Why not try some­thing dif­fer­ent? We of­fer nine op­tions

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

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

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