the effort to look beyond the stalwarts and you’ll find unusual or less-familiar bulbs that will bring rich rewards to the garden.
Now’s the time to plant most spring bulbs (although tulips should be left until November). You may have ordered your favourites already, but why not create a truly spectacular display next spring by adding something new. Just as in fashion, where a few well-chosen accessories can give a new look to a favourite party dress, adding some extra bulbs to your garden will give your whole display a new lease of life.
It’s not just new or different varieties of old favourites that can make a difference. Each year, as we plant first daffodils, then tulips, many of us don’t realise we could also be planting yellow winter aconites beneath trees, or adding snake’s head fritillaries to the lawn, where their pink chequered flowers will attract bees and other pollinators. There are spring bulbs to suit every part of your garden – from shady borders to hot patios, damp areas or the dry soil at the foot of hedges.
At 4ft (1.2m), Nectaroscordum siculum will add height to borders, and bees love their drooping bell-shaped flowers in cream flushed with purple. Or try tiny exotic-looking Pleione formosana. Often relegated to windowsills, it’s very easy to grow outdoors in a sheltered border. Crown imperials, with their bright-orange flowers topping stiff stems, love a sunny spot. Or consider some of the beautiful species tulips; they’re tough, easy to grow and come back reliably every year.
As well as more unusual bulbs, there are ones you simply may not have considered, but which can add colour or scent to the garden or will work in a tricky planting area. Often overlooked, summer snowflakes are like snowdrops, only taller and later flowering. Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ is perfect for damp spots or shady areas, and looks fantastic planted in drifts.
Once you start to look beyond the obvious, you’ll find the selection of spring bulbs is so much bigger than you previously imagined. And October is the perfect month to take advantage of all the exciting possibilities on offer.
Summer snowflakes are perfect for damp spots and will give yellow tulips and daffs a real lift