Rod and Jane (left) of­fer ad­vice on how to get the best out of your spring bulbs

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Travel -

Try grow­ing bulbs from seed. It is far eas­ier than most gar­den­ers imag­ine and can give you lots of bulbs in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod. Seed of cy­cla­men, cro­cus, Tulipa spren­geri, Tulipa sylvestris, lilies and most mem­bers of the Fri­t­il­laria can be scat­tered di­rectly on to the soil and lightly covered. Once es­tab­lished they will re-seed.

It is easy to for­get where bulbs are planted, with the risk that you might put a fork through them when they are dor­mant. Put a layer of sharp sand over the area where bulbs are planted to in­di­cate their lo­ca­tion.

Plant lots. Bulbs planted in large groups or in drifts look much bet­ter than sin­gle spec­i­mens. Bulbs can be in­ex­pen­sive and, in gen­eral, the cheaper the bulb the more likely it is to thrive.

En­sure that you are plant­ing the bulb the right way up, with the roots point­ing down into the soil. Some­times it is hard to tell, par­tic­u­larly with corms of cro­cus and some glad­i­oli. With these, look for the scar that roots have left be­hind. On heavy soils, plant Fri­t­il­laria im­pe­ri­alis and Fri­t­il­laria per­sica bulbs at an an­gle, to pre­vent wa­ter col­lect­ing in their cen­tres.

The best sources of help and in­for­ma­tion are lo­cal nurs­eries and hor­ti­cul­tural so­ci­eties. The mem­ber­ship fee to a spe­cial­ist so­ci­ety, such as the Alpine Gar­den So­ci­ety, re­pays it­self quickly in the ad­vice and in­spi­ra­tion. Not to men­tion the free seeds that you get.

Nar­row paths wind around densely planted beds. Among them a ma­ture spec­i­men of Mag­no­lia , with its sparkling white flow­ers, is stel­lata un­der­planted with . Mus­cari ar­me­ni­acum

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